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Newsletters

Dad Ain’t Mad

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Out On A Limb with: “Dad Ain’t Mad”

When I was a young boy one of the things that quickly “set me off” was to talk terrible or begrudgingly about my dad. Now I know everything about my father wasn’t perfect and some of the things said, to some extent about him, might even be true; but I still didn’t want you “talkin’ that way” about him. Being “earthly” he was as much human as spiritual, and that human part came with flaws. But don’t talk bad about him in front of me! If you do I’m going to “take you on” about it! You see I knew my dad, and I understood his heart and purpose in life. What I believed and said about my dad made a difference in how close we were and how much I put trust in him to be “my dad.”

I’m using the reference to my father to begin a conversation about hurricane Katrina and about the comments being made from many people I meet each day. You see people are talkin’ bad about Dad (the Heavenly One). Now I recognize that believers are entitled to see the Gospel in their unique way and sometimes the expressions used in our conversations aren’t meant the way they sound. Let me run an example by you. “God sent judgment on those people (New Orleans)”. Well, let’s see if that “washes” as they say. If I told people that, I would be saying “My God,” “Our Father,” sent a “mighty wind” to kill thousands of mothers and fathers, babies, the elderly, the rich, the poor, evil people and good people, believers and unbelievers. Churches were destroyed and businesses were shut down. Hospitals lost electricity; doctors were stranded from their families. Police and soldiers risked their lives to help the helpless. Homes, hotels, banks, warehouses, post offices, government facilities, dentists, physicians, pastors, children, schools, orphans, nursing homes, water facilities, sanitation facilities, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, over 10 Christian radio stations silenced, jails, courts, cars, buses, trucks, retirees, employees, family pictures and keepsakes, all family possessions, roads: all destroyed…. The tears, the disease and the hurt multiplied by the thousands, perhaps millions of people. Raping, robbing and looting! The hours, the days, the weeks, the months of relocation. And, by hitting just east of the center of New Orleans, the “wind” took out neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama (but left the French Quarter and Bourbon Street pretty much in tact)! There is ninety thousand square miles of destruction. Perhaps as much as 120 billion dollars will be required to clean up and set up “Orleans” and the surrounding area once again. There is an economic “ripple” where everyone in this country will have an increase in their financial burdens and stress. Does that sound like our Father? Is He a God who would give a stone rather than bread?

Folks, unbelievers are listening to us! Is this the God we tell them about? Is that the same God that asks the weary, the poor, and the troubled to “come unto me”? I just can’t talk about “Dad” that way. In the earthly, we’d convict that kind of father of child abuse. Yet in the Heavenly, we paint the Father with sweeping accusations of grief and “never bat an eye.” We plant his “fingerprints” all over New Orleans and never think a thing about it.

There’s a point in time and Scripture that something unique happened. It’s identifiable with the separation of the old and the new covenant. There, a “wrath” was poured out and a righteous anger was displayed ON JESUS as he hung on the cross. The entire wrath of God was pored out on him in that one moment. Our chastisement was upon Him. A solemn oath was given when the Father accepted the blood and death of Jesus as a substitute for OUR deserved wrath. Jesus took it all for us! And even though we might deserve a terrible wrath from a Holy God, that wrath has already been spent on Jesus on our behalf! (Isaiah 54) ["…now being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:9) "…reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the Word of Reconciliation." (2Corinthians 5:19) "…He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities". (Psalm 103:10) "…He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the Righteous in Him (2Corinthians 5:21)]

By Law, we’re all guilty. Bottom line: believers are not justified by the Law. Only through the Grace and Mercy of God can anyone stand justified. In some sense, this whole country, any one of the states, all the cities and each American deserve a “wrath” because of our actions. And, if guilty of one, we’re, by nature, guilty of all. We’re all qualified for wrath apart from the blood and resurrection of Jesus. It’s grace we receive not justice! Heaven forbid we receive for what we do! For each of us, there would be a little burned up spot right where we stand if we got what we deserved! We must remember we’re reconciled by His life not our life.

That’s not to say that what we do doesn’t matter! Sure it does. We can’t avoid or choose the consequences of our “sinning,” and there will always be consequences! In this earth, a rule has been written in the Creation: you reap what you sow! That’s the way the world works. It was God’s great Wisdom that “clued” us into the knowledge of that, forewarned us of that. I’m afraid our harvest will be great. We’ve sown rebellion and “self-righteousness” for many years now and I expect that the fields are “heavy” with that crop. But, choosing to separate ourselves from Him doesn’t bring His wrath. Sin brings forth “death” (barrenness) as a consequence for those actions. We live in “calamity” when we choose against Him rather than for Him. Loving the Darkness brings it’s own judgment. The Father, in His Love, has tried to share that wisdom with us from the beginning of His Creation.

I understand I’m not right about everything I believe concerning the Gospel. And, if I’m wrong somewhere, then perhaps I’m wrong about this. But, I will enter into the Father’s arms declaring His great Love and Grace and not His Wrath. He so loved that He gave, and He gave while we were still in our sins! He gave in a time of our un-righteousness!

According to Scripture, a double-minded man should expect nothing. I’ve made up my mind about the Father. He’s trying to find a way to deliver people in New Orleans rather than trying to find a way to create the scene I listed earlier in this letter. Where’s God’s Glory in the pictures we’ve been seeing? I can’t say those things about my Dad and I object to painting a picture of Him like that to unbelievers. God is good and no evil dwells in Him. According to 1Corinthians 13, God is Love and Love is defined as not thinking evil and not returning evil for evil. If God “hurricaned” New Orleans, then we should embrace it. We should shout for Joy about it. We should ask God to send more. We should not build up what He has torn down. If we can’t do those things, then lets not blame Him for those things. In this world there is trouble, but He came for this reason: that we might overcome the world! He’s delivering Hope and Love and offering deliverance. For God is Good! Period! He is a God of Mercy not Misery.

I greatly benefited from my “knowing” my dad’s heart. I knew how he thought and trusted what he did for his family. My perspective of him, how I viewed him, made a huge difference in the intimacy I experienced with him. Because I knew he cared about me, loved me, worked hard to provide a place for me, I “understood” him and never doubted that he would only do the best for me. When things happened to me that were troublesome, I never had to try and figure out if they were from him or not; I knew they were not from him.

I’m never suspicious of the bad things we see being from God. I won’t say that about Him because I really believe “Dad ain’t mad”! He is well pleased with Christ and I am in Christ. “Peace on Earth and Good Will toward all men,” signed The Father.

Heavens

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Been thinkin’ about that “Shuttle thing” for a few days. Did you see that “back-flip” from 200 miles above earth? It seems man has always searched the “heavens.” Depending upon who’s doing the looking, the stars are either magnets drawing the creature to the Creator or they’re evidence, used by the secular folks, to prove an “un-intelligent creation.” We’ve used them to predict the future by “sorcery.” However, they are used by believers to verify the hand of God. The debate between these two “camps” is compared in Paul’s first chapter of Romans. There, the unbeliever disputes the Creator and at the same time the Believers find an easy answer to where we came from, where we are at and where we might be going. For those opposed to the Father’s Love, well, they’re left to a deprived mind and unnatural inclinations and, as the Word declares, “are without excuse.” Being “without excuse” because the creation is clearly seen “being understood by observing the things that are made.” The invisible is clearly shown by the visible, God clearly shown by His “handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

When believers see the “heavens,” we find a confidence and confirmation for our faith. We can go even further than that; we know that The Father has named each individual star. Even today, celestial maps show the names from early biblical text: Arcturus, Orion and Pleiades. In what some scholars believe to be the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job instructs us that God “spreadeth out the heavens and commandeth the sun.” (Job 9:9, Job 38:31-32) From the very earliest writings, what the Shuttle and others before have been observing is a witness to the presence of God to all who “choose to believe.”

Abram (who later was to be referred to in Scripture as Abraham) was from Ur of the Chaldees. He was from a cult of “moon-worshipers.” He looked to the stars for answers. Some four thousand years ago, while searching the sky, Abram found the “Big Answer,” the Creator of the skies! For us today, the witness found in the heavens offers a “fingerprint” of God’s handiwork and easily identifies intelligent design. While we travel the heavens finding what believers trust is the evidence of God, others scoff and assume the heavens to be a Godless space.

There’s another space I was reminded of while watching all the attention paid to NASA last few days. The space I’m referring to (as opposed to the vastness of Creation) is some of the smallest space we can image. Yet this smallest of spaces, contains the Spirit of the Whole Creation. All the imagination and wisdom of the Creator has been place uniquely in the Creature’s heart. The majesty found in the vastness of space is surpassed by the tiniest human heart.

Paul reminds us we don’t have to “ascend to Heaven” for our contact with God, rather, the Word of God is near, even in our mouths and our hearts. (Roman 10) Our God is not to be contacted in the hugeness of the heavens. No long distance calling here. Paul writes of a God that has “been made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption” and lives inside our lives each day. (1Cor. 1)

It’s that small space that reveals the glory of God just as profoundly as the spaciousness of the heavens. There’s a story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn I have always found encouraging. He was a prisoner in Russia’s Gulag for many years. His is a story of backbreaking work and slow systematic starvation. He eventually became a profound author (winning the Nobel Prize of Literature 1970) and a strong believer. He inspiringly wrote of the human experience. (“We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.”) The story: One day, the hopelessness of his situation was so much to bear that he felt no purpose in fighting on concluding his life could make no appreciable difference. Solzhenitsyn laid down his shovel and walked slowly to a work-site bench. He knew full well that to do so would result in a terrible beating and possibly death by the prison guards. He had seen that happen many times. As he sat waiting, head down, exhausted, he felt a presence. Lifting his eyes, next to him sat an old man with wrinkled skin and an expressionless face. Hunched over, never speaking a word, the man drew a stick through the sand at Solzhenitsyn’s feet. As Solzhenitsyn stared at the outline his entire perspective shifted. The old man had drawn a cross in the sand. It changed Solzhenitsyn’s perspective and life forever.

We may search for Him in the sky or we may search to disprove Him in the sky, but the human heart still can respond to one small “sign” in the sand. It’s easy for believers to find him. It has been suggested that the complexity of the universe confirms an obvious witness of God. Some have said that to have a “faith’ that there is no God is akin to believing you could take a bunch of watch parts into a cloths dryer and tumble them, have a watch “pop out.” The probability of “no God” requires a profound faith in nothingness, and that in the middle of a very orderly universe.

Though we may search for Him in the sky, we will eventually have to come to the knowledge that His Spirit lives within the nearness of our hearts. The Spirit of the Creator of the whole universe is within your very breath. He has taken a “residence” there and is always home, never on vacation. You don’t have to get out the telescope, no need to hope your prayer will “travel there.” He’s “Johnny on the spot” right where you are, being in where you are. We should remember that occasionally, He came “upon” David. Once in a while, He came “upon” the priest. Every now and then He came “upon” the Prophets. Comparatively, He profoundly came and is living and never leaving “within” the smallest of space, within you!

Independence Day

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

The Fourth of July: Independence Day! Really?

A nursery school teacher took the opportunity to tell her class about the 4th of July and patriotism. “We live in a great country,” she told her students. “One thing we should all be happy about is that, in this country, we are all free!” One little boy walked up to her and stood with his hands on his hips, looking a little “steamed.” He said, “I’m not free, I’m four!”

I wish the next “4th” story was that much fun but it’s not. I would hope that it would be a celebration of two hundred plus years of a growing free patriotic America, but it isn’t.

When I was a kid, there was a story about the frog that sat in a pan of water and even though the heat was turned up on the pot, because it was a gradual increase, the frog was “cooked” sitting right there in that pot because he never jumped out of the pan. That silly frog just sat there while the water began to boil because he had been desensitized by the gradual increase in the water temperature. These past few days I’ve gotten uncomfortable with “heat” of some of the issues we seem to be facing with more frequency and have noticed how “hot” the surroundings are getting in this country.

The most recent couple of Supreme Court rulings have “turned up the heat.” First, the Court ruled that private companies could seize private property without the owners’ consent, overruling private ownership. The only qualifier is that the seizer be for the “public good.” In a 5-4 decision, conservative Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas and the moderate Justice O’Conner dissented. O’Conner wrote of the ruling, “nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with at factory.” With this ruling, your property could be seized for private development if it is thought that the public would benefit by the increased taxation of the new developer! The ruling has the effect that the United States government has no interest in protecting property rights of its citizens! That’s kind of “spooky” to me. (By the way, historically, property rights being given Divine attention, having been dealt with in two [stealing and coveting] of the 10 Commandments. The books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy all make clear the idea of property ownership.) As it stands now, we in effect rent our property from the “state” in the form of property tax (if you don’t believe that the real owners of our property is the government try not paying those taxes! Property taxes essentially make the owner a tenant since he has to keep paying for the privilege of living on his own property). The United States Government, the protector of our “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” has become partner with the “revenue generator” to qualify who is entitled to own property. Daniel Webster stated, “No other rights are safe where property is not safe.” You can lose your house if you don’t pay the “fee” and you can be moved off your acre if they decide Wal-Mart would make the government more money in taxes!

Is it getting away from us? Recently in Philadelphia, a memorial was erected at the corner where the first annual demonstration of homosexuals took place. That public memorial is celebrated while at the same time you cannot display the 10 Commandments in courthouses or school halls because it would be “offensive” to someone to do so. If you’re offended by the Philadelphia Celebration of homosexuality, your “being offended” doesn’t matter. It’s “offensive” to have “under God” in our Pledge. It’s insulting and becoming more rare to identify God in any public format. Same-sex marriage is someone’s right to expression? Protected speech includes pornography and profanity, but you better not say the Name of God in a public place or you might be arrested.

More and more churches are being targeted for what they say in their sermons, all under that banner of stopping “hate speech.” The suggestion from some is for Christians to get out of the political environment. Actually, they would have you “get out of the way” to continue their agenda! Get out of the way so that the un-believers can continue the transition to a completely secular society and do that without your objection! We live in an environment where if Christians object to anything it’s considered to be “intolerant.” However, “intolerance” and intimidation seems become the appropriate and acceptable response to be use against Believers. At the first suggestion of Christian morality and ethic the name-calling begins from the secular groups. Do we live in a time where “evil is said to be good, and good is said to be evil?”

The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were called the Bill of Rights, the first of which is: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That “first amendment right” has been the “holy cry” of the secular to defend the “separation of Church and State.” The truth is, that statement was put into the Constitution’s Bill of Rights in order to preserve and protect religious expression. Just as with property rights, the United States intends to have “no interest in protecting” religious rights either. What do we lose next in that name of the “public good.”

This country was established as a republican form of government meaning power is held in its citizens by way of votes! Today dozens of states have passed Marriage Protection Amendments, most by margins of 60 to 75% and yet one Federal judge in Nebraska has the power to effectively over-rule all those voters’ decision. Is that the judiciary as thought of by the founding fathers?

Many times, I’m troubled by the “shouting” heard from both sides of these issues. Sometimes I’m embarrassed by the way “our side” expresses itself. It takes such a physical and mental toll on us to constantly be challenging, or constantly be challenged, but that’s “the time” we live in. I think that before Christ comes again, we’ll observe the same total rejection at this coming as we observed in His first. And then the end shall come. There’s a spirit of anti-Christ in the earth. It’s unruly, it’s boastful, and it tolerates no one. It blends and metamorphoses itself into the fabric of our everyday life so that “we can’t quite get our hands on the thing.” But, if you look carefully, you can see it each day in the effort to secularize this country.
Voluntarily separating ourselves from God has predictable results. It seems that the attempt to separate our selves from God is and has been a preoccupation of mankind from the beginning. I don’t think that “God is getting us” for that rejection of His Love. I don’t believe He is causing hardships for us. I believe that if we are “fool enough” to reject His love and His life source we get the terrible results of that “disconnect.” The Creation is set up so that when we diminish Him, we diminish us! It’s Natural Law that does it. Pull a plant out of the soil and it will stress and die. The soil (Source of Life) doesn’t have to do a thing; just the separation from Life destroys the plant. That’s the natural result of our rebellion. God stands ready to receive us and willing to accept us, but our “anti-Christ” desire to be “lord of the ring” creates a “gulf” between His provision and protection and our life experience. This push by the secular away from God makes all of us in this country vulnerable to the calamity of the world around us.

I’m more aware of the necessity of “keeping on, keeping on” and taking a position on many of these social issues. It’s not going away, it’s not getting easier. And anyway, we have children and grandchildren to think about here! What of the next generation’s freedoms? Should we give up and go quietly? Should say it’s too hard, too much, too late? I don’t think so. Christian philosopher and author, G. K. Chesterton once said, “Once abolish the God, and the Government becomes God.” Well, I don’t want that god for my God. And I can find no hint in Scripture that we’re to “grow weary of doing good,” no inference that we should not say and do the Gospel thing until the end. We need to be thoughtful in how we object to these things. We need to discern how to express ourselves in the “market place of ideas.” But, the Creator of Life has given us the gift of being free, and we must object to “the separation” and not fade into an expressionless future. WBVN is both an advocate for the Gospel of Peace between God and man and also a “mouth-piece” of information for the Christian community. Thank you for helping do both those things over FM 104.5.

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