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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Christianity, current events, morality

Will someone help Phoebe? A reminder to love and support all of those who labor among us

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Romans 16:1-2 (ESV)

The prophet Malachi asked the question “Will a man rob God?” This has been brought up countless times when the call to receive tithes and offerings goes out at church gatherings.  It is an important question concerning tithes and offerings, but there is more to robbing God than this. What do I mean? Tithes and offerings are not limited to what gets put in the offering basket. We also rob God when we dishonor our brothers and sisters, send them away empty, and we do not do good to those to whom it is due.

I wish I could say that the church makes Christianity real by showing the world the love we have for one another, but actual experience paints a different picture. Often times I have seen brothers and sisters in need roughly treated by the church. The church even goes on the offensive against needy brothers and sisters by passing the blame to them: “you wouldn’t be going through this if you were in God’s will.” Sometime the church offers “helpful” advice when they say: “just get a job,” “a man who doesn’t support his family is worse than an unbeliever,” and “didn’t Paul work to supply his needs?” People end up feeling worse when they hear such things instead of being encouraged, and it can also excuse the church from supplying the needs of needy members of the body. When the world sees that this is how we treat our own, they turn away from the truth. Mahatma Gandhi once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” These things ought not to be.

There are two types of people I have in mind when I speak of needy brothers and sisters. On the one hand, brothers and sisters have become needy due to circumstances beyond their control. An example of this are those have lost employment and are no longer able to support themselves. On the other hand, there are those who have become needy in answer to the call of God. They have given up everything to be obedient to the call of God; these are modern day Levites who go wherever God calls them and whose sole support comes from the people of God. Both of these groups have a legitimate claim to be supported by the church, but in practice, those who suffer involuntary need receive better treatment than those who voluntarily give up everything to obey God.

There is a simple explanation for this. People who become needy involuntarily are respected because their circumstances are not their fault. They were working and self-supporting until they lost employment. They are actively seeking employment again; they just need help until they can get back on their feet. Because they are regarded as truly in need, this makes it easy and respectable to justify doing good for them. Modern day Levites have a tougher time getting support. Because they voluntarily walked away from worldly work and possessions, their need for support is regarded with a degree of suspicion: “Why don’t you just get a job? Didn’t Paul work? Who is your pastor, and why isn’t anyone supporting you?” And the list goes on with many such variations. Such questions seek to undermine the legitimate need modern day Levites have for support from the church. They have even accused of using full time ministry as an excuse to live off the labor of others since they aren’t doing “real” work; this distortion makes it much harder to justify doing good to them. After all, no one wants to support someone who just wants a free ride. Many times in the church it’s the Martha types who get respect and sympathy because they are working (or trying to), but the Mary types are still disdained for wanting to devote themselves to the Lord (Luke 10: 38-42).

Before we dismiss the needs of our modern day Levites, let’s use the light of God’s word to examine the legitimacy of the needs of modern day Levites. If Scripture shows that modern day Levites still walk the Earth today, then we must answer some questions: Does God still call people to give up everything and follow Him? If so, what is our obligation toward them?

Does God still call people to give up everything and follow Him?

Yes. The call to give up everything is explicit in the call to discipleship (Matt 10: 37-39). We cannot love anything more than the Lord Yeshua and still be His disciple, so we must acknowledge that everything belongs to Him, and that He is free to do whatever He wants with it. The shemitah year (which we are now in) reminds us about this because it is a recurring reminder that everything belongs to God. That means we are not owners of anything; we are just stewards entrusted by God to manage His possessions. We must never hold on to anything like it belongs to us. Chuck Swindoll said it very well when he said “hold on to the things you love with loose fingers, because if you don’t, it’s going to hurt when God takes them away.”

God does not always call us away from our vocation. Sometimes He keeps us in our present circumstances as a witness to others on the job or in your neighborhood. He may also want you to use some of the income he provides for you to support others in ministry. But sometimes He does call us away, as when Peter, Andrew, James, and John walked away from the family and their livelihood in the fishing business for something better (Matt 4: 18-22). So what is our obligation to the ex-fishermen among us?

Our obligation to modern day Levites

Since modern day Levites are called by the Lord into full time service, they are entitled to receive their living from their service. Paul wrote that “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches” Gal 6:6 (ESV) and “If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” 1 Cor 9:11 (ESV). That means we have an obligation to supply their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs so that they will be fully equipped and lack nothing. This is where we must do something to make our support real, not just pray about it (James 2: 14-16).

Physical needs

We must support out modern day Levites so their physical needs are supplied; this can be food, shelter, expenses, or clothing. I have heard the objection that if God is their supplier, then He will supply everything supernaturally. This does not align with Scripture, and this becomes apparent if we use the ministry of Yeshua as a case in point. It is true that Yeshua did multiply loaves and fishes to feed thousands of people, but His ministry was still supported by everyday people:

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their [private] means.

Luke 8:1-3 (ESV)

The Lord’s ministry depended on the contributions of the people to supply physical needs, and if His ministry was supplied this way, then we must also supply our modern day Levites from the resources God blesses us with.

Spiritual and emotional needs

We often look to our modern day Levites to supply comfort, exhortation, teaching, intercession, love, healing, and ministry, but we often forget they also need the same thing. When the enemy attacks and brings setbacks and discouragement, the encouragement our modern day Levite needs comes from the body of believers. When we make mistakes, we still need to confess our faults to each other and bind up each other’s wounds. In short, we need to bear our burdens with one another, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

We must also be particularly vigilant to protect our modern day Levites in the physical and spiritual realms. Just because they are ministering for God doesn’t mean the Adversary leaves them alone. On the contrary, they are often the target of much worse attacks than the rest of us in God’s army. They are uniquely gifted, equipped, and called forerunners in God’s army, and the enemy would love to knock them out of the fight. As such, we must intercede and cover them with prayer; this binds up the enemy so that he doesn’t interfere with their ministry. Don’t forget the power that effective and fervent prayer has (James 5:  16-18). We must also be ready to make a stand with our modern day Levites because some attacks are in the physical realm. Slander, accusations, and all kinds of mistreatment and abuse are often directed at our modern day Levites, and when these things happen we must be prepared to stand up as their defenders and advocates. Do not forget the strength that comes in numbers (Eccl 4: 9-12).

Go all the way when you support the modern day Levites

Don’t give our modern day Levites halfhearted support (in military terms, don’t half step). What I mean is this: Anyone can provide a meal or a coat, but just doing so doesn’t mean the need is fulfilled. Anyone can provide a meal or a coat without any emotional attachment, but doing this is the same as a clanging symbol (1 Cor 13: 1-3). What good does it do to get a meal without the chance to share your heart and connect over the meal? There is a huge difference between receiving a meal from a heart filled with love, and a meal without love. Modern day Levites need all the benefits and encouragement that comes from love (as we all do). This is better, but I want to go one step further and show my brothers and sisters a more excellent way.

Encouraging a modern day Levite over a meal is good, but such encounters are transitory and infrequent. A more excellent way is to provide long term intervention and loving support. If you have an extra room and want to donate the space to support a modern day Levite, that is well and good. But I repeat the same thing here I said about meals: do it in love. I have seen a modern day Levite be provided with a living space at different houses, but no love to go with it. This made the spiritual atmosphere toxic and even adversarial instead of holy and sanctified. The result of these arrangements was conflict, strife, and suffering in the physical and grieving the Holy Spirit in the spiritual. This is unacceptable behavior for those who call Yeshua Lord and it must stop. A modern day Levite needs a safe place to land after a day of ministry to be refreshed, and this is provided with a long term commitment to supply a living space (physical support) and love (spiritual and emotional support) for as long as God assigns that Levite to labor in your area. A long term commitment of love and support is the most excellent way, and this means bonding with another person like they are your family (which they are). I encourage everyone who has the resources to do so to sow into this work. Think of it this way: If you obeyed God’s call and left everything behind, how would you want others to minister to you? Please remember the modern day Levites among us who gave up everything to obey God’s call and honor the Lord Yeshua in them by helping them with whatever they have need of. You will be blessed!

A word of warning

I have gone to great lengths to show that modern day Levites need our support, but what happens when they are ignored and roughly treated? Consider this:

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Matt 25:41-46 (ESV)

Withholding good from those to whom it is due is sin, so I ask again: Will a man rob God?

Be encouraged, my beloved!

January 1, 2015

Tevet 10, 5775

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Evaluating the events of Ferguson et al through the lens of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail:” A social commentary in the wake of the Ferguson et al riots

8 December 2014

16 Kislev 5775

When Martin Luther King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he was engaged in a struggle against the injustice of segregation that existed in the south. When it came to the injustices perpetrated in the south, he could not stand by in good conscience and do mothing: he felt that action was needed: “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God.” With this in

Diane Nash and Freedom Riders

Diane Nash and Freedom Riders

mind, Martin Luther King and other like-minded individuals (e.g. the Freedom Riders) participated in a series of nonviolent marches, sit ins, and protests against the injustice practiced in the south, and history records that the legacy of this movement changed the social structure of southern society and finally ended segregation’s hold in the south. This template of nonviolent resistance is powerful, but I would also like to add that there is more that we need to add to it to affect the changes we need in this hour. For now let’s concentrate on King’s letter, but before we contrast this letter with the Ferguson riots, it would be well to discuss Martin Luther King’s strategy to end injustice contained in his letter.

Martin Luther King used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience as a way to bring about social change. Violence would not be included as a strategy to end injustice, and there are good reasons for this. Violence just leads to more violence, which goes to the principle of sowing and reaping. If you sow wheat, you harvest wheat later. The same is true of violence. Violence is something that forces itself on others against their will, and involuntary change is not the strategy heaven uses as a change agent. God wants us to make voluntary change, as when He stands at the door and knocks. He does not force His way into our hearts, but allows us to make that decision. Some of the fruits of violence on those touched by it are resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, hatred, and revenge; this shows that violence is immoral. If these things are the results of violence, how can we ever expect to use violence to get a good result? The law of sowing and reaping does not allow this, and we delude ourselves if we think a good fruit results from immoral means. Martin Luther King himself wrote about this in his letter when he said:

Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends.

If we want to change the world for the better, then our methods must use God’s strategies which allow His power to manifest. When He does the work, the change is lasting (Psalm 127: 1) and we become “co workers with God.”

Martin Luther King also employed civil disobedience as a strategy to end injustice, but he was careful to define what he meant lest others think he advocated anarchy. King wrote that there are just laws and unjust laws on the books. We can distinguish which is which by their agreement with the word of God. King writes that “A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.” In other words, just laws advance good government as well as the happiness and safety of society; therefore it is necessary to obey just laws. On the other hand, King defines an unjust law as “a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law…Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Segregation laws are unjust because the concept of segregation “distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.” King mentions the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as an example of civil disobedience. They refused to obey the command to bow down to the image King Nebuchnezzar set up because it violated the commandments of God.

King wrote that any campaign of nonviolent protest must include these four steps: “Collection of facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.” Let’s address these one at a time.

Collection of facts

The question of whether or not an actual injustice occurred must be definitively answered before action is taken. This seems like an obvious precaution, but history has many examples in which action proceeded on the basis of impulse and sketchy facts rather than irrefutable evidence. Strong and passionate feelings that an injustice has occurred are never sufficient cause for action to proceed. When this evidence has been obtained, then the next step is to negotiate.

Negotiation

The evidence of injustice is now the basis for negotiation between the parties for redress of grievances. If the negotiations resolve the injustices, then there is no need to proceed further.  But if negotiations fail, then the next step will be self purification.

Self purification

King realized that his opponents would be out in force to resist their efforts, but they cannot meet the opposition on his own low ground if they want to prevail. Pure means must be used to gain pure ends, so the participants must be properly trained to stay true to the principles of nonviolence. They cannot fight back if they are beaten, and they must be prepared for arrest and jail for their activities. They are now ready for the last step.

Direct action

Left by itself, negotiation will never happen unless circumstances prod it into action. According to King, the purpose of nonviolent direct action “is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.” Direct action creates the necessary tension that drives the parties back to the negotiating table so that the injustices may finally be resolved.

The church

There is one more point I would like to address from King’s letter, which was his disappointment with the church. The church is God’s visible representation on Earth. The members of the church are God’s ambassadors, and as believers the church is to continue doing the same works that Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) did. If this is true, then where are the works? Why is society tearing itself apart when the church has the words of life? Why isn’t our nation getting the balm it needs to heal its wounds? Martin Luther King had high hopes that the church would work with him against injustice in his day, but that hope was to end in disappointment.

What has happened to the church? In the book of Acts, we read that when people came together, there was a sense of awe about the power of God in their midst (Acts 2: 43), and when Ananias and Sapphira died in church, people rightly feared offending that power (Acts 5: 1-13). We don’t hear about that any more, do we? The church has become a mere shadow of its former self. There is no expectation that congregants and visitors will experience the supernatural power of God when they come to church meetings.  Many churches don’t even believe that the gifts of the Spirit are in operation today. Hurting people need a touch from God, but instead they hear a dry sermon void of any power to give them the help they need. When they cannot get what they need from the church, they become disillusioned with God and look for any other way to alleviate the suffering they feel. The church needs to recapture its power and purpose if there is going to be any hope for change. King makes this clear when he writes:

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

We have seen many of these disgusted young people in the Ferguson riots and in the satellite protests in other cities. We need our church leaders to stand up as never before and speak “thus says the Lord” in power and demonstration of the spirit, but many are silent instead; they prefer to take a path that doesn’t offend anyone and friendship with the world. The consequence of this is a self-destructing society and a church that has become an enemy of God. The cold and worldly church of Martin Luther King’s day has become even more so today. This spiritual decay will also be mentioned as a contributing factor when future historians write about the decline and fall of our republic.

Now that we have taken a look at Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” let’s evaluate the events of the Ferguson riots and subsequent Eric Garner protests (hereafter referred to as Ferguson et al) using King’s letter as our guide.

Nonviolence

Marching with Martin Luther King

Marching with Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King advocated a campaign of nonviolence because only pure methods can achieve pure results. If King had gone to Ferguson, he would certainly not be a part of the violence that is still ongoing. If he were to participate, it would be to lead peaceful, nonviolent protests that don’t result in offense and destruction. The destroyed businesses of Ferguson would still be standing if the protesters had chosen to follow King’s path of nonviolence, and the citizens would all benefit from this respect for life and property.

Civil disobedience

There can be no doubt that civil disobedience is happening in Ferguson et al, but it certainly isn’t the civil disobedience Martin Luther King advocated. The situation in these cities is really bordering on chaos and anarchy; respect for the rule of law is at an all-time low, and there is a complete disregard for obeying just laws.

Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience preserved the rule of just laws, which is something that ought to never be neglected. Nothing good will ever come when just laws are disobeyed. The situation in Ferguson et al and the attitude of some of the people show how little regard there is for the rule of law and due process. When Sean Hannity recently interviewed Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, she wasn’t concerned about the evidence. She unbelievably said that it doesn’t matter what did happen, but what should have happened. This is especially shocking since she is a lawmaker; what’s the point in having laws if we disregard them whenever we don’t like them? In that case we could disband our legislatures and do whatever we want.

Respect for the law enforcement is also under assault because Michael Brown’s death is touted as racially motivated. They have come to see the police and law enforcement as defenders of the corrupt status quo, and so they are reviled and disrespected. This appalling behavior was recorded in Denver when protesters openly mocked a police officer, who was protecting them, was hit by a car. We cannot say we have become better as a nation when the suffering of another human being is mocked like this.

Collecting facts

The evidence collected by the grand jury in its decision about Michael Brown’s death has been released for public scrutiny, but that made no difference to Ferguson et al. It was totally ignored in favor of the supposition that a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager, ergo it was a racially motivated homicide and the grand jury is just letting Officer Darren Wilson off the hook. It was a perfect reflection of Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s thinking in this matter.

Facts were important to Martin Luther King, and ought to be to everyone. Without the evidence of injustice, there could be no justification for protest or civil disobedience. When facts are thrown under the bus, we begin the shift from a nation of laws to a vigilante nation where emotional fervor supplants rational thinking, evidence, and the rule of law. We are well on our way to making Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s “The Ox-bow Incident” a reality.

Negotiation and self purification

Negotiation and self purification were non factors in Ferguson et al. There was no dialogue or negotiation in Ferguson et al, just flames of discontent fanned white hot by the racial stokers of our day, nor was there any serious consideration of using the strategy of nonviolent protest.

Direct action

The Ferguson et al riots went immediately to direct action, but it was not the nonviolent direct action Martin Luther

Kristallnacht in Berkeley CA Kale Williams 8 Dec 2014

Kristallnacht in Berkeley CA Kale Williams 8 Dec 2014

King advocated. The violence and lawlessness in Ferguson et al rolled downhill like a boulder destroying everything in front of it. Glass shards from broken windows littered the streets like an American remake of Kristallnacht. Crowds blocked highways and refused to even allow emergency vehicles to pass through. Zemir Begic, an innocent Bosnian man, was bludgeoned to death by black teenagers during the “protests.” Five days later a Bosnian woman was dragged from her car, threatened with murder, and beaten. Businesses (including the one Michael Brown robbed) that had no connection whatsoever to the grand jury verdict were targeted for vandalism, looting, and arson. As if to spite King’s strategy of nonviolence, rioters even vandalized the Martin Luther King building in Berkeley CA. All this violent direct action achieved was to create offense in hearts of many people and decimate the neighborhood. Sowing violence will reap a harvest of violence if the process is not stopped.

Berkeley MLK building damage Karl Mondon 8 Dec 2014

Berkeley MLK building damage Karl Mondon 8 Dec 2014

The church

All that Ferguson et al did was show us the true spiritual condition of our country. As is the condition of the church, so is the condition of the nation; and right now, our nation is on life support. Many will disagree and say that it’s not that bad. They may admit that there are times when the waters get choppy, but they calm down again. Our real condition is like the ocean waters that cover a sunken city. While the surface waters appear calm and serene, they cover the true state of affairs, which is a scene of ruin and destruction. A powerless church that has made peace with the world has helped give birth to legions of disappointed and disgusted young people who arrogantly say “who is the Lord, that I should obey Him?”

There are better ways to handle injustice than violence. Even if all the people of Ferguson et al did was to consider the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and glean its wisdom and advice to advance their cause, the riots of Ferguson et al would never have happened because the facts would not support direct action. And even if direct action were appropriate, it would have been nonviolent in nature.

Reconciliation

Our President has recently spoken about the need to rebuild trust between our communities and law enforcement. I agree with this, but not for the reasons our President might give. When he includes that fact that law enforcement needs to rebuild trust with the community, he presupposes that the law enforcement community is the one at fault and needs to make amends for their actions. We can see this in his statement (4 Dec 2014) after the Eric Garner verdict. President Obama said:

Some of you may have heard there was a decision that came out today by a grand jury not to indict police officers who had interacted with an individual with Eric Garner in New York City, all of which was caught on videotape and speaks to the larger issues that we’ve been talking about now for the last week, the last month, the last year, and, sadly, for decades, and that is the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way.

What? This has been going on for decades? He makes it sound like the problem is widespread and vast, but I take exception to his statement. Our law enforcement community has been unfairly portrayed by the President’s words. While it is true that there have been instances of bad apples in police departments across the nation, it does not follow that this is indicative of a widespread problem. With this in mind, I would like to offer up my contribution to the reconciliation of law enforcement and our community with an open letter to all of those serving in law enforcement.

To all our brave men and women serving in law enforcement,

President Obama (4 Dec 2014) has made remarks recently that paint a picture of law enforcement officers in a negative light. I want you to know I strongly disagree with the allegation made in his statement that you have not treated all the members of our community fairly. This blanket statement lumps all of law enforcement into one basket, and to use the President’s own words, this doesn’t treat everyone fairly.

It has to be admitted that sometime there are bad apples in the police department, and it is unfortunate when the press focuses attention on them, or when politicians blame our problems on law enforcement officers for the sake of politics. For every bad apple, there are scores of officers who are serving with honor and distinction. These are the officers I want to recognize and thank; they don’t always get the credit they deserve, but their work and sacrifice are what help make our community a better place. They are well trained professionals we depend on when things get out of hand.

I want to thank all of you for your service to our community. You do a thankless and dangerous job, and you do it with honor and professionalism. I gratefully acknowledge a debt of gratitude that I owe you for your service. I pray that the Lord will send His angels to watch over you when you report to work, and bring you home safely to your families at the end of your shift. I would encourage everyone to also extend their thanks to our law enforcement officers for the work they do. Thank you again for your service and a job well done.

Reconciliation means we also need to actively forgive each other. Unforgiveness only advances the Adversary’s kingdom, and we don’t want to be on his team, do we? We are also in a shemitah year, which is a year of release. At the end of the shemitah year all debts were to be cancelled. Let’s make the shemitah year real again and cancel all debts whether they are physical debts or spiritual ones. Forgive freely because you have been forgiven. Set your debtors free because the Lord has set you free. The only debt that is allowed to survive the shemitah year is the debt we have to love one another (Rom 13: 8). Love is the glue that will bring us together and heal our wounds. Therefore love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Race stokers are still fanning the flames of racism in our communities, but we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into their camp. We must not embrace violence as a way to change society. Yeshua mentioned an incident in which Pilate killed a number of Galileans while they were sacrificing (Luke 13: 1). Yeshua knew about this, but He didn’t use this to advocate rioting and protesting the Roman occupation. It was more important to Him that we repent and get our affairs with God in order. While nonviolence is a powerful way to change society, given the late hour that we live in, it is absolutely necessary to redouble our efforts using the supernatural power of God. We must press on to better things by using a more excellent way to change our society for the better than the race stokers. The church must not forget that we have the weapons of God at our disposal; they are mighty and powerful beyond anything man can conceive of:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

2 Cor 10:3-5 (ESV)

And don’t forget this:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

James 5:16-18 (ESV)

We need to continue to pray that our nation will see massive repentance, revival, and reconciliation with God. When this happens, we can lay hold of God’s promise to heal our land (2 Chron 7: 14). I would like to close with a final quote from Martin Luther King. Even though these words were written from a Birmingham jail in 1963, one could mistake them for the situation in Ferguson et al:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Fare ye well, my beloved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ruin heaps of 9/11 and Ferguson: We have met the enemy, and they are us

2 December 2014

10 Kislev 5775

As a prophetic sign, the shemitah year of 2001 witnessed the fall of the twin towers in New York. The ruin heaps of the towers were eventually taken away, but as with ancient Israel, it was a sign of things to come unless the nation changed its course. It was a clear warning that the nation needed to make things right with God. They had two possible choices. On the one hand they could repent as a nation and be reconciled with God, but on the other hand they could harden their hearts and continue doing what got them in trouble with God in the first place. In ancient Israel’s case, they chose to stubborn and continue business as usual which eventually caused the entire nation to be conquered and deported. Their words are preserved for us in Scripture:

“The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.”

Isaiah 9:10 (ESV)

Israel felt the answer to their Assyrian problem would be found in their own efforts and strength. Their solution was to rebuild the ruins with stronger materials and replace the sycamores with a better tree, but their solution never included repentance and reconciliation with God. The initial ruins cause by the limited Assyrian incursion became a foreshadowing of things to come in which the entire land would be filled with ruins. This brings us to 9/11.

The ruins of the twin towers are also a foreshadowing of things to come unless our nation repents. In the same way that God gave Israel a season of grace to make things right, America is also in a season of grace. Unless this nation changes course and repents, the ruin heaps of the twin towers will also be a sign of what the land will look like. This became especially clear in the Ferguson riots after the grand jury verdict. Ruin heaps of destroyed businesses now litter the city of

Destruction at Ferguson

Destruction at Ferguson

Ferguson. In this case it wasn’t the act of terrorists, but homegrown lawless rioters that caused this destruction. They were completely unrestrained by the normal restraints of a civilized people such as conscience, decency and common sense; they used the grand jury verdict as a justification (or cover) as they went about destroying and looting their own neighborhood. America is thus engaged on two fronts: it tries to defend itself from foreign aggression, but it is being torn apart by internal strife. Heaps of ruins such as this will become widespread unless change is made. The Ferguson riots are symptomatic of a much more serious problem facing America. We have met the enemy, and they are us.

What is the greatest threat to America? Is it ISIS, or some other foreign power such as China or Russia? The greatest threat to America’s survival is not found overseas, but in our own hearts. It is the apostate spiritual condition of the people. Just as Israel responded to the initial Assyrian invasion with pride and arrogance, America is following in those same steps. Like Israel, after 9/11 there was a surge in church attendance, but there was no resulting national revival or repentance. It was felt that this problem would be solved by our own efforts and wisdom. In order for the country to be safe again, the Department of Homeland Security was created and the Patriot Act was quickly signed into law. Our leaders put their faith in the intelligence infrastructure with its sophisticated technology, which was used to spy on our enemies and the general population in order to detect potential terrorist activity in the making. They neglected a very important truth when they took this course of action:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalms 127:1 (ESV)

God has to watch over our nation and keep us safe. If He doesn’t watch over us, there is absolutely nothing we can do to keep our nation safe. George Washington knew our nation would never endure by offending God when he spoke these words at his inaugural address in 1789:

Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained

How did we get from a president that feared God, to a national leadership that places more faith in technology than the favor of God?

America did not get to its present condition of spiritual decay overnight; America died the death of a thousand paper cuts. As can be seen in George Washington’s words, America held the favor of God in high regard at its founding. We openly acknowledged Him and depended on His benevolence for the blessings we had. In order to change a nation from God fearing to a nation that is hostile to God, the nation’s foundation must be destroyed, so when a future Edward Gibbon pens his seminal work about “The History of the Decline and Fall of the American Republic,” there can be no doubt the following points will be included as contributing factors: hijack education, rewrite history, and call what is good evil, and what is evil good. Because space is limited, only give a cursory discussion of each point will be made. An in depth discussion would have to be the subject of future posts.

Hijack education

The educational model used by America was not the same as it is today. If we could go back in time and visit a classroom during the early years of the republic, many would no doubt be shocked to see that the Bible was openly used and discussed in the classroom. The Founders felt that knowing God and the Bible was essential to the development of future generations, and the reason children were taught to read was so they could read the Scriptures for themselves. Their sentiments were expressed in the Northwest Ordinance: “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” As we can see, the first educational model used in this country had three pillars: Religion, morality, and education. In order to set this nation at variance with God, this educational model must be changed.

The modern educational model focuses only on knowledge, which excludes morality and religion and is fatally flawed. First, knowledge by itself leads to arrogance. Second, without including the God’s faithful instructions of right and wrong, those who learn knowledge may end up using that knowledge to harm society. If we are going to teach anyone skills that could harm society if used incorrectly, then logic demands that education also includes the contributions of religion and morality to restrain the misuse of knowledge. If we deny students the contributions of morality and religion, we end up with students who learn computer skills, but only to use them to hack into other systems for harm. They are not taught why this is wrong and amend their behavior. This is what modern education denies its students. Even when morality and ethics are discussed, they are only based on human reasoning and wisdom (e.g. Peter Singer et al). Ethics and morality that are conceived this way are malleable, arbitrary, and change with the caprices of the times; the Ten Commandments would not be considered as a basis for morality and ethics in an “enlightened” discussion.

The changing nature of manmade morality and ethics make them totally unsuited to the needs of creating a healthy and happy generation. What future generations need to form a solid foundation that will serve them throughout their lives is the unchanging standards of right and wrong found in God’s word. When we depart from that, the result is generations of children who will act out a life that does not include God’s standards of right and wrong. It also denies the very thing they need to succeed in this life and the life to come.

Rewrite history

Another step that must be taken to alienate a nation from God is to rewrite history. The people must be made to forget their true origins and who their ancestors really were. For example, if we were a righteous people, but were persuaded that we were really godless and secular, then we would not fear God and behave as godless and secular people would. It is really a form of identity theft because it robs future generations of the true knowledge of their origins.

The effort to rewrite history began in earnest in the last century, and it was a slow process that did not arouse suspicions among the people. It used a two prong approach that went through academia and the courts. Academics taught their students that we always were a secular nation, and that’s what the Founders intended to give us. This deception also made its way into the law schools and influenced legal thinking, which would later produce the lawyers, judges, and Supreme Court justices who would interpret our laws. It was these Supreme Court justices who would one day write the Everson v. Board of Education (1947) decision that argued “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” As time went on and people accepted this doctrine as fact, and subsequent court decisions would be increasingly hostile to religious expression. One of the finest examples of this is Judge Samuel B. Kent’s invective against students who would dare mention Jesus Christ at a high school graduation:

And make no mistake, the court is going to have a United States marshal in attendance at the graduation. If any student offends this court, that student will be summarily arrested and will face up to six months incarceration in the Galveston County Jail for contempt of court. Anyone who thinks I’m kidding about this order better think again….Anyone who violates these orders, no kidding, is going to wish that he or she had died as a child when this court gets through with it.

The apple has fallen a long way from the tree when George Washington warned us we must not think we can endure without God’s favor.

Call what is good evil, and what is evil good

It will also be necessary to rewrite the moral code of a nation to ensure it is alienated from God. The old standards must be thrown out as out of date so the new and enlightened standards can be installed. The moral revisionists searched for and found ways to set aside the commandments of God in favor of the doctrines of men. The very things we call good now would have shocked the generation of my parents and grandparents.

An example of this is how society has evolved on the issue of premarital sex. When society respected God’s rules about sex, blessings followed. But society deviated from those standards and started calling abstinence bad and indulgence good. They stopped telling their children to wait until marriage and argued that “if we know our children are going to do it anyway, we should show them how to do it safely.” This is bad logic from the start because it assumes that our children will have sex before marriage without giving them the benefit of the doubt that they really might want to wait until marriage, but that option is not seriously discussed as a possibility because it is already assumed they will do it. By assuming that our children will have premarital sex, we indirectly give them the expectation that they will do so, and so it is not surprising when children start giving birth to children.

This argument also presupposes that premarital sex can be made safe, as in free of consequences. This is never the case. Even if a child does not get pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted disease, they are still damaged spiritually. Sexual indulgence hardens the heart and encourages the child to continue sexual activity and disregard God’s warnings about this. The result can include broken hearts and lives, sexual disease, and unplanned pregnancy. Children conceived in these encounters and raised in a single parent household are much more likely to get in trouble with the law. What we need to realize is that it isn’t possible to ever make premarital sex safe because it violates God’s standards and subjects a child to God’s wrath. There is no manmade intervention that can shield them from that and make things “safe.”

We have met the enemy, and they are us

Unless we change, the ruin heaps of the twin towers will become more common in other places as time passes, and Ferguson is an example. The people who engaged in rioting, vandalism, murder, arson, and looting (this is the short list) have justified their works based on a morality that does not include such old fashioned notions as “love your neighbor as

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

yourself” and “love your enemies.” The children raised by teachers who told them we are a godless nation, who gave them no Godly sense of right and wrong, and called good evil and evil good could not express themselves better than what happened in Ferguson. They had no fear of God in their eyes, and their love had grown cold. They have seized hold of Dostoyevsky’s maxim “if God does not exist, then everything is permissible,” and acted accordingly. The enemies of America may not have to lift a finger to defeat us in battle. The whole structure of society has decayed to the point that it will go whirling to destruction all on its own. This may very well be the generation that witnesses the end of the American republic. In that case, our future Gibbon will rewrite the words of the Gettysburg address to reflect the arrogance and pride of this generation:

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall have died in vain, that this nation [that was once] under God shall not have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall perish from the earth.

We have come to the point where our situation resembles Humpty Dumpty’s: “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put America back together again.” The only hope we have to reverse this disaster is national repentance. God faithfully promised that if we turn from our wicked ways and repent, He will heal our land (2 Chron 7: 14). There is no manmade intervention that will heal our nation. We need God’s help. We can have heaps of ruins, or God’s power and intervention to heal our land. Which will it be?

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