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Solving Problems That Don’t Exist

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Politicians, for all that can be said about them, are not infallible. In the last 20 years (and probably further back) I have noticed something about them, at least in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. Depending on what you support, a politician is either an infallible, godlike being whom must be obeyed for the greater good, or they are vile dogs who don’t know a thing and only got there because of money (which is funny, because any particular faction is as likely to be as well funded as the other, from similar sources). What if I told you, neither side is correct? In the U.S. we have a defacto two-party system (something a bit of research will flesh out as being antithetical to the Founding Father’s intent) not because there are only two choices – talk about your fallacies in action – but because the public allows themselves to become polarized to one of a small subset of charismatic figures belonging to one of two polarizing forces (though if the truth be told, they are pretty much the same now with no appreciable difference in final goals, only in the journey to get there). Very few people, statistically speaking, actually find themselves not buying into the whole charade. However, within that group all too many of them act in similarly outlandish, polarizing behaviors and thus no one takes them seriously.

All too often, those in power are looked upon as if they hold some sort of special power, experience, or wisdom to which the rest of us non-professional politicians (aka mortals) do not have and can never hope to attain, except in rare circumstances. The sad reality of the situation is that most of the politicians at the state and federal level are only there for one thing, more money. Whether in their pocket or in their district (you know, so they can be re elected, not because what they do actually provides any tangible good to the public at large). They are also looked upon as being beholden to their constituents instead of legal documents they are supposed to be upholding. In the case of state representatives that may not hold quite as true as it does for the federal level ones (though states do have constitutions which are supposed to be only second to the U.S. Constitution, they are more easily amended and designed outright to be more malleable in terms of what a state rep is supposed to do for the electorate).

We have gotten far away from holding representatives to the objective, high moral and ethical standards of not only personal behavior but political behavior. Instead we focus on how much tax money is sent back to us in the way of unconstitutional (and therefore nugatory) laws instead of actually fixing the problems government has. What about societal problems? Not the realm of government, for the most part. I am against allowing men in women’s bathrooms, and vice versa, I am against same-sex marriage (but find myself against government involvement in any marriage though that has its pitfalls as well), but I am more against government legislating these behaviors. G-d Almighty has spoken on the issue or marriage and His creation. He has set down his moral codes for us to follow. He has also given us a free-will choice in the whole matter. He has laid down his expectations from us on things ranging from judgment, charity, and faithfulness. He has given us guidance on truth, fiction, reality, sin, and holiness. We have been taught right-from-wrong, and indeed in His word it is shown we know it from the get go. And He also taught on government. From the time Israel demanded a king and G-d – in his infinite mercy, grace, and wisdom – after having tried to dissuade them on the issue relented (against His perfect judgment) and anointed Saul. Sure He wasn’t the first king, but the problems with government back then are the same now (corruption, cronyism, etc.). No, there is indeed nothing new under the sun.

What problems we have in the U.S. – getting back to the topic at hand – stem from both a lack of true accountability and from the whole “I need to make sure I get my piece of the pie, too” mentality that ignores – seemingly willfully – that if our piece of the pie hadn’t been taken in the first place we wouldn’t need it back. This country would be a lot better off if we had the political ethics of our Founding Fathers and a more godly morality.

The government that governs best is that which governs least.

We are so far from that mentality that it will be extremely painful to return there, yet return there we must. Societal ills cannot be legislated away. Prostitution is often touted as the world’s oldest profession, but I daresay being a politician is even older. After all, laws against prostitution (outside of the Biblical prohibitions) probably hit the books long before it was actually an issue. After all, the only thing government is really good at is fixing problems that don’t exist.

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Chronic Pain, Charcot Joints, and Me

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New Ailments, Old Problems

It seems none of us can get away from deteriorating health. Once you have a major illness, I’m convinced you don’t ever actually get back to 100%. I just returned from a follow-up with my surgeon, Dr. Herbert Schwartz out of Vanderbilt’s Orthopedic Oncology clinic (Medical Center East, 4th floor). No matter how much I may complain, never let it be said that I’m ungrateful for all that has been done for me. G-d is good and He has a plan, even if I cannot see even the most immediate parts of it, or understand any of it, at this time.

Chronic Pain

Ever since my surgery, I have been dealing with chronic pain issues. Whether from swelling or as a direct result of the surgery itself. I’ve been dealing with pain through medication or just not using my arm. It’s not been going very well. I’m on several prescription painkillers (Ibuprofen, hydrocodone, gabapentin, etc.). This is not an ideal situation for me. I don’t like taking pills but I don’t think there is anything available homeopathically that would be of any help, not for the level of pain I am in during or after a hard day’s work. I can only imagine what it is like for those who have pain from unseen causes (fibromyalgia, MS, etc.). For those of you with whom I may have been not totally believing or sympathetic to what you are going through: I am truly sorry.

Charcot Joint

Charcot joint is an issue usually described in diabetics, and is usually a problem that seems to resolve itself – to a degree – if properly treated. My issue is similar to charcot joint, but isn’t exactly the same. Neuropathic arthropathy is definitely an accurate description of what is happening to my elbow, but diabetes isn’t the cause (as I am not diabetic, der). I have arthritis in my left elbow, and the pain I have in it will only worsen with time. Today I was fitted with a brace to help limit the movement of my elbow in an attempt to control pain in it, but it’s really a poor bandaid for the issue. It is also only one of three options. An artificial elbow joint was one of the other options, one which I immediately dismissed, even before he said that the usually do not last very long. The third one was left unspoken, though I had an idea about what he was thinking by the pained look on his face.

Today did have a silver lining, though. The cancer has not returned and my wife and I had a very late lunch at the Mt. Juliet, TN Olive Garden. The former is always a blessing to find out, and the latter has always been a good experience for us no matter which Olive Garden we dine at. Fabulous service, great food, awesome prices. We will definitely be returning in the future.

Civil Disobedience and the Word of God

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There are people who, for whatever reason, like to try and put the screws to the followers of Christ. “Judge not!“, or, more recently, “Mind your own business!” and then they proceed to make it our business and then get mad when we decide following our faith is more important then condoning their sin.

Many, many laws have been passed recently. Most of them probably wouldn’t pass Constitutional muster – aside from the very liberal (and wrong) rulings SCOTUS has put out recently on the issue – if people actually understood what our Founding Fathers actually attempted to do (and they could if they’d intelligently read the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers). Unfortunately, like in ancient Rome, such attention to detail is inconvenient when you are trying to pave the way for unbridled hedonism. When your goal is to clear a path for unbridled amounts of self- and instant-gratification regardless of the consequences, such details and truths are highly and excessively inconvenient. Older, more conservative thinking is labeled as out-dated, and when that doesn’t work, it becomes labeled as hate.

Except, of course, when it comes to trying to put the screws to Christians. Of course non-believers will never understand, not fully. They have not an understanding of the book they try to throw back in our face, and unfortunately not many Christians have enough knowledge, wisdom, or love to be able to correct those who try to use our own faith to control us in such deceptive manners. Unfortunately, I’ve had my own issues, not from unbelievers but from a Brother, no less, dealing with issues of obeying the government and how exactly that applies to us. Unfortunately I didn’t handle the situation very well. I pray, though, that this little devotional, shared by a Sister I know on Facebook.

It is, however, a bit lacking. Not in understanding of the issue, the author is obviously a mature individual and has studied this out quite a bit, but because I feel he leaves out some critical pieces of Scripture from his teaching. Following in the blockquote is the devotional intact, without commentary from myself, followed by my own addition to it. My prayer is for my fellow Brothers and Sisters to come to a deeper understanding of this issue. You cannot help but grow from truth, and this is nothing but the truth.

Civil Disobedience

Acts 4:1–22 “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (vv. 19–20).

Christian ethicists have long debated whether or not it is ever legitimate for believers to defy the state. This is understandable since there are many passages, such as Romans 13:1–7, that seem to encourage submission to the ruling authorities no matter what. Paul, however, was not reflecting any sort of naiveté when he instructed us to submit to the earthly authorities. After all, as one who was often imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, he well knew that the state could very easily become an instrument of evil. His commands to obey the state, as with all of the biblical injunctions to submit to the government, carry with them the assumption that our rulers are, broadly speaking, fulfilling the task that God has given them to preserve life and protect the right to private property.

Yet when the state forbids us to do something the Lord commands or commands us to do something He forbids, believers must not submit to the decrees of the authorities. Christians are never given the license to sin, nor are they permitted to abandon the dictates of God in order to obey the orders of other human beings. Christ alone has ultimate authority, as the apostles demonstrate in today’s passage. Given the chance to preserve their freedom and safety at the cost of preaching Jesus to sinners, Peter and John choose to obey the Great Commission (Acts 4:19–20; see Matt. 28:18–20). Make no mistake, they are engaging in an act of civil disobedience, but they are doing so in order to be faithful to the Lord. Such circumstances alone can justify such actions.

The principle that we may disobey the state if it forbids what God commands or commands what He forbids is easy to learn, but difficult to apply. The state will sometimes engage in unfair practices that we must follow because we cannot make the case that such practices violate Scripture. For example, the so-called “progressive” taxation that exists presently in the United States may be unjust, but we have no right to refuse to pay taxes (Rom. 13:7).

Our default position as Christians is to bend over backward to be model citizens. But when the demands of God’s kingdom directly contradict the demands of the kingdom of men, the mandates of our heavenly citizenship must win.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Because of our fallen nature, it would be easy to twist the principle for Christian civil disobedience enumerated in today’s study into an excuse to avoid the Bible’s call that we submit to the government. Indeed, our fallen nature makes us prone to find any loophole we can in God’s law in order to render something less than true obedience. Beware of this tendency in your heart, but also remember that your allegiance belongs ultimately to Christ, not to the state.

For further study:
Exodus 1:8–22

The Bible in a year:
Ecclesiastes 10–12

For the weekend:
Song 1–6

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

I think for further study one need look no further then Daniel chapters 1 through 7. It is a classic case study in defying the authority of men in order to be in submission to the Lord. In Daniel, three clear cases are presented.

Three Case Studies for Believers to Disobey Government

  1. With the introduction of Daniel we see the very first act of civil disobedience: Daniel and the three Hebrew children purpose within their hearts not to defile themselves by eating food offered to idols (Daniel 1:8). Because of this, and because of their faithfulness in the Lord, an alternative is provided (eating nothing but vegetables) for the entire period of their training at the king’s court. They even propose a test run in which they agree to eat the idol-offered food if they suffer in health or looks because of their choice. Because we can read ahead, we know the outcome is assured and those 4 become the king’s top students and the best looking of the men selected. (vv. 15-21)
  2. Later on, in Daniel 3, the king creates an image of gold and Daniel and his friends are put into an awkward position, again (4-12):

    Submit to the king of Babylon or submit to the Lord. This time it is an act of worship whenever music sounds. The jealous court officers want to get Daniel’s buddies to dance/worship to a golden idol (not sure where Daniel is during this, but one would assume he didn’t obey, either). Once again they disobey, and the king calls them on it (vv 13-15). Now, they are facing what some may see as a lose-lose situation: Worship the golden idol and sin, or don’t sin and be thrown into a furnace of fire. They tactfully tell the king that they cannot and will not sin against the Lord, whether or not He keeps them safe from repercussions (vv 16-18). Into the furnace they go, only to dance with the pre-incarnate Christ in full view of all present. Not only did they not receive any harm from the immense fire (one so hot several of the king’s loyal men died in the process of putting the three Hebrew children in the furnace) they also did not smell like smoke or have a single hair singed (vv 19-27).

  3. One final time, this time in chapter 6, Daniel’s counterparts were out to get him. They saw how blessed he was, and they attributed it rightly to his obedience to the Lord. They also saw the favor he curried with the king and it must of stuck in their craw something awful (vv 1-5). This time they had what they thought was an iron-clad, fool-proof way to get rid of Daniel and once and for all get the recognition they thought they should have.

    They got the king to declare a law, according to the custom of the Mede’s and the Persians, with no loopholes. The law was an onerous one, too (vv 6-9):

    For 30 days one could only worship the king, if they worshiped or petitioned anyone – or any God – else than Darius (king of the Chaldeans at the time), they were to be put to death by being throwin into the lion’s den, no loopholes. They knew Daniel would violate the law,they just had to catch him. Since Daniel made no effort to conceal himself or his worship of the Lord, this was fairly easy. Daniel, of course, offered no resistance. He knew he had broken the law but he also knew not doing so would have brought him into sin and soiled his relationship with the Lord. He was willing to die for his faith (v 10).

    Once again, the Lord protected him and this time the king – who had enough of the other’s scheming, had them thrown to the lions (whom, according to scripture, ate very well that day). There is no doubt in my mind – according to the account of Daniel – that the king became a believer that day (a tertiary thing in this discussion, but worth mentioning) (vv. 11-28).

Disobedience to those in authority over us comes in a very, very narrow line. As the devotional mentions above, do not twist Scripture and the laws of man to find reasons not to obey the laws of man. Government and those in authority over us are there as the Lord’s ministers for justice. Do good – as Daniel and his three Hebrew friends did – and you have nothing to worry about. Remember, though, when man’s laws try to get you to sin against the Lord, your allegiance should be to Him.

Christ Died for ISIS, Too

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John 3:16 King James Version (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Let’s start off with a familiar quote from Scripture. YHWH doesn’t want anyone to perish without knowing Him. No one, even the repugnant members of Isis, or Hamas, or Hezbollah, or Westboro Baptist Church members. As repugnant as they are today, they are His creation whom He wants to have a relationship with. He wants all of His favorite children (that is, all of humanity) to return to Him in willing obedience. It is a choice we all have to make, and no one can make it for us.

Christ Himself put it better than I ever could:

Mark 2:16-17 King James Version (KJV)
16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

It was for those people who need Him the most, who are so mired in their sin they do not have the strength to climb out of the well of their own sin. None of us have that strength, no matter how much we think we might.

While I abhor Isis, Hezbollah, and Hamas and would more than love – in my flesh – to see them blown off the map, let us remember it’s for people like these – people just like what we used to be – that He died. Not just the yuppie in their subdivisions, or the slick CEO in his ivory tower, or the redneck in the woods. He died for everyone’s sins, past, present, and future from the time He was crucified. He died to make a way for members of Isis, Westboro, Hamas, Hezbollah, you, myself, everyone. There is no one’s sins He didn’t take upon Himself when the full wrath of YHWH was poured out upon Him during the 3 days He spent in Hell. In 3 of our days, He took on the just, rightful punishment of you and I and everyone. He did so out of love. A love we do not deserve because like those four groups I keep mentioning, we spit in His eye and say, “No. I will do things my way, in my own strength, regardless of the consequences.” And so we wind up instead reaping the wages of sin instead of enjoying eternity with our Father.

Remember this next time you’re in church and you are praising YHWH for your salvation. Yes, Him saving us is praiseworthy and should be celebrated, but don’t forget, He came for all of humanities sins. Not just Anglo-Saxons, Europeans, Asians, Africans, or any one group of people. He died for ALL of the WORLD’s sins. Salvation is available to all, not just a select few.

Test and Examine

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As an electrician, I find that to know what is wrong, I need to test various parts of the electrical system. Even then the problem isn’t always obvious. You have to test and examine, test and examine. Of course none of that testing and examination is worth any while if there wasn’t any standard to test and examine against. As an electrician I have the National Electrical Code to use as my standard, along with Underwriters Laboratories listings for whatever item I am looking at.

Such testing and examination isn’t limited to electrical work. It happens in all sorts of professions. Vehicle repair, home repair, even clerking at a store. We do it all the time. When we see a problem, we test and examine against whatever standard is used for the problem at hand. Yet how many Christians really, honestly, test and examine not only their own lives against Scripture – our standard for righteousness in the eyes of God – but the words of others who claim to be prophets, apostles, teachers, pastors, elders, or what have you? How many people just take at face value whatever the most popular among us claims is truth, with no regard for whether or not it holds up against Scripture.

Why would we test and examine the physical, temporary things around us yet never once question teachings that could send you to hell? Is the eternal disposition of your soul not more important then what’s wrong with your vehicle or some missing money? We are commanded to study to show ourselves ‘approved unto God’, yet how many of us don’t take the time to study and rely on the ‘profane and vain babblings’ of others (regardless of the reason)?

2 Timothy 2:15-16 (KJV)
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness

I’ll be honest, I’m as guilty as the next person. I have not been studying like I should be, and it is to my own shame, and the only one who can change that is me, just as you’re the only person who can study Scripture and open yourself to the groaning of the Spirit of God.

John 14:26 (KJV)
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26-27 (KJV)
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

God is the only reliable being to whom we can go to for truth, especially spiritual revelation on the meaning of Scripture. Without that revelation, it is all foolishness. Test and examine, study, and God will reveal. There can be no understanding otherwise.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (KJV)
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

I Am Exhausted

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alex-nagy-haircut

Alex Nagy, 16 January 2014

I imagine there comes a point in all of our lives, especially when you are walking with the LORD, that we reach a point of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. It’s a point I never thought I’d reach, honestly. I never thought I’d be at a point where I felt as if God wasn’t there for me. Wasn’t leading me. Wasn’t guiding me. Wasn’t talking to me. Yet we are told it is in those times He’s the closest to us, not just leading us, not just guiding us, but actually carrying us through these valleys. These times of trial and tribulation. What are we to do then? It definitely reminds me that it’s not I who is supposed to be doing anything aside from being obedient.

Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

What is there left, then?

James 1:2-6 (KJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

This is part of God’s plan, I’m sure, to finish the work in me which was begun. He will complete it.

Romans 9:28 (KJV)
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

My only task in this is to be patient, which is not something I’m good at. I’m horrible at sitting around. I want to do something. I want to serve. I want to proclaim the gospel. It seems though, that right now, that’s not what He has in mind. I ask for your prayers, brothers and sisters. I need His guidance, His direction, His provision. I feel lost and alone, and my wife is in this with me. She’s in the same place I am. We are both struggling and need the reality of His presence in our lives.

The Worship Kenbook by Gangai Victor

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Let me start off by mentioning, as per FTC guidelines, I have received a copy of the e-book for my honest review, no other compensation has been offered or asked for in return for my honest review.

The Worship Kenbook

The Worship Kenbook is something outside my usual review material. I generally prefer something along the lines of The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom or Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill. A book about worship is not something you’d likely find on my dead-tree bookshelf or even in my digital book library. It’s not that I’m not interested in worship, it is that I am wary of books that claim to have a way to ‘turn on’ the Holy Spirit, and as many practicing Christians should know, God expects us to ‘worship in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23-24 (KJV) 23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.) Seeing as how the author first contacted me on Twitter and I don’t know anything about him, and because this book is outside what I normally read, I didn’t know what to expect.

I was truly ecstatic as I moved past the table of contents and read the introduction and first several chapters. Here is what seems to be a true transformation through revelation of this man, a worship leader at his church, about the nature of true worship and what it truly means to God. I fully expected the remaining chapters to be more about his experience and how it has changed not only his ministry but everyone involved. Instead, with the occasional reference back to his initial revelation and the realization of what true worship is, we have a set of what the author has termed ‘general guidelines’. Call it what you will, but what we have here is a testimony that has been ‘lost in translation’ and instead of a great book on worshipping in spirit, what we actually have is “Yet Another Book of Formulas”™ from about the third or fourth chapter on out.

If you skim past the first few chapters and scan through the rest of the book, it’s studded with tons of bullets, tables, and technical how-to’s on making the musical experience as emotionally pleasing as possible, which is okay if you’re just providing entertainment. If you’re a worship (or even secular) band leader looking to improve your technical execution then this is possibly the book for you. However, as someone who loves to read about people’s personal testimonies, and sermons disguised as books, you’ll probably be very, very disappointed. You see, there is no magic formula – as much as Western (and especially American) Christianity wants to sell you on the latest formulas, guidelines, and principles – for getting the Holy Spirit to move. I can’t describe to you exactly what a move of the Holy Spirit is, but I can tell you I’ve never had one at a concert. Truthful, spiritual worship doesn’t come from external stimulus. It comes from inside. It is an undeniable and unshakable desire to show God your gratitude, your love for Him, and your obedience to His will. While using the right tempos, keys, and beats might be able to stir up an emotional response, we need to beware of emotions. They are deceiving masking as the real thing even when the real thing never really happened.

A lot of the tips – especially those geared toward musicians – are true of any profession, practice does make perfect – if you have any skill to begin with. While we are to hone the skills God has given us, we should not be deceived that just because we played an instrument well God was worshiped ‘in spirit and truth’ and that is the only way to worship Him. I – as an electrician and handyman – preform acts of worship all the time when I leave a job completed, done to the best of my ability. Torquing down screws, wiring up devices correctly, and putting up banisters at the correct height and angle is as much worship – when done for God’s glory alone – as is blowing a horn or strumming a harp in a manner that produces notes that come together to produce music.

I was so inspired upon reading of Gangai’s revelation from God on worship, impressed with his time being shut away with God to discover how important true worship of Him is, yet I left the book feeling disappointed. As if some piece of the puzzle has been left out or some stone left unturned and instead of waiting to put all those pieces together properly, the space remaining was filled with worldly how-to’s, guidelines, and bulleted lists on how to make worship an emotional experience. Somehow the author has lost in translation his revelation of true worship as a spiritual experience and has equated it with an emotional one.

My Rating

2 1/2 stars

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