Home - Jerusalem Prayer Team The Jerusalem Prayer Team with Dr. Michael D. Evans exists to build Friends of Zion to guard defend and protect the Jewish people and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray for peace in Jerusalem because the Scriptures tell us to in Psalm 122:6. The Jerusalem Prayer Team was inspired from the 100-year long prayer meeting for the restoration of Israel held in the ten Boom family home in Haarlem, Holland. We are committed to encouraging others to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and God's Chosen People.
Enter Into His Rest ~ Spiritual Transformation and Healing I received the following intimate spiritual experiences bringing about a progressive, transformative, healing, restorative work in my soul, heart, mind, body, and soul. The promise remains of entering His rest, and we can enter into that rest by faith. Unbelief will make us fall short of the rest God has for us.
My Bro's Daily Word of Encouragement | This blog offers daily encouragement provided by my brother, Adrian L. Dixon. I pray that you may find encouragement from these daily reflections just as I have found. – Eric Benjamin Dixon This blog offers daily encouragement provided by my brother, Adrian L. Dixon. I pray that you may find encouragement from these daily reflections just as I have found. - Eric Benjamin Dixon
Scriptures Salvation, Christian Prayer, Prayer Articles, Prayer Request Site Christiansitesonline.org provides you information on how to pray the scriptures, pray for salvation and offers Christian prayer articles. Visit our website to research many Prayers for all occasions.
Home - Derek Prince Israel God’s message for humanity is inextricably woven through the history of the Jewish people. God’s future plans for His people will be made evident by His presence in the midst of the Jewish people. We have a responsibility to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to be a comfort to the Jewish people.
First United Methodist Church of Dunnellon Florida Come and be a part of our community, our family, at the Dunnellon First United Methodist Church. We love to proclaim the Joy of the Lord and pray for God''s amazing peace. The
germanghanatown - Germany Deutsche Technik und Ghanian Humanitaet wird im germanghanatown.page.tl kombiniert mit sozialer Arbeit unter Beruecksichtigung von jungen Menschen. Neuer Name : Apam - Germantown Ein Fenster deutscher Brunnenbau - und Solartechnik, sowie eine Ausstellung deutscher Firmen in Ghana, die Made in Germany vertreten. Ein Mehr-Generationenprojekt versschiedener Hautfarben von Europa und Ghana.
LMS Compassion Place Providing for Needs, Sharing the Good News LMS Compassion Place Ministries The mission field is not all overseas. It is also right here, in our own neighborhoods, where people are struggling and hurting and hungering for the wholeness Jesus brings.
Habitation Of Peace | Discovering Your Purpose, Place and Peace in God''s Plan We place value and premium on the knowledge of God’s Word and pursue its discovery. There is a purpose of God for every man upon the face of the earth and we encourage each person to pursue the discovery of that purpose. At Habitation of Peace [HOP], we also help you find your place in the Kingdom. By knowing your purpose and occupying your place in the Kingdom, you will
ADULT CATECHESIS & CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LITERACY IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC TRADITION: hosting ONLY True Christians!!!, or "How to think Catholic!!" | Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine
A Wilderness Voice « "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts." (Hag 2:9) "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts." (Hag 2:9)
US Marine Corps - The Leathernecks From Tun Tavern to Guadalcanal, to Korea and Viet Nam and, ultimately, Desert Storm, Marines of all races have a treasured an honorable tradition of unmatched excellence executing war and attaining peace. SEMPER FIDELIS.
May Feelings | Pray Online | Prayer Request May Feelings is a service that connects people from all around the World to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of Prayers, comments and messages. Share a prayer for peace, a prayer for love, a prayer for strength, a prayer for today.
Ken Raggio Bible Study Lessons Sermons Resources Prophecy Teaching Ken Raggio presents 1000s of Bible Studies, Bible Prophecy Lessons from Genesis to Revelation. Endtime last days prophecies incl Rapture, Armageddon
Home - Jerusalem Prayer Team The Jerusalem Prayer Team with Dr. Michael D. Evans exists to build Friends of Zion to guard defend and protect the Jewish people and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray for peace in Jerusalem because the Scriptures tell us to in Psalm 122:6. The Jerusalem Prayer Team was inspired from the 100-year long prayer meeting for the restoration of Israel held in the ten Boom family home in Haarlem, Holland. We are committed to encouraging others to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and God's Chosen People.
Beth Goyim Messianic Congregation. Messianic NJ NY, Messianic Radio, Messianic TV, Free Messianic Internet, Messianic Video, Service Jew and Gentile as one in Messiah Yeshua Beth Goyim Messianic Congregation A Messianic Jewish Congregation where Jew and Gentile meet as one people. Messianic Shabbat Services. Messianic Bible study. Located in New Jersey near New York. Messianic Jewish audio and videos available, If you are looking for a solid teaching ministry, then you have found a home. If you just looking for fluff and stuff this is not your place. Messianic Torah Time Bible Study Tuesday 7-9:30PM. Prayer Night Thursday 7-9PM,Shabbat “Saturday” Service 11AM EDT. Messianic thought, Messianic life, following the Messiah Yeshua and the Messianic Jewish Disciples. Christian Jews. Christian+Jew, Messianic radio wtrcradio.com
Children's Bible Songs | Lyrics, Chords and More Show All Songs Show only songs with A B C D E F G, Jesus died for you and me Amazing Grace As The Deer Away In A Manger Be a Missionary Clap Your Hands Ps. 47:1 Countdown Song Deep and Wide Do Lord (or Way Beyond the Blue) Down By the River Every Need Supplied Everywhere We Go Father Abraham Had Many Sons Fishers of Men Get the New Look Give Me Oil in My Lamp God is So Good Ha Ha Ha Hark! The Herald Angels Sing He Is Able to Carry Me Through He Loves Me With a Love That Wont Stop He's Got the Whole World in His Hands Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes I Am A C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N I Am Crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) I Am Under the Rock I Found It All I Hate Sin I Have Decided to Follow Jesus I Love Him Better Every D-A-Y I May Never March In The Infantry I Want to Be More Like Jesus I Will Call Upon The Lord I'll Fly Away I'm All Wrapped Up I'm Inright, Outright, Upright, Downright Happy all the Time I'm No Kin to the Monkey I'm So Happy I've Been Redeemed I've Got Him on My Mind I've got the joy If You're Happy and You Know It It's Amazing What Praising Can Do It's Bubbling Jesus In the Morning Jesus Is Wonderful Jesus Loves Me Jesus Loves the Little Children Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam J-O-Y Joy To The World King David Had Some Men King of the Jungle Leaning on the Lord's Side Let Us Love One Another – I John 4:7-8 Little Birdy with the Silly Name My Bible I Left on the Church Bus My God Is So Great / My God Is So Big My Lord Knows the Way O Be Careful O Little Town of Bethlehem Obedience Song Oh How I Love Jesus Oh Soldier Only a Boy Named David Peace Like a River Pepsi Cola Song Potato Chip, Peanut Butter Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day Rejoice In the Lord Rejoice In the Lord Alway Philp. 4:4 Rise and Shine – Children of the Lord Rolled Away Serve Him Silent Night Take Me back To Old Time The B-I-B-L-E The Crayon Box The Devil Wants Everyone Grumpy The Fear of the Lord – Pro.9:10 The First Noel The Things I Used to Do The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock This is the Day This Little Light of Mine Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut Trust in the Lord – Pro. 3:5-6 Twelve Men Went to Spy Out Canaan Walk the Bible Way Why Worry About Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man
Home - Jerusalem Prayer Team The Jerusalem Prayer Team with Dr. Michael D. Evans exists to build Friends of Zion to guard defend and protect the Jewish people and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray for peace in Jerusalem because the Scriptures tell us to in Psalm 122:6. The Jerusalem Prayer Team was inspired from the 100-year long prayer meeting for the restoration of Israel held in the ten Boom family home in Haarlem, Holland. We are committed to encouraging others to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and God's Chosen People.
LMS Compassion Place Providing for Needs, Sharing the Good News LMS Compassion Place Ministries The mission field is not all overseas. It is also right here, in our own neighborhoods, where people are struggling and hurting and hungering for the wholeness Jesus brings.
Gold, Silver and Nickel Minted Coins | Jerusalem of Gold Jewelry Designed by Israeli artist Moshe Braun, the ''Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem'' Coin and Pendant are magnificent, limited edition treasures, crafted with quality, elegance and beauty. You can own a unique piece of Jerusalem that supports Israel and honors the Holy City for generations to come.
Saint Mary / Saint Joseph - Fourth Sunday of EasterCLICK image to view this week''s Bulletin St Mary''s Parish2019 Annual Block Party Daily Scripture Readings & ReflectionsClick Here Prayer List Permission FormClick HerePrint and submit in collection basket or at parish office “Open yourselves to God’s mercy! God says: Have no fear. You are mine. Your sins can never diminish your worth.” Pope Francis, July 2016 Our Lady of Fatima - 102 YearsJesus wishes to make use of you to make Me known and loved.He wants to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.To whoever embraces this devotion I promise salvation; these souls shall be dear to God,as flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne.Do you suffer a great deal? Don''t lose heart. I will never forsake you.My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Our Lady of Fatima June 13, 1917 + “From the depths I have cried out to you, O Lord.” Psalm 130+ PRAY FOR PEACE + + Pope: Prepare for Mass in silence + Church launches global campaign to ‘Share the journey’ of migrantsPope Francis announced a two-year initiative of Catholic charities around the worldto promote encounters between people on the move and people livingin the countries they are leaving, passing through or arriving in. + THE POPE VIDEOMay 2019Will you join with Pope Francis and pray, together..."that the Church in Africa, through the commitment of it''s members,may be the seed of unity among her peoplesand a sign of hope for this continent."CLICK on the above image to view + + + Read Pope Francis'' Apostolic Exhortationon the family titled "Amoris Laetitia"(The Joy of Love) + Read Our Holy Father''s Encyclical on the EnvironmentCLICK HERE Bishop Schlert answers your questionsregarding the statewide Grand Jury''s Report onclergy sexual abuse.* * The Diocese of Allentown provides assistance to anyone who, as a minor, was sexually abused by a priest, deacon, or employee/ volunteer of the Diocese/Parish. Parents, guardians, children, and survivors of sexual abuse are invited & encouraged to contact the Diocese of Allentown for more info about this program. The fullness of compassion should be extended to these victims by the Church. To learn more about the Diocese of Allentown’s Youth Protection Programs, Sexual Abuse Policy, & Code of Conduct, please visit www.allentowndiocese.org & click on “Youth Protection” in the upper right hand corner of the page.”Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator:Ms. Wendy S. Krisak M.S., NCC, LPC. Direct Phone: (800) 791-9209 (NotConfidential) [email protected] Safe Environment Coordinator:Sr. Meg Cole, S.S.J., MS, LMFT Telephone: (610) 332-0442 ext. 2019mc[email protected]+ Donations are needed to Sustain Pro-Life Billboard A decade has passed since a pro-life billboard was erected just before the Morgantown exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The way the billboard came about and has been sustained is nothing short of a miracle, and Helen MacMinn is again looking to the faithful of the Diocese of Allentown to help keep the billboard in place.CLICK the link, above, for more information. + CLICK on above imageto follow EWTN on Facebook+ CLICK on above imageThe Decent Films Guide is the online home of the film writing of Steven D. Greydanus.Steven is film critic for the National Catholic Register and writes regularly forDigest, Christianity Today, Catholic World Report and other venues.He is a member of Online Film Critics Society. All are Welcome If you or your family are interested in becomingactive members of one of our parishes,call 570-889-3850 for more informationand to schedule an appointment with Father Tolentino.St Mary/St JosephRoman Catholic Parishes84 North Center StreetRingtown, PA 17967 Want to become a better evangelist and spiritual leaderat home and in your community?Make your home a domestic church. + How can I start an evangelization conversation?Watch this 2-minute video to learn how to more courageously and gracefully bring up a conversation about the Faith. Please share the video with friends! + Jesus knows what we need: The Mass + "Welcoming the stranger and those in flight is not one optionamong many in the Christian life.It is the very form of Christianity itself." — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardoCLICK on above image to find out more ....
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07/27/1978 When I was 18... 18 years old, I saw for the first time in my life... I saw an image of clarity. I saw a comic strip... a three panel comic strip that, though simple as it seemed, changed me... changed my being, changed who I am... Made me who I am... Enlightened me... The strip, Garfield, the comic strip was new... no more than maybe a month and a half since inception, since... since coming into existence... and there it was before me in print, I saw it... a comic strip... What was it called? Garfield. The story here is of a man, a plain man. He is Jon, but he is more than that... I will get to this later, but first let us say that he''s Jon, a plain man. And then there is a cat... Garfield. This is the nature of the world, here. When I see the world, the politics, the future, the... the satellites in space, and... the people who put them there... You can look at everything as a man and a cat... two beings, in harmony and at war... So, this strip I saw; this man, Jon, and the cat, Garfield, you see... Yes... hmm... It is about everything. This... little comic is, oh, lo and behold... not so little anymore. So yes, when I was 18, I saw this comic... and it hit me all at once, its power. I clipped it, and every day, I looked at it, and I said "Okay... let me look at this here. What is this doing to me? Why is this so powerful?" Jon Arbuckle, he sits here, legs crossed... comfortable in his home, and he reads his newspaper... The news of the world, perhaps... and then he extends his fingers lightly, delicately... he taps his fingers on an end table, and he feels for something... What is it? It is something he needs, but it is not there. And then he looks up, slightly cockeyed, and he thinks... His newspaper''s in his lap now, and he thinks this... Now where could my pipe be? This... I always come to this, because I was a young man... I''m older now, and I still don''t have the secrets, the answers, so this question still rings true, Jon looks up and he thinks... Now where could my pipe be? And then it happens... You see it, you see... it''s almost like divine intervention, suddenly it is there, and it overpowers you... A cat is smoking a pipe. It is the man''s pipe, it''s Jon''s pipe, but the cat... this cat, Garfield, is smoking the pipe... and from afar, and someplace near, but not clear... near but not clear... The man calls out... Jon calls out, he is shocked. "Garfield!" he shouts. Garfield. The cat''s name. But, let''s take a step back... let us examine this from all sides, all perspectives... and when I first came across this comic strip, I was at my father''s house... a newspaper had arrived, and I picked it up for him, and brought it inside. I organized its sections for him and then, yes, the comic strip section fell out from somewhere in the middle, and landed on the kitchen floor... I picked up the paper pages and saw, up somewhere near the top of this strip... just like Jon, I was wearing an aquamarine shirt. So I thought, "Ah, interesting. I''ll have to see this later." I snipped out the little comic, and held on to it... and five days later, I reexamined it... and it gripped me, I needed to find out more about this. The information I had was minimal, but enough... An orange cat named Garfield... Okay, that seemed to be the lynchpin of this whole operation, yes. Another clue... a signature in the bottom right corner, a man''s name... Jim Davis. Yes, I''m on to it for sure. So... one: Garfield, orange cat, and two: Jim Davis, the creator of this cat... And that curiously plain man. I did not know, at the time, that his name was Jon. This strip, you see, had no mention of this man''s name, and I''d never seen it before. But I had these clues; Jim Davis, Garfield. And then I saw more, I spotted the tiny copyright mark in the upper left corner. Copyright 1978 to... what is this? Copyright belongs to a... PAWS Incorporated... I use the local library and mail services to track down the information I was looking for... Jim Davis, a cartoonist, had created a comic strip about a cat, Garfield... and a man, Jon Arbuckle. Well, from that point on, I made sure I read the Garfield comic strips, though as I read each one, as each day passed... the strips seemed to resonate with me less and less... I sent letters to PAWS Incorporated, long letters, pages upon pages... asking if Mister Jim Davis could somehow publish just the one comic, over and over again... "It would be meditative," I wrote, "the strength of that." Could you imagine? But... no response... The strips lost their power, and eventually I stopped reading, but... I did not want my perceptions diluted, so I vowed to read the pipe strip over and over again... That is what I call it, "The Pipe Strip." The Pipe Strip. Everything about it is perfect. I can only describe it as a miracle creation, something came together... the elements aligned... It is like the comets, the cosmic orchestra that is up there over your head... The immense, enormous void is working all for one thing, to tell you one thing... Gas and rock, and purity, and nothing. I will say this... When I see the pipe strip... and I mean every single time I look at the lines, the colors, the shapes that make up the three panel comic... I see perfection. Do I find perfection in many things? Some things, I would say... Some things are perfect... and this is one of them. I can look at the little tuft of hair on Jon Arbuckle''s head... it is the perfect shade... The purple pipe in Garfield''s mouth... How could a mere mortal even MAKE this? I have a theory, about Jim Davis... After copious research and, yes, of course, now we have the internet, and this information is all readily available, but... Jim Davis, he used his life experiences to influence his comic... Like I mentioned before, none of them seem to have the weight of the pipe strip... But you have to wonder about the man who is able to even, just once, create the perfect form, a literally flawless execution of art, brilliance! Just as in a ward... I think there is a spiritual element at work... I''ve seen my share of bad times and... when you have something... Well, it''s just... emotions, and neurons in your brain, but... something tells you that it''s the truth... Truth''s radiant light. Garfield, the cat? Neurons in my brain, it''s... it''s harmony, you see? It... Jon and Garfield, it''s truly harmony, like a... continuous, looping, everlasting harmony... The lavender chair, the brown end table, the salmon-colored wall, the fore''s green carpeting, Garfield is hunched, perched... perhaps with the pipe stuck firmly between his jowls... His tail curls around. It''s more than shapes too, because... I... Okay, stay with me... I''ve done this experiment several times. You take the strip. You trace only the basic elements. You can do anything, you can simplify the shapes down to just... blobs, just outlines, but it still makes sense... You can replace the blobs with magazine cutouts of other things, replace Jon Arbuckle with a... car parked in a driveway sideways, cut that out of a magazine, stick it in... Replace him there in the second panel with a... a food processor... Okay, and then we put a picture of the planet in the third panel over Garfield... It still works. These are universal proportions. I don''t know... how best to explain why it works, I''ve studied the pipe strip, and analyzed Jon and Garfield''s proportions against several universal mathematical constants. E, Pi, the Golden Ratio, the Feigenbaum Constants, and so on... and it''s surprising... scary even, how things align. You can take just... tiny pieces of the pipe strip, for instance, take Jon''s elbow from the second panel... and take that, and project it back over Jon''s entire shape in the second panel, and you''ll see a near perfect Fibonacci sequence emerge... It''s eerie to me... and it makes you wonder if you''re in the presence of a deity, if there is some larger hand at work... There''s no doubt in my mind that Jim Davis is a smart man... Jim Davis is capable of anything to me... He is remarkable, but this is so far beyond that, I think we might see that... this work of art is revered and respected in years to come. Jim Davis is possibly a new master of the craft, a... a genius of the eye; they very well may say the same things about Jim Davis in five hundred years that we say about the great philosophical and artistic masters from centuries ago... Jim Davis is a modern day Socrates, or... Da Vinci... mixing both striking visual beauty with classical, daring, unheard-of intellect... Look, he combines these things to make profoundly simple expressions... This strip is his masterpiece... The Pipe Strip is his masterpiece... and it is a masterpiece and a marvel... I often look at Garfield''s... particular pose, in this strip. He is poised, and statuesque... and his cat stare is reminiscent of the fiery gazes often found in religious iconography... But still, his eyes are playful, lying somewhere between the solemn father''s expression in... Rembrandt''s "Return of the Prodigal Son," and the coy smirk of Da Vinci''s "Saint John The Baptist". His ears stick up, signifying a peaked readiness... It''s as if he could, at any moment, pounce; he is, after all, a close relative and descendant of the mighty jungle cats of Africa that could leap... after prey. You could see the power drawn into Garfield''s hind quarters, powerful haunches indeed. The third panel. And I''m just saying this now, this is just coming to me now... The third panel of the pipe strip is essentially a microcosm for the entire strip itself... All the power dynamics, the struggle for superiority, right? WHO has the pipe? WHERE is the pipe? All of that is drawn, built, layered into Garfield''s iconic pose here. You can see it in the curl of his tail... Garfield''s ear whiskers stick up, on end, the smoke billows, upward... drawing the eye upward... increasing the scope... I''m just... amazed... really, that after 33 years of reading, and analyzing the same comic strip, I''m able to find new dimensions. It''s a testament to the work... For six years, I delved into tobacco research, because... can a cat smoke? This is a metaphysical question... Yes, can any cat smoke? Do we know? Can just Garfield smoke? The research says no. Nicotine poisoning can kill animals, especially household pets. All it takes is the nicotine found in as little as a single cigarette. [ *Okamoto M, Kita T, Okuda H, Tanaka T, Nakashima T (Jul 1994). "Effects of aging on acute toxicity of nicotine in rats". Pharmacol Toxicol. 75 (1): 1-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0773.1994.tb00316.x. PMID 7971729 ] Surely, Jon''s pipe hold a substantial amount of tobacco, and it is true that pets living in the homes of smokers are nearly 25% more likely to develop some form of cancer... most likely due to secondhand smoke... but these are facts of smoking, its tolls on our world. But after visiting two tobacco processing plants in Virginia... and the Phillip Morris cigarette manufacturing facility, I came no closer to cracking the meaning. I was looking for any insight. A detective of a homicide case has to look at every angle, so I''m always taking apart the pipe strip. I focused on every minutiae, every detail of this strip. Jon Arbuckle''s clothing... I have replicas. I''m an expert in textiles... so, you see, this smoking thing was a hang-up for me... but it was the statement here... until... This is key, this is the breakthrough. The pipe is not a pipe, really. Obviously there is symbolism at work here... I saw that from the beginning, and I looked at the literal aspects of the strip to gain insight into the metaphors at play... I worked at a newspaper printing press for eighteen months, in the late 1980''s... I was learning the literal to inform the gestural... the subliteral, the in-between... Jon reading this newspaper means so much more than just... Jon reading the newspaper... but how could you ever hope to decipher the puzzle without knowing everything there is to know about newspapers?! Okay... for example... Jon holds his newspaper up with his left hand, thumb gripping the interior. I learned that this particular grip here was the newspaper grip of nineteenth century aristocrats... and this aristocrat grip was a point of contention that influenced the decision to move forward with prohibition... in the United States, in the early twentieth century! So Jon''s hand position is much more than that, it... it is a comment on class war... and the resulting reactionary culture... but I didn''t know about the aristocratic newspaper grip until I came across some microfiche archives at the printing press. It''s about information. You have to take it apart. ...and the breakthrough on the smoking cat came late... just eight years ago, actually. "Smoking cat" is an industry term. It''s what the smoking industry calls a tattletale teenager who tells on his friends after they''ve all tried smoking for the first time... and it is actually a foreign translation, bastardization of the term "smoking rat"... But the phrase was confused when secret documents went back and forth between China and America... These documents are still secret, and the only reason I know about the term is because I know a man, my friend. Let''s call him "Timothy," yeah... yes, it''s a fake name, for his protection. Timothy worked for Phillip Morris for sixteen years, and he had seen the documents... and when he told me, it was an Aha moment... and he said, "But how? How could this cartoonist, Jim Davis, know about this... obscure term from the mid-70''s, used exclusively by a few cigarette companies!?" This is still a mystery to me... but I connect the dots by noting Jim Davis'' childhood experiences on a farm. He must have seen something... What could it be? Timothy went on to tell me there was one particular smoking cat, a boy, from... yes, Indiana, a boy named Ernie Barguckle, who became a thorn in the side of the tobacco companies for a couple of years... He did more than tattle to his parents; he and his family took legal action, and they eventually received a huge settlement payout... But that name is too similar... Ernie Barguckle... Jon Arbuckle. Jim Davis must have used this. There''s more here. Ernie Barguckle spent nearly half of that settlement money on experimental medical procedures to cure his... impotence. He was impotent. So... he was a smoking cat with a... a metaphorical pipe, that did not work... Are you starting to see the layers here? This is exciting stuff, you start to get a whole picture here, and it informs the work! It''s... it''s just remarkable. Jim Davis took these raw ideas, these... pieces, and he transformed them into smart social commentary that is... all so ravishingly beautiful. I have cried. I''ve cried, I''ve cried... I''ve cried, cried over this piece. It just... gets in my soul. I try to explain this to people, I have... the newspaper articles about Ernie Barguckle... People have fought me on this, they don''t see it, or they''re close-minded, "How could a comic strip about a cat smoking a pipe mean any more than that?" But it is more... and when I feel spiritual, or start to think existentially, I still see this comic. Here''s something from 1981 that I wrote in thinking about the implications of this strip; this is just an excerpt here... there''s more before and after, but this part is the essence to me... If a comic about a cat smoking a pipe can be the only thing in the universe... then maybe this is the strongest evidence for that. *fumbles with tattered sheet from 1981* "Many of you say, ''Oh, but I am not blind. I have never been blind,''... But when you truly see, you will understand just how truly blind you once were to even think it right to say you were not blind. What does a blind man see? Blackness. Darkness. Blankness. Blank darkness. Dark blankness. The absence of things, quite literally NO thing. No things. Nothings. So, you see nothing, and I bring you into the light. A cat has your pipe! You''ve been blind, do you understand this!? The cat has your pipe. You can''t fully immerse yourself, you don''t have the light. You don''t have the radiance, the radical light, the radically radiant light of truth and truth''s belonging love, and nature of light, and loving truthful radiance. So don''t be bold, and make bold statements. I know of you. The cat has your pipe. The. Cat. Has. Your. Pipe. Remember that." *puts paper back in pocket* That writing, well... It''s kind of rough... Kind of an... early eighties feel... and I see that, but I''m still... I''m still proud of it. Sometimes I imagine that it is the editorial column in the newspaper Jon Arbuckle is reading. It''s an exercise in recursion, it''s like a vortex opens up... It''s like you hold two mirrors up to each other, one is reality and the other is a cartoon strip. Let''s see here... Oh yes, I must bring this up, because I think, surely, Jim Davis is again speaking on multiple levels by including the details set before us in the comic. Notice the glimpse of Jon Arbuckle''s foot in the first panel. The size of the shoe would indicate that maybe the man just has small feet... but a deeper investigation takes us to the footbinding rituals of certain Asian cultures. Inflicted usually on women for the desire of men, this practice was incredibly painful and crippling... Aha! Mister Davis is, here, presenting us with a man, or rather... "man", who engages in footbinding, a body modification for women, on top of "being without his pipe"... or impotent. This is a man facing extreme inner turmoil, the panels tell that story... subconsciously. Notice the background wall shading of the first panel points inward toward Jon in the second panel... and the sharp tapered end of the purple pipe in the third frame also points at John in the second panel, inward; the eye is drawn to the center panel. You can connect these points and draw a triangle across the panels, and this triangle will align with the reoriented points of Jon''s collar! This, this is majestic artwork! ...and to uncover this hidden order is... bliss like I''ve never known. Comforting, in an empty world. I can''t help but read the thought bubble, over and over again. Now where could my pipe be? Now where could my pipe be? It is a profound question. Why am I here? What is my purpose? It is reflection and self-examination here. It is facing the dust, the misery of a cold, careless universe. You can feel the weight of it. But where could my pipe be? One imagines the author, Jim Davis, teetering on the edge of insanity... his rationality, his lucidity, hovering over the void... and he seeks the truth. You can see it in the line quality of the drawings; the thoughtful, controlled outlines mixed with the... occasional, chaotic scribbles at work in the shadows and Garfield''s dark stripes. It''s almost as if Garfield is chaos himself. Yes, he is the embodiment of chaos, disorder, hatred, fear... Thievery, death, destruction, desolation! These are the things Garfield represents; HE stole the pipe, HE sits with his back to Jon, Garfield... Garfield, this chaos cat, Garfield has turned his back on everything, everyone! One recalls the great existential forces in literature... Camus'' Meursalt, Kafka''s Gregor Samsa, or Sartre''s Antoine Roquentin... Garfield the Cat sees the hopelessness of life, which...ah, yes... This is why Jim Davis has chosen smoking. It represents a recklessness, a... a disregard for what some would define as the beauty of life. Garfield may die from the nicotine, he may not... He defies life; he sits defiant, saying nothing, but looking as if he could say... "Then let me die... it does not matter." It does not matter. ...and we are faced with this; Could Jon behave the same? Is Jon the glimmer of hope? He seems to be unsure. Again, his question... "Now where could my pipe be?" indicates that he is wrestling with his own existence. The center panel centers the issue, and again, this hearkens to many of the great religious works of art. I''m talking about the Pipe Strip in relation to religion. It''s... it''s interesting to assign the roles of God... and anti-God, or, as many know him to be, the devil... or on a much larger scale, simply the forces of... good and evil. Garfield, the thief-cat, evil and malicious... He is the devil, placed to the right... and note, the two forms of Jon; the Jon on the left, still innocent, still draped in the... delight, of the lack of knowledge. He is... the humans in the Garden of Eden. He feels for his pipe... but he has yet to eat from the tree... and Garfield, the sinister serpent... and notice, notice how Jim Davis has framed this... The center Jon is locked in a struggle, between his innocence, and his knowledge of the truth... knowledge of the existence of evil. It is stunning. The great struggle, the struggle that transcends time... and Jim Davis floats over all this, as creator... the God, of sorts, in his own right. ... and he presents this cautionary message to us all; it is as if he is speaking from high and... he is saying, unto our awaiting ears... Where will you be, when the cat reveals himself? [-Jim 7:27:78] I can tell you where you''ll be. You will have a choice; you can face endless suffering, and eternal misery... You can be forced and beaten down with barbarians, who claw at each other just for a view of salvation. They''ll tear your eyeballs out, and rip your gizzards from end to end. They worship this cat, this... this false idol! This evil, horrible cat, do not be seduced by the cat and the pipe! Garfield... thy name is a mark of the demons of hell. Something like this, and to those listening, it is a stark reminder to follow the path of the first panel Jon; be humble, be grateful, honor the law, and honor thyself. Be true, and be good, and no harm will come to you... Pray for salvation, and it will be granted unto you. Be like Jon Arbuckle, as he lowers his head. Be like Jon Arbuckle as he lowers his paper, as he turns his head. Bow with Jon Arbuckle, and praise unto the creator, Jim Davis... and banish demon Garfield from your life. So, what is all this? What am I saying? Aha... hmm... What does all this mean? Why is this one comic strip so important to me... and why do I feel the need to share this? Obligation. I have an obligation to you all. This is a redemption, this is a belief in redemption, a sacrifice of all the obvious trappings of this false modern life. Look at the simplicity in this strip, in the pipe strip. Look at the simple clothes Jon wears, look at his simple, basic furniture... No adornments on the wall, even the very pipe his cat Garfield stole; it is a plain, modest pipe... and I have adapted this way of life, it speaks to me. In our times... well... you don''t need me to point out the hyperbole of our times; you have children being born eight or nine at a time, you have more money being spent on a single Hollywood movie than some nations can spend... feeding their starving people. Torture, distrust... Look around you, it''s overwhelming. What can you contribute? ...and every day, I look in the mirror, and I hold this comic up to the mirror, and I look into the mirror, and at this little comic strip. Be humble. Be thankful. It is a reminder, be respectful. You are a statue. You are fragile... and when you break, when you shatter... Where will those pieces go? Ask... ask, ask, ask this question. Will you ask? Humankind is only as great as you, YOU, the individual, it begins and ends with you! You must treat this expedition, this search, this... life, with a reverence and intensity found only in the smallest sticks. The littlest leaf, the tiniest stone! The most miniscule grain of sand... on a beach of billions! This is the secret. Do you want the pipe? Do you want to know where the pipe has gone? You ask yourself, you ask... you ask... you ask... Now where could my pipe be? When I was a young man... remember, now, I first saw this comic when I was eighteen years old... Ages ago... but I was youthful, vibrant. For weeks, I didn''t hide that a comic strip was having such a profound effect on me. I was much like Jon Arbuckle. In this middle panel, he says, "Now where could my pipe be?"... you could look into his eyes, his half-lowered eyes, and think to yourself... "Now, surely, Jon... Surely, you cannot be this naive... This is nothing new for you..." And if you''ve read more of the Garfield comic strips by Jim Davis, you understand what I am saying now; Garfield the cat does things like this all the time. He will take things from Jon; food, items, anything... This is his very nature. So you see this, and you want to say, "Jon Arbuckle, come now. You are lying to yourself. You are lying to yourself, and to all of us, if you pretend to have not... any idea of where your pipe has gone. Perhaps you think you''ve left it somewhere else, but... hmph, you''re not so forgetful. You are lying to yourself, ah... yes... You are lying to yourself, Jon Arbuckle. You know that Garfield has the pipe... somewhere, deep down, you know this. You don''t even need to think the question." And that was me when I saw this strip. One week passed, and each morning I''d open my drawer and slam it shut again. I would go to look at the comic... but I''d pause, and think... "Oh no, I don''t need this comic, I don''t n... I don''t NEED to look at it..." But there I was, lying to myself. I DID need to see it, and so I did, it''s... cathartic. You give in, and that is the transition, from the second panel of life, to the third panel of life! It is a simple story structure, the passage from the second act to the third, the twilight of things. Jon gives into his suspicions; he knows the truth, he''s ALWAYS known the truth, he yells out, "GARFIELD! GARFIELD! GARFIELD!" It is like... pressure from a steam valve, being released; the buildup is unbearable, and then... PSSHHWW, it''s gone. So it is like this... when I speak about the truth... the truth, the light, the radiance, this... this is the kind of thing I''m talking about. This is the essence of this brilliant work of art, the practical mixing, meeting, agreeing with the spiritual, it is all HERE. ...but spirituality is not an easy thing to confront. You might find yourself able to wrap your mind around a simple math problem, or a basic newspaper article, or... but intellect... is much less subjective. What is spirituality... and how have I found spiritual peace and serenity in Garfield? A long time ago, after I encountered the Pipe Strip... I spent some time, as I mentioned before, soul-searching. When something impacts you, or alters your very perception so greatly, there is a long period of confusion, recovery time... It''s as if you don''t know who you are, and that can be a... a very scary prospect, especially if you thought you had a good grasp on that sort of thing. Imagine if Jim Davis did not know who he was. Would he be capable of shaping the cultural landscape as he''s done? No. No, of course he wouldn''t. ...and how about his characters? Jon... what if Jim Davis suddenly woke up, and didn''t know who Jon was? What if he couldn''t make the informed decisions to accurately depict Garfield''s personality, because of... he could no longer specify, or demarcate the boundaries of Garfield''s behavior? What kind of comic would THAT be? You see? So draw the parallel. I saw this comic and, yes, I was disoriented... and if I didn''t reconcile this issue with myself, what kind of person would I be? Undoubtedly dire circumstances, but remember; this was not a math problem, this was not an article, this was not something I could just... figure out... and as skeptical as I was, I realized that faith and spirituality were avenues that... required exploring. At first I tried... long nights, reading Garfield by candlelight, or... aromatic meditation settings, while thinking of Garfield, but... nothing snapped. Nothing clicked, I still felt lost... but I kept it up, I hired a shaman, and a young... personal Yogi Sikh Guru; Avram Dahb Singh Sahib. I pushed and pushed, determined to find myself. And then, a miracle happened. Upon retrieving my morning paper, to clip the Garfield comic... I noticed a young girl, selling lemonade two houses down. She sat, occupied at her stand. She had no customers in sight. So, I approached, and saw that she was coloring. I looked at her drawing... Three rectangular boxes. A man, in a blue shirt. An orange cat. I knew what this was. Even in her crude scribbles, I knew EXACTLY what this was. She was drawing a Garfield comic. I looked at her words, and I saw that, in her strip, Jon asked Garfield to retrieve a newspaper. Heh, funny... since I''d done just that with myself... Garfield is sarcastic, but agrees to. He returns and calls Jon... "Sahib". Jon exclaims that the paper''s all chewed up, but then Garfield says, and I quote, "Sahib asks fish, paper is wet. Sahib asks cat, paper is holey." I remember the words, and ran back to my house, and thought, "How odd that Sahib shows up in the strip, and my spiritual advisor''s name is Avram Dahb Singh Sahib!" Coincidence surely, but, nonetheless, I spent the next sixteen hours poring through my clipped Garfield comics, looking for the strip this young girl had been coloring... I couldn''t find it... and I eventually fell asleep, right on my kitchen table. Next morning, I retrieved my paper again, and I clipped the Garfield comic. The date was July 12th, 1983. There it was. The Sahib Strip, in all its glory. The girl had been drawing the next day''s strip! So, I ran right out of my house, I ran back to where she was... but she was gone, and in place of the lemonade stand was a "For Sale" sign. They''d moved out. I rushed back to my house to call Avram, but... I was informed that he''d moved away as well. I reeled, for several hours, and then it all connected for me. It was meant to be. It w... it was meant to be this way! Jim Davis... Jon, Garfield... It was always meant to be this way for me.... They move to the forefront, and everything else fades away, EVERYTHING else; the girl, the lemonade stand, Avram Dahb Singh Sahib, it all existed to show me the way, and when I''d found the way... Everything else melted away. It was a beautiful miracle... and if July 27th, 1978, the day I first saw the pipe strip... was the first day of my life, then that day, July 12th, 1983, was the second day of my life. I''ve never looked back. Garfield has transformed me... and I am a man, born anew, because of Garfield. When I was in my mid-thirties, I was interviewed for a documentary... It was a documentary on the subject of cat behavior. Now, I''ve had cats my whole life; I have three cats now, and at the time of this documentary interview, I had four cats. I sat down for the interview and was joined by a veterinarian who specialized in felines: Doctor Caroline Wellmitz was her name, I believe... and the doctor discussed colorblindness in animals, and how it affects their behavior. She specifically brought up the fact that cats are red-green colorblind; they can see colors, but they can''t tell the difference between red and green ...and look at the color choice in this strip here. Garfield sits on a green floor, behind a pinkish red wall. I heard this, and I immediately pulled a copy of the comic from my wallet to show to the doctor... I moved so fast, I''m sure I nearly scared her, I... pointed at the paper and said, "Like this! Like this! Look, at this here! This cat, Garfield, he''s colorblind, he must be! That must be the answer here... like this." As over-excited as I was, I managed to take in her response; she said "Yes, a cat in this room would have a hard time differentiating the wall from the floor. Add to that a cat''s known spatial confusion, and you have the makings of a Cat Rage room." Now, she informed me that this isn''t exactly common knowledge among cat owners... but a seasoned cat owner, or someone particularly perceptive will have picked up on it. So what''s incredible here is not only is Garfield''s behavior symbolic of the devil, and all the evil constructs in the world, but... but, but... but also, it is rooted in science and scientific fact. Look at that. You cannot spell fact without "cat". Hah, just a little joke there... just some wordplay, but getting back on track... ...and you can''t spell track without "cat." Okay... I digress. I gotcha, I gotcha, enough... kidding around. It is established here that Garfield is in a rage; an ultimate rage of fury and hatred, caused by colorblindness. We know the "what", we know the "why"... but let us examine the "how", the how of his rage is particularly interesting here. We''ve looked at his posture and called it "powerful", "in control", "statuesque", "etc., etc." Composed rage... It''s peculiar, and I''ve talked to a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, and even a couple of anger management therapists about this concept... Could we see the same kind of behavior in a human? Is Garfield representative of something more specific than just chaos and rage? Deciphering this is going to take some perseverance. for sure. The psychologists pointed to a phenomenon in humans, and, yes, I believe one of the anger management counselors brought it up as well. The idea that people, oftentimes, will bottle their rage... Garfield the cat, here... well, he could be bottling his anger, inside, shoving it deep into his cat gut, to ignore and deal with at a later time. Eh, well... No, that''s not exactly right. Garfield has already acted out, he''s already stolen the pipe... he''s SMOKING the pipe, he''s already dealt with his anger. He''s already lashed out, so, psychologically, what is going on here? What is this cat doing, and how does it impact his owner, Jon Arbuckle... psychologically? Well, Garfield is angry. He is acting on his anger... but is this passive anger, or aggressive anger? Passive. It is passive because if Garfield has a problem with Jon specifically... he''s choosing a passive way of dealing with that problem. He has not confronted Jon, and said, "Jon, I have a problem with the way you''ve decorated this room; as a cat, I am colorblind, and this room sends me into a rage... You''ve created a rage room for me here, and I don''t like it; I want you to change it." Instead of that confrontational approach, though, Garfield has chosen to steal Jon''s pipe... and that, in turn, angers Jon... but Jon decides to be aggressively angry, and yell at Garfield, so... now, instead of a calm conversation between two respectful parties, you have two... heated, angry individuals, each with a problem and no direct line to solving it. The layered emotions here tell a story with tight, focused brevity that would make Hemingway weep. This is an entire drama, in just three panels, people. ...but let''s not be remiss, and miss the humor of the situation, the... absurdity of it all... for certainly, there is a reason that the visual shorthand for drama includes both the crying mask AND a laughing mask. Comedy and tragedy complement each other, and meld together to create drama, tension, the height of humanity, the peak of art, that reflects back to us our own condition... ...and here... in its basest form, we can laugh at this comic... yes, COMIC, in which a cat smokes a pipe... Hah... when was the last time you''ve SEEN such a thing in your life? Never, I presume... I certainly never have... The Greek muse, Thalia''s presence is strong in this work of art, here. Comedy, it is COMEDY... and if you look at the structure again, you''ll see this perfect form of thirds works magically for the transmission of, yes, YES, a JOKE. The joke.... is as old as time... even cavemen told jokes, and the joke here is that Jon has lost his pipe... or he thinks he has... but lo and behold, it is the cat, Garfield, who has the pipe. Surprise, surprise, the cat is smoking! Again, the transition, from set-up to punchline takes place between the second and third panels... but make no mistake, the comic is more than just a comic... Yes, it IS funny, of course it is... it is operating at the height of sophisticated humor, on par with any of Shakespeare''s piercing wit. On the one hand, Garfield the comic, with Jon the man, humor as art... the other hand, Garfield comic, with Jon the man, stirring... no, RIVETING drama... as with everything, it is tension, and release. TENSION... and RELEASE... A cycle. I keep returning to this idea, because it is so omnipresent. Yes, you could... and yes, I have done this, on more than one occasion... you could print this comic strip on a giant piece of paper. The dimensions would be something like... thirty-four inches by eleven inches. Now, tape the ends together, with the comic facing inward. Stick your head in the middle of this Garfield comic loop and READ, start at the first panel; Jon is reading the newspaper... he feels for something on the end table. Second panel; he sets the newspaper down, something is not right... "Where could my pipe be?" he thinks. ...and then, the payoff; the third panel, Garfield has Jon''s pipe, and is smoking it. But, aha! The paper is in a loop, around your head... so that you can see that, once again, Jon is in his seat, reading the paper... and so on, and so on, you can literally read the comic strip for an eternity! I spent many a relaxing Sunday afternoon reading this strip, over and over... reminded of the Portuguese death carvings, which always begin and end with the same scrawled image. [fig. 6b - Portuguese Death Carving c. 1330] So, this idea of repetition, of the beginning being the end, and the end being the beginning... It''s not new, it is an ageless tradition among the best storytellers humanity has ever offered... and I''m not wrong to include cartoonist Jim Davis in that exalted set for this particular strip alone I''m not foolish enough to deny that great art is subjective... divisive, even, and that some people see this Garfield comic and shrug with no real reaction... but I will say that I believe everyone in the world should see it; at the very least, see it! You should all see it. Read it. Spend some time with it. Spend an hour reading it... what''s an hour? Yes, you could watch some television program, you could play some fast-paced video games or computer games, yes, you could do all those things... But it''s just an hour... and if you give this strip a chance, if you look into Jon Arbuckle''s eyes... if you look into Jon Arbuckle''s SOUL... You might find that you''ll really be looking into your own soul. It is self discovery, that is what I''m talking about here... YOU have the opportunity, the possibility... it could change you. Don''t be afraid. You know, just last week, I was eating lunch near the Municipal Court... like I do every Thursday, and... there was a plumbing banner... a plumbing van, parked out in front, uh... and a man, a plumber, would step out from the court, and retrieve something from this every so often. A few times, this happened... I thought nothing of it; just a plumber, doing some work at the Municipal Court... but then he came out, and looked through his van, and it was clear... He couldn''t find something. I noticed, and thought, "Well, that''s sort of similar to the Garfield comic, in a way. Someone looks for something, can''t find it,"... but, yes, that probably happens billions of times a day around the world... ...but then, this plumber... put his hands on his hips... then, he scratched his head, and he said aloud... "Now, where could my pipe wrench be?" Well, at this, I leaped off the bench, sandwich still in hand, and I rushed over, I shouted, "What was that you said!?" He looked at me and said, "What? I can''t find my pipe wrench, " and I said, "No! No, no, say it... like how you just said it..." He scratched his head, and repeated, "Now where could my pipe wrench be?" I slapped him on the back and said, "Garfield!" He looked so confused, so I said it again... then, I said "Your orange cat took it!" Heh... ah, then I laughed and laughed... and he smiled, and went back into the courtroom. I walked away, knowing that the plumber and I, two complete strangers, bonded over this Garfield comic... You see, life imitates art, becomes a common ground. I have a feeling that if I see this plumber again, we''ll be sharing stories like two old friends... because we''ve been united by art. We have a common love for Jim Davis and his characters, his writings... The humor, the drama, the... that rascal Garfield, the cat... Oh, and by the way, if you''re wondering what I was having for lunch that day, it was a ham sandwich with an apple and potato chips... in a bag, I had a soda as well. I think it''s important to view the Pipe Strip in philosophical terms... We''ve touched briefly on the notion of existentialism; that theme is very prevalent in this strip. Garfield is, in fact, a modern existential anti-hero... but if Garfield embodies the bewilderment in a meaningless life, what is Jon? What are the telltale signs that inform Jon''s philosophical standpoint? His approach, what style of thinking he represents? Jon is depicted as being grounded in the material world... a world of things; he is surrounded by objects, and he touches these objects, he interacts with them. The newspaper, the end table, the chair... his clothes, all these physical things make up Jon''s world. In some sense, even his cat Garfield is an object to him, a thing... The first ideology that comes to mind when thinking of objects in the tangible world... is pragmatism... Is Jon Arbuckle a pragmatist? His beliefs stem from a useful, coherent view of his environment... a sort of cause-and-effect understanding of his world helps him. A: Deduce that his pipe is missing... and B: Catches his cat, Garfield, using the pipe. This kind of empirical and logical thinking lends credence to the idea that Jon is, indeed, a pragmatist... Although, it is hard to entirely ignore the rest of the Garfield comic canon. While Garfield is consistently anarchic, and embraces the chaos and absurdity of life... Jon Arbuckle exhibits an erratic, unpredictable mix of philosophical behaviors. At times, he is borderline; delusional, an idealist, an almost slap-happy version of Don Quixote. Other moments, he is rigid, nearly to the point of being obsessive... somewhat like a structuralist, and certainly has streaks of sarcasm and negativity that might classify him as a skeptic. ...But isn''t there some universal truth in this approach? How can any one man, how can Jon Arbuckle be just one thing? How can any of us be just one thing? We''re... an amalgamation of ideas, of emotions... conducts and functions, thoughts and feelings... Jon Arbuckle may very well inhabit tenets of nearly every major philosophical tract known to man. We all might. Characters are reduced, to make them recognizable, definable; a story needs a good guy, a story needs a bad guy... but rarely is one person defined in such black and white terms. Even Garfield, with all his bad behavior, Machiavellian motivation and general ne''er-do-well attitude, can be kind and thoughtful. You just have to find that rare strip. Speaking philosophically about the entire Garfield franchise, it''s an incredibly accurate depiction of life. Its bold lines and bright colors are merely a facade, a... a red herring, a lie. This cartoon is not a cartoon at all, it is not a... caricature. It is not caricature despite adopting caricature as its visual style and tone. ...but I don''t really like to speak in broad sweeping generalizations about Garfield. The comic has been running for over thirty years, and to try and boil that all down is just, well... it''s impossible. I think the only way that any historian worth his salt will agree with me is to look at individual moments... isolated instances, single comic strips. Can I discuss this one strip in the context of the entire run of Garfield? Yes, I do that just as a film historian might analyze one movie in relation to the history of all movies, or a war enthusiast might look at a single battle''s impact on an entire war. The Pipe Strip is just an instance in the lives of Jon and Garfield. Perhaps Jon is not a pragmatist at all... let''s look at this again. Maybe Jon is exhibiting the traits of a rationalist thinker; his question, "Now where could my pipe be?" is a clue that his thought process stems from the early rationalist questions posed by René Descartes. The well-known quote, "I think, therefore I am," attributed to Descartes, is applicable. Another close look at the strip, and we see that Jim Davis chose to draw Jon thinking his question. "Now where could my pipe be?" Jon does not speak this question aloud, so Jim Davis is also exploring the mind/body duality... Jon''s question operates on the level of a literal question... but it also examines the nature of reality. Jim Davis'' epistemological approach tells us something about the human condition; Jon''s thoughts remain the focal point of this strip. The comic is, quite literally, centered around his thought. "Now where could my pipe be?" This is his reality, this is where cognition, and the power and function of the mind take over. As Plato believed, the body is just a shell for Jon Arbuckle; yes, he can use his physical body to read his paper or cross his legs, but these inputs of touch, sight, hearing, et cetera, these senses are the triggers of the mind, as we see here, the mind... is something greater. It is the originator of ideas, and ideas are forever. Immortal. Immortality through thought, a... a major theme in literature and philosophy... ...and isn''t that what Mister Jim Davis himself has achieved? Will he live forever? The universe will continue to spread, and spread outward, and... entropy will turn a chaotic infinity into a homogenous, controlled system. This will take billions of years, and in that time, humans will push technology to heights we can''t imagine. We''ll explore and inhabit space, and occupy more and more of the universe, just as time allowed our ancestors to... multiply in numbers, and populate more and more of the Earth. ...and as the specific people come and go, their physical bodies will be born, and grow, and die... but their thoughts will remain... and Jim Davis'' comics, his glorious Garfield comics... are recorded ideas of his, that will still be here. Even when the Earth is no longer inhabitable, and humanity has long since moved away to bigger planets, they''ll carry with them a record, a record we all keep; mark my words... and look at what we''ve started, what is... What is the internet? What is the online world, if not a record? Never-ending feed of ideas, immortal ideas... forever placed in the ether of dualism. What is an idea? Where does it live? How does it manifest itself? Can it live forever? Will it live forever, outside of these physical husks of ours, our bodies? ...and Jon Arbuckle, and Garfield, started merely as thoughts... but they''ve become so much more. That old cliché rings true, they''ve taken on a life of their own... and life may not be what we think. Life brings to mind a beating heart, breathing lungs, blinking eyes... ...but the real life is in our imaginations... and who better embodies the definition of imagination if not a simple man... a cartoonist, who puts his ideas to paper so that they may live on, so that our children, and our children''s children, and their children''s children''s children can access the wealth of ideas that have accumulated thus far... They will plug themselves into an information grid, and they will have access... They will read every Garfield comic, 80,000 years from now, a child will see a simple Jon Arbuckle, reading a newspaper. He will feel around for something, but that something is not there... He will lift his head and think... "Now where could my pipe be?" ...and Garfield will be smoking the pipe, and Jon will yell "GARFIELD!" ...and what then? 80,000 years from now? The child reading this comic will smile... and that smile will transcend space and time and the physical limitations of this existence, whatever they may be, however many dimensions exist... There will always be Garfield... and there will always be its creator... Jim Davis. "It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection." -Oscar Wilde
Pastor Scott's Thoughts – "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 5:23 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 5:23
The Peace of Jerusalem – Everybody says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It is because without peace in Jerusalem there will be no peace on earth. The Muslims have their mosques, the Christians of every denomination have their churches, but only the Jews have no temple. This is why they want to destroy the mosques to build their third temple. This is why there is war — — (intifada) in the Middle East and therefore friction in the world. Peace is just one understanding away. Everybody says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It is because without peace in Jerusalem there will be no peace on earth. The Muslims have their mosques, the Christians of every denomination have their churches, but only the Jews have no temple. This is why they want to destroy the mosques to build their third temple. This is why there is war -- -- (intifada) in the Middle East and therefore friction in the world. Peace is just one understanding away.
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. ____________________________________
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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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The Love Of God Is Awesome!!! | Random thoughts... ||| For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." ― Galations 5:14 (NKJV) ||| When I read the Bible, the Bible criticizes me, I don't criticize the Bible. ― R. C. Sproul ||| "Your directions, your judgment, your disposition to rebel must be subjected and reduced to ashes. How? In the fire of obedience, for it is there that you will find out if you are truly a follower of Divine love or self love." ― Michael Molinos ||| "...so much of modern education leaves out God. We need education, but not just for the mind and the body; we also need education for the spirit. Man has a spirit, and in our educational system today we need a spiritual emphasis. If we bring up a generation that lacks the wisdom that God can give, they can turn into educated savages and fools." ― Billy Graham ||| "If above all things we would taste God, and feel eternal life in ourselves, we must go forth into God with our feeling, above reason; and there we must abide, onefold, empty of ourselves, and free from images, lifted up by love into the simple bareness of our intelligence." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction." ― John of the Cross ||| "Do all you can to preach the gospel and if necessary use words!" ―Francis of Assisi ||| "You will never be fully resigned to the will of God if you are troubled by human opinion of you, or if you make for yourself a little idol of what people say." ― Michael Molinos ||| "The measure of your holiness is proportionate to the goodness of your will." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "However softly we speak, God is so close to us that he can hear us; nor do we need wings to go in search of him, but merely to seek solitude and contemplate him within ourselves, without being surprised to find such a good Guest there." ― John of the Cross ||| "The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today." ―Francis of Assisi ||| "You do not say someone is holy because he puts forth great ideas concerning the knowledge of God and the attributes of God." ― Michael Molinos ||| "God creates the world anew in each moment." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "Where there is no love, pour love in, and you will draw love out." ― John of the Cross ||| "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." ―Francis of Assisi ||| "Seek silence in the midst of the tumult, seek solitude in the masses, light in the midst of darkness; find forgetfulness in injury, victory in the midst of despondence, and courage in the midst of alarm, resistance in the midst of temptation, peace in the midst of war." ― Michael Molinos ||| "Contemplation places us in a purity and radiance which is far above our understanding." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "Obedience, to be perfect, must be voluntary; it must be pure and cheerful. But most of all it must be internal. I would add that it must also be blind and persevering." ― Michael Molinos ||| "The love of Jesus is at once avid and generous. All that He has, all that He is, He gives; all that we are, all that we have, He takes." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "When love has carried us above all things ... we receive in peace the Incomprehensible Light, enfolding us and penetrating us. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity? We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold; because our being, without losing anything of its own personality, is united with the Divine Truth." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "Knowledge of ourselves teaches us whence we come, where we are and whither we are going. We come from God and we are in exile; and it is because our potency of affection lends towards God that we are aware of this state of exile." ― John of Ruysbroeck ||| "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved, as to love." ― Francis of Assisi ||| "In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds." ― John of the Cross ||| "Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously." ― Francis of Assisi ||| "To love is to be transformed into what we love. To love God is therefore to be transformed into God." ― John of the Cross See the 2018 Father's Love Letter to You video. Read Father's Love Letter to You The Love of God is Awesome!!! His Love is much greater than you or I will ever be able to fully comprehend during our physical existence on this planet. Once we begin to understand the reality and the depth of the Love of God, we will never cease to be amazed at how much greater His Love actually is than we think we understand it to be at any given time. His Love is infinite, supernatural, without limits, and unconditional. His Love never changes. He doesn't get angry when we sin unintentionally. In fact, He gave (provided) Himself, in the manifestation of His only begotten Son, as the necessary sacrifice to cleanse us of all our sins (Genesis 22:8) and He doesn't remember any of them (Jeremiah 31:34). Billy Graham spoke of God's Love like this: As I read the Bible, I find love to be the supreme and dominant attribute of God. The promises of God's love and forgiveness are as real, as sure, as positive, as human words can make them. But the total beauty of the ocean cannot be understood until it is seen, and it is the same with God's love. Until you actually experience it, until you actually possess it, no one can describe its wonders to you. Never question God's great love, for it is as unchangeable a part of God as His holiness. Were it not for the love of God, none of us would ever have a chance in the future life. But God is love! And His love for us is everlasting. - Jeremiah 31:3 The purpose of this website is to assist people like you, myself, and all others who need to know about God's Great Love for mankind by providing resources which can help us to grow in knowing the never ending, Great Love that the Creator of all things has for us and for all of mankind and all of His creation. His Love is much deeper than any human is capable of even imagining, and it is totally unconditional. Because of His Great Love for us all (Romans 8:38-39), more than 2,000 years ago God took extraordinary measures to provide what was needed in order for us to be able to be with Him forever. Think about it, Jesus, the SON of GOD came to EARTH as a MAN and was crucified as a CRIMINAL although He was perfectly innocent. He did that FOR YOU!!! In short, God loves us all so much that He came to earth to live as a sinless human (Hebrews 4:15) just so He could die and shed His Precious blood, thereby paying the death penalty for us all that we ourselves earn because of our sins (John 1:29). He did that just to make it possible for all of mankind to have the opportunity to come to experience the Joy of knowing Him and to live in His Presence always and forever. Three days after He was maliciously murdered and buried He was raised back to life (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and was later transported back to heaven as a divine human man where He to this day remains as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 8:1) and intervenes for us daily (Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1). One day in the future He will return to this planet to rule over it as King of Kings (Revelation 14:14, 19:16) No matter what we have ever thought or done, or will think or do, He is always waiting for us to look to Him and accept His sacrifice of Love for us all. There's a good chance that our Loving Creator has led you to this web site without you even realizing He did so. Look to Him now to fill the emptiness you may feel with more Real Love than you know is possible. I pray that you will find the resources in these pages and those linked to from other websites helpful to you as you strive to learn more about God's Great Love for you and for all the others He is drawing to Himself via this website. The Love of God is Awesome!!! webservant~dan Please pray for me and for this website Click Here To See How President Trump Brought Praise and Worship to the White House Click Here To Read About The Gospel I highly recommend the King James version Bible as it is the most accurate english language word for word translation available that was derived from the original Greek text. If you find that version difficult to read, here is a guide that should be helpful to you, or you can try the New King James version which is the second most reliable translation, and is easier to read. I discourage using most other translations as the majority of them are thought for thought translations, and they were not made from the original Greek text. Although they may be easier to read and understand, most are not reliable translations, based on another Greek text written later than the original. Some of them change the meaning of the thought from the original text entirely or even omit parts of the text. For examples of how certain versions of the Bible have been altered to exclude information see The ESV Challenge and The NIV Challenge. Click Here To Read More About The Bible Click Here to Read the Bible Click Here to Listen to the Bible The Sh'ma, from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Click here to see what Balaam saw from Mount Peor Click here to see interesting video about modern Mt. Sinai, the place where God gave Moses the law and instructions for building the tabernacle This week's Verse by Verse Bible teaching from NorthCountryChapel.com from Pastor Bob (Updated every week except for when I am out of town or when Pastor Bob is not preaching at NCC) Click here to listen to more Verse by Verse Bible teaching by Pastor Bob Click here if you'd like to see and take part in the services Hear David Guzik teach about Nebuchadnezzer's Dream Here's David Guzik's Text and Audio Bible Commentary or Hear or see more teaching from David Guzik "Some christians have a feast after every Sunday service featuring barbecued pastor." ~ J. Vernon McGee Click Here to Read a random "Just A Thought..." by webservant~dan Love, the summation of God's laws - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Deut. 11:13) This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev. 19:18) On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV The message of God's law is: be loving. Love God fully. Love others sacrificially. - Bob Hoekstra Read Today's Proverb of the Day Read Psalm of the day Thank you for visiting! If you have comments or suggestions about this website, or just want to say "HOWDY!", click on the email link above to send me an email. Respectfully, your webservant~dan If you're looking for a fast, reliable server for your webpages with quick and efficient support services, I highly recommend SiteGround.
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