Vote! Vote! Vote! You MUST vote!

Vote Button 2

President Calvin Coolidge

Radio address, November 3, 1924

“I therefore urge upon ALL THE VOTERS of our country, without reference to party, that they assemble…at their respective voting places IN THE EXERCISE OF THE HIGH OFFICE OF AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP, that they APPROACH THE BALLOT BOX IN THE SPIRIT THAT THEY WOULD APPROACH A SACRAMENT, and there, disregarding all appeals to passion and prejudice, dedicate themselves truly and wholly to the welfare of their country. When an election is so held, it…sustains the belief that the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

Senator Daniel Webster

“Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.”

Samuel Adams-Founder

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”

Matthias Burnett-Judge, U.S. District Ct., District of N.Y.,(1806-1819)

(appointed by President Thomas Jefferson)

“Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your hands. . . . (right to vote) To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . .”

The American culture and The Great American Experiment in self-government has never been in greater peril. You ABSOLUTELY MUST VOTE on Tuesday November 7, 2018.

The choice is simple in nearly every race. Vote for GOD-GIVEN FREEDOM or vote for power hungry man-created SOCIALISM, a vote guaranteed to take freedom away. Freedom is a gift from God, not a grant from government. God’s great gift of freedom was proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

God’s great gift of freedom has been repeatedly reaffirmed by nearly all U.S. presidents and many other prominent leaders from our country’s founding up until the present. President Ronald Reagan cautioned that we are never more than one generation away from losing our precious freedom.

We must disregard past conditions or future uncertainties. We must choose and vote for candidates on November 7, 2018 based on today’s conditions.

With abundant clarity, the vote cast on Tuesday, MOST LIKELY TO PRESERVE OUR GOD-GIVEN FREEDOMS, will be cast—in nearly every race—for the conservative (Republican) candidate.

“I am the way…”

My every breath, thought, attitude, choice, and action is by the grace of God. Yet, He gives me the freedom to align myself with Him as an expression of continuing and eternal gratitude or to rebel and do things my own sinful way. By the power of the Holy Spirit choosing God’s way is easy, but Satan constantly fans the rebellious flames of pride. The tension can only be resolved by spending time with God, God’s people, and habitually, deliberately choosing God’s way. “I am the way…” [John 14:6]

Rocket Launch Devotionals!

“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (1970)

At a time when a movement is determined to forcibly revise history, our spiritual heritage is especially vital. Secular history chronicles man’s successes and failures. Real history chronicles the waxing and waning of man’s relationship with God. Real history is, after all, His story.

The root of C.S. Lewis’s observation is that, no matter how revered current authors may be, they are all subject to the influences and biases of modern culture. Similarly, historical authors were subject to the biases of their cultures. Reading books across a broad time span allows cultural biases to be offset.

C.S. Lewis’ quote drove this writer to search older books, leading to a rocket launch devotional plan. Consider these original source materials (origination time in red).

  1. AncientBible—Choose a reliable translation. Others have masterfully written comparisons of scripture versions. Generally, avoid paraphrases except for occasionally clarifying difficult passages in a translation. Commonly, believers read a chapter each day.
  2. Modern-Federer, William J. (2012). American Minute: Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO). Each daily reading spotlights famous figures and events from the earliest American colonies to the present day. The massive collection of original quotations repeatedly reinforces the principle that the United States form of government is not sustainable in the absence of a virtuous people. The Great American Experiment intends for the people to be self-governing. If the Christian faith and the government are separated, the government will fail. Conversely, the government will succeed only to the extent that people of Judeo-Christian faith are or become engaged.
  3. 1600s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2012). The Puritans Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The Puritan movement crossed denominational lines and was perhaps larger in Europe than in America. The daily readings feature a different author each month. Although some of the names may be unfamiliar to the modern reader, the readings are all spectacularly powerful. A few of the most familiar names include Richard Baxter, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Rutherford, and Thomas Watson. The vivid daily readings will excite any reader.
  4. 1700s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2010) George Whitefield, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). George Whitefield was one of the two best known preachers of The Great Awakening, which was the driving force for the War of Independence (later called the Revolutionary War). Without the Great Awakening, there likely would not have been an American revolution. Whitefield’s preaching, profiled in daily readings, is jaw-dropping.
  5. 1400s-â Kempis, Thomas. (2004). The Imitation of Christ, Hendrickson Christian Classics (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA). Originally written circa. 1421 A.D. Thomas â Kempis was one of the leaders of a reformation movement separate from and predating the Reformation launched when Martin Luther nailed his 99 theses to the Wittenburg church door. Luther’s Reformation exploded in part due to the contemporary invention of the printing press. Nevertheless, â Kempis’ Imitation of Christ remains one of the greatest Christian classics of all time. Each daily reading is dynamite.
  6. 1700s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2005) Day by Day with Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody MA. Jonathan Edwards was the other of the two best known preachers of The Great Awakening. Although, his best known message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” may conjure a mental image of hellfire and brimstone, his extremely extensive writings and these daily readings brim with God’s infinite beautiful love.
  7. 18-1900sSpurgeon, Charles (1991) Morning & Evening: A devotional classic for daily encouragement, Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC, Peabody MA. The “Prince of Preachers” wrote these daily morning and evening devotionals himself. His imagery is colorful, inescapably captivating, and inspiring beyond any ability to express in a brief summary.
  8. 1600s-Bennett, Arthur, ed. (2013). The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, (Versa Press, Inc. East Peoria, IL) Although some believers may not be used to reading the prayers of others, this collection is so vibrant it will bring tears to the eyes of many readers. The prayers in this volume have been written by saints such as Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, David Brainerd, William Jay, and Charles Spurgeon.

Personally, as time passed, a pattern emerged to my devotional time:

  • At first these devotional materials were simply read.
  • A bit later, I found myself highlighting occasional thoughts; eventually highlighting virtually everything with color coded highlighters.
  • Notes were occasionally jotted in the margins of the daily readings.
  • Today, virtually every page is filled with handwritten notes; some seem to be special thoughts from the Lord; others are 1-3 sentence summaries of the reading.
  • Finally, good writers seldom write in the first person (I, me, my, etc.). However, since the devotions are personal, intended primarily for my own use, the message skyrockets off the page when it is personalized. Example: “Christ, is a Mediator of the new covenant, a mediator between God and me. Jesus is a friend to both. He is a reconciler and a servant to both. He suffered for both. Jesus suffered for God’s justice and He suffered for my rejections.” And another example: “I MUST NOT handle God’s magnificent Word or the moments of my life carelessly. Instead, I MUST take great care to honor God’s Word and the moments of my life as special gifts from Him.”

Two other observations burn brightly from this collection of historic readings:

  1. All of these great spiritual leaders fully integrate the Old and New Testaments in their teaching/preaching. The Bible and the biblical worldview is a whole, from creation to the return of Jesus. Such a holistic view seems to be often diluted or piecemealed in present day materials and messages.
  2. The same early spiritual leaders lift up all three members of the Trinity equally and treat the wholeness of the Trinity equally with the roles of each member. Today, many denominations seem to focus on one member of the Trinity more than the other two. Similarly, in a zeal for analyzing Scripture, the wholeness of God too often seems to be overlooked as people zoom in on one member of the Trinity or another.

It is my hope and prayer that YOU will benefit from these suggestions.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Pastors: The Pulpit is Responsible for It

Finney Charles G

Charles G. Finney, the famous 19th Century evangelist and minister, during the Second Great Awakening had powerful and prophetic words for leaders in the ministry. During a sermon in 1873 Finney proclaimed:

Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits.

  • If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.
  • If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it.
  • If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it.
  • If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it.
  • If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.
  • If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it.
  • If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.

Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.

The Law Complements the Gospel!

woman reading the bible in the darkness

“Some say that you must not preach the law. But you cannot preach the gospel without preaching the law; for you shall find, by and by, we are to preach something that the people must be saved by: it is impossible to tell them how they are to be saved, unless we tell them what they are to be saved from. The way the Spirit of God takes, is like that we take in preparing the ground. Do you think any farmers would have crop of corn next year unless they plough now? You may as well expect a crop of corn on unploughed ground, as a crop of grace, until the soul is convinced of its being undone without a Savior.”

Rev. George Whitefield

Leader of the First Great Awakening (1730s & 1740s)

Ultimate Perfect Love!

Jesus Christ cross. Easter, resurrection concept. Christian cross on a background with dramatic lighting, colorful mountain sunset, dark clouds and sky and sunbeams

Christ’s death on the Cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love. ALL real love (agape; unconditional; others before self) comes from God. He allows and enables us to express His unconditional love to others only to the extent that we cast aside pride. Even that ability to cast aside pride comes from God.

Patriots Celebrate America, They Don’t Denigrate America!

Parade

Once upon a time, when our politicians did not tend to apologize for our country’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our former patriots handled negative comments about our great country.  These are good:

JFK’S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.

DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, “Does that include those who are buried here?”

DeGaulle did not respond.

You could have heard a pin drop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~

When in England , at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of ’empire building’ by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.

The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.  During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done?  He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.  What does he intend to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck.  We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?”

You could have heard a pin drop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies.  At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.

Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks, but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.  He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brit’s, Canadians, Aussie’s and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~

AND THIS STORY FITS RIGHT IN WITH THE ABOVE…

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.  At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.  “Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible… Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France !”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then, he quietly explained, ”Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman to show a passport to.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~

What TV shows are far better than American ones? (Part 2)

While The Ten Commandments in the first table (refer to Part 1 of this blog) exposes the differences between American and Asian entertainment, the second table reveals the effects of the glaring differences. Take a look! Once again, the flashing neon-like table needs no further amplification.

American Asian TV Ten Commandments 2

To the seasoned Western viewer, the tables may be intellectually satisfying and spiritually appealing, but may seem emotionally a bit wimpy, begging the question, “Exactly, what is the source of dramatic power in the Asian productions?” For there to be a struggle between good and evil, there has to be some form of evil.

In Asian TV dramas, the villain is not necessarily a murderous, unlawful villain; more often the “villain” is an unscrupulous emotional or spiritual villain resorting to various forms of skullduggery to break up love triangles. The most popular Asian TV dramas contain several overlapping love stories, because, “love covers a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 4:8 NASB] For the sources of dramatic power in Asian TV dramas, here is the list:

  • The storylines are amazingly creative unlike anything American have been able to produce. American cultural decay has produced one-dimensional movie/TV characters with a keen intellect and a severely limited range of emotions. Asian TV still produces three-dimensional characters using the full range of God-given intellectual, emotional, and spiritual faculties.
  • Characters are fascinating, played by outstanding actors with endearing personal characteristics
  • Selected characters have a vibrant sense of humor, backed by a soundtrack that demonstrates musical humor
  • Drama aroused by conflicts and misunderstandings regarding ordinary and major life obstacles (romance, competition, illness, injury, separation, death)
  • Rich interpersonal relationships among the characters fully engage the viewer
  • Dramatic satisfaction is rooted in compelling illustrations of applying Biblical principles, producing the best possible results
  • In a love triangle, the leading man invariable ends up with the girl who routinely meets the needs of others.
  • Many scenes varying from heart-warming or heart-wrenching to heart-breaking, but nearly always reflecting positive character goals
  • Dialogue exhibits amazing wisdom in ordinary and challenging situations—characters seem to say precisely the right thing at exactly the right time. The expressions of rightness paint spectacularly beautiful word pictures
  • Most characters, other than villains, are positive role models. Even the villains repent by the end of the series.

American movies/TV routinely and aggressively break all ten of the commandments and then celebrates the outcomes. Asian TV celebrates godly virtues and character building.

So why not follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “…whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure, whatsoever things are lovely…good report…think on these things.” Why not entertain ourselves with the good and the beautiful, rather than the sleazy, ugly, and evil. We cannot continue injecting ourselves with a dose of evil every time we turn on the TV or go to a movie.

If you have never seen any of the Asian dramas, you must try at least one. If you are curious, try “Autumn’s Concerto” (Taiwanese), “Descendants of the Sun” (South Korean), or “Tomorrow’s Cantabile” (South Korean). They are available on Netflix and other common outlets.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

 

Motherhood!

“That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of “freedom” can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God’s gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women—the ability to love as a woman.” Mother Teresa

I Must Decrease So That You Can Increase!

man looking at his big boss

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30 KJV] John the Baptist’s humble statement about his relationship with his cousin Jesus the Christ resounds loudly down through the ages. It applies to each of us today, regarding our relationship with the Lord and also our relationship with others.

Each of us must decrease so the love of God and the light of God can shine through each of our lives, becoming abundantly and conspicuously visible to others. Each of us must decrease so that others might increase. I (Lloyd Stebbins) must decrease so that YOU might increase. Humility demands it! God commands it!

Today, our schedules are voluntarily overcrowded with self; we have deliberately allowed little or no time to serve the needs of others. But wait! Serving others is an overarching Biblical imperative. Jesus, our perfect role model said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” [Mark 10:45 NIV]

We cannot draw attention to self and others at the same time. We cannot serve self and others at the same time.

Some say we must sacrifice self for the benefit of others. But scripture guarantees that the benefits returned outweigh perceived sacrifice. He said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” [Luke 6:38 KJV] The Apostle Paul, quoted Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:35 KJV] What do we have to give? Time, talent, and treasure!

It is a blessing to serve others. God blesses both the giver and the receiver, the benefactor and the one who benefits. If doubts linger, note that serving is not optional.  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37040 NIV] Service is an expression of love; service is love in action; serving others is love made visible.

The world says, “Have it your way” (old Burger King commercial and Frank Sinatra’s popular song, “I did it my way.”). It is YOUR choice, your way or God’s way.

As for me and my house, we will acknowledge that Jesus is THE WAY–“I am the way, the truth and the life…” [John 14:6 KJV]—and whole heartedly strive to live accordingly.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Was General Douglas MacArthur Being Prophetic?

Douglas MacArthur

“History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.” [emphasis added]

General Douglas MacArthur, December 12, 1951

Devotions—Rich, Disciplined, Half-hearted, Flat or Non-existent?

Woman reading inside a huge book

Is your time with God—often called “devotions”—rich, forced self-discipline, half-hearted, flat, or non-existent? As a believer for decades, my own devotions have at varying times fallen into each category. However, for the last couple of years, my devotional time with God has become spectacularly rich. Each morning, I am virtually launched from the bed eagerly anticipating time with the Lord. Why? What changed? In part, it is because C.S. Lewis observed that:

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read and old one in between. God in the Dock (1970)

Lewis’ likely concern was that a believer may pick up an armload of new books at the local Christian bookstore, all of which are well-written, by nationally known mature Christian authors. The books are great recommended reading.

However, despite the authors’ very best efforts, they are all influenced—to some extent—by their contemporary culture. American authors are subject to the influences of the seriously deteriorating American culture. Similarly, historical authors are subject to the cultural influences of their day. Reading books spanning the panorama of time helps to offset the cultural influences of any one particular time period.

Considering C.S. Lewis’ observation, if your devotional time lacks urgency and excitement, consider these suggestions, following a Bible reading with several other daily readings:

  1. Bible—Any reliable translation (Avoid paraphrases except perhaps for clarifying difficult passages in a translation.)
  2. Federer, William J. (2012). American Minute: Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO). The pages, dated for each day of the year, include powerful quotations from famous figures. The daily reinforcement drives the inescapable conclusion that America was born in faith, grew to become the most desirable place on earth by faith, and only faced the most serious culture crumbling issues in recent decades.
  3. Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2012). The Puritans Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The daily readings were written by Puritan Leaders. Unknown to most people, the Puritans became a very large movement, spanning Western Europe and early America. The movement was prominent for over two centuries. The writings of some of the best British Puritans are in this volume. The depth of each daily page is truly impressive.
  4. Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2010). George Whitefield Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The Great Awakening was a powerful spiritual awakening that swept America during the years leading up to the War of Independence, later known as the Revolutionary War. The Great Awakening inspired the yearning for freedom and the zeal to embark on a very high risk war. George Whitefield was one of the best known preachers of the era. His messages published as daily readings are both compelling and powerful.
  5. â Kempis, Thomas. (2004). The Imitation of Christ, Hendrickson Christian Classics (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA). Originally written circa. 1300 A.D. Thomas â Kempis was part of the Reformation. His book is written as a series of short undated meditations that are excellent for daily reading. It shines a very bright light on the gap between the way many believers live today and the life Christ intended them to live.
  6. Bennett, Arthur, ed. (2013). The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, (Versa Press, Inc. East Peoria, IL) The daily readings are prayers written by Puritans. Some are so rich they will bring tears to your eyes. Surprisingly, the American Puritans were nothing like the stereotype. They were actually colorful dressers, enjoyed a vibrant sense of humor, and knew how to throw a good party (Source: Their own diaries). Their defining feature was that they made no distinction between the sacred and the secular. To the Puritans, all of life was sacred.

Personally, I choose to read a chapter a day from the Bible, and a page a day from each of the other books. The collection inspires devotional times that are awesome, exciting, compelling, and growth producing.

Many popular modern devotionals potentially do more harm than good. They typically sandwich a feel good story between a couple of lines of Scripture at the top and a two-line prayer at the bottom. They lack substance, challenge, and fall woefully short of provoking a soul-deep relationship with God.

The late Dr. Howard Hendrix, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and Dallas Cowboys Chaplain, was fond of saying. “One of Satan’s most powerful weapons is to vaccinate people with a small dose of Christianity.”

Many believers read a chapter in the Bible, a page in a modern devotional, and mentally pat themselves on the back, convinced that they have satisfied their “obligation” for a daily devotional time. They are anxious to get on with “real life.” If we are truly devoted to the Lord, our devotion is continuous—all day every day, around-the-clock. The planned morning devotions are merely the kick start for the rest of the day.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Calling All Skeptics: The Virgin Birth Was Real!

Nativity scene.

During the holiday season, there is no shortage of skeptics enthusiastically challenging, ridiculing, or casting doubt on the Biblical narrative about the virgin birth of Jesus.

  • True skeptics are not likely to change; wild emotional claims suit their purpose just fine.
  • Believers who have a soul-deep conviction regarding the Biblical record of the virgin birth are not likely to be dissuaded.
  • In between, lie significant numbers of believers harboring views ranging from mild discomfort to serious questions about the virgin birth of Jesus.

The in-betweeners arise, in part, because the body of believers is sailing down the river rapids of cultural Humanism, while the believers are trying to paddle upstream, following the Biblical worldview.

The in-betweeners are not likely to raise questions within their place of worship for fear of embarrassment in front of fellow believers. They are unlikely to raise questions outside their place of worship, because the information is often not trustworthy.

The short answer to the dilemma perceived by some is that God created the “heaven and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1 KJV]. For the Creator of the universe, a virgin birth is no problem at all.

Nevertheless, for the finite human brain it is often helpful to cite illustrations that are a bit closer to human reality than the whole of Creation. For example, the Biblical record includes numerous births that are even more miraculous than the virgin birth of Jesus.

For example, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist were all born to conspicuously barren women in an ancient culture that regarded barrenness a curse or a punishment from God. Although the mothers of these great Biblical figures may have lived prior to the writing of the Book of Proverbs, they clearly understood the principles of the thirtieth chapter:

“There are three things that are never satisfied,     four that never say, ‘Enough!’: 16 the grave, the barren womb,     land, which is never satisfied with water,     and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ [Proverbs 30:15-16 NIV Emphasis added]

supernatural-births

Barrenness was a very serious condition. At that time, only a very rare woman would be childless by choice, a married woman—never. As indicated in the table, Scripture clearly confirms that the mothers of these men were barren (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Manoah’s wife, Hannah, and Elisabeth, respectively). Although all the mothers were mature, Sarah and Elisabeth were particularly old, as if the Lord was underscoring their extreme inability to bear a child, without Divine assistance.

Compare those births with the birth of Jesus who was born to a healthy, fertile, young woman, albeit a virgin. The miracle of the virgin birth required only a momentary overshadowing by the Holy Spirit. [Luke 1:35 KJV] There followed a pregnancy that was normal in every respect, except that Mary was hosting in her womb, the Savior forecast hundreds of years earlier. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” [Isaiah 7:14 KJV]

The birth of Isaac was announced by God; the births of Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus were announced by angels. The births of Jacob, Joseph, and Samuel were late in life and were answers to particular prayers. In all cases, Scripture emphasizes the barrenness of the mothers.

Sarah and Elisabeth were particularly old, far beyond childbearing years. Their husbands, Abraham and Zachariah, respectively, were also very old. All the supernatural births before the birth of Jesus, required a continuous series of daily miracles from conception until the baby was weaned from its mother’s breast.

At least for Abraham and Zachariah, the Lord had to completely restore their reproductive systems to enable them to participate in their role in conception. However, the string of miracles for the mothers was far greater, at least from a human viewpoint, especially for Sarah and Elisabeth.

Their reproductive systems had to be completely restored and rejuvenated. The Lord had to give them the ability to produce an egg, for them a long lost ability.

The mother’s uterus was completely restored with the with the ability to initially embed the baby in the wall of the uterus, allowing the formation of the umbilical cord through which life sustaining oxygen and nourishment would flow for nine months. The uterine muscles were given the strength to hold a baby for nine months, without rupturing or any form of physical damage.

For these women to bear a child, the entire endocrine system was restored to produce the great array of hormones necessary to sustain pregnancy, throughout the nine month period. Each mother’s uterus was altered to withstand the rigors of pregnancy and daily biochemical changes as well as the later movement of the child.

As childbirth approached, another burst of hormones prepared the way, softening the birth canal and initiating the childbirth sequence. About that time, a hormonal flush prepared the mother’s breasts for feeding the baby. Since baby formulas did not exist in ancient times, feeding a baby with the mother’s milk was essential. All the supernatural births in the above table could not have happened without the mothers’ physical support and nourishment before birth and the mothers’ personal breast milk nourishment for a long period after birth.

All of these complex birth patterns, completely unnatural in barren and old women, required many miracles greater than the virgin birth. For these mothers, pregnancy and nursing (breast feeding), became a series of daily miracles lasting years (nine months + nursing period)

Indeed, when the angel Gabriel was sharing, with Mary, God’s plan for her to give birth to the Savior, Gabriel further explained to Mary that her cousin Elisabeth had “…also conceived a son in her old age…(one) who was called barren.” Just to make sure the message is not in any way misunderstood, Gabriel immediately added, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” [Luke 1:36, 37 KJV] The angel’s abundantly clear message was that if Elisabeth could give birth in her old age, Mary should not be surprised any longer or doubt God’s ability to enable her virgin birth.

John the Baptist is well known for preparing the way for the coming Messiah Jesus. Less often considered is that John’s preparation responsibilities began at his own conception. His presence in the previously barren womb of the old woman Elisabeth, prepared Mary for her virgin birth.

As one final nail in the skeptic’s intellectual coffin, consider God’s proclamation in the Book of Psalms:

13 For you created my inmost being;     you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;     your works are wonderful,     I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you     when I was made in the secret place,     when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.        16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;     all the days ordained for me were written in your book     before one of them came to be. [Psalm 139:13-16 NIV]

Since God created every individual who has ever lived from the Garden of Eden through today, how could a simple virgin birth possible be a problem for Him?

OK, skeptics! It’s your turn. For Bible-believing Christ-followers, the virgin birth is exciting, but not a problem.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

A Rabbi’s Warning to U.S. Christians

lapin

by RABBI DANIEL LAPIN

Note: Rabbi Daniel Lapin is nationally known. His bio is at the end of this piece. He has kindly provided a strong endorsement for my book.

I am certainly not a Churchill. I am not even a Revel. I am having enough trouble just trying to be a Lapin. But I am issuing a very serious warning about deep consequences, just as they did. It is a warning about the earliest stages of what could become a cataract of disasters if not resisted now.
During the 1930s, Winston Churchill desperately tried to persuade the English people and their government to see that Hitler meant to end their way of life. The British ignored Churchill, which gave Hitler nearly 10 years to build up his military forces. It wasn’t until Hitler actually drew blood that the British realized they had a war on their hands. It turned out to be a far longer and more destructive war than it needed to be had Churchill’s early warning been heeded.

In 1983, a brave French writer, Jean-Francois Revel, wrote a book called How Democracies Perish. In this remarkable volume, he described how communism’s aim is world conquest. For decades he had been trying to warn of communism’s very real threat. Yet in January 1982, a high State Department official said: “We Americans are not solving problems, we are the problem.” (Some things never change.) A good portion of the planet fell to communism, which brought misery and death to millions because we failed to recognize in time that others meant to harm us.

Heaven knows there was enough warning during the 1980s of the intention of part of the Islamic world to take yet another crack at world domination. Yet instead of seeing each deadly assault on our interests around the world as a test of our resolve, we ignored it. We failed the test and lost 3,000 Americans in two unforgettable hours.

I am not going to argue that what is happening now is on the same scale as the examples I cite above, but a serious war is being waged against a group of Americans. I am certain that if we lose this war, the consequences for American civilization will be dire.

Phase one of this war I describe is a propaganda blitzkrieg that is eerily reminiscent of how effectively the Goebbels propaganda machine softened up the German people for what was to come.

There is no better term than propaganda blitzkrieg to describe what has been unleashed against Christian conservatives recently.

Consider the long list of anti-Christian books that have been published in recent months. Here are just a few samples of more than 30 similar titles, all from mainstream publishers:

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America
The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Piety & Politics: The Right-wing Assault on Religious Freedom

Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism

Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America

Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right

What is truly alarming is that there are more of these books for sale at your local large book store warning against the perils of fervent Christianity than those warning against the perils of fervent Islam. Does anyone seriously think America is more seriously jeopardized by Christian conservatives than by Islamic zealots? I fear that many Americans believe just that in the same way that many pre-World War II Westerners considered Churchill a bigger threat than Hitler.

Does anyone seriously think America is more seriously jeopardized by Christian conservatives than by Islamic zealots? I fear that many Americans believe just that in the same way that many pre-World War II Westerners considered Churchill a bigger threat than Hitler.
Some may say that today’s proliferation of anti-Christian print propaganda is nothing to become worried about. To them I ask two questions:

First, would you be so sanguine if the target of this loathsome library were Jewish? Just try changing the titles in some of the books I mention above to reflect anti-Semitism instead of rampant anti-Christianism and you’ll see what I mean.

Second, major movements that changed the way Americans felt and acted came about through books, often only one book. Think of Rachel Carson’s 1962 error-filled Silent Spring that resulted in the pointless banning of the insecticide DDT and many unnecessary deaths. Other books that caused upheavals in our nation were Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, many of Ayn Rand’s books and of course Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

No, I would advise you not to underestimate the power of books to alter the behavior of the American public, and I fear for an America influenced to detest Christianity by this hate-filled catalog.

It is not just books but popular entertainment also that beams the most lurid anti-Christian propaganda into the hearts and minds of viewers. One need only think of who the real targets of the recent hit movie Borat are. The brilliant Jewish moviemaker Sacha Baron Cohen, as his title character, using borderline dishonest wiles, lures some innocent but unsophisticated country folk, obviously Christians, to join him in his outrageously anti-Semitic antics. Cohen then triumphantly claims to have exposed anti-Semitism. In fact, he has revealed nothing other than the latent anti-Christianism of America’s social, economic and academic secular elites.

Even the recent PBS documentary, “Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence,” managed to do more attacking Christianity than defending Judaism.

Richard Dawkins, an Oxford University professor, is one of the generals in the anti-Christian army of the secular left. American academia treats him with reverence and hangs on his every word when he insists that “religious myths ought not to be tolerated.”

For those with a slightly more tolerant outlook, he asks, “It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children?” He suggests that the state should intervene to protect children from their parents’ religious beliefs. Needless to say, he means Christian beliefs, of course. Muslim beliefs add to England’s charmingly diverse cultural landscape.

The war is against those who regard the Bible to be God’s revelation to humanity and the Ten Commandments to be His set of rules for all time. Phase one in this war is to make Christianity, well, sort of socially unacceptable. Something only foolish, poor and ugly people could turn to.

For those with a slightly more tolerant outlook, he asks, “It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children?” He suggests that the state should intervene to protect children from their parents’ religious beliefs.
We have seen how a carefully constructed campaign pretty much made it socially unacceptable to drink and drive. For years, there had been stringent laws against drunk driving. They achieved little. In the end, the practice was all but eliminated by groups allied with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their effective ways of changing the way Americans thought about it.

We have seen how a carefully constructed campaign has pretty much made it socially unacceptable to smoke. In the face of a relentless campaign (dare one call it propaganda?), Americans became docile and forfeited the right to make their own decisions. Nobody was willing to stand up to the no-smoking tyrants. Nobody even asked whether health was sufficient grounds for freedom to be reduced. Now, entire cities and even states have banned smoking, not only in public places but even in privately owned restaurants.

Tyranny comes when citizens are seduced into trading freedom for the promise of safety and security.

Considerably more intellectual energy is being pumped into the propaganda campaign against Christianity than was ever delivered to the anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving campaigns. Fervent zealots of secularism are flinging themselves into this anti-Christian war with enormous fanaticism.

If they succeed, Christianity will be driven underground, and its benign influence on the character of America will be lost. In its place we shall see a sinister secularism that menaces Bible believers of all faiths. Once the voice of the Bible has been silenced, the war on Western Civilization can begin and we shall see a long night of barbarism descend on the West.

Without a vibrant and vital Christianity, America is doomed, and without America, the West is doomed.

Which is why I, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, devoted to Jewish survival, the Torah and Israel am so terrified of American Christianity caving in.

Many of us Jews are ready to stand with you. But you must lead. You must replace your timidity with nerve and your diffidence with daring and determination. You are under attack. Now is the time to resist it.

The Author
Prior to his immigration to the United States from South Africa in 1973 Rabbi Daniel Lapin studied theology, physics, economics, and mathematics in London and Jerusalem . He is the founding Rabbi of the Pacific Jewish Center, a now legendary Orthodox synagogue in Venice, California. He and his family relocated to Washington State in 1991 to develop Toward Tradition and host a nationally syndicated weekly radio show. Rabbi Lapin has written for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Commentary, the American Enterprise, and the Washington Times, and has taught at the Christian Coalition, U.S. Army, Harvard Law School, and the Family Research Council. He also serves on the board of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, DC, and was recently appointed to a U.S. presidential commission. He is the author of America’s Real War, Buried Treasure and most recently Thou Shall Prosper. Rabbi Lapin is the author of Buried Treasure: Hidden Wisdom from the Hebrew Language, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, and Americas Real War. Rabbi Daniel Lapin is a member of the Advisory Board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Wedding Vows? Anchor or Valentine?

At a time when our national culture is rapidly declining and serial-marriage seems to be becoming a tragic new norm or marriage is avoided altogether, this may be one of the most urgent and important messages I’ve written. The vital question is simple. Are the traditional wedding vows the immutable anchor expressing the Biblical worldview or have they devolved into the equivalent of a valentine?

No civilization has ever survived the breakdown of the family. Cohesive families are the bedrock foundation of all sustainable cultures. Sustainable families cannot exist unless anchored by a strong marriage that begins with a powerful, binding, and highly respected wedding. “Let marriage be held in honor among all…” [Hebrews 13:4 ESV]

A Godly wedding is an extraordinarily beautiful picture of the ultimate wedding between the perfect bridegroom, Jesus, with His bride, the body of believers. [Revelation 19:7-10; Ephesians 5:22,23; 2 Corinthians 11:2 KJV] The genius of God’s heavenly reunion is pictured by the earthly union. A marriage between a man and a woman honors God, when they enthusiastically live according to the sacred vows and tenaciously adhere to the exclusive and binding relationship to which they voluntarily committed. The preliminary process is familiar.

Following an initial meeting, a man and a woman form a physical/intellectual bond (mutual respect and appreciation, building to admiration), an emotional bond (What a hunk or chick! That hug feels rrrreally good!), and ultimately a spiritual bond (sense of peace knowing that the other is a mature and actively growing believer). At a later time, when they have grown sufficiently together, he proposes and she agrees to marry.

CAUTION: After months of preparation, many couples are so anxious and exhausted on their all-important wedding day that the vows seem to go by in a blur of sensory experiences. The vitality of the moment is often lost. Later, the married couple may attend other weddings as a guest, but may pay to little heed to the vows. After all, they’ve “been there; done that” and they are looking forward to the reception. Occasional mentions of wedding vow fragments on television shows or in the movies cannot possibly fill the gap of insufficient understanding.

In contrast, consider the genius, incomparable elegance, conspicuous power, and profound security of the traditional wedding ceremony illustrated in the graphic.

wedding-vows-3

It begins with a solemn promise that is total, sacred, and voluntary. As a commitment “before God,” confirmed by “these witnesses,” the promise declares that the entire ceremony is an act of worship.

The vows themselves are comprehensive. Each requires valuing the other before self:

  • Love—unconditional, holding spouse in higher esteem than self
  • Comfort—console and reassure at all times
  • Cherish—guard with care and affection; hold dear
  • Honor—show high regard, appreciation and respect
  • Keep—remain absolutely faithful, no exceptions

The scope is unlimited; it has no boundaries and the relationship is absolutely exclusive. They mutually pledge that nothing will ever inhibit or damage their marriage, regardless of life conditions (better/worse; richer/poorer; sickness/health).

The marriage is rock solid regardless of standard-of-living (aggregate value of accumulated stuff) or quality-of-life (personal health and richness of network of interpersonal relationships, beginning with the family and working outward. No outsider will ever be permitted to breach its bulwark.

The commitment is ultimate and ironclad, “…as long as you both shall live!

The wholeness of bond is characterized by firmly binding together, “…my life, my heart, and all my worldly goods.” They have unalterably bound themselves together, physically/intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Finally, the seal becomes irrevocable, when they call for their marriage to be sealed by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The earthly representation of that seal is the married couple’s first encounter with God’s incredible gift of physical intimacy, often referred to as consummating the marriage. Physical intimacy is the capstone of God’s process of bringing two people together in the unique, exclusive relationship called marriage.

Tragically, in modern America, far too many couples succumb to temptation, experiencing physical intimacy before marriage. When they do so, the experience is so powerful and binding that it effectively “scrambles the brain,” interfering with the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bonding process, which is a vitally important prelude to the marriage decision. It becomes exceedingly difficult to determine whether or not a sex partner is the best candidate for a lifelong, exclusive marriage.

Now—What do YOU think? Are the wedding vows an immutable anchor or merely a valentine?

God’s way is always the best way. Your happiness depends on it; your future depends on it; your spouse depends on it. Your family depends on it. America depends on it.

There is nothing in any other social relations in any way parallel to the mutual attraction of the sexes. By missing this simple point, the modern world has fallen into a hundred follies…There is no dispute about the purpose of Nature in creating such an attraction. It would be more intelligent to call it the purpose of God; for Nature can have no purpose unless God is behind it.

G. K. Chesterton

The happy State of Matrimony is, undoubtedly, the surest and most lasting Foundation of Comfort and Love; the Source of all that endearing Tenderness and Affection which arises from Relation and Affinity; the grand Point of Property; the Cause of all good Order in the World, and what alone preserves it from the utmost Confusion; and, to sum up all, the Appointment of infinite Wisdom for these great and good Purposes [sic].

Benjamin Franklin

What does it take to wake-up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake-up the clergy?

 

Value of a Soul!

Value of a Soul

What is the value of your soul? Don’t miss this 28-minute video! Three lives search for true worth as their worlds crumble. Follow their unexpected journeys as Franklin Graham addresses the real value of the soul. Just click on the link below or copy/paste into the address block on your Internet browser.

http://billygraham.org/video/value-of-a-soul/?utm_source=Patheos&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CTV&utm_campaign=CTV%20November&SOURCE=BT15BYPAE