The Alchemist and the New Year

This post, by my granddaughter, provides great insight into the New Year’s resolution frenzy, where many people find themselves. This is worth reading and pondering!

in full pursuit

As we’re getting into the middle of January, the fire and inspiration to keep resolutions is fading. So, taking advice from my most recent read, The Alchemist, here’s a couple of ways I’ve found to encourage me in keeping my resolutions. The protagonist of The Alchemist, Santiago, is journeying to find the treasure that he was promised. As he’s traveling through the desert in a caravan, he becomes friends with the camel driver, who gives him a good piece of advice: “Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are a part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a…

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Navigating True North, in a ‘Post-Truth’ World

sailing-ship

Post National . . . Post Modern . . . Post Christian . . . Post Toasties® (?!?)

And now, to make 2017 a truly delightful year – we embrace ‘post-truth’!!

“Oxford Dictionaries has declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year, reflecting what it called a “highly-charged” political 12 months.

“ . . . It is defined as an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”  [BBC News; 16 November 2016; UK section]

“ . . . editors said that use of the term “post-truth” had increased by around 2,000% in 2016 compared to last year.

“ . . . (post-truth) had taken on the meaning of “belonging to a time in which the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant”.  [Guardian News and Media Limited; 15 November 2016]

A time where truth has become unimportant or irrelevant? Where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals? The fact that we now acknowledge this, could, in fact, be a moral high-point; a splash of cold water in the face; a wake-up call. However, I fear that we, regardless of cultural, religious, ideological, geographical or national viewpoints, will blow right through this, quickly seeing it in the ‘rear-view mirror’ of our cultures, and simply accepting it as the way things are!

STOP!

Truth is important. Truth is relevant. Truth is absolute!

And, Truth is Infinite!!

That Intelligent Being who created everything – who has introduced Himself in the Holy Bible as the Almighty God – set forth Truth. It is seen in the foundation of everything in our modern world. And, by His very nature, God is Immutable – never changing.

As surely as 2 + 2 = 4 and ∏=3.141592653589793 . . . etc., God exists and His Truth is the foundation that enables a culture or civilization to survive and thrive’.

Truth is NOT relative. It does not change as a civilization or culture decides to redefine it. A post-truth world would be a morass of human failure. Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Jean-Paul Sartre, Margaret Sanger, Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong – just a very few of the leaders who were convinced they could redefine truth, and left a wide path of social and/or human destruction in their wake.

In the USA, particularly over the past 18 months, truth has taken a beating! ‘Fake News,’ which is a term that soft-pedals the fact it is a lie, e.g. not truth, is being bandied about; and it seems to be taken lightly.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”” [Isaiah 40:8 NIV]

As a leader in the rapid downward spiral of culture and morals, the USA continues to grovel after personalities and hedonistic lifestyles. In order to do so with an anesthetized conscience, it is necessary to deny that foundational truth exists.

We are clearly seeing how poorly we have chosen. No one in their right mind could posit an argument that we are morally or culturally better off today than even 50 years ago. Look at the news headlines. Our cities are war zones. Our out-going President and his former Attorney General actively sought to encourage lawlessness in order to advance a socialist agenda! All they accomplished is to create an environment where the law enforcement agencies are viewed as the bad guys. An admitted felon campaigns for President of the USA, and she nearly wins. Racial violence and prejudice is increasing. Persons flooding across our borders illegally are given more rights than citizens.  I could go on and on; but, does anyone care?!?

As a nation we spew this poison around the world. Where once stood a ‘shining city on a hill ‘ now lurks a specter of ‘post-truth’ relationships, abject immorality, back-stabbing of allies, elevation of evil regimes and two-faced diplomacy! We are like a ship whose anchor chain has broken, and it is moving to and fro, responding to whatever direction the wind blows.

Truth pre-existed what we know as the Creation, because God is Truth. He made it clear that Truth emanates from Him when He introduced Himself to Moses.

“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” [Exodus 34:6 KJV]

As the people through which God would redeem the fallen world, the Jews were enlightened with this body of Truth through God’s revelation to the Prophets. And the Israelites were forewarned about the fatal consequences of rejecting His Truth, while scrambling after the lusts of the flesh and the pitiful efforts of mankind to redefine truth. They chose the wrong path, and God brought judgment on them!

” . . . LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart, whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;” [Psalm 15:1-3 NIV]

Mankind has always sought ways to justify their self-centered pursuits, their pride, and the familiar lust for money, power and unbridled sexual licentiousness. Our courts are making a mockery of justice. Journalism is lost in editorializing every subject to advance an agenda.  Money and ideological power are prostituting the system, corrupting our Constitution. God’s Word is clear; as it was 3000 years ago, so it is now!

“Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.” Jeremiah 9:5

“There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth.” Amos 5:10

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts.” Zechariah 8:16

Historians have proven that societies and cultures based on a solid Judeo-Christian foundation have always prospered. Only as those cultures began to reject that foundation, for the express purpose of seeking to pursue an amoral lifestyle, have they begun to falter. God, who is infinitely Merciful, is also infinitely Righteous and Just. We are seeing His Judgment played out in our country today.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6 NIV]

The organized church has caved to the ravenous desires of the backslidden and the non-believer for entertainment and anti-biblical approval of their sinful lifestyles. The apostate church vehemently argues against God’s Truth, just as in the days of Noah!

There would be no turning back from an actual ‘post-truth’ culture. I don’t I believe we are there yet; nor do I even know what that would look like! But we are definitely on the downward side of that slippery slope.

Let us commit ourselves to telling the truth in love, in every circumstance. On an individual basis we will find our lives easier to navigate standing on a hard-rock foundation of Truth. Let us stand our ground for Truth, no matter the cost. God will honor such steadfast, unwavering pursuit of the truth.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:32 NIV]

 

A Father’s Heart

simbaDuring this time of year – the Christmas Season – Christians and some non-Christians focus on the birth of the baby Jesus and all that surrounds that special event. While even some Christians only pay lip service to the real ‘reason for the season,’ no one can deny it has been commercialized and over developed to the point of distraction.

The passage in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:26-2:52) is the most detail we have describing the actual events surrounding the coming of Immanuel (God With Us). Nearly everything else has been developed by story-tellers, with some of it based on stories handed down and much of it based on historical assumptions. But Luke got it straight from Mary, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

It is a most incredulous story – that an Eternal, Omnipresent God would, or even could, squeeze Himself into the body of a tiny Baby. But, that’s what happened.

What I have been considering this season, though, has been God the Father’s role in this. Spiritual extrapolation tells us that God developed this perfect plan before time began. Let me put some flesh on this. Here is God the Father and His only Son – a beloved Son, part of the Holy Trinity – whom He loves with an eternal, everlasting love.

The Omniscient God knows that created man will allow sin into his life.  But because of His infinite love He sets down a plan that will allow redemption. Only, the thing is, there is no finite, created being or thing that is a worthy sacrifice for sinful man to find infinite forgiveness. There must be a finite sacrifice that will enter the finite world and provide infinite cleansing for all who believe.

So God must send His only Son, out of a Glorious Undefiled Heaven into this sin darkened cesspool. And the ultimate plan is for His Son to offer Himself up as the blood sacrifice necessary to satisfy the Just and Righteous God.

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” [Romans 5:17 NIV]

As a finite man, a father, I cannot but believe that it broke the heart of God to send His Son on such a mission. And, how much more did it burden the heart of God that the very people His Son was sent to ransom, rejected Him and His message and violently murdered Him.

God loved the people of this world – you, me, Herod, Adolph Hitler – every human born since the Creation of Adam and Eve –  to such an extent that He was willing to sacrifice His Beloved Son for the singular purpose of redeeming mankind – to bring man back to his originally created status with God. If man would accept this gift from God.

He stood mute, the Righteous Judge, while His Son was nailed to a tree. He held back His Omnipotence, turned His back and placed all the sins of mankind on Him. We know and love that history. But let’s get back to The Nativity.

Once God had set this plan in place – before time – He was bound by His Eternal Perfection to complete it. The redemption of mankind, the salvation of all Creation, lay in the tiny hands of a vulnerable, peasant child in the care of a teenage peasant girl and a blue-collar builder from a nondescript rural village.

God the Father foretold this plan more than 700 years before the actual event -. His Father’s Heart, desiring to give peace and assurance to a troubled people!

How do you celebrate this most extraordinary event? Have you lost the significance of a new born baby’s cry in the village of Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago? Is it lost in the screams of the vendors seeking to capitalize on a festival that has lost its meaning, or the cries of the wretched, deceived rabble who hearken to Satan’s lies that it is all a farce?

Get back to the Father! Re-read His Love Story to you in the Books of Isaiah, Micah, Matthew, Luke and John, and others. Mute out the noise and listen to that sweet baby’s cry in the night, the overwhelming joy of that new mother and father, and the exuberant wonder of those shepherds who were granted the first birth notice for Immanuel!

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” [Isaiah 7:14 NIV]

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6 NIV]

“Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” [Luke 1:38 NKJV]

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14 NIV]

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” [Luke 2:8-11 NIV]

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [John 1:5 NIV]

A FEW WORDS, NOW THAT THE AMERICAN ELECTION IS OVER

Thanksgiving Week, 2016

Before this extraordinary Presidential election – what did you think was going to happen on Election Day? Seriously!! Did anyone think we would see Donald Trump leap out of the starting gate, never looking back? Ahead throughout the evening? Accomplishing an historic victory for a non-politician? Even if you hoped for a victory could you have envisioned such a sweeping victory?

So, what’s this all about?

It is a right and privilege to vote in the USA. It is the Christian’s duty to vote! In so doing we are participants in God’s Omnipotent work of placing leaders over nations.

The pundits, pollsters, talking heads, politicians, etc. and etc. have been going 24 hours a day since the close of the polls. None of them, save the few in Christian media, have acknowledged our Sovereign God’s Hand in placing Donald Trump into this position.

Similarly, few have acknowledged that it was an act of MERCY by Almighty God to stop (slow down) our nations slide into an abject godless state.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” [Romans 13:1-4 NIV]

We know, by the things uncovered during the election, that President-Elect Trump is flawed, at best. It is unlikely (I do not profess to know) that he is a born again Christian. However, I believe he has a desire to do what is right, that he recognizes the importance of turning around the wholesale slaughter of preborn babies, and that he recognizes the Christian heritage on which our nation is founded. And I believe he has accepted that the government has no right under our Constitution to inhibit religious freedom, that the work of the Church is within any and every facet of our culture – public and private. Similarly, He seems to understand that we must maintain a strong relationship with our only ally in the Middle East – Israel.

But I do not have direct access to Mr. Trump, nor to any of his advisors. I have very limited voice with our elected legislators. What then should I do as a result of this very clear act of Mercy by my God?

“A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.” [Proverbs 21:1 HCSB]

On Memorial Day, November 11, we remember and honor all the men and women who have served this nation through the military. And that is as it should be, “Lest we forget.” But the best way to honor them is by holding and keeping the nation God gave us, the nation they have served – not the one we are rapidly moving toward!

I deeply feared where this nation was headed if we had 4 to 8 more years of anti-God, anti-Christian, socialist leadership at the highest office. I grieved over what kind of culture I was leaving for my children and grandchildren. My wife and I prayed with fervor for God’s Mercy! And, obviously many of you, many throughout this nation, and probably the world, prayed the same.

And guess what? Our God, who hears all true prayers, granted us His Mercy. It is a limited deal though. He does not go back to sleep now, letting us just go about our business with no responsibility to change. This is not recess time, so that we can continue pursuing worldly gain and pleasure. He never sleeps, never slumbers. God has hit the pause button on our fall into the abyss. We are recipients of a renewed opportunity to actually BE the salt and light within our culture.

“”You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5:13-16 NIV]

The responsibility for my actions, and your actions, in every facet of our daily life, is ours individually. I am accountable to God for the way I represent His Son in this world. Whether the government assists me, leaves me alone, or outright persecutes me, I am responsible to God for every moment of my life.

I can promise you that God does have a plan for each of us individually. But, it is not the way of our Loving God to force His Will on us. That is part of being made in the image of God. We have a will. If we allow ourselves to be subjects (slaves) of God, His Holy Spirit will speak to our spirit, and we will subject our will to that of our Father. Any pause after hearing a directive from God is an act of defiance of our will – and it is a sin before our God.

God has inclined His ear toward us and has granted Mercy on our nation. But we must act without delay. Get on your knees, thanking God for His Mercy.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33 NIV]

The enemy has grown more arrogant as the Church has weakened in its resolve. Satan’s deception has moved with powerful force into the Church. Pulpits have gone silent to the truth of the Word of God. The institutional churches in America have sold out to the world. More Christians are listening to the culture and to the ‘siren call’ of human desires rather than to the ‘still, small voice of God,’ believing that God’s Word evolves to coincide with the culture.

God reveals Himself through the revelation of His Word and of His Son, Jesus. These are the same yesterday, today and forever!

God loves His Church. It is becoming the Bride He has appointed for His only Son. He will honor our efforts as we seek to do His Will. The prize of eternal life with Jesus is worth whatever the price!

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:38-39 NKJV]

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” [2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV]

As we observe this time of giving thanks to our Creator and Provider, Almighty God, we should thank Him for granting us an opportunity to turn back to the foundation of our nation, which is Christian at the core.

Then, Christians, we must commit ourselves, wholeheartedly and with diligence, to prayer, first and foremost; prayers of thanksgiving and to seeking God’s will; and then committing ourselves, selflessly and with NO procrastination, to actively doing the will of our Heavenly Father!

Bless God, America!

And may God continue to bless America!

Open Letter to Mr. Rich Stearns, World Vision

Mr. Rich Stearns, President                                                                                       31 August 2016

World Vision

P. O. Box 70399

Tacoma, WA   98481-0399

Dear Mr. Stearns:

This letter is to regretfully inform you of our decision to eliminate our financial support for World Vision. Our real regret is for Nazzy Lungu, (ID/Pledge Number  ___), the young lady in rural Zambia we have been supporting since 2006.

My wife and I watched with sorrow as the you and the WV leadership took a stand in favor of non-biblical marriage, contrary to the very clear presentation of God that marriage is between one man (physiologically born male) and one woman (physiologically born female). You disingenuously backed off of that position when a large number of Christians threatened to drop their support. Our younger daughter made that move, withdrawing her support of the girl she had been supporting for nearly 10 years. We decided to maintain our support of our child, for Nazzy’s sake. However, it was obvious your theological position was set in stone, even though you backed away from its implementation.

This most recent problem brought to the forefront your apparent support of a two-state land grab in Israel. Your people supposedly did not know the person you hired to oversee the WV funds was 1) not a Christian, 2) had a background with the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Palestinian groups, and 3) was recruited to infiltrate World Vision. That level of incompetence does not speak well of your organization. After that, when informed by the Israeli government of the fact that your representative was funneling WV money into the radical jihadist organizations, you chose to ignore the problem (and probably aided in the deaths of numerous Israelis and Palestinians).

After a little digging, it became clear to us that you hold a favorable view to Replacement Theology; a spiritually dangerous position and an idea that cannot be supported by Scripture (ref. News Article). And you are allowing that position to direct your decisions with regard to your relationship (or lack thereof) with Israel.

You are using the hundreds of millions of dollars given to support children and whole villages around the world to advance your hidden theological and political agenda. How does that set with your Mission Statement and Corporate Charter?

It is for these reasons we are withdrawing our support for World Vision. Please close our account and remove us from your mailing list.

Sincerely,

Intentionality

God has already spoken many things to us. Our problem usually isn’t lack of a word from Him but a lack of putting into practice the things that He says.

Black-webbed tree frogs
Black-webbed tree frogs

“LORD, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. All night long I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek for God. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right.” Isaiah 26:8-9 NLT

Too often we wait to be mystically moved before we obey His word simply and unyieldingly. Implementing what God has said is the surest way to have an amazing year ahead.
Gary Wilkerson (January 2016)

A Mighty Fortress

WWII-war-memorial-washington-DCWith the celebration of Veteran’s Day 2015, honoring all men and women who have served in our nation’s military, I thought it might be fitting to take a close look at this great hymn.

Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenburg, Germany, in 1517. Some time later he wrote the hymn “A Mighty Fortress”. In this post we are going to review the words of that hymn to discover some truths that have been important to the life of the Church of Jesus Christ from the beginning. Martin Luther was quite a musician. He wrote music, sang and played the lute. He wrote this hymn and it became known as the ‘Battle Hymn of the Reformation’. It is said that many of those thousands that were martyred for their faith in Jesus, sang this hymn while being tortured and killed.

A MIGHTY FORTRESS

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe

That is, the angel of light, Lucifer, Satan himself

Doth seek to work us woe.

Never lose sight of the fact he is more cunning and crafty than you.

His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal
.

Man was given dominion over all creation by the Creator. Man, however, ceded that dominion to Lucifer, better known as Satan, when he fell for the lie and sinned against God.

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”” [Luke 4:5-8]

You will note that Jesus, here seen in the Temptation, never denies Satan’s claim. And Satan’s all-consuming work is to spoil the supreme work of our Lord’s creation, that being man.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,Wartburg-Castle_A-Mighty-Fortress-Is-Our-God1

We will fail if we seek to battle the evil forces in our own strength! Paul warns us of the necessity of armor and preparation, as follows:

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” [Ephesians 6:11-18]

Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He.
Lord Sabboth, his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

We know that the war has been won by Jesus on the cross and at His resurrection! Satan is a defeated foe. You can think of it like the German army in the months following D-Day. Their doom was certain – but many allied troops died fighting them in battles throughout France, Belgium and Germany in the months following 6 June 1944. But on 8 May 1945, the Allied Forces victory was complete. The war was over!

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,

The anti-Christian tidal wave that is moving throughout the US is nothing more than Satan overplaying his hand. He is behind it all, wanting to cause as many as possible to deny Jesus and spend eternity separated from God.

We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.

Jesus has left with us the mission of spreading the gospel message. Everything else we do is secondary to accomplishing that mission. The whole purpose of the Church is to be witnesses of the saving and redeeming power of Jesus and His sacrifice. He has promised the Christian victory if we stay true to that mission. Staying on course does not mean you must be a vocational minister or missionary. It just means you place ‘no other gods’ ahead of Him, and you allow Him to lead your every step.

The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers
Not thanks to them, abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.

God has given His Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit; all that we need to overcome!

Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also
.

All the material that life has to offer, including family and life itself, pales under the Light of our Redeemer, our Eternal Life, who is Jesus!

The body they may kill,
God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever

Each of us must choose. It is a simple choice.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” (Author unknown)