Christianity, current events, Uncategorized

Revisiting Marina Keegan’s “The Opposite of Loneliness”

I first heard about Marina Keegan when it was reported online that she had been killed in a car accident in 2012. Her death seemed all the more tragic because she had just graduated magna cum laude from Yale only five days before. I first read “The Opposite of Loneliness” and “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” from links provided in news reports; these and other writings have been collected in book form and I have included information about this at the end of this post. Even after she had been told it’s virtually impossible to be a writer today, she announced that “‘I’ve decided I’m going to be a writer,’ she said. ‘Like, a real one. With my life.'”  It’s very easy to see from her writings that she was gifted and would have made her mark in this world as a writer, but sadly, that was not meant to be. “The Opposite of Loneliness” and what that is will be my focus for this writing. Before we discuss what the opposite of loneliness is, let’s take a look at loneliness.

 
Marina begins by saying “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I would say that’s what I want in life.” Loneliness has never been on anyone’s bucket list for things they want to have in life. Even in the Garden of Eden, the first time God said something wasn’t good was when God saw that Adam was alone. To be lonely is also to be forgotten, and no one wants to be forgotten. We want to populate our lives with people and or activities that leave us engaged with the world around us, and to be remembered. Those who have great power and wealth have gone to great lengths to be remembered. When the Pharaohs of Egypt erected massive pyramids to make a lasting legacy for themselves, it’s as if they were saying “Pharaoh was here.” In a way we also want to leave some tangible proof to the world that we were here, that we existed, that we mattered and that we were loved. For a scientist, his “pyramid” might be a notable discovery or winning a prestigious prize that secures his place in history. A politician might try to create a lasting legacy through leadership and service. Explorers want to be remembered for their discoveries. Soldiers want to be remembered for their bravery and the battles they won. Writers want to be remembered for their contributions to literature. If we are remembered, it’s because we had this “opposite of loneliness” during our life. So what is it?

 
Marina Keegan gives us a description of what she felt the “opposite of loneliness” is, and to me, it sounds like what I felt in my high school days. Somewhere in my sophomore year of high school, I realized something: “Life won’t give me a chance to repeat this time in life. Once high school is over, it’s over.” Marina described the opposite of loneliness this way:

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people who are in this together. Who are on your team…Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers—partnerless, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group texts. (1)

I realized I was about to lose my “opposite of loneliness” when it came time to graduate from high school, and like Marina, I was uncomfortable about it. I was about to enter a new and uncharted area in life, and this caused me to reevaluate what I was doing (or not doing) in school. When I finally understood that this opposite of loneliness I had was going to end one day and I would no longer have the familiar life of I was living any more, I decided to make the most of high school. I almost failed my freshman year and I didn’t care, but after my epiphany I was getting awards for perfect attendance and honor roll. Even after all these years some of my strongest and best memories are from this time in life, and it’s gratifying to be remembered at reunions.

 
But is the opposite of loneliness really something we cannot find a word for? If English doesn’t have a word that exactly fits the bill, maybe we need to look outside our language, In the New Testament Greek, they had a word called koinonia that may be a candidate for the opposite of loneliness. Koinonia was used in association with life in the early church, and as we explore what this word means, it will help us find an answer to the appellation of the opposite of loneliness. According to Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, koinonia generally means:

“fellowship, communion, participation, sharing.” It can refer to the mutual interests and sharing of members in the community of faith, the church…John uses koinonia to refer to the Christian fellowship we have with one another (1 Jn. 1:3, 7). This fellowship is centered in and based on our common fellowship with the Father and his Son, Jesus (1:3, 6). (247)

The Christian concept of fellowship was founded on love and it centered on our Savior, the Lord Jesus. Those who participate of Christian koinonia were disciples who sought to walk in the same steps as Jesus. The presence of Jesus in koinonia is a different type of koinonia than one without Him.

 
The opposite of loneliness that Marina Keegan described was for a specific time. In her case, the opposite of loneliness was in effect during her days at Yale. The opposite of loneliness that describes a special time of togetherness in our lives that ends one day is only one type of opposite. There is another type of opposite that is enduring and doesn’t have an ending. This may sound incredible, but it is true, and if Marina was aware of it at the time of her writing, I feel sure she would have spoken about it. So what are we talking about? Let me illustrate it by introducing you to another young woman named Katie Davis Now Katie Davis Majors).

 
Katie Davis is close to the same age as Marina, and she was so touched by this enduring kind of opposite that it changed the course of her life. If you looked at Katie’s life from an earthly perspective, she had an opposite of loneliness that many would envy:

For as long as I can remember, I had everything the world said was important. In high school, I was class president, homecoming queen, top of my class. I dated cute boys and wore cute shoes and drove a cute sports car. I had wonderful, supportive parents who so desired my success that they would have paid for me to go to college anywhere my heart desired. (XVII)

So what is the difference between Marina’s opposite of loneliness and Katie’s? We see it in Katie’s favorite Bible verse: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37: 4). The opposite of loneliness that changed Katie’s life was the Lord Jesus; His presence made the opposite of loneliness (or koinonia) something enduring and doesn’t fade away. It inspired her to a life she never dreamed for herself:

The fact that I loved Jesus was beginning to interfere with the plans I once had for my life and certainly the plans others had for me. My heart had been apprehended by a great love, a love that compelled me to live differently. I had grown up in a Christian home, gone to church, and learned about Jesus all my life. Around the age of twelve or thirteen, I began to delve into the truths of Scripture. As I read and learned more and more of what Jesus said, I liked the lifestyle I saw around me less and less. I began to realize that God wanted more from me, and I wanted more from Him. He began to grow in me a desire to live intentionally, and different from anyone I had ever known. (XVII-XVIII)

Katie Davis found an opposite of loneliness that never goes away when she allowed Jesus in to her life. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t have any more problems, but it does mean that the Lord Jesus is always at her side, teaching her how to live an overcoming life, loving people through her and giving her strength when she is weak. She currently lives and serves the people of Uganda thousands of miles away from her home in America and family. She has determined that she doesn’t “want to miss what He has for me. Ever, ever again.”

 

We don’t have to worry about losing the benefits of the opposite of loneliness if we will take hold of the one that never ends. We can and should appreciate the special times of our lives as we go through life, but we should treasure above all else the fact that through the love of God we have a koinonia with Jesus ends loneliness forever.

 
Please don’t interpret this post as some kind of attack on the memory of Marina Keegan; that is not my intention. Marina’s words on her graduation day were “I will live for love and the rest will take care of itself,” and from what I could see in her writings, she wanted to live a life of purpose and to make the world a better place. I want those who remember Marina to know she hasn’t been forgotten, and that her desire to live for love is just as important today as when she expressed it. My intention is to make clear that there is an opposite of loneliness that has a beginning and end, and another that never ends. Jesus Himself said:

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28: 18-20, NASB)

This never ending opposite is available for anyone who is willing to repent, turn away from evil and receive God’s forgiveness. We have this precious promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1: 9, NASB). When we do this, we are reconciled with God and we have fellowship with Him! Please give these things serious thought because much depends on how you receive this and act on it.

 
If you would like to learn more about Marina Keegan and Katie Davis, here is some additional information:

 
A collection of Marina Keegan’s writings are available in the book “The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories” with an introduction by Anne Fadiman.

ISBN 978-1-4767-5361-4

ISBN 978-1-4767-5391-1 (paperback)

ISBN 978-1-4767-5362-1 (ebook)

 
You can visit a Facebook page celebrating Marina Keegan’s life at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/387194241326318/

 
Katie’s ministry is called Amazima, which is a word for truth. The ministry website contains up to date information about the work of the ministry and Katie’s blog.

 

Katie Davis also has a book called “Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption.”

ISBN 978-1-4516-1206-6

ISBN 978-4516-1210-3 (ebook)

 

Sivan 13, 5776

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Christianity, current events, diversity, gender identity, morality, politics, prophecy, religion, Uncategorized

Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?

By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches
(Proverbs 24: 3-4 NASB).

 
America’s moral code is in the process of being rewritten and what was right yesterday is wrong today and vice versa. In this case we are talking about an ideology of gender identity, or fluidity. When the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing men to access the women’s room, House Bill 2 was signed into law to stop this ordinance and anything like it from happening statewide. Target retail stores followed suit and instituted an in store policy that also allowed men to use the women’s room. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently issued a statement about North Carolina’s House Bill 2 and made her intention known that she will counter sue North Carolina to stop its implementation throughout the state.

 
Attorney General Lynch has clothed her arguments about this gender ideology in the language of civil rights, and has said North Carolina’s response like all “discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation” such as Jim Crow laws after Emancipation, resistance to Brown v. Board of Education, and numerous statewide bans on same sex unions. Lynch goes in to say that these responses come from a fear of the unknown and discomfort with change and tells us “this is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness.” Having said this, did anyone catch what was missing from this last quote? We all recognize the politically correct buzzwords of “inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness,” but it’s what’s missing that ought to concern all of us. AG Lynch didn’t say our national virtues include holiness, righteousness, and the fear of God, and when these virtues are not part of our national identity, the nation becomes adrift on a sea of relativism. Absolute truth is mocked and dismissed to make room for the cause celebre of the day, which in this case is the currently emerging ideology of gender identity. This is where the problem may be found.

 

The ideology of gender identity makes the case that gender is a social construct. If gender identity is regarded as something determined by society, then it is artificial and not firmly anchored. If people can be convinced that gender identity is an artificial product of society, it’s a short walk to the next belief in which there is fluidity between genders. A man can identify as female and dress and act accordingly, but as we will see, he can never wash himself clean from his male identity. Nevertheless, government has now injected itself into this moral realignment and is fighting for males who identify as female to have access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms. The Washington Post reports that Lynch’s remarks about the government’s decision to intervene have resonated with the transgender community “For Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the appeal of Lynch’s speech was something simple: ‘All she said was that we’re people.’”

 

AG Lynch is speaking for the Obama Administration when she made her remarks, and she makes the case that opposing House Bill 2 is a step in the right direction with these words:

This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.

She also says that we must learn from history and not repeat our mistakes, and I will agree that this is correct, but in order for this admonition to be accurate, it must include history as God gave it to us in His word. Let’s review what God’s history has told us about gender identity.

 

The book of Genesis begins with the words “in the beginning God created…,” and then the writer goes on to list the things God created. When it comes to humanity and our topic of gender identity, we find this “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1: 27, NASB). Notice that it says we are created by God, and when God creates something, there’s a reason and purpose for it. In the case of humanity, the word of God tells us:

And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1: 28, NASB)

We can clearly see three things from verses 27 and 28: we are here on purpose, not accidentally, we see that God wants to interact with us, and that when God created humanity, He made them male and female. But if God establishes a boundary, or distinction between male and female, is it fixed forever? Does God allow fluidity between males and females? The answer is that the boundary is firmly fixed and fluidity is not allowed. On what basis do I say this? Here’s a look at what God says about His boundaries:

“Do you not fear Me?” declares the LORD. “Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.Though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.” (Jeremiah 5: 22, NASB)

A boundary that has been set by God cannot be moved by any created being or power as God makes clear in this passage about His power:”For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14: 27). When we consider these things, we can say confidently that when God does something, it stays done and there’s nothing anyone can do to change it.

 

In the case of gender identity, God made us male and female, and His word makes it clear He intends for this distinction to stand. We see this boundary reinforced in the Torah: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 22: 5). And notice how this prohibition against same sex sexual relations is worded:

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act: They shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them. (Leviticus 20:13, NASB).

There are other places we could go, but these verses give ample proof that God wants the distinction between male and female respected and left intact. I wish that was the end of the matter, but just as the serpent beguiled Eve, he has also beguiled this generation.

 

God deals in certainties and truth, but we know the enemy of our souls is at work when we see confusion and every evil work. Fluidity is confusion because it erases the distinction God established between male and female. This can only happen when the real history of humanity is ignored. The ideology of gender identity that Lynch is defending is a wisdom of the world, and it is demonic. It is nothing less than an exchange of God’s truth for a lie; those who defend it suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and they are in danger of being handed over to their own lusts and depravity. They may think they are being wise, inclusive, and promoting diversity, compassion and open-mindedness, but they are really fools, and they have been blinded about their true condition by the god of this world.

 
I must disagree with the AG that acting on the basis of fear is wrong. She makes it sound as though acting on the basis of fear is never correct, but there is a time when acting from fear is beneficial and lifesaving. We see it time and again in Scripture when God’s people realized the terror of the LORD and they did everything they could to repent and reconcile with Him. That’s how acting from fear saves your life. If AG Lynch wants to avoid the mistakes of the past, let her remember this lesson from history: Nations that once knew God but turned away later suffer judgment. If you doubt me, just read the book of Judges; the same pattern happens again and again.

 

The reality is as follows. Even though a man may rage against his male identity, may dress and act as a female, and even if he were to undergo gender reassignment surgery, he is still male because God made him that way. He will never be completely female except in his mind and in his imagination. Man never has nor never will have the power to change what God has established, and since he can never make the change he wants, he will never find the fulfillment he looks for. But everyone can find true peace, happiness, and healing through our Savior Jesus. He’s already knocking at the door of your heart waiting to be invited in.

 

Iyar 4,  5776

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Christianity, current events, November 2016 election, politics, Uncategorized

Fighting the wrong war

President Obama has been criticized for his failure to name the enemy by saying the words ‘Islamic terrorism.’ He has even gone on a denial/apologetic tour to deflect any blame for the actions of Muslim terrorists, and his Administration even went so far as to say that climate change is the real enemy. While we can speculate as to why he is doing this, the fact is no corrective action will ever succeed if the enemy is not properly identified. Or if we put it another way, if the cause of a problem is wrong, it follows that any solutions to fix the problem will also be wrong.

 
This brings us to the present day with a view to the upcoming November elections. Up to this point, there has been a lot of in house fighting among conservatives about which candidate to support, but now that Ted Cruz and John Kasich have suspended their presidential campaigns, the way is clear for Donald Trump to receive the Republican nomination. There has also been a call for all conservatives to unite behind Trump and concentrate on defeating the Democrats and Hillary Clinton, who is now being billed as the real opponent we must now defeat. This is another misidentification of who the real enemy is, and I would like to show why this reasoning is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

 
We may live in a physical world, but the word of God tells us this physical world is not all there is. An unseen spiritual world also exists along with our physical world that we do see. Paul writes that “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). These different worlds also interact with each other, and events on one world can influence events in the other. We see this after Yeshua sent out His disciples to minister to the people; they returned with joy and said “’Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He [Yeshua] said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from Heaven like lightening’” (Luke 10:17-18). Lastly, there are spiritual beings that are good and bad. The evil spiritual beings seek to blind people to the truth of God’s word so that they will perish: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4: 3-4).

 
Having said all this, we know the state of America in 2016 is not good. Today we have strife, division, variance, idolatry, divorce, avarice, debt, deception, hypocrisy, rebellion, disrespect, hatred, covetousness, pride, arrogance, and foolishness at levels that were unheard of in American history as this nation continues to exchange the light of God’s truth for the deceptive ‘freedom’ to do whatever is right in our own eyes. We are seeing the consequences of what happens if people believe there’s no God. As Dostoevsky wrote, if God doesn’t exist, everything would be permissible, and people would live their lives as if there is no governing moral code that applies to everyone. Conservatives have linked liberal politics and agendas with the decline of our nation, but does this make Hillary Clinton and the Democrats the ‘real opponents’ that they speak of? The answer is no.

 
The reason why Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are not the real opponents we should focus on is because they have been blinded by spiritual darkness, but people have become so polarized about the November elections they won’t acknowledge the work of the real enemy like President Obama won’t recognize Islamic terrorism. The Adversary has persuaded many people to accept and do things that are at variance with God’s word by blinding them spiritually, and since the problem is spiritual, it would be foolish to think this situation can be corrected at the ballot box. It must be stopped in the spiritual realm, so if you want to stop corruption in its tracks, we must exercise the authority Yeshua gives us over the enemy and take on the spiritual forces of darkness. Paul reminds us where the real fight must be fought when he wrote: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). If we will do this once again like the disciples Yeshua sent out, Satan will once again fall from Heaven like lightening as he did before, spiritual blindness will be cured, and people will be set free to love God and their neighbors again. The Adversary knows that this is what will happen God’s people use their spiritual authroity, and he dreads it. But that won’t happen if all our focus is on politics and the ballot box.

Nisan 26, 5776

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Christianity, current events, prophecy

The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?

Iyar 1, 5775

Salutations and shalom,

We have just seen the appearance of the third of four blood moons in this tetrad which occurred on Passover, 4 Apr 2015. There remains one more blood moon for later this year. This is also a shemitah year, and as we speak wise virgins all over the world are going to the market place to stock up on oil. We don’t want to be counted as foolish virgins who were unprepared for the Bridegroom, so if you will give me a brief audience, I would like to say something about this.

What was the reason why the foolish virgins were not admitted to the wedding feast? Let’s look at the answer of the Bridegroom as they pounded on the door. He didn’t tell them they couldn’t come in just because they were late; But He answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you’ Matt 25:12 (ESV). Think about that for a moment. He didn’t admit them because they were running late, but because they didn’t have an intimate relationship with Him. He said He didn’t know them (also Matt 7: 21-23), which means that He didn’t abide in them, and they didn’t abide in Him. If they did, wouldn’t they have properly prepared for the Bridegroom by getting the oil they needed? They were too busy doing other things to be bothered with getting the oil they would need. And what exactly is this oil? Oil has been symbolic of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, and not having oil can be a picture of a Christian who has drifted away from a walk with God to becoming friends with the world. I believe in this case the oil represents our relationship with Yeshua; we either have it or we don’t. If we have a relationship with Yeshua, we hear His voice and do His will. His appearance is expected and we know what to do to be ready. In short: Getting your oil means making sure your relationship with the Lord is alive and well, not on life support. Cultivate your relationship with the Lord now while you have a season of peace because when it gets dark, no one can work. Draw as close to Him as you can get now, and make all other considerations secondary. The most important thing you can do to prepare for the coming Tribulation is to have a strong relationship with God; nothing else will sustain you through the times to come.

It’s important that we hear what God is saying in these times; four blood moons, a shemitah year, and turmoil in the Middle East about Israel are signs we need to get close to God. The good news is He will tell us what we need to know:

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

Amos 3:7-8 (ESV)

The persuasion that caused the foolish virgins to miss their appointment with the Bridegroom did not come from Yeshua, but from the world, the flesh, and the devil. They were drawn away by contrary desires that proved to be their undoing. Don’t underestimate the Adversary to distract you from seeking God; he can keep you so busy with the cares of the world you can miss the most important date in human history. I urge you beloved reader, do not get talked out of spending time with God. Fight for every second you can be with Him; you won’t regret it!

I have recently seen a video presentation I would like to share with you; it’s about the four blood moons, the shemitah year, and events in the Middle East. Let’s remember Amos’ words: God reveals what’s going to happen so people can prepare. This video features contributions from Johnathan Cahn, Mark Blitz, Bill Salas, and Perry Stone and is just over an hour in length. If you are unfamiliar with the shemitah and the blood moons, this is a great resource to get started.

https://vimeo.com/122882267

For your information, I have included some dates to keep in mind for the rest of the year. I am not saying what will happen on these dates, but given the times we live in, they may yield important events as prophecy unfolds. These dates also include astronomical events. All dates are for 2015:

May 3                          Second Passover

May 23                        Shavuot (Pentecost or Feast of Weeks. Israel receives the Torah)

July 4-25                     Three Weeks (Mourning the destruction of the Temple and exile)

July 25                         9th of Av (The spies give a bad report about the Promised Land)

July 31                        15th of Av (A festival of future redemption)

September 13              29th of Elul (Debt cancellation Deuteronomy 15: 1-18)

September 13-15         Rosh Hashanah (New Year)

September 14              Partial solar eclipse

September 22-23         Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement Leviticus 16: 30)

Sept 27-Oct 4              Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

September 28              Super blood moon visible over Jerusalem

December 6-14            Chanukah (Commemorates the rededication of the Temple)

I hope that this information is helpful. Be blessed and get your oil; in other words, draw close to the Lord!

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Christianity, current events

God Together: The time for discussion is over and the time to act is here

Nissan 1, 5775

Recently Starbucks has initiated a program to start discussions on race relations with Race Together. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that he was inspired to do this after an informal forum with employees in Seattle. According to an article posted on the Starbucks website, “RACE TOGETHER is an initiative from Starbucks and USA TODAY to stimulate conversation, compassion, and action around race in America.” It is true that we have a problem with division and unrest in our communities, and these things are worthy of discussion, but these are mere symptoms of the bigger problem. The fact is there is another matter that is much more serious that requires our immediate attention, so let’s get down to business.

For those of us who have been around awhile, we can say truthfully that the things society accepts as good are very different from what was accepted thirty years ago. The moral code of this nation has shifted to the point that good is now being called evil and evil is called good. A case in point is the Presbyterian church, which recently voted to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage. As American society continues this moral realignment, it increasingly mocks God and His word, and the time will come when God will judge this nation for this. History has witnessed this pattern many times over.

When King Solomon wrote “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” Eccl 1:9 (ESV), he gave us a way to understand history. History is made up of patterns, and an alert historian can clearly see that these patterns repeat over time and across cultures because there’s nothing new under the sun. The book of Judges shows us a clear pattern of history from ancient Israel. When Israel had a close relationship with God, they were at peace and their fortunes were secure. But when they began to drift away from God, God would send prophets to warn the people. If they listened, God would forgive and heal their land, but if they persisted in rebellion, God would remove their protection and allow Israel’s enemies to overwhelm them. America is in the same pattern. God has already sent prophets to warn the nation to repent, but the people ignore that message. The pattern of history will repeat without national repentance; God will remove America’s protection as happened with ancient Israel, and this nation will know what it means to come under God’s judgment.

This nation has been weighed on the scales and been found wanting, and the Daniels of our day have read the writing on the wall. God has sent prophets to warn the American people, but He is also using signs in the heavens to alert the people as well. As of this writing, we are half-way through a tetrad, which is a series of four blood moons. Two of the blood moons occurred in 2014, and two more will appear in 2015. The interesting thing about this tetrad is that the blood moons occur on the Jewish feast days of Passover and Tabernacles for 2014-2015, and just that fact should get everyone’s attention. Previous tetrads have coincided with important events in Jewish history (e.g. Israel’s independence and the Six Day War). We are also in another shemitah year. A shemitah year is a year of rest and release. During a shemitah year there was no planting or reaping, and debts were cancelled. The last two shemitah years have not been good for America. In the shemitah year of 2001, America witnessed the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, and later the worst stock market crash up to that date. In the shemitah year of 2008, America experienced another stock market crash in which the market fell 777 points. Now we are in the shemitah year of 2015, and since America has done nothing to repair its relationship with God since the last two shemitah years, one can only speculate that something even more disastrous is in store for America this year.

We can discuss community problems at length through Race Together, but as we consider God’s warnings, the repeating patterns of history, the blood moons and the shemitah year, the whole Race Together initiative loses its luster. It is time for a new initiative which I call God Together. While this initiative will have elements of discussion, it is an action based initiative, not a discussion initiative. The action of God Together is to get right with God individually and as a nation while there is still time. The story of the cross is widespread in America. You would be hard pressed to find anyone in America who was completely ignorant of what the Son of God did for us on the cross. The Bible has also been the unacknowledged bestseller in America for years; the land is literally covered with Bibles. Everyone is free to attend a church service without fear of reprisals (at least so far). America cannot claim ignorance as an excuse. It is high time that this nation and its people humbled themselves, act on what they know and seek God for His forgiveness. Confess your sins; seek God while He may be found and receive His mercy and grace. Think about these promises from God:

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)

This is the more serious matter we need to focus on. We need to stop discussing our problems among ourselves as with Race Together and start talking with God. He is the only one who can solve our problems. The time for discussion is over; the time to act has arrived. Make God Together a reality in your life and the lives of others. This is the only way we will make it through the tribulation to come.

God Together

Shavua tov everyone!

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Christianity, current events, morality, politics, religion

A Christian response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union (SOTU) address

Shevat 3, 5775

There will be a lot of political commentary and analysis now that President Obama has given his State of the Union speech, and most of this will focus on government policies and the proposals set forth by the President. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has given the Republican response, but it would be a tremendous disservice to the Christian community if there was not a Christian response to the SOTU because the Apostle Paul tells us to examine all things, and hold fast to what is good. How can we know if government policies and philosophies are destructive or good without first examining them with the light of God’s word? The world’s standards are arbitrary and capricious; what’s right today will be wrong tomorrow, but the word of God is unchanging. In order to institute and maintain good government, its philosophies and policies must align with and honor the word of God.  There are many things that could be said about different points made in this address, but there is one important short passage that needs to be discussed.

“The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”

This is the thesis statement of the SOTU and the most worrisome statement this address for three reasons: it wrongly identifies what the crisis is, it claims the crisis is over, and gives us a false assessment of the union. This is not surprising in part because the views expressed in the SOTU are horizontally oriented. What I mean by this is that these claims are based only on a worldly point of view; such a view only concerns itself with what can be seen and perceived by the senses. The SOTU lacks any vertical orientation at all, which takes into account not only what we can see, but what is invisible and spiritual (Hebrews 11: 1-3). The vertical orientation comes from the word of God, and when we shine the word of God on things, we truly understand their depravity or merit. Any leader who strives to fully inform an audience about the true condition of a country must include a vertical orientation in his presentation, otherwise his efforts are of limited value, and in the case of an unscrupulous person, can be outright deception.

SOTU wrongly identifies what the crisis is

We do have a crisis, but it is not the crisis President Obama makes it out to be. Everything the President listed in his SOTU identifies the crisis as a socioeconomic one. This view overlooks spiritual events that have recently occurred in this nation’s history. Traditionally, our position between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans has isolated and protected our country. For example, while Europe suffered terribly from the ravages of war in WWII, there was only one casualty attributed to enemy action on the continental US. All of that changed on 9/11, when Islamic terrorists hijacked commercial jetliners and used them on suicide missions which killed thousands of people. No enemy had ever caused such destruction before in our history, and when the stock market finally reopened after the attack, one of the worst stock market crashes in US history occurred. In 2008, an even bigger stack market crash occurred, and these crashes had an adverse effect on the economy of the nation. These seem to be random events from a worldly perspective, but when you include God’s word in your analysis, you get the whole picture. The events of 9/11 and 2008 occurred exactly during a seven year cycle known as the shemitah. This means we cannot attribute the resulting bad economy solely to socioeconomic factors; there is a definite spiritual connection to these events. They were set in motion by spiritual events and are directly linked to them. The origin of our crisis is spiritual and does not originate from socioeconomic factors as President Obama argues.

The crisis this nation faced was not a bad economy, rising unemployment, low high school graduation rates, oil dependency, a broken healthcare system, or the war in Afghanistan. The real crisis this nation faced is a spiritual crisis, not a crisis of a bad economy etc. This nation has been steering a course that has been taking it farther away from God for a long time.

SOTU claims the crisis is over

There may be some who object and say that the improving numbers reported in the SOTU must mean we are getting better. From a worldly perspective, these factors seem to indicate that better days are ahead, but they don’t tell the whole story and given Divine revelation, it would be shortsighted and naive to believe they did. The cause of our national problems is a spiritual one, not socioeconomic; therefore unless this nation repents and reconciles with God, the crisis is not over. A nation that continues to be at variance with God is always in danger of His judgment.

SOTU gives us a false assessment of the union

The President has told us that our nation’s economy is getting better, ergo “the State of the Union is strong.” That makes sense from a worldly perspective, but it is non sequitur from a spiritual perspective. Let’s not forget this example from history. Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey. If we described Canaan using today’s language, we would say that Canaan was an economic miracle. They had bumper crops year after year. The economy was constantly growing and showed no sign of slowing. They weren’t dependent on other nations for anything. They had strong defenses against invasion that were state of the art for their day. If we looked at Canaan from a horizontal, worldly perspective, they had everything going for them in their favor. The problem is, their spiritual condition was so bad the Scriptures said the land itself couldn’t stand them and vomited them out. Canaan was economically prosperous, but they were in a spiritual crisis because of their depravity. The wealth of Canaan was increased so it could be transferred to another nation. When Joshua crossed the Jordan, none of their strong defenses could stop the invasion.

The historical example of Canaan shows us the futility of believing that there is a correlation between strength and a strong economy; a nation is truly strong only when it enjoys the blessing of God. When God watches over a nation, the people are safe from harm and prosperous. If they do go out to war, they win impossible victories over armies that are greater than they are. If we don’t have God’s favor and blessing, our union will never be strong. The question is, does America have God’s blessing?

The real state of our country

America is repeating the same pattern of disobedience that ancient Israel followed. When Israel did what was right in God’s eyes, the nation had rest from war and was prosperous. God exalted Israel and brought their enemies down. But when Israel rebelled, God brought Israel down and raised up enemies against them. When this happened, the land suffered from defeat in war, harsh occupation, destitution, oppression, and injustice. We see this pattern repeated again and again in the book of Judges. The same thing is happening now; America’s rebellion and its declining fortunes are linked.

The true measure of a nation is found in the spiritual health of a nation, not socioeconomic indicators. We can see very quickly that the state of America’s spiritual health is on life support. Absolute truth is regarded as a myth, and under the capricious tutelage of political correctness and its weaponized stepsisters of equality and tolerance, the values of the American people are reversing; what was once considered good and esteemed is now regarded as evil, and vice versa. People who rage against God utter the same arrogant words that Pharaoh spoke to Moses: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice…I do not know the Lord” (Exodus 5: 2). The concept of “love your neighbor” and “love your enemies” was thoroughly trampled as demonstrated in the Ferguson riots. There is ample evidence of America’s declining spiritual health in the daily news, and it is a sad thing to witness. It is looking more and more like the republic our Founders fought to give us will be lost and replaced by a tyrannical successor.

The solution we need

There are three things we need to include in our solution to America’s situation. First, we must understand the times we live in. If you have done your math, you know that 2015 is seven years from 2008, and it is a shemitah year. This is also not just any shemitah year; four blood moons (also known as a tetrad) are part of this shemitah cycle. This is also the third shemitah year in our season of grace. If we combine this fact with the signs in the heavens, it is time to get serious and prepare for what is going to happen.

Second, we must not delude ourselves to believe that just because the President cites economic improvement that our problems are over. The fact is, America’s worst crisis is on the horizon, and it will come regardless of what the economic indicators say. When the President says “the shadow of crisis has passed,” he is really saying “peace and safety,” but we know that judgment will fall suddenly when peace and safety are proclaimed. This country will be shaken as never before in its history. Everything that people have put their faith in outside of God will be shaken. Pensions, savings, stocks, and retirement plans will be wiped out. Abundant food and water supplies will become scarce. The dollar will fall as the world’s premier currency. Government will throw off the restraints of the Constitution and become tyrannical. Government surveillance and control of the people will increase, and dissenting voices will be ruthlessly suppressed and confined in detention camps. God gave Israel a season of grace to repent and reconcile with Him, but when that season was over and Israel didn’t repent, God’s judgment came. America is also in a season of grace after 9/11, but that season is approaching its end. Time is running out to make amends, and the Daniels among us who can read the writing on the wall need to prepare for what’s coming.

Third, we must realize that a spiritual problem will never be solved by any government economic policies or legislation. A spiritual problem will only be solved by a spiritual solution. The solution is national repentance and reconciliation with God. When Senator Daschle quoted Isaiah 9: 10 as part of America’s official response to 9/11, he really put a curse on us. The time has come to cancel this curse and seek the Lord with our whole heart.

The season of grace is still open, and we have a promise from God that if we will repent and reconcile with God, He will heal our land:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chron 7:14 (ESV)

This is the true state of the union, and I urge all our leaders to take advantage of this generous forgiveness that God offers while there is still time. Christians, please continue to pray fervently and effectively for this nation to be saved. Be wise virgins who have enough oil on hand for the time ahead; the darkness is coming when no one can work. Fulfill your ministries, and prepare the people like Joseph did. He faithfully prepared the people for famine before it happened, and as a result many people were saved alive. Be found busy with the Lord’s business, and Shabbat shalom everyone!

 Yeshua (Jesus) Kadosh (Holy)

Shabbat shalom image 2

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Christianity, current events

Thoughts on this Shemitah year of 2015 (5775)

January 16, 2015

Tevet 25, 5775

Koli El Adonai

Not everyone is familiar with the concept of the Shemitah year, especially those who have been influenced by replacement theology. We are already well into the current Shemitah year, so I will give a brief summary of the Shemitah year. I also have some applications to honor the Shemitah year and put its principles into practice that I would like the audience to prayerfully consider. There are five points I would like to mention about the Shemitah year.

First, the Shemitah year can be described as a Sabbath year. Just like the week includes six days for work and one for rest, every seventh year was a Sabbath year:

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.

Lev 25:1-7 (ESV)

Sowing and reaping were prohibited during the Shemitah year; the land was to rest and enjoy its Sabbath. The land became public domain during the Shemitah year because everyone was free to take whatever grew of itself in the fields for food during this year. There was no stockpiling during the Shemitah year; you were allowed to only take enough for your daily needs. This is similar to the command God gave concerning the manna (Ex 16: 16).

Second, the Shemitah year was a year of release. There was an old song by Tennessee Ernie Ford that said “I owe my soul to the company store,” and it expressed the despair of always being in debt and never being able to get out from under it. The Lord did not intend for perpetual debt to exist in Israel, and the Lord commanded that all debts be cancelled at the end of the Shemitah year:

At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed.

Deut 15:1-2 (ESV)

The last day of the Shemitah was Elul 29; all debts were cancelled at sundown on this day  and everyone got a fresh start. No matter how bad your situation was, you would never “owe your soul to the company store” in Israel. This also brings me back to God’s command about the manna. The Israelites were commanded to take an omer apiece from the manna, and they were warned that if they left any over until the next day, it would breed worms and stink. In the same way, any debts that that survived the Shemitah year were also unacceptable before the Lord. The Shemitah is therefore an R & R year (rest and release).

Third, the Shemitah year reminds the people that everything belongs to God, and we are just stewards of His resources. A brother may agree to work for you to pay off a debt, but even if the debt has not been paid in full, he is released on the Shemitah. If you buy the fields of another man, they also have to be returned one day. You really don’t own anything, and you certainly can’t take it with you.

Fourth, the Shemitah year reminds us of our dependence on God and builds our faith. Sowing and reaping stopped during the Shemitah year, so the people had to depend on God to provide for all their needs until the next harvest is gathered. And just like the Israelites in the wilderness, they had to have faith that the manna they needed would be there at the start of the day. The Shemitah causes people to look up to the Lord for their provision, not to the fields and the strength of their own efforts.

Fifth, the Shemitah is a blessing or a judgment. When the Shemitah was observed, the Lord’s blessing chased after the people and overtook them. It causes a nation to be exalted and its enemies to be abased. On the other hand, when the Shemitah was disregarded, tragedy overtook the nation. When that happens, the nation is brought down and its enemies are strengthened.

Does the Shemitah have any relevance for us today? Replacement theology would tell us no because we are under grace and not the Law. I don’t think we should dismiss the Shemitah so quickly however, especially since the effects of the Shemitah still impact us today. The last two Shemitah years have been particularly bad for our nation. In 2001 our nation experienced the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and there was a subsequent stock market crash on September 17, which was Elul 29 on the Jewish calendar. Then on the next Shemitah year of 2008, there was another devastating stock market crash on September 29.

This does not necessarily mean that we are in for another stock market crash, but considering that the time of this Shemitah year also includes four blood moons, the Daniel’s among us who can read the writing on the wall are rightly concerned. When America’s hedge of protection was breached and the Twin Towers fell, Senator Tom Daschle’s reply included Isaiah 9: 10. If you read this passage by itself, it does appear to be a message of hope after a tragedy. But if you read the previous verses, you learn that these words were spoken from a heart filled with pride and arrogance. Instead of repenting and reconciling with God, the people of Israel (and America) have distanced themselves even more from God. As the behavior of the people in riots associated with Ferguson, MO and New York, NY shows, the love of many has grown cold. Lawlessness, division, and anarchy are increasing. The quality of state and national government is no better. It has recently been revealed that Jonathan Gruber, the architect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), boasted that lack of transparency, voter ignorance, and deception were strategies used to pass this legislation. It has been reported that a Virginia politician  has been elected to office in spite of the fact he is currently in jail for a scandal involving a teen. America’s moral and spiritual condition has gotten worse since 9/11, not better.

Our nation needs to repent and reconcile with God while there is still time, and I pray that all of my readers will pray for their nation and be obedient to God’s direction for our lives. We know that when Israel disregarded the Shemitah year, it lead to the Babylonian captivity of the nation. With this in mind, it is prudent to focus on the Shemitah year itself and honor its principles. We can still honor the Shemitah year, and in at least some small way we can realign our lives and a small part of our nation back to God. For now, I am proposing that we follow the Shemitah mandate for rest and release.

Rest

There was to be no sowing or reaping during the Shemitah year, but since most of us do not live on or near farms like the people of ancient Israel, what does that mean to us? It is true that we are not primarily an agrarian society anymore, but I believe the principle of sowing can still apply. Sowing does involve seeds for a harvest, but sowing is not limited to seeds. We can also sow money (as in investments in a new business venture), time, resources, etc. I would ask you to consider not sowing into anything that can give you a return (or harvest) during the Shemitah year. This allows you to honor the prohibition against sowing without actually being a farmer. If you are a businessman or are involved in investments, this can be particularly challenging since your livelihood depends on this the same way ancient Israel depended on their harvests. I have already mentioned that the Shemitah can be a faith builder. Do you believe God will bless you for not sowing during the Shemitah? Then prayerfully consider honoring the Shemitah and don’t sow for a harvest (or a return on an investment). There is one exception to this that I want you to be aware of.

Good works Scripture

I will not say that all sowing must cease, because I must acknowledge that good works must not cease, even on the Sabbath or the Shemitah. The Lord Yeshua talked about these things when He walked among us:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Matt 12:1-12 (ESV)

If you have an opportunity to do good and bring glory to God, do it with all your might! The Shemitah principle doesn’t stop us from sowing for a harvest of righteousness. It pleases the Lord for us to sow good works into the lives of others to bring in a harvest of righteousness, even during the Shemitah year. Good works never go out of style!

Release

I also propose that we honor the Shemitah principle to release those in debt to us. The Shemitah mandate calls for all debts to be cancelled on the Day of Remission. On the Jewish calendar, that day is Elul 29, but on our calendar it will fall on September 13, 2015. As the sun sets on this day, cancel all debts, and not just the material ones. Here are some examples: Does someone at work owe you a favor (even if it’s a big one)? Release them. Did you loan some DVDs to a neighbor? Don’t ask for them back. Does someone owe you a lot of money? Cancel the debt and honor the Lord’s release. Did someone offend you? Forgive and set them free. Forgive all debts whether they are material or immaterial. If you are hesitant to forgive material debts, is it because these possessions are more important than honoring God’s Shemitah? Don’t let your possessions possess you.

Being set free

Set the captives free.

I think this is the best part of the Shemitah, because you can set someone free. When you confessed your sins to the Lord Yeshua and received forgiveness, didn’t that feel wonderful? Why not pass that feeling along to others? Jesus came to set the captives free, and when we honor the Shemitah and release others who are indebted to us, we are doing the same works He did. We are called to walk as He did, so let’s release our debtors!

I did mention that unforgiven debt is unacceptable to the Lord because it dishonors the Shemitah, but there is one debt that we are allowed to keep in force; it is the debt we have to love one another. Always keep this debt in force: Love the Lord you God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Those who love fulfill the Law!

Please prayerfully seek the Lord for His direction on what He wants you to do this Shemitah year, and then pursue it with everything you have. Remember also that you don’t have to wait until September 13 to cancel debts; you are free to cancel them at any time as the Lord leads you. When you are obedient to the Lord’s commands, you make Yeshua real, and the invisible God becomes visible to the world when we do His works. His light shines in the world through your obedience and good works, so let there be light!  Friends, I encourage you to sow good works among your neighbors. I will close with the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6: 24-26) and song to encourage you.

He came to set the captives free

 

 

 

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