Boldness

July 5, 2019

Proverbs 28:1- The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion

What does it mean to be bold in our faith? Boldness might be viewed as aggressive, speaking out about Jesus everywhere and to anyone, calling out people’s sin or speaking truth without love.

Boldness is a theme throughout the people of God in the Bible and takes various forms across different situations. Take a look at a few examples:

• Nehemiah who was a cupbearer and went before his king to ask for favor in rebuilding Jerusalem
• Moses went before Pharaoh to ask for the release of an entire people group who were the backbone of construction and labor of Egypt
• Daniel opposed the law of the land stating that he could not pray to his God, knowing full well the punishment of being thrown in a den of lions (which God rescued him from)
• Stephen was bold in the face of his aggressors, he did not back down but gave them a wonderful synopsis of the Torah and history of God’s people leading up to Jesus. The result was his stoning.
• Elijah, facing death, went before 450 prophets of Baal to test whose God was real. The result was fire coming from heaven and the execution of all the false prophets.
• David went ill-equipped before a giant, and won, because the giant cursed David’s God.

These are just a few of the many examples in the Bible of men and women who exhibited boldness and faced overwhelming odds, some certain death, but why? Proverbs 28:1 talks about how the righteous are as bold as lions. The Hebrew word for bold here is batach meaning “confidence, trusting, i.e., pertaining to placing reliance or belief in a person or object.”

Boldness, as we are called to as Christians, is placing our reliance and trust in Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Any consequences that “man” can do to us are irrelevant because we have an eternal life awaiting us in heaven. The same word for boldness in Proverbs is used to portray this trust in Psalm 112:7-8:

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting (batach) in the Lord.”

Boldness is also used interchangeably with confidence. Hebrews 10:35-36 says:

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Confidence, like boldness, is not about being confident in who we are, but in WHOM we serve. We can only have confidence in God if we know who God is and have a relationship with Him. This relationship can only be established if we read the Word of God and commune with Him. This is the same way we can understand the “will of God”. We cannot have perfect confidence in our own plans or abilities, they will fail us. God will never fail us. The boldness we have once we understand God’s plans for our lives comes in knowing God is on our side. When we walk in His will, He will be with us every step of the way. This is very different from making our plans and asking God to bless them!

If we don’t have a clear direction for our life, we can still have confidence in the God we serve. We are called to walk in obedience to the Bible even if we are confused on the specific direction we need to take. The greatest commandment we are given is when Jesus says

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37

Everything we do stems from living out these two commandments, if we love the Lord, we will see his heart in all we do and we will trust him with boldness. If love those around us, it shows others the boldness and confidence we have in Jesus, planting the seeds for their salvation.

Our boldness is also displayed in how we approach God, thanks to the work done for us on the cross (Hebrews 10:19-22). We can come before the throne of grace and ask for forgiveness without needing a sacrifice.

Boldness can also be misplaced if we trust in the wrong thing. 2 Peter 2:10 discusses sinners who are “bold and arrogant”, their trust is in themselves, there is not a foundation built of who they are trusting in. When people are bold for themselves and their selfish pursuits, they leave behind a wake of destruction.

Discerning Reflection: In what ways have I not trusted in God or been confident in Him? How can grow in my knowledge and relationship with Jesus? In what ways do I or do I not portray the greatest commandment?

Prayer: Lord help me come boldly before your throne so that I can grow in my relationship and confidence in you. Help me see your will for my life and be a light to others who see that I trust you with everything. Amen.

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad
www.discerning-dad.com

Note: This was written in collaboration with Authorytees http://www.authorytees.com based on their mission statement of “Bold Faith”

Check out the shirt “Bold as Lions” available on Authorytees.com and Discerning Dad’s store

 

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This Independence Day, America Is on the Mend

July 3, 2019 By Alveda King

Alveda King (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

Zechariah 4:6 (NLT) “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”

Independence Day 2019 is tomorrow. During this time in our nation’s history, there is a heightened demand to redefine America’s concepts of liberty, freedom, and justice.

Juneteenth 2019 is just behind us. We are currently celebrating 400 years of African American history, so it’s likely not by accident that the “reparations debate” is rapidly gaining traction in conversations across America.

Many inroads have already been made in seeking solutions. In January 2016, a United Nations project with the “Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent” conducted a study on the reparations issue. They recommended that the U.S. establish a national commission to “monitor the human rights of African Americans” — and start taking steps to repay the labor that slaves performed from American independence through the Civil War (an amount that University of Connecticut researcher Thomas Craemer values at about $5.9 trillion) with reparations.

Currently, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is most fervently backing reparations. The self-help guru and spiritual adviser wants to set aside $200 billion to $500 billion for a reparations program. She’s not offering to foot the bill personally.

Meanwhile, Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is rooting for reparations for Blacks, Native Americans and Gays. The other candidates running against President Trump, including Senators Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, are also backing tax-payer funded reparations for descendants of former American slaves.

All of these candidates are fully in favor of tax-payer funded abortion laws that help to disproportionately kill the very population they say they are trying to repair. How can you repair people by aborting them?

Interestingly, at least two presidents haven’t sanctioned tax-payer funded reparations for descendants of former American slaves. In a December 2016 interview with “The Atlantic’s” Ta-Nehisi Coates, President Barack Obama said it would be difficult to “practically administer and sustain political support” for reparations.

On July 1, 2019, President Donald Trump said this about the current discussion regarding the federal government awarding reparations for African Americans: “I think it’s a very unusual thing. I th— You have a lot of … a lot of, it’s a very interesting, you know it’s been a very interesting debate. I don’t see it happening, no.”

So, at least two presidents don’t sanction the federal government doling out tax dollars to pay reparations it seems. Let’s think about this. Is President Trump saying, “no reparations?” Or is the president perhaps inviting us to consider just who should pay for the reparations?

In “Reparations Reinvented,” Mark Crutcher, President of Life Dynamics Incorporated, and creator of award-winning documentary MAAFA 21 recommends “A FRESH LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE.” His film Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America documents that, in the 1800s, ultra-wealthy white elitists financed the eugenics movement as a way to rid the country of freed blacks.  It also documents the following: (a) this campaign has been in place every day since then; (b) it is still being carried out today; (c) it has inflicted demonstrable harm on the existing African-American community’s personal, societal, familial, financial and political well-being; (d) the plans for this effort – including its intentional targeting of this racial group – were widely publicized by those responsible; and (e) the [fruits of the] perpetrators still exist, [and] are easily identified and have enormous wealth in both cash and other assets.

Nina May of Renaissance Women also asserts that the reparations owed blacks should be paid by those who have imposed the most harm, rather than from U.S. tax dollars. In her award-winning films, “Reparations, Who Should Pay?”and “Emancipation Revelation Revolution,” Mrs. May explains with supporting evidence, that “the facts point to the Democrats being the party of slavery, oppression, violence, divisive and deadly behavior, segregation and dishonesty. ERR brings an in-depth look at the history of the civil rights movement in America, the role that both parties played, and what happens to conservative blacks who leave the liberal plantation and identify with the Party of Lincoln. Black America needs to be reintroduced to the party that was founded to liberate their ancestors and if anyone should pay reparations … it is the Democrat Party.”

Thinking back, I remember that while seeking the votes of the American people, President Trump asked African American voters an open-ended question: “What do you have to lose?” I remember following up on his question with this request to our very forward-thinking president: “Sir. Please tell us what we have to gain.”

Not only has President Trump told us, he has shown us gains in the job markets, for the sanctity of life, for religious freedom, through criminal justice reform, and so much more. America is on the mend.

Further, President Trump speaks to all Americans, including African Americans when he says, “[W]hether we are black, or brown, or white, we all bleed the same red blood” and that “[i]n America, we don’t worship government. We worship God.” From this perspective, goals that involve partnerships among the governments, private sector and people of faith would be a good start. If we are really listening, perhaps we will hear an invitation to seek God and not humans, and pray for the guidance for solutions to bring justice and the jubilee that will be required to make the wrongs right in America’s Reparations Saga.

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Genesis 18:14

Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is the founder of King for America, Inc., consultant to the Africa Humanitarian Christian Fellowship and Pastoral Associate and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries.

https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/alveda-king/alveda-king-independence-day-america-mend


The Root of Idolatry

by John MacArthur, June 3, 2019

Idolatry is the product of rebellion, not confusion. While hearts and minds darkened by sin can’t find God on their own apart from His Word, the apostle Paul makes it clear that the root of idolatry is man’s rejection of creation’s testimony to its Creator.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)

The sinner’s attempt to suppress the truth about God is foundational to all forms of idolatry and false religion. The unrepentant heart will subscribe to all sorts of farcical notions and obvious lies in the vain hope of shielding itself from the universe’s Creator and Judge.

Paul understood the unbelief that undergirded the plethora of deities in Athens. The closing words of his sermon on Mars’ Hill were a fatal shot at Athenian paganism, “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man” (Acts 17:29). In other words, if God made us, God Himself must be greater than any man-made image. This is a critical point. It was as if Paul took one enormous philosophical sledgehammer and smashed all their idols. If God is really the sovereign, infinite being even the poets acknowledged He must be, we can’t blasphemously reduce Him to a statue, a shrine, or any other graven image.

And while our culture isn’t dominated by temples, idol worship, and polytheism the way the first-century world was, we are not immune to the threat of idolatry. John Calvin said, “The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols.” [1] Sinners still excel at erecting idols—today it simply takes place in individual hearts rather than the public square. It could be money, influence, career goals, athletic achievements, high-priced indulgences, or even another person—the vast galaxy of idols that rule in sinners’ hearts today likely dwarfs the gods of the ancient world.

Even Christians can at times succumb to the rebellious tendency to create false gods—or to simply redefine the God of the Bible. Every time the church attempts to define God on its own terms—contrary to His self-revelation in Scripture—it bands together with the idolaters of Mars’ Hill. That’s a particular danger today, when so many in the church want to round off the sharp edges of God’s attributes and reimagine Him as a kindly cosmic grandfather rather than a holy Judge. In that sense, there is very little difference between pretending God is not who He says He is, and worshiping the rocks and trees in a local park.

We need to understand that Paul’s blunt exchange with the philosophers of Athens is far more than a historical account from a distant land. It’s a timely warning about the futility of idolatry, and a call to repent of such foolishness while there is still time.

Paul’s sermon on Mars’ Hill comes to a climax with these urgent words of warning:

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)

Paul’s direct approach with his unbelieving audience defies a lot of modern conventional wisdom regarding cross-cultural ministry. He didn’t pander to the false beliefs of his audience. He didn’t try to accommodate the Epicureans by promising them a wonderful and pleasure-filled life. And he didn’t attempt to win the Stoics by trying to make the gospel sound as much like their philosophy as possible. He called both groups and all other sinners present to repentance, referring to the golden age of Greek philosophy as “times of ignorance.”

The word “ignorance” comes from the same Greek root as “unknown” in verse twenty-three. And the word “overlooked” comes from a word that means “to not interfere.” It doesn’t mean God disregarded or was indifferent to sinful idolatry. It means He chose not to intervene in judgment by wiping Athens off the face of the earth.

As Paul told them, however, God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. The agent of that judgment will be a Man whom He has ordained and given testimony to by raising Him from the dead. We know who that Man is, of course. It is Jesus Christ, to whom God has given all judgment (John 5:22).

But at this point Paul was interrupted, and he evidently never even got to name the name of Christ. “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this.’ So Paul went out of their midst” (Acts 17:32–33). The Epicureans did not believe in a resurrection at all, while the Stoics believed in a spiritual resurrection but not the resurrection of the body. Perhaps stung by his call for repentance, they responded by collectively mocking Paul. In fact, as soon as he mentioned the resurrection, the skeptics began to scoff. Evidently some had heard enough to reject Paul’s message without even hearing him out. Others said they would hear more later. So Paul simply went out of their midst.

Not everyone doubted or delayed, however. “Some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them” (Acts 17:34). Enough of the truth had penetrated their hearts so that these people followed Paul to find out more. Obviously, Paul continued his sermon for those who wanted to hear, and some of them were converted. One of the converts was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court. Another was a woman named Damaris. Since she is given no title, we can assume she was a common woman. So this sermon reached people at both ends of the social spectrum—philosophers and housewives, men and women, intellectuals and ordinary people. This little band of converts joined Paul and became the first Christians in Athens.

That seemingly meager harvest did not discourage Paul, nor did it provoke him to go back to Mars’ Hill and engage in a more culturally-sensitive discourse. As we’ll see next time, Paul had unshakable confidence in the unvarnished message of the gospel and God’s power at work through its faithful proclamation. As he would later write, the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

(Adapted from Ashamed of the Gospel)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B190603

Choose Life!

May 9, 2019 by Dr Michael Brown

More than three-thousand years ago, Moses urged the children of Israel to “choose life.” He said to them:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NJPS).

But why would anyone choose death? Why would anyone choose to be cursed rather than blessed?

The answer is that God’s ways lead to life and blessing, but many people would rather die than follow Him.

They view God’s ways as restrictive. Oppressive. Antiquated. Harmful.

In reality, God’s ways lead to human thriving. To liberty. To freedom. To fullness.

As Jesus said:

“I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

To be sure, God’s ways require discipline. And obedience. And denial of the flesh.

But fleshly habits bring bondage. Discipline sets us free.

Indulging our earthly desires brings dullness and addiction. Obedience lifts us into a higher realm, far above our animal appetites.

God is a God of life, and in Him is life beyond description. That’s why Jesus could say:

“I am the resurrection and the life. . . . I am the bread of life. . . . . Whoever follows Me . . . will have the light of life” (John 11:24; 6:35; 8:12). And that’s why John called Him “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).

Tragically, in recent decades, America has increasingly chosen a path of death, from abortion to violent video games, and from euthanasia to TV shows glorifying vampires and zombies. How can we turn the tide?

Here are some practical suggestions.

First, go about your normal daily activities, watching and reading and listening to what you normally watch and read and listen to, but this time take note of how much death is involved. How many images of the dead and dying? How many corpses? How much graphic violence? How much death are you seeing (by choice, not by necessity) over the course of a week?

Second, if you realize that you’re being influenced by a culture of death, then take a thirty-day break from all forms of death-related media entertainment, be it video games or favorite TV shows or gratuitously violent novels.

Third, immerse yourself in words of life. I would encourage you to read several chapters from Proverbs and the Gospel of John each day, noticing the constant emphasis on life. As the voice of wisdom says in Proverbs 8:

“For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death” (Prov. 8:35-36).

Fourth, when you spend time in prayer, ask God to flood your heart with His life and to give you the perspective of life, to see the world as He would have you see it.

Fifth, after thirty days, ask the Lord how He would have you to live. You might be surprised to see how your perspectives have changed. In the words of Paul:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things (Phil. 4:8, NIV).

If you’d like to take this even further, then consider three more steps.

First, get involved in the pro-life movement and work against abortion on demand in our nation. If Mother Teresa and others are right, this strikes at a major root of our culture of death, and by joining together as pro-life Christians, we can see the nation impacted.

Second, we can affirm the dignity of every human life by reaching out to the elderly, who are some of the most forgotten and neglected people in our society.

Third, get involved with another group that society discards, the poor and the hurting. Many churches have ministries to the poor and the needy, and every city has feeding programs and the like, and for the most part, they are greatly understaffed.

We celebrate life when we bring meaning and hope into the lives of the hurting, and we reaffirm that they too are created in the image of God, therefore of inestimable value and worth. It is something near and dear to the Lord’s heart.

The good news is that, across our nation, Americans are choosing life. In fact, already in March, a New York Times headline declared:

“Georgia Is Latest State to Pass Fetal Heartbeat Bill as Part of Growing Trend.”

The article noted that:

“The governors in Mississippi and Kentucky signed fetal heartbeat measures into law in recent weeks, and other states — including Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas — are expected to approve similar measures this year.”

May our nation choose life, that we and our offspring might live!

(Some of the material in this article was excerpted and adapted from my book Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation.)

 

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The forgotten pain of heroes: one man’s story

May 24, 2019 by jccast

 

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. Some seem destined for greatness, or at least something special, early on. Some appear to carry Lady Luck on their shoulders. And yet, for the most part, the majority of heroes have less than stellar beginnings, are saddled with nightmarish memories of the traumatic situations they survived (if they survived), and are extremely uncomfortable with the title hero.

Johnathan Courtney, the focus of this piece, fits the latter category. Though he received multiple citations for meritorious service (including two bronze stars) it is not just the singled-out actions that make him a hero in my view. It is the cumulative actions over a drawn-out period in harm’s way, along with shouldering leadership responsibilities in equally trying situations that merit the often difficult to bear title. Such duties, in John’s case, include a tour in Iraq. Part of the time as a platoon leader leading hundreds of successful combat patrols, part of the time as the company XO, and winding up as Battle Captain.

John 3a

By the completion of his tour John would be forever changed by his experiences. Due to his upbringing, his character, and the fact that he’s an alpha male in leadership positions he possessed an inflated sense of responsibility for the soldiers under him. The death of eight soldiers—seven directly and one by way of an investigation—would haunt John because of his sense of responsibility and the decisions he made regarding each. Decisions he never could have imagined during his early years.

John’s mother, Ellen, is Caucasian, and his father, Don, is Native American. He predominantly identifies as Native American, from the Wasco and Warm Springs tribes, having been raised on or near the Warm Springs reservation in Central Oregon throughout his childhood. Along with returning to Central Oregon to reside in Madras several years after his military hitch and the divorce of his first marriage.

John, for the most part, was an average student. Education didn’t hold much importance to him during his early childhood. The divorce of his parents and subsequent move off the reservation to the nearby town of Madras played a part in that. So did the cultural change in peer groups. And, eventually, the return of his father (parents remarried) after being gone several years created additional issues.

During the various life changes John struggled with anger and identity issues: his purpose in life, his place in the family, in society, etc. It seemed to escalate during his high school years. He began drinking as a sophomore. However, he also joined the R.O.T.C. during this period, which became a positive influence. After meeting Sgt. Randy Casey—a tough as nails Ranger that became his mentor—John felt a sense of purpose.

Similarly, John was torn with wanting to be like his dad—who, in his eyes, accomplished everything he set out to do—and sought his approval, but he equally struggled with anger issues against him over the divorce, remarriage, and other family situations.

John Profile Pic 2

The new sense of purpose seemed to drive John. While he still appeared to vacillate in some areas, like changing his college major five times—eventually earning a BS in Sociology—he tackled everything that came his way in the R.O.T.C.: scoring in the top 5% of the country.

Choosing a career in the military, John (now a Lieutenant) was stationed at Ft. Benning, GA, where he had previously attended Airborne training. It took two attempts to get through the elite Ranger training, having been held back on his first attempt due to a medical issue. But he had the drive and character to claw his way back and earn the right to wear the much-coveted patch.

John also received mechanized training, which prepared him for his next post at Ft. Carson, CO, where his initial job was the Asst. Battalion Maintenance Officer of the 112th Infantry Regiment.

Soon after his arrival John’s group went through a transition period. The 112th was phased out as it became part of a Combined Arms Battalion, a new self-sustained format. With John becoming the Platoon Leader of 3rd Platoon, “B” company (Bravo / Blackhawk) of the 168th Armor Battalion.

John Pi-ume-sha Grand entry

Following a lot of preparation, including war games at Ft. Irwin, CA, the 168th took its turn in Operation Iraqi Freedom. John deployed to Iraq in November, 2005. By mid-2006, his platoon had been on over 500 combat patrols without a single casualty among his men. An impressive string of skill and luck. Unfortunately, for John, it would not continue.

John, who had been handpicked by his Company Commander, Capt. Larry Sharp, to be the company XO (second-in-charge), was promoted to Captain and took over the Battle Captain position in July, 2006. A position which gave him responsibility for a vast area, including everything that took place outside the compound.

The first half of John’s tour, prior to his promotion to Captain, is viewed differently by him than the last half. During the interview he spoke of both positive and negative aspects of the deployment during the period covering the first half of his tour. But it became quite clear that his focus regarding the last half of the tour centered squarely on the negatives. In his own words, this period is when he “started getting lost in the head.”

Early on, John talked about the hundreds of successful patrols, about a time when he earned one of his Bronze Stars (with valor) “for going the wrong way,” how their company saved the town from being overrun, and how they took out the enemy’s second-in-command. Although, scattered within those tales were less positive but equally memorable tales of a grandfather and his grandson being killed, a young boy that smiled and waved to the GIs entering and exiting the compound daily found hung on the fence after being tortured to death for being friendly toward the Americans, and a rear echelon soldier being negligently killed by civilian contractors—the first GI death that John had to deal with personally as the investigating officer.

A subtle, but very noticeable change came over John when he began to speak of the last half of his tour. The period when 7 soldiers under his command were killed. The decisions and responsibility lay with John as the Battle Captain. And it is clear that he internalized each event and it festered like a cancer.

John returned home in November, 2006. Within a few months he was drinking to numb himself. After all, he’s an alpha male, an elite soldier, a Ranger, and an officer. Showing weakness is forbidden. An unwritten code—but a code nevertheless.

John’s life began to slowly implode. Over the next several years he lost his career, his marriage (and custody of his daughter, Kirsten), had difficulty getting and/or keeping jobs, increased his drinking continually, and eventually had to move from Colorado back home to Madras, OR. And when he did make the effort to get help—filing twice with the VA regarding PTSD, and trying to get help through the community services on the reservation—he was either ignored or given excuses why they couldn’t help him.

John 1

The only good thing that occurred during this period was his marriage to his second wife, Emily. But his situation began to put a strain on that marriage, as well. To the point that Emily finally gave John an ultimatum. That ultimatum was the catalyst that created an eruption. The eruption ended with John barricaded inside his home surrounded by armed tribal police. And John, who had suicidal tendencies from the PTSD and had previously attempted suicide, continued to drink. Which made some wonder if he was now trying to commit suicide-by-cop.

It is said that it is always darkest before dawn. It is also said that God works in mysterious ways.

The tribal police threw the book at John. He was charged federally with the felonies, and he was looking at a long prison term if found guilty and given the maximum sentencing. Luckily, a lot of things began to mysteriously fall into place for John. The right people were coming into his life at the perfect time and he was starting to get the help he should have been given years earlier. The judge also took notice of how quickly John was turning his life around with the help. Thus, eventually, John took a plea deal that kept him out of prison, but put him on probation for 5 years.

Unfortunately, the felony conviction caused John to be terminated from the good job he had acquired while waiting for his court date. And yet, like every other good thing that had been occurring during this period, a woman John didn’t know called and offered him a job. A job he is still successfully performing two years after being hired. He is the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success Coordinator for Best Care (Whew! That’s a tongue twister. Who makes up these titles?) But seriously, he deals with programs set up for adults, youth, and veterans. And his very painful past is no longer a hindrance, it’s an asset when dealing with people having similar issues.

John Picture

John’s faith was shaken to the core through the awful period in Iraq and subsequent years of anger and alcohol abuse. However, through hindsight, he clearly sees God’s imprint during the situation. And, like other vets he’s been in support groups with, John has returned to his faith. He is the first to say that he is still working on his spiritual life and walk, but he’s putting the same effort to move forward in that area as he has in all other areas of his life. Similar to his time in the R.O.T.C. and the military, John has excelled in everything he’s done after getting a little help to get back on the right course. And he has already touched many lives with his story and his concerted efforts to help people on a daily basis through his job, as well as through his efforts with the VFW.

John 3

Like most true heroes, John is extremely uncomfortable with the hero title. He simply did his job to the best of his ability and took his responsibility for the men under his command seriously—so seriously that each death of a soldier through his decisions slowly ate him up inside. Because he cared too much, which always compounds the pain in war. Yet, the same character traits that made him a hero then make him a hero now to all those he goes above and beyond to help on a daily basis.

John likes the old hymn Amazing Grace, and the opening lines say it all: Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

John 2

I, personally, thank John for his service to the country and to his continued service to the community that he resides in. It is truly an honor to know him, and to call him…a brother in arms…and a friend.

 

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Dancing with Devils

By Timothy Buchanan – May 31, 2019

Baseless criticisms foisted upon the Church are cyclic. They repeatedly appear, are confronted and debunked by one generation, only to reappear in a future generation. Some of these, like the wholesale condemnation of the Crusades, recur primarily as the result of historical ignorance by Christ-hating heretics and skeptics. Others, like the lie that “religion is responsible for more wars than any other cause,” are kept alive in part, by professors of the Christian faith who attempt to appease corrupt hearts and minds.

In our age of anti-truth, facts are ineffective in contending with the lies parroted by those whose view of reality is merely subjective. Nothing short of a personal encounter with the Divine will affect them. It’s a frightening situation that portends escalating violence and unfathomable wickedness for all involved.

Human history is replete with demonstrable proof that when man becomes the arbiter of morality, unspeakable carnage and suffering are the certain outcome. The hundreds of millions of murders and torturous deaths perpetrated by communist and socialist regimes in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America profoundly illustrate the consequence of human arrogance.

Statisticians can debate the body counts racked up by monstrous butchers: Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and American abortionists, but the numbers are so enormous that any comparison between them and the thousands of tragic deaths caused by the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch trials, are silly and absurd. The God-rejecting man is supremely dangerous and miserable.

Now, the resurgent charge that “the Church is full of hypocrites” is being revived. Short-sighted pastors and teachers frequently attempt to befriend the lawless through self-flagellation. It always fails terribly. One of the best responses to the ludicrous accusation of hypocrisy in the Church, comes from Dr. Michael Youssef, who simply says, “Yes, and we have room for one more.”

The fact is that hypocrisy is most rampant—not in the Church but in our godless evil culture. After all, one who sets a high goal for himself or herself and occasionally fails to reach it, is no hypocrite. He is a hypocrite who claims to be sufficiently noble to judge the righteous, while rejecting defined moral principles. She is a hypocrite who aborts her child, and then screams about human rights. They are hypocrites who celebrate every form of sexual degradation while professing to care about children’s futures.

No righteous authority can exist apart from the absolute and unchanging standard of morality supplied by the Creator. As respect for the standard declines, the godless will always supplant timeless moral law with a personal subjective counterfeit that appeals to his or her capricious feelings.

The human eye cannot detect darkness unless there be a contrasting light. In like manner, people who keep large numbers of dogs are oblivious to barking noise and those who live with many cats disregard the odor of litter boxes. But their visitors are repulsed. Thus, worldlings cannot see their own hypocrisy because they have become accustomed to the moral sewer in which they dwell.

The truth is that the unbelieving secular culture is infinitely wicked and hypocritical. The Christian Church has civilized a barbaric world without resorting to the tyranny often employed in other cultures. Christian values provided the freedoms that Americans enjoy, abuse, and routinely take for granted.

Pastors and teachers who forfeit moral ground for the sake of a friendship, or, in a misguided effort to demonstrate love for the lost, are dancing with devils. And the dance always ends the same way, in stumbling confusion, loss, and a little bit of death.

Are sins, unfaithfulness, and heresies commonplace in churches today? Of course they are. But churches are purified by straining out the polluting influences of sin, by regular washing with truth, and by the disinfecting power of God’s Holy Spirit. These are tasks that many, it seems, would prefer to avoid.

It would be unthinkable to close a hospital simply because a few patients could not be saved. How much more absurd to condemn the Church—which holds the keys to eternal life—in order to garner the acclaim of the dead and dying? Perhaps it’s worth considering whether denying the Bride of Christ is not tantamount to denying Christ Himself.

 

Original here

Christianity, NC, the Mecklenburg Resolves and Freedom

By Dr. Mark Creech – May 19, 2019

Rev. Benjamin Morris was a Congregational minister, who lived from 1810 to 1867, pastored churches in Indiana and Ohio, and other places. When his health failed, he retired from ministry and moved to Washington, D.C.

Morris developed a deep concern that America was drifting from her spiritual moorings and spent a decade writing Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States. 

Morris’ book, which has been reprinted by American Vision, is 1060 pages of masterful documentation showing, as Archie P. Jones, says in the Forward, that:

“it was Christianity – not paganism, ‘religious neutrality,’ or secularism – which produced freedom and justice in the West and in America…He sought to give Christians and Americans a true vision of the hand of the Lord in our history and of the crucial, foundational place of Christianity in our civil government and public life…for the good of the people of the nation, for the cause of Christ, for the future, for Christian liberty and justice, and for the glory of God.”

One section of Morris’s work succinctly records the colonial history of North Carolina and the basis of her institutions on Christianity. He charts the movement of fugitives from Virginia seeking refuge from the “rigid, intolerant laws of that colony, which bore so heavily on all that could not conform to the ceremonies of the established Church” to the “Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who formed so large a proportion of the people of North Carolina, and molded its religious and political character…”

Morris writes:

“The religious creed of these Christian immigrants formed a part of their politics so far as to lead them to decide that no law of human government ought to be tolerated in opposition to the expressed will of God. Their ideas of religious liberty have given a coloring to their political notions on all subjects – have been, indeed, the foundation of their political creed. The Bible was their text-book on all subjects of importance, and their resistance to tyrants was inspired by the free principles which it taught and enforced.”

Morris sites, as an example, the instructions given to the delegates of Mecklenburg County:

“which constituted the celebrated Mecklenburg Convention of North Carolina convened in 1775.”

The delegates were instructed to “assent and consent” to the Christian religion:

“as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament…to the exclusion forever of all and every other (falsely so-called) religion.”

Morris writes:

 “This political paper declares that the people of North Carolina believed the Bible, and from it drew their principles of morals, religion and polities. To abjure the Christian religion would have been, with them, to abjure freedom and immortality. They asserted in every political form the paramount authority of the Christian religion as the sole acknowledged religion of the state and community.”

During the Mecklenburg Convention, which met on the 15th of May, 1775, delegates also learned of the battle of Lexington, which precipitated the Mecklenburg Resolves five days later on May 20th.

The Mecklenburg Resolves would later become to be known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Its claim to fame is that it was the first declaration of Independence made by the Thirteen American Colonies during the Revolutionary War period. It was written a year before the United States Declaration of Independence.

Its original copy having been lost in a fire, the existence of The Mecklenburg Declaration is contested by some. But in 1829, the state legislature ordered a select committee to investigate and settle any controversy surrounding it. The committee heard compelling testimony from eye-witnesses who were said to be men beyond reproach. Many of these men were decorated Revolutionary War heroes, and two were ordained, Presbyterian ministers.

Although not acclaimed as it was by earlier North Carolinians, the state still recognizes The Mecklenburg Declaration. Its date is on the state flag and state seal. Its story was at one time printed in elementary school books and taught in public schools. Moreover, in 1881, the North Carolina General Assembly made May 20th a legal holiday to commemorate the Mecklenburg Declaration. Presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Gerald Ford visited Charlotte to participate in “Meck Dec Day” celebrations.

Morris contends that the Mecklenburg Resolves were:

“a noble monument of the patriotism and piety of the people of North Carolina.”

Morris writes:

“The colony of North Carolina is particularly distinguished for the large number of able and patriotic ministers who were diligent laborers in the fields of intellectual and Christian culture and in sowing broadcast the seeds of liberty and of future independence…These men were the pioneers of freedom and independence, and in all the measure preparatory to the coming revolution they were the foremost leaders.”

Monday, May 20th, marks a historic day for North Carolina. North Carolina was first in freedom. And is it any surprise that the religion of the Great Emancipator, Jesus Christ, would be at the heart of it?

As seen here at Christian Action League of North Carolina. Posted here with permission.

 

Original here