Christian Gifts from The Jerusalem Gift Shop | Holy Land Gifts Shop for Christian gifts direct from our Jerusalem bookstore that cannot be found anywhere else. Providing unique Christian gifts and jewelry to thousands of loyal Christian supporters of Israel from our shop located where Jesus walked in the heart of the Holy Land. Your connection to Israel.
4Mormon – Latter-day Saints – For Mormon Faith and Research Welcome Christian Ex-Mormon Latter-day Saints for Jesus! ARE YOU PREPARED TO MEET GOD? “Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? …Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye...
TPT Israel Tour with Brian & Candice Simmons! Be part of a passion and Spirit-filled journey to the land where Jesus walked. Join Brian and Candice Simmons as they take you on a journey through the land where The Word Himself walked, taught, loved, gathered, did miracles and died and rose to life!
Embracing Chaos Blog God has put a soft spot in my heart for mommas trying to get through these early (and tough) stages of parenting. Diapers, breast feeding, postpartum depression, discipline, potty training, toddler night terrors, kids not eating, sleep schedules…etc. These are just some of the things I’ve walked through (and am still dealing with) and needed help from my mom or one of you. In a culture where comparison runs rampant, it’s nice to know there are other moms out there having a rough day. Just know I’m over here with bags under my eyes, drinking my 3rd cup of coffee and in the same clothes that I wore to bed the day before. Thankfully, there is always one truth we can stand on when it comes to being a mom, and that is that God made YOU the mom of your sweet babe. You. He has equipped you with everything you need to raise, love, encourage, teach, and discipline them… and best of all, to cultivate in them a heart for Jesus.
McRAY TOURS – Leading Pilgrims to the Holy Land since 1973 Welcome to McRay Tours! Join a pilgrimage to the Holy Land! This won't be your typical tourist experience. Walk where Jesus walked. See the stories from the Bible come alive. Learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meet local peacebuilders. Wander through the wonders of Israel and Palestine.
Christian Gifts from The Jerusalem Gift Shop | Holy Land Gifts Shop for Christian gifts direct from our Jerusalem bookstore that cannot be found anywhere else. Providing unique Christian gifts and jewelry to thousands of loyal Christian supporters of Israel from our shop located where Jesus walked in the heart of the Holy Land. Your connection to Israel.
End-Time Kingdom of God | Last Days, Great Tribulation, One World Government. Overcoming sons of God will be worthy to escape all these things. Thank you for checking out our web site. We are reminded of some of the last words spoken by Jesus Christ while He walked among us on earth. In Matthew 24 He was speaking of the very difficult time of tribulation that is coming on the earth when He said: 13. But he that shall endure…
Christian Home School Online - PreK-12 Christian Education Provider - Learning by Grace Home School Online Program Provider for Christian PreK-12 home school students around the world. Delivering accredited online home school curriculum.
Right From the Hip | Observations & Opinions | Politics, Law & Current Events In which our Vagabond Seeks a City in Motion. It is early Saturday evening, the doors are open, the coffee house beckons. I enter into a crowd – young and old, in pairs, groups and singles, are standing in line, checking their phones, reviewing the menu board, sitting astride chairs, leaning on counters, stirring their mugs, contemplating their next move, and conversing with animation and verve. After securing a mug of herbal orange blossom tea and plain pound cake (something different and contemplative), no booths are available. I occupy a seat at a long, central bench and table with the other patrons. Immediately next to me sits a young couple, face to face, wearing various shades of blue denim (she also sports a floppy, soft-brim robin egg blue hat), who have stopped talking to enjoy one of the house's calorie-generous desserts. Their desserts are laden with strawberries, fresh, fragrant, jumbo-sized, strawberries, tumbling generously, abundantly, off the dessert cakes which shyly peek out underneath. These are six-dollar desserts, suitable for serious courtship. The whipped cream had disappeared already. Their strawberries are not shy - they flaunt their bright deep red strawberry color, their inviting texture, they flirt their white edges. These strawberries profligately cast about their unmistakable ripe fragrance. Indeed, the fragrance demands attention. For an unmeasured moment, these strawberries own the bench and my perceptions – my other senses have quietly stepped down and wait for the strawberry fragrance to master the stage, to take its bows, to aromatically speak for strawberries everywhere. Each strawberry is joined with all strawberries - connected in a web of genetic code, agricultural pedigree, sense perception and idea. The smell, the fragrance and appearance of these strawberries, and for a distinct slice of time, the connected picture, the taste, the idea of many strawberries, all strawberries, as an adjective as well as a noun, occupy my thoughts. If there had been no name for strawberries ever given, I would have conjured a name for them, then and there. Strawberries are versatile. We can give Latin names to their various genus, Fragaria. We may note that each apparent achene, or seed, on the outside is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it, perhaps explaining why the couple beside me ordered them for dessert. Philosophers might debate whether or not there exists a non-physical essence of strawberry, an ideal Platonic form of strawberry, or be skeptical that we could ever be sure that what we perceive as strawberry was reliable. Mischievous children have picked them to throw at each other. We can observe them on wild vines, clip, transplant and cultivate them in our gardens, study what combination of sun and water gives them the greatest growth and sweetest flavor, pick them gingerly to set at our breakfast table, eat them singly or in groups in little morning fruit bowls. We have financed agri-businesses to grow them in vast number, might someday sell strawberry futures on a commodities exchange, have hired agricultural workers to pick them in mass quantity. Graduate students in economics might measure the economic impact of establishing a minimum wage for strawberry pickers, while employers make certain their immigration papers are in order. We can contest the right of strawberry pickers to go on strike, and use courtrooms to enjoin secondary strikes by other fruit pickers. Independent truck drivers can transport them in refrigerated, insured freight carriers at free-on-board rates. District managers of supermarket chains can offer them for retail sale in little green baskets at trendy supergrocers which have memorable advertising logos and trained-to-be-friendly checkout people, and serve them in coffee houses at upscale prices. In laboratories we can measure their molecular carbon chains, forensically identify them with gas and mass chromatography, and fit them into biochemical schema of study. We can mash them into lipstick or cream for purposes of skin and beauty enhancement, advertised by slender, photogenic models. We can handwash our dirty dishes in our neglected kitchen sinks, or shampoo our thinning hair with liquid soaps flavored with them. No small series of achievements, for an aggregate accessory fruit. But we have strawberries as descriptors also, as concepts and additions to the language in which we think and speak and describe, in which we write poetry and love sonnets. They act as triggers or stimulants, to remind us of things, things we may want to remember. I bend my head over my tea and soak a piece of my cake into my orange-blossom tea. But these strawberries are not yet done their work. The fragrances of my coffee-house neighbors' strawberries trigger vivid memories. A series of pictures is summoned up, interior miniatures composing a sequenced event in my life, a road trip of an altogether different sort. Gently unfaded, affectionately insistent, parading in silence one at a time yet making a whole, a set of gliding images from the past paints over my vision. ____________________ My wife, Erma, and I were dating, and engaged. I was just 32. At the time, she was just 23 years of age, not quite 5'2" unless she stood on her tiptoes (she was generous in describing her height on various health and application forms), slender, lithe, with quick, athletic reflexes, light brown hair never allowed to grow long, a bright upturned face full of energy, green-grey eyes that were never quite the same shade from day to day, and a stand-your-ground manner suitable for the youngest child who had five older brothers. Erma had been a Christian since her experiences as a teenager in church youth group, and had been well taught by a beloved senior pastor, Reverend Pusey. She could field a ground ball or steal third base, tell every player on the Philadelphia Flyers in 1977 (she still had a Bobby Clark doll) or quote scripture by memory, intelligently and to the point under discussion. She was a secretary at DuPont, a job she had held since the day after she graduated from high school. There was emotional trauma in her childhood, including a miserable relationship with her father (the misery shared by her brothers and sister), and a tragic gun accident which took the life of one of her brothers, after her father irresponsibly brought home a rifle and gave it to his children without supervision or safety instruction. The collapse of the family unit brought economic difficulties. Erma bubbled over with hope and energy – she was ready to wrestle wildcats, hid her fears, counted her pennies, and laughed loudly and easily. Erma pooled shock, grief, loss and anger in reservoirs of her soul. She introduced herself to a pair of young men attending a Christian singles conference in Sandy Cove, Maryland, one of whom was me, because she recognized the church my friend Dave had announced at the beginning of the conference, and that was enough of a conversational opening for her. We took a trip to North Carolina, to visit her brother Noel, the only one of her family to graduate from college. Noel was a marketing manager for a large agricultural chemicals company, and he was moved about the country every few years. For several years he had lived near Research Triangle Park outside Raleigh. Our trip was a happy one; we packed up Erma's silver Honda Civic, years old but running like a Swiss watch, and toodled down the highway one Monday in the early summer. Life was opening up. My disorderly life, spread across two coasts, was moving in a good direction. Erma, deeply emotionally cautious, was hoping that the world held good things as well. After staying the first night with friends in Virginia, we arrived after a day of easy driving at Noel's, still single. As always, he was a gracious host, owner of a sensible but well-maintained home. His practice of buying and selling homes as he was transferred around the company proved to be economically rewarding. I don't know whether he liked his job in its own right, but years later when he was offered a retirement package at the age of 50, he took it, and to my knowledge, has never worked 9-5 job since. Noel was working 9-5 when we arrived though, so during the day we were left to our own devices around Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham and the surrounding areas. Open to guidebook suggestions, we went to the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel HiIl. We walked the displays of native plants, violet-purple iris, milkweed, wood anemone, maidenhair ferns, wild indigo, water-plaintains, bluestars. The Gardens have a display of carnivorous plants, pitcher plants, Venus fly traps, along with their orchids and lilies. I found a very tiny spider among the carnivorous plant displays, picked him up with a leaf, and deposited him into a Venus fly-trap, which promptly, as advertised, closed its tender petals. The wispy trigger hairs of the plant quite quickly formed a bars-of-a-jail cell effect as the plant's leaves closed reflexively – I could see the tiny spider, looking out, as forlorn and puzzled as any prisoner would be. At the time, I had nothing to say to him, and regretted somewhat causing his fate. With the advantages of hindsight and advancing years, today, I might encourage him with words of sympathy – "you and me both, brother," a final salute, issued nunc pro tunc. Erma and I went to see a movie in the evening. Mr. Hulot's Holiday. Monsier Hulot, the French actor Jacques Tati, "decides to vacation at a beautiful seaside, resort. Rest and relaxation don't last long, given the gangly gent's penchant for ridiculous antics." Released in 1954, you have to be in the right mood to see this slapstick farce. Erma and I were nearly alone in the theater, it was a Tuesday evening. We were in the mood – I laughed hard. Erma laughed uproariously, full volume. I never heard anyone laugh so hard – her cackles filled the theater – no nook or cranny escaped the piercing volume of her laughter. Many times. How can you not fall in love with a girl like that? If anyone else was in the theater at all (maybe one other couple), they certainly knew they weren't alone. The next day, we visited Duke University in Durham. The lawns and grounds were green, immaculate, carefully maintained; the buildings, the Chapel, all were elite-college campus beautiful. I daresay visiting parents longed to expend vast sums of money to send their children there. After walking around for several hours, near the end of the day, we found a small restaurant/coffee-shop. Because of the day and hour we were again nearly alone. The shop featured a strawberry desert, loaded with whipped cream. They were the freshest, sweetest, most flagrantly-and-fragrantly-delicious strawberries imaginable. It was a lifetime trophy desert. The taste, the aroma of the strawberries filled our noses, our palates, our tongues – our sweet, ripe taste buds went off like bells. Erma was just swooning with joy. It seemed as if we just sat and ate for hours (which could not possibly be true), as if the strawberry dessert stopped local time to go on forever. These strawberries had royal, domestic, South American and continental antecedents. According to Wikipedia, the garden strawberry was first grown or bred in Brittany, France in the 1750s by crossing Fragaria Virginia from eastern North America with Fragaria Chiloenses, brought from Chile. The French began harvesting wild strawberries in the 14th century. Strawberries were added to cream in the Court of King Henry VIII. What can I add to that? World production of strawberries is in excess of nine million tons, and not a strawberry too many. After we had spent a few days at Noel's, we drove east to go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Outer Banks are a resort area, but wilder, less cultivated than the homogenized resort areas one sometimes visits. We rented two separate hotel rooms to stay in the area around Kitty Hawk. I had sexual relationships prior to becoming a Christian. Erma had many dating relationships, but had learned her sexual ethics as a teenager at a conservative, evangelical church and drew a line she believed in. We did not sleep together on that trip. It helped to make our dating relationship simple, clean, pure, uncomplicated. (Our physical relationship began on our honeymoon - when Erma exited the bathroom and entered our bedroom the evening of our 11 a.m. wedding in Bear, Delaware. We had driven to a bed and breakfast in Milford, New Jersey, Linda and Rob Castagna's Chestnut Hill on the Delaware River. Looking at the teddy-bear decorated bed and room in the honeymoon suite and at me, Erma asked, "do you think we should pray?" I answered, "I already have.") But that wedding ceremony day was still in our distance, like a beckoning city on a hill. The next day on our excursion to North Carolina, we traipsed about on the Kitty Hawk beach. It was not yet warm enough for swimming; the beaches were nearly empty. I discovered that small fish, mullets or small kingfish, filled some of the deeper surf pools and beach ponds left by retreating waves. There is a picture of me taken by Erma, bending over at the waist, looking down, with my pants rolled up as I stood in the middle of one of these surf pools, wearing a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, trying to catch little silver fish with my bared, cupped hands. Trying to catch small fish by hand was a predictably unsuccessful effort, but loads of fun to try. I looked perfectly ridiculous, and we were perfectly happy. On our trip back in the silver Honda Civic from North Carolina, driving north to Wilmington and Phoenixville, we sang hymns on the road. Neither Erma or I have any musical talent at all - neither of us can carry a melody. But there was no music critic in the car, no one to be distressed. We sang "Fairest Lord Jesus," in toneless acapella - it fit our mood and excursion well. _______________________ I was interrupted in my coffee-house reveries by a young man, of Asian background, whose face I recognized, but whose name I didn't know. He had been listening to me a previous week, when I was proclaiming out loud verses from the Book of Revelation, the lake of fire verses, the judgment verses, on a previous morning when the coffee house was much emptier than it was that Saturday evening. His interruption lead into quite an extended discussion, carried out over three locations in the coffee house. "Hello," he said. I responded with my own 'hello.' "I saw you here the other week. You were reading out loud. I was standing over there" – he indicated where he had been standing when I had my brief confrontation with the coffee house manager, Jen, over reading Bible verses out loud. I nodded 'yes' and offered my hand and introduced myself. "My name is Qi," he introduced himself with a small but perceptible bob of the head. His English was good, with a slight British accent. Qi looked to be in his early twenties, fifty years younger than I. His hair was black parted on one side, his chin and cheeks clean-shaven, his eyes brown, his lashes somewhat long, his build slim, probably 5' 10" in height and weighing 140 or 150 pounds, wearing blue jeans and a neat maroon pullover jersey. His facial expression was respectful, intelligent and friendly. "I wanted to ask you. Why were you reading out loud? And why did you choose those verses?" I had to think to recreate my thoughts and mood the previous week. "I can't answer that easily. God moves inside me without giving me explanations. Why those verses? I felt like I wanted to get somewhere - we ought to get somewhere. I saw those verses on the path." "I heard what you said to the manager. The owner doesn't mind?" His expression suggested that people reading out loud in a coffee house crossed a line in the culture he came from. "No," I told him, "the owner doesn't mind." We paused our conversation for a moment, so Qi could find a way around the bench and people to squeeze in opposite me. He was sitting right next to the strawberry-eating couple, also seated across each other on the bench, as I was. "Do you work, or are you a student?" I asked. Qi explained his background to me, responding to my questions. He was 23 years old, a graduate student seeking a Master's degree in statistics from the graduate department of a nearby university. He was an exchange student, a resident of China, whose family came from near Beijing. Much of his life was not spent in China however. His father was an investment banker, and they spent a number of years in different countries and cities, including London, where he learned as a teenager to speak English well, and learned his slight but discernible British accent. He was one of three children, and had two sisters, one older, who was married and living near Shanghai, and one considerably younger sister, who was living at home near Beijing, where his parents had returned. I asked him about China's one-child policy and he explained that his father had sufficient resources to obtain relief from the rule. Since the first child in the family was a daughter, apparently this exception was not difficult to obtain with respect to Qi. Having official sanction for having a third child was more difficult, but by then his father had political and economic connections. By this time the strawberry dessert-eating couple had left. Their seats were taken by others so it wasn't always easy to conduct our conversation. The coffee house was noisy, there was music in the background and people were sliding behind us at times to reach seats further down the long benches on which Qi and I were seated. When I paused my deposition-like questions, I asked if he attended any local church. He did, he explained, and had been for about a year. "What did you think when I read those verses out loud?" I asked. "How did you react?" "I like hearing the Book of Revelation read aloud. It doesn't often get read out loud. When you hear a sermon, somebody tells you what to think about it. There's always a doctrine or a system. Everything has to be explained." He thought for a few moments. "There's more in the words, than there is in the explanations." He said, and I quietly nodded in agreement. "Well, if you just listen to the words, read by somebody else, you wouldn't have a system," I offered. "You might have a language, though. A set of mutual symbols. Even if we didn't agree on what they meant." He listened to what I said and we talked about language, and symbols. His criticisms of symbolic language were well-thought out; a person whose native tongue is Chinese understands well the strengths and weaknesses of symbols to communicate. I suggested that symbols and graphic pictures cut through many language systems. The phrase "a woman clothed with the sun," eludes precise rational understanding, but it's an accessible image everywhere. We had the mutual and considerable pleasure of two people speaking thoughtfully to each other. "You don't agree with any systems about it?" I asked, meaning the Book of Revelation. "I don't know. My church teaches a system." "Which one is that? Dispensationalism? Premillennialism?" "Yes." "The Rapture, any minute. The Jews left to face the anti-Christ." "Yes. Yes." "You're not defending it very hard," I suggested. His facial expression indicated that I had discerned his feelings accurately. "Is that what you believe?" Qi asked me. "No. I'm a Postmillennialist. I believe in the Great Commission. Christ gave us an order. Go into the far reaches of the world. Convert the nations. So we will succeed. It's the prayer he taught us. 'Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.'" "How does reading about the burning lake of fire out loud, help that?" Qi queried. "I'm not sure. Does the Spirit have to explain everything to me? I respond as I'm called. But I think everybody wants good news. Ask them, and they'll tell you the world is a mess. But then they want good news - warm and reassuring. God's judgment in a burning lake of fire is a very unpopular topic. But it wakes people up. It made you ask me questions." "Do you think bad news is more likely to win converts?" Qi was looking at me with a certain amount of respectful skepticism. "I think telling people the truth helps people see the truth." "But you, too. You didn't recite the burning lake of fire verses with a big smile on your face." "Perhaps so. Me too," I admitted. "Maybe there's enough bad news already," Qi suggested. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. That's true too. You're right. But why are all those burning lake of fire verses there? Fierce warnings, aren't they?" I asked rhetorically. "Maybe it's the bad news that already exists. Maybe the world loves judging. Maybe the world needs judging. There's a lot of judging inside of us already." As he said this, I thought I detected some personal history in Qi – perhaps his father was a judgmental person. "I think it's a warning - a guide and a look to the future. But I'll be careful about trying to interpret it, with you around. I'll let the words be the words. Burning lake of fire and all." I raised my hands slightly to indicate surrender – the acknowledgment of my limitations. "Don't some people believe the whole book was just meant for the 1st century Christians? They think it all relates to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Roman armies. That's it – nothing else." Qi's knowledge suggested some study; his tone suggested questions, perhaps questions deeper than interpreting the Book of Revelation. "Are you a preterist?" I asked him. I wasn't sure whether his question was a narrow, specialized question over eschatology, or rather a deeper question that any young person might have, about whether the whole structure of religion is connected to anything real at all. "I'm not sure what that means," he admitted. "About what you said. Preterists believe most of the Book of Revelation has already been fulfilled. It was a warning for the 1st century, for the early church. A tract for the times. Now it's done – it has no future significance," I explained. "If that's what you're asking." "No, I haven't thought about it much, but don't think I think that. How about you?" Qi asked. There were questions in this young man, but I didn't know quite what they were. "I think it's prophecy. The Word of God to us. It's no more fulfilled and done than the Sermon on the Mount is fulfilled and done. Does that answer your question?" I returned. "I guess we'll never know, this side of Final Judgment," he offered. "Maybe we just wait for the Rapture?" "It makes a difference now. It changes how we act, because of what we expect. If all you're doing is sitting around here, waiting for the Rapture, that's one kind of answer. But I'll buy you a cup of coffee, and we can wait together." As I was about to get up to buy coffee, a young woman, talking to her friend following behind her, was trying to make her way behind the bench to a seat. She was holding a sandwich on a plate and a glass. Someone moved on the crowded bench, not knowing anyone was behind him, and bumped directly into her. Her sandwich spilled and tumbled across the back of an unshaven but pleasant-looking blonde young man and onto the floor. There, visible for the world, near Qi's feet, were the ingredients for her sandwich, two slices of multi-grain bread, two chunks of avocado, two generous slices of tomato, and a large stack of bean sprouts, scattered across the floor along with a slice of dill pickle. She moved back apologetically, waving the now-empty sandwich plate in her hand, obviously embarrassed. The young man stood up, rather mildly and saw who had spilled sandwich fixings on him. He didn't seem angry - he was apologetic and rather embarrassed himself. No one quite knew what to do. For a few moments the two of them milled about each other in rather disorganized fashion. The coffee house manager was nearby. She saw what had happened and signaled for a staff person to assist. Qi and I both stood up to move out of the way and sidestepped our way to leave the benches and table. As we were moving, I made brief eye contact with the manager and we mutually and quickly nodded. I didn't want her to think I had been a problem again, but she saw I was an innocent bystander, not an repeat instigator of disturbances. While the clean-up was being accomplished, Qi, seeing our mutual nod, asked if I knew the coffee house manager. "Yes, her name is Jen Geddes. She's a Christian. She's nice – a calm person." We watched the cleanup. I thought I would share a bit more, thinking still about what Qi's questions might be. "Years ago, she was in the newspaper, picture and all. She had a bit of a temper. I think she came from a very fundamental background. She was in a church, and for whatever reason, something was going with a visiting pastor she definitely didn't agree with. She expressed her theological disagreement by shouting out loud, picking up a stool, and heaving it at this visiting pastor. She actually hit him with it and there were disturbances in the church. The police had to be called. As a sentence I think she got what is called ARD, a non-trial diversion. It usually means she had to do some community service and get some counseling. I was practicing as a lawyer at the time, so I paid attention. Some years later, she got the job here. I recognized her when she started. Very calm - very welcoming to everybody these days. I never talked with her about it. I always wanted to ask her what it was about. Part of it was reported in the newspaper – apparently, whatever it was the visiting pastor was saying, her response was along the lines of "are you really going to say that, in my ear?" The cleanup was over, but Qi and I found a different place to sit and resumed our conversation. He wanted to know more about the type of law I had practiced, which was a general community practice. We started talking about the law and about the U.S. Constitution and some well-known constitutional principles, which were not, as Qi described, the rule or norm in China. He described a culture and circumstance in China which might be characterized as intense and ubiquitous favoritism. "We have those problems here - in a big way," I acknowledged. "You have laws about it, though. In China, there is no law to appeal to, to correct such things. The party is the law, and the party officials who operate without needing any approval." "We do have laws," I acknowledged. I narrated for Qi a United States Supreme Court case, which is a staple of the Constitutional Law curriculum in law school. "In San Francisco, around 1880, most of the laundry workers were Chinese. Laundries used heat in wooden buildings. There was a statute that said you couldn't operate a laundry without a permit. The statute itself wasn't crazy - there was a genuine fire risk with boiling water used in the laundries – not a joke in San Francisco. But Yick Wo had been operating his laundry for years, when he was told he couldn't operate his laundry anymore without a permit. Unfortunately, if you were Chinese, you didn't get a permit. If you weren't Chinese, then you got one. Yick Wo was fined for operating without the permit, and he couldn't or wouldn't pay the fine, so he was put in jail. The Supreme Court ruled that the administration of that permit law was unconstitutional – even if the laundry owners weren't citizens. Even if the law itself made sense considered in isolation. The Chinese laundry owners still had a right under equal protection, under the equal protection laws of the 14th Amendment." "You would not find such laws in China," Qi lamented. "Well, it took us years to take the legal principle serious," I told him. "Taking your principles seriously takes time." Our conversation continued. We talked about Chinese coolies and how they worked. We talked about Christianity in China. We talked about the beginning of the movie Crazy Rich Asians where they're having a Bible study. We talked about missionaries and Hudson Taylor and the Chinese Inland Mission, and when Qi's family had become Christians. We talked about wars in Asia – in the Pacific against Japan. Qi had a very distinct opinion about the treatment of the Chinese by the Japanese in WWII, which flowed over to his opinion over disputed islands in the South China sea. We talked about the wars in Korea and Vietnam. We talked about Mao, and Communism and the treatment of Christians in China during the cultural revolution. Qi's family had suffered and practiced their faith in secret, but had emerged. We talked about the Three-Self Church in China. "Sanzi Jiaohui" Qi explained, trying to help me to pronounce it correctly. "But my family has spent so much time overseas, it was not critical to us. We didn't argue about religion, we argued about how many hours my father worked." He looked not as happy making this last statement. I decided to change gears altogether. "You'll be married someday. You'll have a wife and probably children. Do you have a girlfriend?" I asked. "Yes. But she is in graduate school in Michigan now. So I only get to see her on vacations. Sometimes we meet in Chicago. We are making some plans, but they have to wait. We text. She likes it, but she thinks it's cold there." We talked about the weather in China, and in the U.S. We moved our location one more time, when a booth opened up. Time passed, but the Rapture still lay in the future. In the meandering talk and silence of our time together, we made friends. The Holy Spirit, as known to coffee houses as He is to great cathedrals, entered somewhere. Eventually Qi said it was time for him to get back home, and we parted company with the idea that he would be back in the coffee house, and we would have a chance to talk again. Perhaps further, on the Book of Revelation, he suggested. ___________________ And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. Revelation 21:10. Those trained in theology and ministry should present the bulk of the inspired message of Rom. Ch. 12-15. But there is an element of those passages I want to address. I have a law degree, was valedictorian at law school, have practiced law for many years, and have held elected office. I serve as a volunteer on various boards with legal and executive authority over substantial matters. The business of law and government is something with which I am familiar. Although words like "law and government" don't sound San Francisco hippy-ish, don't seem to blend into a coffee-house or a road trip to the last chapters of Revelation, that is my direction now. Rom. 13:1-10 is my topic. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Rom13:1a. The passage is central. It does not stand for, nor should it be understood, to be a command to political authoritarianism. It is an invitation to law, to legitimacy, to ascertaining the will of the people in a democracy, enacting that will within the confines of a constitutional system, and then respecting the laws that flow therefrom. Within the world at large, we may be subject to, or may become the governing authorities – but we are always Christians. The Apostle Paul had multiple purposes in so writing – he had a concern with the relationship of Christians to the outside world and to the political authority of the Roman empire. Paul was also concerned about how Christians relate among ourselves. Christian religious/political conflict among ourselves has been a challenge for Christian theology. Theological disagreement may be the reason or the excuse for the ecclesiastical, political or social separation of Christians. Once reasons develop, theological disagreement, leading to differing communions and groupings, becomes the vehicle for separation. As the Reformation commenced and continued through the 16th and 17th centuries, it appeared the immovable object had met the irresistible force. When Christian conscience met Christian government in vehement disagreement, the results were tragically unacceptable in individual cases. Theologically, the issues have never been resolved. One person wishes to pray to the saints, another does not, one expects an early Rapture with no warning, another does not, one thinks the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, another does not. There are innumerable such differences. The continuing disagreements demonstrate that we have no recognized method of either resolving the dispute, or even a recognized method of staying in communication with each other. The argument continues unresolved. The fallback position for various Christian disputants is spiritual distance and intentional distancing, and attrition over time. Politically, we have addressed the most negative consequences of those 16th and 17th century conflicts by privatizing religious conscience. The results of privatizing Christian conscience are only partially satisfactory, as the 21st century is demonstrating. Organizing a better society is problematic, if each Christian has no greater loyalty than to his or her conscience. Conscience slides into self-will. Beyond denominational or theological boundaries, no one is able to present, to debate, to respond, to adjudicate, to give, or to obey an order issued by a recognized body of Christians, on any issue – not just very large important issues. All issues are 'off the table,' as it were, beyond joint resolution. No one could today post 95 theses on the door of a church and have an audience. We are stalled on Christian conscience-autonomy. No one says 'my conscience is God' but that is the net result. Each spider sits on her own web. The Old Testament analogue is the Book of Judges. The civil and political theory and authority that God has established pertinent to us, and to all, has been two thousand years in the making. The development of this theory is an argument for and an example of common grace, extended by God to all, who makes his sun to shine on the good and on the evil, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust. "All peaceful beginnings of government have been laid in the consent of the people," John Locke, the British philosopher wrote in his Second Treatise on Government, Sect. 112. His work was instrumental in the framing of American constitutional ideas. Within the United States, we are both the governed, and the governing authorities. Perhaps odd, perhaps obvious to say, but if we as Christians want to reach the heavenly city of God, we have to be capable of governing and being governed by each other. This does not suggest extinguishing the ordinary and necessary debate and contentions that accompany civil and religious life. But at some point, a methodology of decision-making has to be established. Decisions are to be made, and they have to be respected. These 'decisions' are Christian decisions, critical to the communications and communal life of all Christians. That is not intended as a challenge to fundamental theological positions. When our government formed, Maryland did not become Pennsylvania – each state assigned certain powers to a federal government, and retained the rest. Lawful is not lawless, even where there is hard questioning and debate over what is really or ought to be 'lawful.' There are many different ways to connect with each other in the exercise of our Christian faith. Our movement toward the Jerusalem from above is obstructed, if we are situated like a collection of hermit crabs, each communion barricaded in its own shell of theological position, ecclesiastical organization and personal conscience. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Rom. 13:1 b. God created and enables all things, in providing the motive power for all events, outside of whose permissive will nothing ever can happen or could happen. Such establishment includes "the authorities that exist." As Jesus said to Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above." God is the source of lawful authority. The present state of world and national affairs, including our legal and political structures, is not accidental. It may be temporary, or cause us to pray "How long, O Lord, will the wicked by jubilant?" But if we cannot obey our own lawful authority, exercising decisions derived from faith, there is no possibility of building a genuinely lawful structure. If we cannot debate our Christian statements, decrees, findings or laws, enable and enact our Christian decrees, respect or obey our Christian laws, because they come from the authority already announced and ordained by our God and Savior, we're not going to move. We are stranded in the valley of stasis. I am postmillennial, a believer in the Kingdom of God that comes into this world. The extension of Rom. 13:1 b is necessary. This verse sends us forward, makes us look to the future. The current set of authorities have been established by God. The next set of authorities will be established by God - and the next set, after that. We want this set of authorities, each set of authorities, to be better, more Christ-like. When we say more 'Christ-like,' it is not reasonable to expect that denominational and theological differences are going to evaporate. We want to be Christ-like as we assume, or obey, or exchange, this developing authority which expresses itself in constitutional forms among us - not because it results in theocracy or theonomy (or any other system of being ruled by the laws of the Old Testament). Rather, we remember that the "authorities that exist" may be us, or may not be; and if we're not holding office at the moment, we may retain our theological positions or political differences. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, has special significance when we are talking about different groups of Christians contending over beliefs, ideas, or courses of conduct which may be supported and advanced by force of decree, statement or law. If we are going to move toward a more complete Christian community, theological convictions count, inspiration counts, but also, impartiality counts. We want the debate (and the penalties for losing the debate on whatever topic is at hand) to be just and impartial. The rules, the conduct, the doctrine, whatsoever it is under discussion, and the statement or law that issues from them, or us, are to be impartial. The means and procedure of discussing, debating, challenging or appealing the decision regarding the resolution of Christian issues, have to be impartial. Due Process is a legal term but it paves a spiritual road. It means notice of the issue at hand, before the time and place of decision, and the opportunity to be heard on the point by the decision-makers. We hope valued impartiality flows into our political and national lives. But whether it does or does not flow nationally, we have to communicate these exchanges and accord this due process among ourselves in an impartial manner – and then voluntarily respect the outcome. The amorality of the present state of our national political life is not ultimately acceptable, but neither it is acceptable to go back to the political situation, rife with religious persecutions, that characterized Great Britain (and here in New England) in the 17th century. We do not criminalize people with whom we disagree. We will not move toward a golden, millennial age until we capture solutions to both sets of problems – spiritual unity which enables voluntary association and cooperation, and spiritual dissent. Our risen Lord Jesus has set us a mid-term examination. God has graciously provided us guidance. As explained by Locke in his Second Treatise, sect. 131: And so whoever has the legislative or supreme power of any commonwealth, is bound to govern by established standing laws, promulgated and known to the people, and not by extemporary decrees; by indifferent [impartial] and upright judges, who are to decide controversies by those law; and to employ the force of the community at home, only in the execution of such laws; or abroad to prevent or redress foreign injuries, and secure the community from inroads and invasion. And all this to be directed to no other end but the peace, safety, and public good of the people. The peace that Jesus confers - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" (John 14:27), connects to this Lockean peace, safety and the public good. The kingdom of God ("Thy kingdom come," Jesus taught us to pray, Mat. 6:10, "on earth as it is in heaven.") and "the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations," Rev. 22:2, converge on this peace. They are intended for this-world Christian implementation, and this implementation and obedience to God's will is not beyond us. John Locke described the "peace, safety and public good of the people" in terms that were attainable. He presented his solution at the time of intense religious persecution that frequently was the excuse, rather than the reason, for political persecution. The experience of the Amish community in self-regulation provides some useful guidance. The Nashville Statement, signed initially by more than 150 evangelical leaders, affirming what is set forth or implied in Scripture about sexuality, particularly Romans ch. 1, is a productive step toward our self-regulation and our movement toward a Holy City. The Nashville Statement engendered disagreement and resentment. Nor do I endorse all views, on all issues, of those Christians who developed the Nashville Statement. The point is to cooperate as actively and as far as we can, but no further. Theological statements and decisions are presented to address conflicting positions. The resentment within large elements of our national society, of the Christian position on the sexual issues addressed in the Nashville Statement, is intense – but that is acceptable. Disregard of God's Word engenders its own consequences. We want to be frog-marched off the Titanic of modern secular culture and nominal Christianity - thrown unceremoniously into a little lifeboat named Jesus and the Bible. We expect to be marginalized with the world's imprecations following, as the Titanic leaves us behind. We may bob in the ocean of broad societal disapproval for a short season. It's not hard to see the iceberg coming. After the iceberg has done its work, we, the Christian community, build a better world. We may communicate our own internal understandings and direction without surrendering those theological positions which are essentially non-negotiable. John Locke calls out the following elements in the above-recited passage: legislative power, established law, impartial judges, a judicious use of 'force' to execute such laws, directed to peace, safety and public good – and we would add, for the community of our faith. The challenge is to connect that political peace, of which we are clearly capable, with Jesus' spiritual peace. The alternative, the Valley of Christian Stasis, is incapable of being characterized as good faith. That is not how the Book of Revelation ends. To disconnect the two kinds of peace, to say that the peace that Jesus provides is always and forever not of this world, is to take a position on eschatology. That is to take the position that the Kingdom of God is not coming (despite praying "thy Kingdom come") in this world except by the visible return of Christ but in no other way. It is to take the position that the Great Commission does not fully succeed (apparently, then, a command to partial failure?). It is to take the position that the ending of Romans ch. 16 ("so that all nations might believe and obey him") doesn't count. If the Kingdom of God is coming in this world, then those good ends that John Locke asserted - peace, safety, the public good - have to be realized in the context of a multitude of Christian expressions (the 'Seven Churches' of Revelation), giving rise to our City in Motion. The political events of the last two thousand years include what has politically taken place in this country in the last 250 years. We may begin with the Deist-influenced proclamation of the Declaration of Independence (which, despite its Deist influences, repeatedly and insistently invokes God, the Creator, the Supreme Judge, and Divine Providence), which is also directly of God. The Declaration of Independence, like all other expressions of common grace, is directed by and under the authority of our risen Lord, Jesus. Pilate's authority derived from Roman military and civil power gets the benefit of God's imprimatur, as spoken by Jesus. Then surely also so does the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. We have political tools. We need to use them. We don't want to supplant the state, we want to create a miniature of a Constitutional and legislative system, for ourselves, entered into by three gates: by Christian faith, by subscription to the doctrine of Scriptural inerrancy, and by a commitment to a forward-looking eschatology. Beyond that, once through those gates 'of the outer courtyard,' we acknowledge a diversity of views, a gathering of seven churches, a lively exchange of ideas. We will make and find our city and move toward peace, joy, and the enjoyment of the presence of God, characterized by our love for God, and our love for each other. There, we will be in a position to lead useful and interesting lives and have enjoyable and interesting discourse. We do not resurrect the past, look to the past, long for the days of ancient Israel, look for theocratical forms of government, or long for the days when our particular theology will be adopted by everyone. Christianity is just beginning. "By calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." Heb. 8:13. The orchestra is just tuning up - we're barely getting started. I have no use at all for nostalgia. To quote a modern theologian, Greg Bahnsen: Postmillennialists believe, therefore, that the kingdom of God will gradually grow on earth, visibly, publicly, and externally. . . It will grow through the gradual conversion of the nations – through the preaching of the Word of God. . . . This salvation of many people must have visible expression and influence and be seen in an outward culture in society. (Victory in Jesus, Bahnsen, CMP 1999, p. 27). (See also, Postmillennialism, an Eschatology of Hope, Keith A. Mattison, P&R Publishing, 1999; The Victory of Christ's Kingdom, John Jefferson Davis, Canon Press, 1996; Prophecy and the Church, Oswald Allis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1978 (critique of dispensationalism); He Shall Have Dominion, Kenneth Gentry, Apologetics Group Media, 2009 (thorough defense of postmillennialism); and An Eschatology of Victory, J. Marcellus Kik, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1971) ("the Holy City is situated in time and history . . . " p. 245). (Noting also with all these authors, that their theology is learned, their eschatology is inspiring, their legal and political theory needs better direction.) Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Rom:13:2. Paul instructed Christians in the Roman Empire, where we began as a tiny minority. Stay out of trouble, direct your energy away from rebellion, stay away from political revolt or disobedience. Move in our spiritual life and the witness to the growing faith. Paul was concerned about building the church locally and across geographical distances and cultural groups. It was the Holy Spirit saying, "it's okay to obey the Roman authorities – in fact, you should, this is part of your obedience to me, unless (as is clear from the Book of Revelation), you are being asked to deny Christ or otherwise blaspheme." Christ warned his disciples to stay clear of the military and political disaster coming because of the Jewish rebellion brewing against Roman authority in his pointed discourse at the Mount of Olives. In whatever direction we decide to move, it must meet the fundamental standards enunciated by Paul. 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 he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience. That is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe him; if you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Rom. 13:3-7. Christian, don't do the crime, if you can't do the time. The bearing of the sword is intended for punishment. The state has a monopoly on the use of force, for a good reason. Generally, Christian conscience acts in conjunction with the state (but not always, see, e.g., Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail). In his Letter to the Romans, Paul meant a number of different things by 'the Law,' understood by context: the Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses implying a special revelation of God's will to the Jews, natural law available to and applicable to all people, spiritual law to be followed by Christians out of obedience to the gospel, the law of love, Roman civil or criminal law to be obeyed at the risk of punishment, the law of conscience, including accusations or defenses of conscience, the law of interior struggle with sin, sin and death itself, and the new life of the Spirit - all are referenced in Paul's letter, all characterized in his writing as or associated with the Law. The Law shows us our sins by holding up a mirror to our conduct in the light of God's Law, sending us to call on Christ's atoning mercy. The Law protects the weak from wrongdoing at the hands of those stronger and is essential to a civil society. The Law in all its forms and expressions is surely the great chain, wielded by an angel, which binds Satan in Rev. 20:1 and 2. As the Holy City comes down out of heaven as described in the 21st Chapter of Revelation, it is not described as the City of Law. By implication, the City may be protected by Law. Law may reinforce its walls and its gate. Spiritual law may flow from and through the Church to separate those who may enter the City of God from those who may not. But the Holy City's light, foundations, jewels, gates, streets, river, fountains, or its Tree of Life are not described in terms of Law. In the Sacred City of divine and human joy, where Christ reigns by acclamation, by love and by power, the purposes of the Law have been fulfilled. Lawlessness has no place in the City as it can never enter in. The Abyss may be escaped, only to give rise to further battle and fire, but the Holy City is prepared as a bride. The description of the Millennial City calls us to something higher, further and more perfect than Law as a goal and end of human society. The Law has a purpose and an end, and it reaches fulfillment in Christ's work on the Cross. In a more perfect society, where equity is done everywhere, there is no need to petition a court of equity for relief. Where love and trust are more perfect among people, no judge is needed to assert jurisdiction, hear argument or rule for one party or the other. In a meeting with our beloved, we who love fold our papers, close our law books and put our contracts aside. Their purpose has been served. Love keeps no record of wrong, so we may leave the courtroom. We go to meet for a wedding ceremony and a feast. The beauty of the meeting calls us to travel the road. Questions arise about doing right, what obedience means, in a Constitutional democracy where we are asked to play a part. The part we play nationally, whatever it is, to which we are also called and from which we refuse to be disenfranchised, is not the same as the spiritual movement we pursue among ourselves. We are called to something higher than the surrounding political confrontation and factionalism (not an easy problem to solve; see Federalist No. 10 – Madison thought the danger of factionalism would be solved by the new Constitution, and clearly that has not been the case). John Locke thought the solution was self-evident. "[F]or nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another. . . Thus the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make . . . must be conformable to the law of nature, i.e., to the will of God . . ." 2nd Treatise, sect. 135. To say something must be conformable to the will of God, or the law of nature or an eternal rule, has proved to be guidance not so obvious, beyond the first application, of not destroying life. Many Christians are united on this point at least. Given the number of abortions being performed annually in the United States and western world generally, even Locke's standard of 'not taking away life' appears to have given way to a notion of personal rights that is practically unlimited in its scope or application. In the case of abortion on demand, the notion is tragic on a massive scale, leads to infanticide (and the purposeful abortion of Downs' syndrome babies), is contrary to God's will, is destructive of our national political fabric, and presents an irresistible temptation to federal courts to exceed their Constitutional jurisdiction and intended scope of authority. Next to the Dred Scott decision, Roe v. Wade is the worst decision ever made by the U.S. Supreme Court, and its consequences have been destructive. The decision raises political problems regardless of religious faith – there is no serious legal question of any type that cannot be formulated into a query about individual rights and then answered in such a way as to make individual rights (defined to assure the preferred outcome) preempt and supersede any other type of right. In the case of abortion, all that is necessary is to deny the definition of human life to children in the womb. The definitions decide the outcome. When we now use the term 'civil rights' the meaning is – rights of the individual. In current judicial reasoning, advancing individual rights is always expansive of the good, as long as the individuals are out of the womb. In current judicial reasoning, the rights of the group are nearly always oppressive, subtracting from the net benefit of civil society. My civil rights cannot be added to the civil rights of my fellow citizens, in such a way as to develop a society promoting religiously-based ethical views. One hundred thousand people may not be lead in prayer at a government-sponsored or funded event, if one objects. If it is necessary to justify protecting children in the womb from destruction by making a religious argument, because the definition of the beginning of life implies theological and ethical reasoning, then the destructive consequences of advancing individual rights above other rights are wrongly justified as compelled by the implied language of the Constitution. An intellectual shell game has been played by our federal judiciary, of which Roe v. Wade is the most notorious example – get the definitions right, set up the conflict as the individual vs. the group (included in 'the group' is any assembly of state legislators) – and the desired judicial result will pop out like candy from a dispenser. From this Christian's viewpoint, and I am also a citizen of this nation, this is unacceptable. As an individual, my name is not "Congress," as in the 1st Amendment ("Congress shall make no law"). The idea that ethical decisions, which result in law, may not have religious foundations, is to be rejected. The idea that I may not join with others to vote for or to pass laws which at some point in their chain of reasoning, rely on religious belief or revelation, is to be rejected. A method of judicial reasoning which relies on carefully-crafted initial definitions and nomenclature to avoid the obvious, observable acts of medically terminating life, with the resulting infant body parts available for marketing, is to be rejected. Political acts which have ethical foundations, which themselves have religious foundations, are ordinary acts of Constitutional self-rule, not the establishment of a theocracy. We will do better, because God will compel a better result. The City of God is a promise to seven churches, standing for a society of communities engaged in the voluntary worship of God and obedience to Christ. Discovering the will of God, in our own relations with other Christians, raises harder questions than challenging bad national law or opposing abortion on demand. Discovering God's will mean moving forward to our own better self-governing society, even if we construct a model first on a 'table-top,' as it were. I quote a passage from Locke which will have a familiar sound to any reader familiar with the Declaration of Independence: Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty, will be born by the people without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going; it is not to be wondered, that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavor to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected . . . 2nd Treatise, sect. 225. Locke observed that the people may "rouse themselves." Indeed, 'rousing ourselves' is essential. But in what way did the Apostle Paul view 'rousing ourselves?' The difficulty with Paul's passage in Romans ch. 13:3-7, is its static nature. Those admonitions made sense then, for a small religious minority in a vast pagan empire. The Roman authorities were there, and the Roman Christians submitted to them, and were grateful to God for the opportunity to worship him in peace. There was no political development implied; it was intentional separation from Roman interference, by giving no cause for offence, for purposes of Christian religious practice. A difficulty with the passage of Locke cited above is that it takes the matter one, but only one, drastic step forward. If the authorities are inflicting a "long train of abuses . . . all tending the same way" then the people ought to put "the rule into such hands as may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected." Locke's concepts are binary, but they also will become static – either the people accept the "great mistakes and wrong laws without mutiny or murmer" – or, as the American people did in 177 6, they "rouse themselves" to "put the rule into such hands, etc.," in other words, to put governmental rule into American hands in the legislatures of the American states. Continuing, aspirational movement was not contemplated by John Locke either. The wasn't the problem he was facing 320 years ago, but it is a problem we are facing now. There is much the Book of Revelation does not do. There is one thing it does do, beyond its powerful encouragement in the face of persecution – it says, 'look, there's a goal here, a destination, and we want to get to it.' The Book has an end, and the end is a City. The Great Commission is equally dynamic – Jesus telling us "Go, make disciples." There's a goal here, a command, something we are supposed to be doing – and disciples, discipling and discipline has to extend to more than personal conscience, to the exclusion of Christian community. The argument against amillennialism is parallel to the argument against premillennialism (whether in its dispensational presentation or classical presentation) – those doctrines don't go anywhere. When it comes to Revelation ch. 21 and 22, these doctrines 'sit on their hands.' Rather, our doctrine of eschatology is postmillennial (Christ comes after ("post") the millennium) by our voluntary choice, by Revelation's destination, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to reach a millennium in this world. Jesus is awaited at the end of the golden, millennial period, however long and wonderful that period may be, a thousand years or a ten times a thousand years – and we have acted in obedience to him in making or moving to such a society and such a world. (For the Kingdom of God will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property - one to receive five talents, one to receive two, another, to receive one). Our goal is forward. Neither John Lock or the Apostle Paul, or Jesus, say: "let's go back to an Old Testament theocracy as soon as we have a chance." Hence, my profound disagreement with all forms of political theocracy, theonomy, etc. We move to the future here, in terms of our political understanding – our Lord Jesus has not been asleep for the last 2000 years. For that matter, if you need open-heart CABG surgery as I did, you will not seek out a doctor who applies the methods of healthcare available in the days of Moses – there are no instructions in the Old Testament for a triple-bypass procedure. Common grace has done something with respect to medical care, as it has done something with respect to political theory which the churches may apply. After the passage quoted above about obeying the authorities, the Apostle Paul moved directly, with no further transition, to a society characterized by love that has already internalized the Law. The movement is sudden between Rom. 13:7, extolling obedience to external Roman authority, sharing neither political power or a faith with us, to Rom. 13:8. Here is our endpoint: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. If we wish to go On the Road now (and we find ourselves On the Road whether we wish it or not) – static conceptions will not do. We construct with the law in the manner of a homebuilder, using our tools to lay on progressively wiser and more effective structural elements, until we reach the fulfillment of home-building, a home where we may love. That is the postmillennial vision – a millennial world, a golden age of faith, love and peace, before Christ returns. The thousand years of the millennium in Ch. 20 is both a reality and a symbol for that vision. The reality of God's ordaining will is a driving movement. Growth through the Holy Spirit is neither limited to or circumscribed by the symbol of a thousand year time period. We travel to an end and a society good beyond words. Our driving force and our destination comes from God. Golden ages are hard to come by, but not only can we get there, we will. Christ has called us to this, and his sobriety and his power in doing so is beyond question. ____________________________________
Oconee River Basin Walk to Emmaus Community – Serving Baldwin, Greene, Morgan and Putnam Counties in Georgia The Story Of Jesus On The Road To Emmaus "Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked…
Gospelize Me | Share Jesus. April 12, 1963 We the undersigned clergymen are among those who in January, issued "An Appeal forLaw and Order and Common Sense," in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed. Since that time there had been some evidence of increased forbearance and a willingness to face facts. Responsible citizens have undertaken to work on various problems which caused racial friction and unrest. In Birmingham, recent public events have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems. However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely. We agree rather with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation of racial issues in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues can best be accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area white and Negro, meeting with their knowledge and experience of the local situation. All of us need to face that responsibility and find proper channels for its accomplishment. Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political tradition." We also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham. We commend the community as a whole and the local news media and law enforcement officials in particular, on the calm manner in which these demonstrations have been handled. We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement officials to remain calm and continue to protect our city from violence. We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham.When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense. Signed by: C. C. J. CARPENTER, D.D., LL.D. Bishop of Alabama JOSEPH A. DURICK, D.D. Auxiliary Bishop. Diocese of Mobile-Birmingham Rabbi HILTON J. GRAFMAN, Temple Emmanu-El, Birmingham, Alabama Bishop PAUL HARDIN, Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of theMethodist Church. Bishop HOLAN B. HARMON, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of theMethodist Church GEORGE M. MURRAY, Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama EDWARD V. RAMSAGE, Moderator, Synod of the Alabama Presbyterian Church in theUnited States EARL STALLINGS, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama. . . Martin Luther King Jr wrote a letter responding from a Birmingham Jail . . 16 April 1963 My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here. But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid. Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative. In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation. Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change. Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer. You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue. One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all." Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong. Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured? Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest. I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience. We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws. I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured. In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity. You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil." I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare. Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists. I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago. But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen. When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows. In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed. I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular. I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?" Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists. There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust. Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department. It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason." I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers? If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me. I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King, Jr.
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brianjenningsblog.com | There are 300,000 items in the average American house. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled over the past 50 years, yet 1 out of every 10 Americans rent off-site storage - the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry. So surely, with all of this wealth, our country's happiness, contentment, and emotional health are on the rise. Right? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount help explain why. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also..."No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."Matthew 6 Jesus' words, aligned with the entire Bible, point us towards four truths about money. More stuff = More stressYou'll make a few purchases that can actually reduce stress, but usually our purchases (especially when we overspend) produce stress. When you buy that new think-a-ma-jig that works as a phone, onion slicer, and tear-reducer, you think your life will improve (cutting onions while talking to friends without crying sounds great, right?). But what happens when:-You have to set-up a payment plan?-You have to register it online?-The updates take longer than you think?-It breaks after 3 days and you spend the next 4 days talking to customer-support. -You have to mail it in for a new one?-Regret sets in? My example is ridiculous...except for all of the parts that reminded you of an eerily similar purchase you made last month. One of the many reasons God warns us about wealth is that he knew how much it would complicate our lives. Jesus invites you to rest, to contentment, and to peace. Stuff threatens all of that. Your heart follows your moneyIf you give your time, money, and energy to anything (sports, hobbies, jobs, friends, church, family), you'll love it/them. It's the way you were designed. Our hearts follow the things in which we invest. Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. Jesus did not make that same demand of everyone, but he knew the pursuit of this man's heart. His money was his god. The man proved this to be true when he walked away from Jesus, "surrounded by grief." If you want to avoid the depressing fate of the Rich Young Ruler, invest your resources in eternity. When you give to causes that advance God's Kingdom, your heart will follow the money. God, afterall, is not after your money, he's after your heart. God doesn't need something FROM you; he wants something FOR you. Money can't buy peace or contentment. Only God can give those things. He wants to protect you from chasing the lies of our culture. He wants to save you from the meaningless pursuit of more. "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless."Ecclesiastes 5:10 Instead of chasing the wind, God invites you to walk with him in true happiness. When we invest in things that can't perish, joy is found. Reducing God's favor to health and wealth is unbiblical and destructiveI live in a city that has perpetuated a dangerous, unbiblical deception: "If God approves of you, you'll always experience financial and physical comfort." A middle-age lady once shuffled into my office. She walked as if chains were attached to her hands and feet. She'd just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her lifelong instruction from a nearby church had taught her one thing: "God's favor was no longer upon her." We were able to help this lady - a simple reading of Job unshackled her shame. I get angry when I think about those who taught her that God's favor is only measured by physical and financial blessings. They claim they preach the Bible, but they have to avoid huge chunks of it. Daniel was shown God's favor, but he spent his life in exile.Joseph was shown God's favor, but he had a terrible childhood, was trafficked as a human slave, ripped from family, falsely accused, and imprisoned in the midst of saving his people.Esther was shown God's favor, but she was married to a creepy king and was just about killed for doing what was right. Mary was "highly favored," but she had to endure the scandal and uncertainty of an unplanned pregnancy. This list could go on and on, but let me just add a few questions:Was Stephen favored by God, even as large, hurled rocks ended his life?Were the Apostles favored by God, even as they experienced poverty, persecution, and martyrdom? Was Jesus favored by God when he hung on the cross? God's blessings often include physical and financial help. We can read about God's provision in Scriptures and we can experience it still today. Praise God. But we dare not reduce God's favor to only being a temporal, finite reward. God's greatest blessings are eternal. I'm so thankful that God loves us enough to teach us how to have a healthy relationship with money. The Bible has a lot more to say about money, but I'm curious: Which of the four truths do you most need to believe today?
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God meets our soul''s deep needs North Shore Baptist Church in Peabody, MA believes that Jesus Christ, the man who walked the earth in the first century, is God Incarnate, and is the only way to salvation and peace with God.
Home - Deep Water Community Church Deep Water is a small community church committed to training believers to walk as Jesus walked and to grow up as a manifested sons of God. We are focused on pouring into people so that they can go out and affect the community around them. Disciples making disciples.
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The Voice of One Crying | By Roland Stirnemann "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." I Samuel 15:23 Perhaps it is a part of the age or stage of life at which I have finally arrived, but I find myself often reflecting upon and projecting the state of my local church. I'm sure a major part of my concern has to do with the fact that I still have two minor sons at home for which I am responsible. What we are handing off to the next generation has always been a concern to me, even before I had kids. The Scripture is clear that, "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7). We have a responsibility to the generations coming behind us. We have been handed a great truth, and it is essential that we don't taint what we have been given before handing it off to our kids and grandkids. I don't get to travel much, but from what I have personally seen and heard from others, there is a similar spirit infiltrating Apostolic churches across America. I'm am not throwing a broad blanket on all churches, but it is apparent that what is going on is not just pocketed in a few areas. I have visited Apostolic churches in the Bible-belt of Pentecost and seen the same thing with my own eyes. It varies in degree from place to place, but it is very troubling. Deception is creeping in among us. It's not an all-out attack on Apostolic doctrine. The enemy knows such a tactic would not work on us. Instead, he has used a steady drumbeat of worldly culture to chip away at our Apostolic identity. Why Do We Go To Church? A couple of weeks ago, we had an incredible move of the Holy Ghost in our Sunday service. Unfortunately, those kinds of moves have become aberrations. There was a time when they were the norm. Form and time constraints have changed our approach at our gatherings. During some of my reflections, I often scratch my head, wondering what the true purpose of our gatherings are anymore. It used to be for the purpose of seeking a visitation from the Spirit of God, hearing a Word from God via a message or sermon, and intermingling with the saints of God to encourage and be encouraged. That doesn't appear to be the main focus anymore. Whenever I have expressed some of my concerns in tight circles, I have been talked down as a "negative" person. "Focus on the positive, Roland". But what good does it do to talk about how wonderful your left arm is when your right arm is dangling by a thread? Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and some of the other Old Testament prophets faced the same criticism. I am not calling myself a prophet, but if you read their books, they simply spoke the things they "saw". Ezekiel specifically called what he saw "visions". The others "saw" things in the eyes of their minds. Only time and events bore out the accuracy of what they had to say, but they were willing to step out and declare what they "saw", even if it meant enduring ridicule by their peers and brethren. What I am writing about today are things that I "see" a short distance down the road. The Expansion Of Immorality We are living in tumultuous times. I remember teaching the 12th grade Sunday School class in our church back in the late 90's. I asked those kids at that time what they were going to do in the future when a legally married sodomite couple walked into their church with legally adopted children and wanted to become members of their church. They looked at me dumbfounded. "That will never happen, Bro. Stirnemann," was the look on their faces. Yet here we are, about 20 years later, facing that exact dilemma. Sodomite marriage is now "legal", and the people of our state, Michigan, recently voted to give people more access to "legal" marijuana for "recreational use", whatever that means. It is a sick world. My wife and I are trying our best to raise minor kids in this sick world. Every vile law that is passed by man becomes another obstacle to what we are trying to do with our sons. "Why is it wrong to smoke pot, Dad, if it's been legalized?" I have not been asked that question yet, but you get the picture. In the past, the local church has been a welcome haven from the sick things going on in our world, but much of that is eroding. Along with the absence of persistent Spirit-intense services is the lack of a clear distinction between the world and the church. It seems that there are very few activities in which the world revels which we consider to be anathema. We dress and act like the world, participating in activities with them, while declaring, "By the way, did I tell you I'm Apostolic?" Witchcraft Among Us Without going into detail, let me just state that my wife and I have been dealing with some rebellion in our home for the past 4-5 months. It has manifested itself in a few different forms which are not necessary to expound upon here. Rebellion is rebellion no matter how it manifests itself. Scripture is quite clear that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23). When talking to my youngest son about that verse a while ago, he asked what that meant. I told him that witchcraft was all about denying the power of God. Witchcraft states that it is unnecessary to conform to the laws and boundaries established by our Creator. In essence, witchcraft is a complete challenge to God's authority or right to tell us how we should live. His young brain did not comprehend that, of course, because his brain is still developing at the age of 12. Trying to reason with a 12-year old is difficult for that very reason. You're not sure how much of what you're saying is actually being digested. I know that a degree of rebellion can be expected out of kids going through puberty, but it doesn't mean we should overlook it, either. As I was talking to God about how to further deal with some of these things we have encountered, God slapped me in the face and said, "Look around your local church. What do you see, son?" Immediately my eyes were opened as never before. Before going on, let me say that I am not "blaming" the local church for anything either of my sons are currently going through. Life is life and it doesn't always play fair. I am also aware that some of the Old Testament prophets actually "lived" the messages they were told by God to deliver to Israel and Judah. Hosea named his kids according to the current relationship God had with Israel. Jeremiah and Ezekiel experienced similar fates. Perhaps what is going on in my house is a similar reflection of what some of these men went through. But I also understand that what we define as a "spiritual environment" will become a gauge for the next generation. Like it or not, the local church is what our children will use as a thermometer of spirituality. Here is what God showed me. Local Church Letdown When I walk into our church on a Sunday morning, I am greeted at the door by a lady in slacks with hair chopped to her shoulders, her face laden with makeup and jewelry. This lady is not a new convert. She is a 4th-generation Apostolic. Her husband stands a few feet away handing out the weekly bulletins, oblivious to any inappropriate messages his wife's appearance might be transmitting to guests or new converts who might be wondering what this church is really all about. The silence of the elders, her husband and those in authority over her in her "ministry" tells everyone who sees her, "Hey, her appearance is okay". As I continue on into the auditorium, my ears are blasted with loud music as my eyes attempt to adjust to the dim, mood-setting lighting. Looking up into the sound booth quizzically, I see one of the main men responsible for setting this atmosphere. His hair is half-way down his back. I don't know him well, but I do know he was raised in this church. He is at least a 3rd-generation Apostolic and knows better. Yet somehow, no one in a position of responsibility has the heart, nerve, or chutzpah to tell him to get a haircut. Again, this is not a first-time guest. It is someone who is visible and has been given the power and position to "set the mood" for our services by way of lighting and sound. Somewhere along the way, we have allowed talent to trump obedience to the Word of God. Then, just this last week, I was praying at the altar after service when I happened to open my eyes which were met by a flash coming off the ears of one of our "praise" singers. Indeed, tiny earrings were reflecting the lights as she bobbed her head, singing praises to Jesus. She is not a first-time guest either. She is a 4th-generation Apostolic. We have "allowed" certain degrees of makeup on the platforms of our churches for years. We have even seen the pushing of the envelope with yoga pants under skirts which creep too high at times. But jewelry has always been a no-no for those wishing to participate in platform activities. Until now. The Erosion Of Apostolic Boundaries "You see, Roland", God chided me, "you're wondering why you're dealing with rebellion in your home. Why would you consider that to be a mystery when your sons see rebellion in their local church from the greeting at the front door to the platform?" I was instantly shamed as I bowed my head and wept. Yes, I have watched these "changes" creep into our church in recent years but had never seen them in that light before. These things are not just "the way the younger generation does things". These things are outright rebellion. Witchcraft! Each of these things are specifically called out in Scripture as things God hates. Women wearing men's apparel is an abomination (Deuteronomy 22:5), men with long hair are a shame and don't even comprehend what nature is declaring to them (I Corinthians 11:14), and women who adorn themselves with gold, pearls and such like are using a substitute covering to replace the missing glory of God in their lives (I Timothy 2:9-10). Yet the pulpit remains silent. I'm not talking about guests or new converts who are in the process of "becoming". I am talking about generational "Apostolics" who know better but are "challenging" what they consider to be "the old generation's way of doing things". About a year ago, I heard about a lady from our church who was having lunch with a lady she had grown up with who left the church years ago. The woman from our church was attempting to get this backslidden lady to come back to church. In her attempt to "woo" this lady back, she made the declaration, "Hey, it's okay to wear pants to our church now". When this sad story was relayed to me, I realized how accurate this statement was. Is this what we have become, a church where people can bring in all kinds of vile spirits with them and still feel comfortable among us? "Hey, if you just stick it out a while longer, our church will probably cave in the area you're having problems with." We proclaim that we don't want to judge people, that we should leave that to them and God. But how is that approach affecting our own kids who sit next to these people full of rebellion on the pews, week after week? Besides, Scripture is crystal clear in stating, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17). Generation Gap Or Spiritual Warfare? This is not a generational or cultural war. This is a spiritual war that we are losing simply because the Word is not being declared. I am not saying that the preacher needs to get up in the pulpit and start telling men to cut their hair and telling women to stop wearing slacks. But it is obvious that there is not enough "conviction" among us due to a lack of preaching and teaching which would convict people of sin. Messages must go beyond mere anointing. King Saul was "anointed" while chasing after David in an attempt to murder him and protect his own position. Where are the messages that bring "conviction"? The Old Testament prophets were given visions and direction directly from God. Where are our preachers and teachers (and the "vision committee"?) of our church getting direction? From Mark Batterson? Shame on us! In recent years, preachers have backed off from the so-called "clothesline" messages in order to give new converts an opportunity to grow at their own pace. But what has now happened is that generational Apostolics are digressing and no longer believe that the distinctions which set apart their parents and grandparents are necessary at all. When Paul began his missionary journeys and Gentiles were being converted to the faith, the board at Jerusalem made a list of "rules" to give these new converts. Seventy-five percent of their rules had to do with what these new believers put in their mouths. "Don't eat things strangled, don't eat blood, don't eat meat sacrificed to idols, oh, and by the way, don't commit fornication either" (Acts 15:28-29). Paul was respectful to the board, but in his later writings he told many of the churches and people he wrote to that the food part of the rules wasn't necessary to follow. In fact, the entire chapter of I Corinthians 8 was a slap in the face to what the board at Jerusalem had instituted. Paul basically said, there's nothing morally wrong with eating food offered to idols. He briefly mentioned this same thing in a couple of other epistles as well. Meat Offered To Idols Yet in reality, the board did have a point to what they were instructing. The whole "meat offered to idols" rule had to do with keeping people away from associating with certain activities that unbelievers considered to be okay. Paul's point was, meat is meat, and its purpose was to give a person strength, but some people in that day and time considered it to be much more involving than just a meal. Also, the board knew that, due to human nature, if people started associating with certain activities in the world, no matter how innocent those activities may be, they might then be drawn into more serious worldly activities which were actual sin. That's exactly what has happened among us today. It started with going to movie theaters and other questionable places. It escalated to social drinking and a beer now and then. We have now lost the line of separation in areas that really do matter. We have crossed the line of sin, and now we have people who are in "positions" among us who flaunt their sin, and no one says a thing. Long hair on men, women wearing that which "pertaineth" unto a man, and women "adorning" themselves in jewelry and makeup are not cultural issues. They are commands spelled out by God and nature to govern our identity as Apostolics and called-out children of God. Things designated by God as "abominations" or "defined by nature" do not change over time or from one testament to another. If it was abominable to God in Deuteronomy, it's still abominable today. If nature "said" it in Paul's day, nature's story remains consistent today. The Real Issue: Rebellion It's not even these actual "outer" signs which are the problem. These "visible" issues are only "symptoms" of the real problem which is "rebellion". I know a woman can "look" holy on the outside and still have a rotten spirit, but it is impossible for a woman who has been raised in this thing and knows better to openly flaunt a worldly appearance and not have rebellion at the root. Yet we stand by, shake these people's hands each week, allow them to continue on with their "ministry" in our church, and pretend that everything's okay and that it doesn't hinder the work of the Lord. There are some who would argue that "symptoms" should be ignored. After all, "symptoms" don't necessarily indicate serious sickness or bad health. However, certain "symptoms" are indicative of serious problems and, if not addressed, can lead to fatalities. As time has shown over the past dozen years or so, some of these sicknesses are contagious and have infected people who otherwise would never have considered adapting to the worldly appearance and lifestyles of the rebellious. It's Time For A Wake-Up Call We're in trouble. Call me negative. Call me an alarmist. But God is sick of it. Yes, He will still visit from time to time because there are still hungry people among us. But his visitations should not be considered his approval of all that is going on among us. Moses got water out of the rock in the wilderness after "striking" it the second time in direct disobedience to the Word of God, because the people were "thirsty". God took care of his people "in spite of" the disobedience of those in positions of leadership. This did not mean God changed his mind or simply overlooked what He had told Moses as if to say, "Don't worry, Mo, it doesn't really matter. After all, it's not a heaven or hell issue". Moses lost his ticket into the Promised Land as a result of his disobedience. God means what He says. We are becoming less Apostolic by the day. In fact, considering the state in which we find many of our churches, I really think it is a disservice to the community for us to continue to have the "Apostolic" name on some of our church signs. Perhaps a better name would be The Accepting Church. I read the 5th chapter of Amos the other day and wept. God finally shook his head and told Israel in verses 4 and 5 that they weren't going to find their answers at church anymore (Bethel and Gilgal), but rather they needed to seek God directly, because their entire system of worship had become so polluted. The end of the chapter talks about how they tried to incorporate ("blend") the worship of Moloch and Chiun into their worship of Jehovah. It doesn't work. They went into captivity as a result. They desired God to "show up" among them, not realizing that when God "showed up", He was bringing judgment with Him (verse 18). God actually said he "hated" their feast days and wouldn't accept their sacrifices because of their mixture with worldly idols (verses 21-22). In fact, He no longer even wanted to hear their songs of praise which He referred to as "noise" (verse 23). The Invasion Of Worldly Culture A short time ago, a brother in our church was teaching a Wednesday night class in which he talked about the origin of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He talked about the fight that went on between the Sadducees (who wanted to integrate the culture of their day with the church) and the Pharisees (who wanted to return to the structure of the Torah). He asked us to imagine what it would be like for that kind of tug-of-war to happen in our local church today. Well, we are there. There are those who are doing everything they can to eliminate the line of separation between the world and our local church. Oh, they do it with good intentions. They want people to come to our church and hear about Jesus. But what good does that do if we have nothing different to offer them when they get here? I know that there are also extremists on the other side. I am considered by some to be extremist in my views of certain things. But why is someone considered extremist for simply asking for the Word to be preached as it is written? Within ten years, should the Lord tarry and we remain on the same road we are currently on, the local church I attend will not be recognizable as an Apostolic church, no matter what the sign says. If we don't see a revival in our church soon, we will be considered just another charismatic mega-church. We are already inundated with such churches in our area. We don't need any more charismatic mega-churches. What people want and need is a demonstration of Apostolic power and Spirit! Jesus proved to us by how He ministered that this thing was never about numbers. It's time to wake up. The rebellion will be eradicated by anointed messages which convict the hearts of those who come to hear truth. Yes, we will lose some, perhaps many, by preaching such messages. But Jesus Christ is not coming back for a church which has adulterated herself with the filth of the world in order to obtain a large membership. He is returning for a chaste bride who has kept herself "unspotted" from the world (Ephesians 5:27). Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!
close Spiritual Pilgrimages, Special Memories Capernaum was the home base Jesus choose for his public ministry throughout Galilee. Visiting the synagogue and walking the streets he walked is always a special part of our pilgrimages. The Hill Brothers are currently receiving reservations for a tour of Jordan and Israel in January of 2020. We invite you…
Chris Tomlin | WORSHIP NIGHTS IN ISRAEL Join Chris Tomlin in Israel this summer as we walk where Jesus walked and visit the places of the Bible. Worship Nights in Israel happens June 20th - June 27th, 2019.
Travel | Lands of the Bible | Israel | Turkey | Italy | Greece We believe that a visit to the Land of the Bible will enrich every person by means of a better understanding of the Bible. Visiting the places where Jesus walked and was spreading His own gospel, will give you an experience that money cannot buy. We also offer a New Testament tour in Europe.
Walk It Off | Group Therapeutics Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk. The wise have always walked. Buddha practiced walking meditation. Jesus taught on walks through the Galilean countryside. Forest Gump walked back and forth across the country (running is just really fast walking!). In life and in lore, the idea of walking it off or taking a long walk to…
La Jolla Presbyterian Church | Dare Mighty Things. Just a couple of weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to go to Mexico with 21 High School students and 5 adults to build 2 houses on the SunHouse Mexico Mission Trip. It was amazing! Our high school students showed up on the first day to a huge pile of lumber and drywall and a foundation, and with their hammers ready, they built 2 houses in 3 days. That is awesome! And they dared mighty things. Our theme for the week was part of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, "Dare Mighty Things." I do think that high school students are daring something mighty when they give up a week of their spring break, and in fact, pay to go down to Mexico to build a house, and spend their week serving others. But the real "Mighty Thing" that we are asking students to "Dare," is to follow Christ with everything they've got. During the week, we talked a lot about Romans 12:2 which Paul writes and tells the Roman church to "not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but instead to offer ourselves as living sacrifices." These students got to literally live this passage of scripture out, and you know what? They loved it! They loved it because they were living a life that Christ wanted them to live. They loved it because they got to see what it feels like to not live to the patterns of this world, and to truly offer your life to Christ. They loved it because they got to see what it was like to give a house away to a family that truly needed it. They loved it because they got to experience what community as a Christ follower is all about. And they dared mighty things. One day we went out into a community and walked door to door inviting families in the community to come to a park to hear stories from these students and about Jesus Christ. I was amazed by God's faithfulness and goodness, when 125 people in the community showed up to hear what our students had to say. Five of our students shared their testimony, through a translator, and almost all of the people there stepped forward to accept Jesus as their Savior and to write their name down to get a bible, discipleship book, and be contacted about being in a small group with the local church. Our students got to build the kingdom of God. And they dared mighty things. By the end of the week, the students, adults, and local families that we were building the houses for, discovered that when we dare mighty things for Christ, that Jesus introduces us into a community that is bigger then we can imagine. We got to see our students from La Jolla, crying and hugging families they had only met 4 days before in a joyous moment. Christ had been working this week too in the hearts of all of us to see the need to realize that God's love is bigger than any language barrier, bigger than a border, and bigger than this world. Go and dare mighty things for Christ.
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Chris Tomlin | WORSHIP NIGHTS IN ISRAEL Join Chris Tomlin in Israel this summer as we walk where Jesus walked and visit the places of the Bible. Worship Nights in Israel happens June 20th - June 27th, 2019.
Home - Deep Water Community Church Deep Water is a small community church committed to training believers to walk as Jesus walked and to grow up as a manifested sons of God. We are focused on pouring into people so that they can go out and affect the community around them. Disciples making disciples.
Christian Home School Online - PreK-12 Christian Education Provider - Learning by Grace Home School Online Program Provider for Christian PreK-12 home school students around the world. Delivering accredited online home school curriculum.
Tim Wildmon''s Holy Land Tour Tim Wildmon Holy Land Tour Welcome to my website about my annual trip to Israel. I have been leading tour groups to the Holy Land for over 25 years now. I love taking Christians to see the places where Jesus walked and taught, where he prayed and ministered to the people of his day. I realize that for almost everyone who travels with me to the Holy Land, this is one of the highlights of their life and so I work to make sure it is the most enjoyable trip of their life.