You Can’t Ignore Ignorance

 

head_in_the_sand[1]

In March of 1994 a German tourist checked into a hotel near Miami International Airport. That night in his room he noticed a foul odor. But travelers must put up with discomforts, so he slept in the bed that night without a complaint to the front desk.

The next morning when he awoke, the odor was only worse. So as he checked out of the hotel, he reported the problem. On Friday, March 11, a maid cleaning the room discovered the source of the odor. Under the bed she found a corpse. (Contemporary Illustrations)

This account illustrates the opposite of the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” Ignoring the odor did not make the problem go away. The smell only got worse. And it didn’t change the fact that a corpse was under the bed, either.

There are certain things we cannot ignore even when we think they will go away. It does us no good to be like the proverbial ostrich with his head buried in the sand believing that we don’t have a problem when we really do have a problem. It’s akin to the idea that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. This is like walking on thin ice and falling through into the chilling water because you ignored the signs warning you of the danger.

The problem with ignorance is that if we ignore it then we remain ignorant. Instead, we must deal with it by not ignoring it any longer. It starts with how we think.

The Apostle Paul commented on the way worldly persons think: “… in the futility of their thinking,” (Ephesians 4:17, New International Version, NIV). He explains, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed,” (NIV).

Ignoring what is right and wrong gives way to sin. Like they say, “Sin is mothered by ignorance.” And I am afraid that ignorance breeds many children who have hardened their hearts by living apart from the life God through Christ teaches us to live.

Paul urges Christians to not be like the world. Instead of ignoring the teachings of truth in Christ he says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” (Eph. 4:22-24, NIV).

Paul made this appeal to his fellow believers because he, himself, once lived in ignorance and was blind to the Lord and his salvation. But, ironically, when Jesus opened his eyes by literally blinding him on the road to Damascus, Paul was no longer ignorant of the truth. His own testimony before King Agrippa reveals how his life was changed because he saw the light concerning Jesus and the hope he gives: Acts 26:1-32.

Since the time of his conversion, the apostle’s calling was to shed the light of Christ toward those living in the darkness of their own superstition and ignorance. When he spoke to the philosophers and other “enlightened” thinkers of his day, the Bible says, “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, ‘You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you,'” (Acts 17:22-23, King James Version, KJV). Paul apparently believed that the darkest ignorance is man’s ignorance of God.

Paul then proceeded to teach the truth about the one true God, creator and sustainer of all life, and the fact that he gave his Son who died and was raised from the dead. He told them, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead,” (vss. 29-31).

Many of them mocked Paul’s message, especially the part about the resurrection of the dead. They chose to remain ignorant of the gospel truth. Others, on the other hand, were willing to hear more about what he had to say: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, ‘We will hear you again of this matter,'” (v. 32). As it turned out, a few did confront their ignorance, accepted the truth and converted to Christ (v. 34).

You can’t ignore ignorance if you are seeking the truth. Unlike the traveler, there is an odor that you can’t afford to ignore especially when it comes to the stench of sin. For right under our noses lies the truth if we’re willing to look for it instead of ignoring it. The times of ignorance cannot be ignored since Jesus was born to save us and all are called to repent in preparation for the “appointed time” of his return.

Here is Hillsong with “Open My Eyes”: http://youtu.be/Uku6V5oyWSc

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Sound Doctrine / Sound Living

sounddoctrine

A Peanuts cartoon pictured Lucy and Linus looking out the window at a steady downpour of rain. “Boy,” said Lucy, “look at it rain. What if it floods the whole world?”

“It will never do that,” Linus replied confidently. “In the ninth chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again and the sign of the promise is a rainbow.”

“You’ve taken a great load off my mind,” said Lucy with a relieved smile.

“Sound theology,” pontificated Linus, “has a way of doing that!” (1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching)

There a lot of nervous people in the world who could be just as relieved as Lucy if they only knew the Bible like Linus. If more people knew that God’s word promises hope for the future, their lives would be remarkably happier. But lack of knowledge leads them to confusion and despair.

Even worse, God has indicated that lack of knowledge leads to destruction. In Hosea 4:6, God says,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children. (English Standard Version, ESV)

God wants his people to know what his Word says. Why? Because he wants us to know the truth about how we should live. Moreover, he wants us to know the truth about what’s in store for us according to his wonderful plan of salvation. In essence, he has established sound doctrine so that we might experience sound living according to his will.

In Titus 2:1, Paul advised his associate Titus, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.” In this chapter, he proceeds to advise Titus on how he should counsel various ages and groups in his congregation from seniors down to the young people and even the servants. In the next chapter, he gives instructions on the duties of citizens and how they should honor all rulers and authorities (Read chapter 3.). Interestingly, he is not so concerned about rights as much as he is about responsibilities. If we living up to our responsibilities, we will pursue the teachings by which we are to live.

His aim for emphasizing sound doctrine includes sound living in this present age and eternal hope for the future. Paul wrote, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…,” (Titus 2:11-13, ESV).

Sound doctrine and sound living go hand in hand as we prepare for the soon appearance of Christ and the kingdom of God. All believers want to be ready for the return of Christ for we do not know the day or the hour he will appear (Matt. 24: 42-51). Sound doctrine, therefore, is the key to wholesome, healthy living for those who look for him to come.

The meaning of the word “doctrine” in the Greek is “teaching.” The teachings of the scriptures are based on God’s commandments. They are given upon the recognition of God’s moral nature and his instructions on how we should live. God’s Son said he came to fulfill God’s commandments (Matthew 5:17-20), and so Christians believe in pursuing sound doctrine.

The meaning of “sound” in the Greek has connotations of being physically healthy (see Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10; Luke 15:27; and 3 John 1:2.) You can be physically sound or unsound. You can also be spiritually sound or unsound, as well.

In other passages, Paul uses the words, “sound doctrine” or “sound teaching” in the same context of sound living. Notice from the following passages what he not only considers “sound doctrine” (i.e., “healthy te`aching”) but what he says is contradictory to “sound doctrine,” as well:

1 Tim. 1:8-11 (New American Standard Bible, NASB) “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”

2 Tim. 4:1-3 (NASB) “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…”

Titus 1:7-9 (NASB) “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”

Apparently, the Apostle Paul believed that sound doctrine was essential for Christians. I think he would have liked the Peanuts cartoon and the little quip that Linus made about “sound theology.” Truly, we can’t live without it.

For your inspiration, here is a scripture song titled “The Law of the Lord is Perfect” from Psalm 19:7-11, https://youtu.be/C-1tGZFgN3g

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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It’s All in the Way You Look At It

 

perception

Do you see a chalice in this picture or two faces? It depends on how you look at it.

David, a second-grader, was bumped while getting on the school bus and suffered a two-inch cut on his cheek. At recess, he collided with another boy and lost two teeth. At noon, while sliding on the ice, he fell and broke his wrist. Later at the hospital, his father noticed David was clutching a quarter in his good hand. David said, “I found it on the ground when I fell. This is the first quarter I ever found. This sure is my lucky day.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations)

Given the way our human nature is, I’d say there are few who are like David. It’s easier to look at all the bad things and complain about the way the day went than look at the one good thing that happened. But when our minds are on that one good thing, no matter how small, we can at least deal with all the bad things. It’s a matter of one’s perspective.

Look at it this way: Just over the mountain is a beautiful valley, but you must climb the mountain to see it. How many times do we miss the view on the other side because we’re too worried thinking about the mountain in front of us?

When we look at the good we can take the bad. Climbing the mountain will entail hard work, bucket loads of sweat, and maybe even some slips and falls along the way but if our minds are set on the beauty that lies just over the other side, we can make it with each step of the way.

Each person faces his or her own mountain every day whether it be the mountain of discouragement, stress, depression, fear, loneliness, failure, rejection, and the like. But in spite of all the bad things that can accompany these mountains, Christians have an advantage over those who are not. Christians have the opportunity of seeing the other side before they even get to the top of the mountain. It’s all a matter of faith, and this is something that unbelievers do not have.

Faith helps us to see the one good thing that all the bad things tend to hide from our view. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). Our faith lies in the assurance that a time is coming when all things will be made new and all bad things we suffer in this life time will be removed forever, including death (Rev. 21:1-8). If we look at everything this way, we can endure and overcome any mountain we face.

Just read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 and you will see a whole long list of those who went through bad things yet, through faith, had a vision of the “beautiful valley” that they will see in the due course of time. “And all these having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us, they should not be made perfect,” (vss. 39-40, NASB).

God has promised something beautiful that no one has received as yet. But all those who have received Christ as their Saviour will receive it together one day when he returns to earth. And what is that promise? It’s the promise of receiving eternal life and living forever in the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in him, may have eternal life; and I myself will raise him up on the last day,” John 6:40, NASB). Jesus is referring to the last day of this present age and the commencement of the age to come when all the faithful are resurrected to eternal life at his coming (1 Thess. 4:16-18). At that time the words in the prayer “thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10) will come to pass.

When we keep our eyes on these great and wonderful promises in store for us on the other side, the bad things that happen now will only seem like a drop in the bucket. We see things through a distorted mirror now (1 Cor. 13:12) but a time will come when we shall see Jesus in all his glory (1 John 3:2) and things will never be the same again.

In spite of the bumps and bruises and cuts that may come your way, be thankful for the things that matter the most even if it’s only a quarter. Indeed, better things will be coming your way if you have the faith to believe God’s Word. It’s all in the way you look at it.

How we look at life’s situations depends upon how we look to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. With that thought in mind, here’s Hillsong singing, “Look to You.” https://youtu.be/pkfSXEGwt9s

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Educating the Uneducated

education_1

A ninth-grade boy walked out of the classroom with a grim look on his face. His principal was passing by and noticed the boy’s expression. Encountering the student, the principal inquired, “And how are we today?”

“Awful!” the boy replied. “I don’t understand all that stuff the math teacher wants us to learn—all those logarithms and postulates and stuff.”

Trying to smooth things over, the principal said in a comforting tone, “Well, I’m sure we can’t find it all that bad, can we?”

The boy huffed back, “Well, sure we can say that! Because the you half of we doesn’t have to learn all that stuff all over again with the me half of we!”

Maybe a lot of us have felt like that young student when we were in school. Naturally, when it comes to learning something for the first time, it isn’t easy and so we get frustrated. We listen to educators spewing new and difficult terms and concepts and we think to ourselves, That’s easy from THEM to say! But then it dawns on us that when our teachers were students they probably went through the same frustrations, too.

Learning something new is not always that easy. Maybe that’s why some would rather ignore it. Given our human nature, we must admit that it takes an amount of courage to discover something we didn’t previously know. But that’s what education is all about, right? It’s like someone said, “A person isn’t educated unless he has learned how little he already knows.”

As students begin another school year and participate in their various courses of study, they are going to learn some things they didn’t already know. How they respond and what they learn will be determined by their own attitude, ability, and knowledge. Hopefully, by the end of the school year, the young minds will be a little more educated than when they entered the year so that they will be ready to advance to the next grade level when the next school year starts until that day when the diploma is finally received.

One thing about education is that it isn’t only for the younger set. It is not bound by age but any age can benefit from it. It is observed, “Education enrolls men and women at the cradle and graduates them at the grave.”

You’re never too old to learn, or so they say. Or, to look at it in another way, the man who says he’s too old to learn new things probably always was. It seems the older one gets, the less eager one is to learn new things. For example, computers are still too complex and, therefore, unappealing in the minds of many among the older generation and would just as soon not own one.  

And yet education is necessary if one, regardless of any age, wants to experience life at its fullest. In fact, I believe it instills a sense of both youthfulness and usefulness in our lives. Perhaps that’s why we hear of persons in their 90’s and even in their 100’s go on to pursue their diplomas now and then.

Consider Marie Hunt from Wisconsin who achieved her high school diploma at the age of 103. She was reported to remark, “It was something I always wanted and I didn’t have the opportunity to do. Now [almost] 100 years later, here I am!” The story only points out that “it’s better late than never.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11537264/Meet-the-103-year-old-woman-who-has-now-graduated-from-high-school.html

Education is not only essential for secular learning but even more importantly for spiritual learning as well. The United Negro Fund once popularized the quote, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” And this is especially true when it comes to learning Biblical teachings. If our minds are not taught the truths in God’s Word then we are wasting them for the Bible is the source that leads to abundant living now and eternal life when Jesus returns.

It’s sad to say but there are many persons who are uneducated when it comes to knowing about the path that leads to salvation through Jesus Christ. For it’s lack of knowledge to leads to ignorance and ignorance that ultimately leads to failure and doom both personally and culturally.

This was Israel’s dilemma back in their day. In Hosea 4:6, God announced, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children,” (New American Standard Bible). Apparently, God disapproves of his people when they choose not to be educated in his teachings and commandments. Too bad public schools today do not take this truth to heart. Their intentions are just the opposite — drive God out of the classrooms behind the false facade of “separation of church and state.”

This gives a person pause when it comes to one’s own education concerning God’s Word. Do you read and study the Bible everyday? Do you do like the Bereans and search the scriptures daily to see if others, including teachers, are asserting the truth or their own theories? (See how Paul commended the Bereans for their diligence in studying the scriptures: Acts 17:11.) Do you belong to a group of Christians that assembles in search of the truth of God’s Word? How much of the Bible do you really know according to Second Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth,” (English Standard Version).

All ages can benefit from education in God’s Word for his Word provides the only genuine, trustworthy instruction for learning the Good News of salvation in Christ. Jesus severely criticized the Jewish leaders of his time because, while they professed to be thoroughly educated in God’s Word, they lacked belief in the truth that Jesus is God’s Messiah and Son (See John 5:38-40.). The scribes and Pharisees were educated but they were, in reality, educated fools for their rejection of Christ. Do you know of any educated fools today?

The world is wasting away because many lack the education they need from God’s Word. Such education makes a difference between life and death for the lost (James 5:19-20). Paul emphasized the necessity for believers to share the Good News with others for how else will they know about Christ? Just think of it: You might be the only link in regard to their knowledge of Christ and his salvation (Romans 10:14).

As we continue to be educated, particularly as we grow in God’s Word, we look forward to graduation day when Jesus returns. For the day will come when we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ and receive our reward from our Teacher and Savior. Hopefully, we won’t complain to him like that young student did to his principal. What will “we” do about it then?

Here’s a catchy tune called, Read the Bible, by the Sons of the San Joaquin: http://youtu.be/3oIlSNGzSZE

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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The Honest Truth and Politicians

honestyDuring a trial, in a small Missouri town, the local prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand. The witness was a proper well-dressed elderly lady, the Grandmother type, well spoken, and poised. She was sworn in, asked if she would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, on the Bible, so help her God.
The prosecuting attorney approached the woman and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?’” She responded, “Why, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk badly about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the sense to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper-pushing shyster. Yes, I know you quite well.”
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”
She again replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, has a bad drinking problem. The man can’t build or keep a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. Yes, I know him.”
The defense attorney almost fainted. Laughter mixed with gasps, thundered throughout the courtroom and the audience was on the verge of chaos.
At this point, the judge brought the courtroom to silence, called both counselors to the bench, and in a very quiet voice said, “If either of you morons asks her if she knows me, you’re going to jail.”

Apparently, the judge was afraid of the woman telling the honest truth about him. But that’s human nature, isn’t it? No one in their right mind wants someone to spill the beans about him or her when it comes to telling it like it is about one’s flaws or imperfections.

Politicians are a shining example. Whenever there’s a political campaign, the voters are always looking for the honest truth. How else can they make a good decision on election day? But that’s where the problem lies.

Speaking of lies….There are politicians who like to accuse their opponents of lying when they often turn out not to be so honest or trustworthy themselves. We, the voters, scratch our heads wondering what the real truth really is. People take sides according to their own prejudices and opinions. No wonder there is so much confusion in the country these days.

Earl Long, former eccentric governor of Louisiana in the 1940’s and ’50’s, reportedly once said of another politician: “You know how you can tell that fella’s lying? Watch his lips. If they’re movin’, he’s lying!”

(NOTE: Long, himself, was said to have been involved in an affair with a stripper named Blaze Starr back in 1958. It became not only a scandal but, in 1989, a comic burlesque movie called Blaze starring actor Paul Newman as Long. A that time, People reported Starr recalling that when she first met the governor, he asked her out to dinner upon which she said, “Can I trust you.” She reportedly quoted him to reply, “H___, no.”) http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20116296,00.html

Because of so many scandals and distrust of political leaders over the years, some persons deny a commitment to any particular party. Instead, they prefer the “independent” route. Perhaps that’s why it is said that an independent voter is someone who can’t decide which “truth” he likes best.

The honest truth is a lost commodity or so it appears when it comes to politics. But what about Christians? You would like to think that honesty and truth are the highest priorities for followers of Christ, not only in regard to political choices but any choice in life. I believe it all starts with one’s own integrity and beliefs.

The Bible is our basis for seeking the honest truth and pursuing it in our own lives. The Book of Proverbs has much to say about it in terms of integrity along with national security and stability. For example, Proverbs 2:20-22 says, “So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. But the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be uprooted.” (New Living Translation, NLT)

Honesty is the guiding principle of good people: Proverbs 11:3 says, “Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people.” (NLT)

When there is dishonesty, there is strife: “A dishonest man spreads strife; and a whisperer separates close friends,” (Proverbs 16:28, Engslish Standard Version, ESV).

But where this is honesty, there is life for according to the Apostle Peter, “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit, (1 Peter 3:10-12, New King James Version, NKJV).

In view of these verses, it should be evident that honesty and truth are in the best interest of all of us. Like the proverb by Benjamin Franklin, “Honesty is the best policy” to live by. And it was Thomas Jefferson who is attributed to say, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom,” as used in a letter to Nathaniel Macon, a fellow patriot (1757-1837) from North Carolina.  Honesty and truth should be seen not only in our own lives but in others, even in the politicians we might support as our leaders. Indeed, if we do not demand it then what good are we doing for the sake of our conscience let alone our service to the Lord?

If we’re honestly going to be honest with ourselves, I believe we should look beyond the rhetoric, the great sounding promises, the trumped up hype, and the false facade which prevail in this evil age. Instead, we should look deep into the actions, the attitudes, the backgrounds, beliefs, and personal motives as they become evident. And to be honest, it might mean we will have to change our minds if the real truth be known.

We must take a stand for the honest truth lest we be deceived as the Apostle Paul warned would happen in the last days (2 Timothy 3:13). We shall know them by their fruit, Jesus said (Matthew 7:15-20). We must be on guard because what seems right and honest on the surface will most likely lead to failure and destruction in the end (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). But if we strive for the honest truth and, unlike the judge in our illustration, not be afraid of it then and only then will wisdom prevail.

Here’s a neat rap song about honesty: http://youtu.be/WELkRnpfBhw

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Government Posting of the Ten Commandments: ‘bad policy’?

supreme court building_engraving of Moses

Three historical lawgivers: Confucius wearing a robe and long beard; Athenian lawgiver, Solon; and Moses in the center who introduced the Ten Commandments, engraved on the white exterior wall of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Anti-Defamation League posts this information on their website:

The Ten Commandments Controversy: A First Amendment Perspective

The Anti-Defamation League believes that the increasing call by private citizens and public officials for the government to post the Ten Commandments in schools, government buildings, courts and other public places — while often well-intentioned – is bad policy and often unconstitutional. Governmental posting of the Ten Commandments can lead to the kind of religious divisions within otherwise harmonious communities that our founding fathers sought to avoid by constitutionally mandating the separation of church and state. Before embracing this easy fix for some of society’s most intractable problems, communities should consider its consequences for one of America’s most precious traditions: religious tolerance. http://archive.adl.org/10comm/print.html

When I read this introduction, I thought how absurd to blame the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places on causing “religious divisions in otherwise harmonious communities.” I find this assertion seriously wrong. Shootings and other forms of violence in public places, like schools and government buildings, have occurred even where the Ten Commandments are NOT posted. Moreover, it sounds contradictory to me to call the posting of the Ten Commandments “an easy fix for some of society’s most intractable problems” on one hand, and on the other hand say that it is “bad policy.”

But the biggest lie of them all is that government posting of the Ten Commandments violates the constitution in regard to the separation of church and state. For one thing, “separation of church and state” is not in the U. S. Constitution. The First Amendment simply reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is not saying there is a separation of church from the state but that congress cannot establish a national religion nor can it create a national church. The United States was never intended to be like Russia which has established the Russian Orthodox Church as its state religion.

The Christian Post has posted an intriguing article titled, “Separation of Church and State” that goes into more detail on this issue. The author explains how the Supreme Court made a landmark decision in 1947 based on a misinterpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s words in a letter he’d written to the Danbury Baptist Church in 1802 (http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html) where he used the words “wall of separation between church and state.” Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/separation-of-church-and-state-is-not-in-the-u-s-constitution-122657/#QakpHhzVAJgglYgI.99

For another thing, if Christians truly believe in God’s Word, they know the Ten Commandments are not the cause of religious divisions but people are. Some like to agitate just for the sake of agitating no matter what the majority believe and accept including belief in God and his directives. But we must not forget who first gave these commandments and through whom they were established.

This reminds me of a joke:

A Methodist minister, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi were talking. The Methodist bragged, “One of my ancestors wrote over a hundred hymns.” Not to be outdone, the priest responded, “One of my ancestors translated the Bible into English.” “That’s nothing,” said the rabbi. “One of my ancestors wrote the Ten Commandments.”

The Ten Commandments were God’s rules of order given to Israel through Moses. Their purpose was, and remains to be, the foundation for providing an awareness between what is wrong and what is right. While the Mosaic law doesn’t provide salvation (it’s through God’s grace that we are saved, Ephesians 2:8), it does act as our tutor, instructing us on how to live and act in a decent and orderly manner (Gal. 3:24). Paul declared, “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted,” (1 Timothy 1:8-11, New American Standard Bible).

Think about these words in the context of our society and the problems we have with crime today. Do you think the Ten Commandments are to blame or could it really be that the root cause is due to ignoring them? When they are not posted, they are out of sight. And just like the saying goes, “Out of sight; out of mind.” You could say that some people are out of their minds because God’s laws are out of their sight (and not in their minds or hearts, either).

Obviously, posting the Ten Commandments will not remove all crime and violence. But the Bible says it should never be removed from our sight, as well, and for a good reason—namely, because God instructs us to keep his commandments in front of us always, and never forget them (Deut. 6:9; 11:18). Thankfully, there is no law yet telling us we can’t display them in places other than in schools, court buildings, and the like. We can still display them on our own property, for example. But I don’t doubt that there are those who would like to have this right removed, as well.

When the founding fathers established the United States of America they knew full well about the importance of the Ten Commandments. The framers of the constitution believed in the rule of law and this included God’s law according to the scriptures. Men like George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry, and James Madison, as well as lesser known patriots, all referred to God and Bible texts in respect to morality, security, and social order. (see http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755) These men and many others have probably turned over in their graves more than once at the way the Ten Commandments and public prayer have literally been censored in schools and public places today.

What should be done is the reverse of what groups such as the Anti-Defamation League advocate. I propose that NOT posting the Ten Commandments is actually bad policy. Indeed, it is good policy to post the commandments if it is from God. And God will hold the nation accountable if he and his commandments are rejected.

Let us be as Peter and the other apostles who declared to the authorities of their day, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” (Acts 5:29) Proclaiming the Good News, including living according to God’s commandments, is what will keep our society in decent working order. Government cannot stop us from believing and living according to his Word even if it does make laws that prohibit or stifle the posting of his commandments in public areas.

Here is Carman with a soul stirring presentation of “America Again”: 
http://youtu.be/AnJV_SVY_uY  

Good News to YOU
Pastor Michael

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When Religious Freedom is Suppressed

religious-liberty-censored

What do you do when your freedom of worship is severely suppressed by the government in your country? It is unthinkable in a free land such as ours. But in other parts of the world, religious freedom is being suppressed including Russia which has just recently passed a new law causing grave concern among Christians there.

I subscribe to an online newsletter by Christadelphian Ministries called Carelinks based out of the United Kingdom which publishes news of their mission work in various countries around the world. In their last newsletter came this disturbing report:

The brotherhood here has suffered the hardest blow since our work began here in the late 1980s. We recently asked for your prayers regarding new religious laws which were being considered, and we have to tell you that they now have been passed into law. They are draconian, allowing no religious activity of any kind outside the Russian Orthodox Church or the few registered religious groups. All Christian literature is to be registered and approved. To quote: “The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith – even a casual conversation – to have prior authorisation from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 roubles (£580; USD770; €700). There are also restrictions on the extent to which churches can have contact with foreigners; for example, any non-Russian citizen attending a church service would be required to have a work visa or face a fine and expulsion from Russia”- taken from https://barnabasfund.org/news/Putin-Signs-Draconian-Anti-Christian-Provisions-into-Law
Basically, one can only be a practicing, preaching Christian if they attend a state church like the Orthodox Church. We have produced more details about the legislation as a footnote to this report. The consequences for our brethren in Russia and our work there are going to be severe. It is really a return to the underground church situation in which we first began our work in Russia. Carelinks began as a prayer request system and we are still very much that- so please wherever you are, pray for this situation…
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE NEW LEGISLATION IN RUSSIA LINK TO

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/june/no-evangelizing-outside-of-church-russia-proposes.html

This latest development in Russia should cause all Christians, whether they live in free countries or not, to be gravely concerned. It is reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved of this new law which is to go into effect July 20 under the guise of “anti-terrorism” and will put stricter limits on missionary and evangelism activity.

One has to wonder how Christian groups like the Christadelphians can be rated as “terrorist” in nature. The Christadelphians, for example, are pacifists and known for opposing any form of violence according to their doctrines. They have been very successful over the last thirty-some years spreading the Good News to those living in Russia and bringing many to know Christ. Not one of their members have ever been reported to commit or attempt to commit terrorist activity.

If this new Russian law is allowed to continue, it’s obvious that this will probably drive many Christians “underground” just as Carelinks suggests. It could even lead the church to grow even more than it has in the past. The human longing for receiving the Good News that is found through Christ and in his Word is something that not even any government can suppress. No law can stop it; no president, prime minister, dictator, king or any other leader can prevent it. God’s Word will prevail as men and women seek its truth regardless of what government tries to do to suppress it.

God’s Word will always endure no matter what humanity does to keep it from being taught. Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The Apostle Peter wrote, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:22-25). In the Old Testament, Isaiah the prophet recorded, “The word of our God stands forever,” (Isaiah 40:8). Even though leaders like Putin enact laws that are supposed to fight terrorism God knows the real reason behind their actions and he is not putin’ up with it in due time: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” (Romans 1:18).

As Christians on this side of the globe who are free to worship freely, we need to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in places like Russia. The Bible says to “pray for one another” (James 5:16) and “encourage one another,” (1 Thess. 5:11). And it’s also our duty to pray for those in authority, even those who are enemies of the Gospel, as Paul said, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,…” (2 Tim. 2:1-3). Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:44).

Prayer, encouragement, generous giving, and faith are vital for the work of the church to move forward especially in times like these. It was important in Bible days when the church was persecuted then and it’s just as important as persecution continues now. For we know that as the Day of the Lord gets closer, tribulation will be on the rise (read Matthew 24) and our faith will be tested. We could very well wake up one morning and hear that our government has suppressed our freedom of worship as an “anti-terrorist” measure. No doubt, there are some who would like to suppress all Christian activity because they believe it is a threat to society.

We already see our religious freedom eroding. According to The Atlantic,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is the first line of the first amendment in the United States Constitution; religious freedom was clearly a legal priority of the men who drafted the Bill of Rights. Yet, 225 years later, the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project has said the United States places a “moderate” level of restrictions on religious practice compared to the other countries in the world. According to Pew, the U.S. saw a marked increase in hostility toward religion starting in 2009, and this level remained consistent in the following years. For the entire report link to, http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/01/the-us-puts-moderate-restrictions-on-religious-freedom/283331/

As we prepare for the Lord’s soon return, we hold fast to the faith as we spread the Good News of Christ and the Kingdom here and around the world. We grow in grace and in the knowledge of God’s Word while we face the difficulties of our times. With our eyes looking upward we move onward enduring until the day of Christ’s triumphant return.

Enjoy this inspirational song by Sara Groves about the persecuted church:

http://youtu.be/V3NmQQoDSaU

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

 

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