Saturday, October 17, 2020

Things That Go Bump In the Night

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ


Witches, demons, fortune tellers, skeletons, ghosts, monsters and the like are common themes in October!

halloween no funSamhain was celebrated on the night of October 31 when the Druids believed the boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living was blurred and demons would visit. These spirits played tricks and caused havoc, so the Druids would offer sacrifices to appease these spirits, hence the modern holiday question: “trick or treat?”

The Druids dressed in costumes to look like demons in attempt to befriend them and celebrated the holiday with drunkenness, psychoactive plants and debauchery. They believed that by communing with the nether world, they could tell fortunes, cast spells and speak with the dead.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Pope Boniface IV created All Saints day, celebrated November 1st, around AD 600. This holiday was called “All-hallows” and the night before it, “Samhain”. Later, it became known as “All-Hallows Eve” and eventually, “Halloween”.

Most people today believe such celebrations are just good, clean fun. Kids get to dress up and get candy while going house to house giving each one a choice, “trick or treat?” I mean after all, demons, witches, ghosts and goblins aren't real, are they?

If demons, astrology, divination, necromancy, sorcery and idols don't exist, why did God forbid these practices in the Law of Moses and again through Paul in 1st Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5, among other places in the bible?

There are at least a dozen Hebrew names for demons in the Old Testament and demons are mentioned by every writer in the New Testament, with exception of the unknown author of Hebrews; but he did mention their ruler, Satan. Jesus taught in many passages that demons do exist, and many instances are recorded of Jesus and his Apostles casting them out of people that had been possessed. Demons are the fallen angels and can take on various physical forms.

People of many faiths celebrate Halloween and the bible does say, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

However, our bible also clearly says in 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.”

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but rather than putting on a ghost, devil, witch or monster costume, why not put on "the whole armor of God; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, as shoes put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace; the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”? (Ephesians 6:13-20)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Seek the Welfare of the City

This is a follow up post to yesterday’s article Are All Politics Local, in which we examined the Power of the Majority Party in the US Congress and noted several characteristics of Worldly and Godly Leaders.

Today, I’d like to discuss the application of Jeremiah 29 for the modern day Christian. In particular, we’ll address how God’s command in verse 7 for his people to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile” should apply to true believers in our earthly countries.

As our regular readers know, we must first look at what the verse meant to the original audience before we can begin applying it to ourselves. As I’ve said many times (I’m certainly not the first to say this), the three top rules for interpreting scripture are “Context, Context, and Context”. We know from verses 1-3 that the majority of the chapter contains a letter that the Prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the Jewish exiles that had been taken into exile to Babylon. So, looking at the immediate context, the letter begins:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jer 29:4-7)
At first glance, Jeremiah appears to be telling the people that their main objective is to become good citizens of Babylon. But looking at the entire chapter, along with the prevailing themes of the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, we find the narrative to be a bit more complicated.

Let’s begin with the bigger picture. The primary themes of the book are that a Holy God must punish His people for their constant disobedience to His covenant, but the Prophet also speaks of hope for the future. Thus, even though the people are currently in exile as punishment, they will later be restored to their homeland. In addition, there is also a running battle between Jeremiah the true prophet, and various false prophets who are constantly attempting to damage Jeremiah’s credibility among the people.

Continuing in verse 8, we read:

For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

(Jer 29:8-14)
The false prophets were telling the people to resist rather than to serve the King of Babylon; that they would only be there for a short time. Jeremiah however, accurately informed the people that their captivity would last seventy years. Furthermore, this was God’s righteous judgment so any rebellion would also be against God.

So Jeremiah was basically telling the people to be good citizens in their temporary home for seventy years, but cautioning them not to get so comfortable that they would refuse to return to their homeland when it was time to leave. In addition, the command to multiply also looked forward to the end of captivity since it would primarily be the sons and daughters whose families would return.

Thus, the parallel we can draw for Christians in our modern day is that, while we’re here on this earth, we should likewise be good citizens, but we should not get so comfortable as to want to stay here forever. The Psalmist writes, The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away (Ps 90:10).

As the old saying goes, “We should be in the world, but not of the world” as we look forwward to our permanent home in Heaven.

Prologue

Since this article is a follow-up to yesterday’s political post, I thought I’d address the meaning of the word “welfare” in our main verse. “Seek the welfare of the city” does not mean that we should vote for Socialist Democrats just because they’re attempting to turn the country into a welfare state (at least until they run out of everyone else’s money).

The word for welfare is translated “peace and prosperity”, “well-being”, or “the good” in various other Bible translations. It is the Hebrew word shalom that is most often translated “peace”, but also “welfare”, “safety” etc. Think of it as seeking the common good.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Are all Politics Local?

The saying “All politics are local” is typically attributed to Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives in the 1970s and 1980s. This saying is still partially true, even with the vast amount of donations that pour in nationally for some state races, but the locals still do the voting (if you don’t count those who are bused in from out of state to vote multiple times). The out-of-state funding of local candidates has become the norm over the past few decades, but this strategy is now being extended to many local races

In the last few years, we’ve even seen George Soros backed funds buy many prosecutor races in targeted cities and counties. In just one example, a liberal prosecutor in North Carolina running on the platform of abolishing bail and refusing to prosecute most crimes received about $1.5 million dollars. In previous years by comparison, each candidate typically received only about $15 thousand. This strategy has led to an epidemic of increased crime and unrest across the country due to the Soros-backed prosecuters refusing to prosecute even serious crimes.

Power of the Majority Party

With the upcoming 2020 elections just around the bend and many voters have already begun to cast their ballots, we like to offer some brief thoughts about the importance of your vote, because you are voting for more than just a candidate. One of the single most misunderstood facts about voting is that when a person casts his or her vote, it is not just for a candidate, but for an entire party, and in the bigger picture, for an entire worldview.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain is to look at the 2108 mid-term elections. Prior to the election, the Republicans held a majority in the House and Senate. We should note that this fact doesn’t necessarily mean the Republicans had a solid majority, since as most people know, all Democrats are solid Democrats, but many Republicans are Republicans in Name Only (RINOs). A prime example was during the Republican’s attempt to repeal the expensive, one-size-fits-all Obamacare disaster and replace it with an individualized, more economical plan, RINO John McCain single-handly dealt one final blow to conservatism with his last vote in the Senate.

Be that as it may, the Democrats won the majority by running candidates proclaiming themselves to be “moderates” in over 30 precincts that had been carried by President Trump in 2016. Videos surfaced of aides to some of these candidates telling prospective voters that, “Our candidate is very liberal, but has to pretend otherwise due to the number of moderate voters in the district”. The “mainstream” media spiked the stories, and the candidates won by promising not to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, and to be an independent voice for their constituents.

Regarding the first of these promises, Ms Pelosi was able to win over enough of these new members by cutting individual special deals to be re-elected as Speaker of the House, and place herself third in line for the Presidency. Regarding the new candidate’s promise of being an independent voice, all but one voted the impeach the President over non-criminal, policy disagreements between Trump and the unelected deep-state bureaucrats.

We’ll come back to these “moderates”, but we first must understand the power of the majority party, or more accurately, the power of their leader(s). The leader of the majority party has enormous power, even if that party has only a one-member majority. First, he or she appoints the chairman for each committee and sub-committees. The majority party also holds a majority of members on each committee. Since any legislation must pass several procedural obstacles in the committees to even get to the legislative body, these committee heads also have tremendous authority. The minority party can’t even bring a bill to the floor without getting an agreement with a sufficient number of members from the other party. It’s not surprising that most legislation never makes it to the body for a vote.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that many of the new “moderates” were sincere in their promises to vote independently, they would still have no control over which legislation the committees and Speaker will bring to a vote. Even if a bill makes it out of committee and they decide to break with the leaders on a vote, they will typically be threatened to either vote the party line, or have the party back an opponent against them in the next primary election. Thus, once they compromised on their “No to Pelosi” pledge, they were basically powerless to keep their promise to their local voters, even if that had been their intention.

So, before you cast a ballot, please consider the entire ramification of your vote. We mentioned that when we cast our ballot, we’re also electing a worldview. Although specifics can vary somewhat by candidates, one party generally believes in natural law (from God), freedom of religion, state and local rights, free-market economics, the right to life, security, free speech and other liberties guaranteed by the constitution; while the other typically believes in federal government autonomous control (socially, economically and otherwise), judicial activism, the right to kill babies, and globalism.

Worldly and Godly Leaders

In 1998, pastor and teacher John MacArthur preached a sermon entitled Characteristics of an Effective Leader in which he painted a picture of an effective leader according to the two prevailing worldviews. The secular world typically prefers a leader with the following qualities. “Visionary – that is looking to the future and, in some degree or another, being able to forecast the future and plan ahead for the future. Action oriented – that is more than just someone who muses about things, more than someone who comes up with ideas and schemes, somebody who can make things happen… So, you have this typical picture of a leader: visionary, action oriented, courageous, energetic, objective oriented, paternalistic, egocentric, intolerant of incompetence in others, and indispensible.” Meanwhile, from a Christian worldview, he states, “What makes an effective leader? He’s respected/trusted, takes initiative, uses good judgment, speaks with authority, strengthens others, is enthusiastic and optimistic about triumph, never compromises absolutes, focuses on objectives not obstacles, and leads by example.” We need more candidates fitting Pastor MacArthur’s description of a leader in all levels of government today.

If I could add a personal observance, worldly leaders tend to be life-long politicians, while Godly leaders often serve for a few years, then return to the private sector. There are many exceptions of course, but as a rule, I believe this is often because worldly leaders often attempt to raise government to the level of diety. Witness Barack Obama’s infamous “You didn’t build that” statement implying that private citizens or corporations are basically powerless without government. One other example is the recent mandates closing houses of worship, mostly in the blue states. While liquor stores and marijuana selers are considered “essential” businesses, churches are considered as “non-essential”. In Pastor MacArthur’s state of California, churches are facing tens of thousands dollars in fines hold holding services.

Loud Dogma

This coming Monday, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to begin confirmation hearings. In her previous hearing, in which she was confirmed to the US Seventh Court of Appeals, Diane Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, attached her for her faith with the now infamous statement, “The dogma lives loudly within you”. Of course, what went, and continues to go unsaid, is that the dogma also lives loudly within Sen Feinstein, albeit a completely different dogma. Still, a secular faith is just as much a dogma as is a religious one, even though it is not recognized as such by most people. Article VI, Section 2 of the US Constitution states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States”. The Constitution, as Obama once noted, can be a real inconvenience.

Finally, as the percentage of authentic Christians continues to drop in our country, we encourage all remaining believers to exercise their right and privilege to vote.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Thy Kingdom Come

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ

Webmaster Note: Jim received some pushback from others on this article because it was incorrectly perceived that he was writing against all public corporate prayer. Public prayer was common and essential among the Apostles and disciples in the NT church (Acts 1:12-14). Jim believes that corporate prayer is important in the Church and while that involves someone praying publicly, that's not what Jesus was addressing in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was addressing the boisterous prayers some were making in the public squares only to draw attention to themselves. “Look how righteous I am by praying so loudly for everyone to hear!” Reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 through 7 should help the reader understand the intended context of this article.


This might be a good time to review what Jesus taught us when he gave his model prayer at the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus begins by warning us against praying to bring attention to ourselves. He says the hypocrites do that. We’re to pray privately where only God will hear our prayer. Worldly people repeat a lot of vain babbling, but we shouldn’t pray like that. God already knows our needs and those repeated ritual phrases are useless (Matthew 6:5-7).

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

Praying for His Kingdom’s return truly is praying for all the world’s issues to be corrected. All will be made right in that day and his will be done (Revelation 22). We ask for our own forgiveness in the same way we forgive others. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

Ask him to lead us away from temptation. A picture of this can be seen in the 23rd Psalm, comparing the Lord as a shepherd leading us to the green grass and along the still waters, the guidance of his rod and staff comforting us, not threatening.

And deliver us from evil. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread after 40 days of fasting. Jesus quoted scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Satan challenged him to test God, but Jesus again quoted scripture, “...thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Satan said he would give Jesus “...all the kingdoms of the world; and the glory of them” if Jesus would just worship him. Jesus once again quoted scripture, “...thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Deuteronomy 6:13, 10:20). Although Satan promised him “all the KINGDOMS and their GLORY”, Jesus closes his prayer by affirming that those aren’t the kingdoms we want anyhow! “For THINE is the KINGDOM and the POWER and the GLORY forever”. It’s God’s kingdom that we want!

Jesus told us to pray “in this manner”, not necessarily these exact words. There are no magic words. I think he meant to pray from the heart, briefly and asking for things that are of God’s will rather than our own will. We’re to ask with faith and confidence (Matthew 7:11). If we pray for the things that are of God’s will, he’ll take care of our needs as well!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Day of the Christian Martyr 2020

Tomorrow marks the annual Day of the Christian Martyr, and many Christians are paying special respect and honor this weekend to the legacy of those who have sacrificed their very lives for the advancement of the gospel. This day is chosen based on early church tradition that the Apostle Paul was martyred on June 29 in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero in the mid-to-late sixties of the first century AD.

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an interdenominational Christian missions organization that has been serving our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide for over fifty years, maintains a memorial to Christian martyrs at its Oklahoma headquarters. This year's special inductee is Central African Pastor Jean-Paul Sankagui (Graphic courtesy of VOM).

Pastor Sankagui’s inspiring story is courtesy of the Voice of the Martyrs:

Pastor Jean-Paul Sankagui planted a church in a Muslim neighborhood outside Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, in 1993. He maintained good relations with the community for years.

But civil war between Seleka rebels, government forces and anti-balaka militias changed everything.

Most of the pastor’s church members fled the area as hostility increased toward Christians. And even the pastor’s wife, Mary, urged him to leave the area and work someplace safer. But Pastor Jean-Paul stayed in obedience to what he believed God had called him to do.

On Feb. 7, 2017, Islamists shot Pastor Jean-Paul to death outside his church in Ramandji before looting and burning his house and church. Mary said they killed her husband because the community no longer wanted Christians in the area. She and Pastor Sankagui had been married 48 years and had 11 children and 17 grandchildren. After losing not only her husband but also her home and all her possessions, Mary had no choice but to leave the area.

Five other evangelical pastors in the region also were killed in the first five weeks of 2017. Pastor Jean-Paul knew the risks, counted the cost and willingly stayed to shepherd his small congregation and serve as a witness for Christ in the neighborhood.

For those who would like additional information and resources about Pastor Sankagui and/or the Day of the Christian Martyr, we encourage you to visit the VOM website for the Day of the Christian Martyr 2020 podcast, and a prayer guide for the Central African Republic. There are also additional resources for your church or small group.

We have supported our friends at VOM for years and believe them to be one of the most vital ministries for our modern turbulent times. In particular, we'd like to alert our readers to a particularly urgent need of our sisters and brothers, not only in the Central African Republic, but also in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Laos and several other African, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern nations. The number of Christian families forced out of their homes and villages in recent years has increased dramatically. Most are forced to flee with no food or provisions, only the clothes on their backs. They survive by sleeping on the ground and eating whatever edible plants they can find in the forests.

This is due not only to Islamic, Hindu and other militarists, but to superstition as well. The vast majority of many villagers worship the “gods” or “spirits” of nature (the river, forest, livestock, household idols etc). Many Christians are banished from their villages by their superstitious neighbors to avoid angering or offending these false gods or spirits. For those who would like to aid these displaced Christian families, VOM has set up a Help Christians Driven from their Homes campaign that delivers items for their basic needs. Thank you and God bless.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes

Although we should remember our fallen heroes each day of the year, Memorial Day is set aside as a special day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy daily. As a very small token of gratitude, we've created our latest annual tribute page at 2020 Memorial Day Tribute.

As I was making this year’s selections of pics, memes etc, I noticed several that urged everyone to have a “Happy Memorial Day”. While these were like done with the best of intentions, and I’ve probably used this phrase several times without thinking in the past, I always pass these over in preference to other phrases. Although Memorial Day is partly a celebration of the good times we’ve had with our military families and friends, it is primarily a day of somber remembrance of those who gave their lives for us. Thus, we must be grateful for the sacrifices made by the families of these heroes, who let them go off in service to our country so that our families can live in safety.

We must also remember the fellow soldiers who were able to return home, many with physical and psychological handicaps that will last the remainder of their lives. One might wonder how a soldier can charge into a deadly situation that would paralyze a non-soldier. We can call it love for country and families back home, and that's certainly part of the answer. But I'm told time after time in conversations that, a primary concern during these moments is their fellow soldiers, their “brothers in arms”. However many years may pass, a soldier never forgets each of his fallen comrades, and Memorial Day is particularly difficult.

Memorial Day is made even more difficult for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In my opinion, PTSD is a falsely named term for their condition. It should instead be called simply PTS, or Post Traumatic Stress. After surviving under the extreme conditions that a soldier faces constantly during wartime, the disorder (or abnormal condition) would be to not have PTS. PTS should be considered completely normal under these conditions. Yet, despite knowing this going in, and the fact that a major political party, with all their leftist activist judges, are continually working to undue the freedoms that our brave men and women are fighting for, the soldier continues in his or her duty to family, friends and country.

One final thought for this day, Christians also remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus Christ for us. Just as many a brave soldier laid down his life for our physical, civil, and political liberties, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life for our spiritual freedom so that believers are co-heirs with Him to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Below is a tribute made of the 3/7 battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Several years later, my son did two tours of duty with the Third Battalion - Seventh Marines in Afghanistan. We were very fortunate that he came back safely, but he lost several of his friends. Please continue to pray for, and express our sincere gratitude to the members and families of our brave military.

Operation Iraqi Freedom 3-7 Marines

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Ministry Update and Shout-outs for Leap Day 2020

Here are a few random items to close out February for this leap year.

Updates you may have missed:

We’ve finished and uploaded our Introductions to the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, and the book of Galatians is in progress. When we first started this section, my original goal was to complete all the Bible’s books and sections by the end of 2012. Obviously, we’re not going to make that overly ambitious goal, but we’re now over halfway there and hope to pick up the pace. This is still one of our top priorities and we’ve expanded each article to include not only general information, key verses, authors, timelines, themes and purposes, but also brief surveys, historical backgrounds, theology, and interpretation hints and challenges. These articles have also resulted in many spin-off writings.

We’ve-formatted our Bible Reading Plans section for easier navigation and clarity for those who’d like to start a new plan this year. Our Bible reading plans are setup so that anyone can start and end anytime, not just at the start of a new year.

We also added SSL encryption to our main website and our Real Issues Blog for additional reader security by encrypting all data passing back and forth between our server and the browsers of our readers.

Personally, I’ve finally been able to cut back my hours on my regular job to free up more time for research, writing, and additional website updates. For the handful of readers that may be interested, I recently posted a A Personal Mini-History regarding my work over the past ten years or so.

A Couple of Shout-outs:

The first one is about 18 months overdue. In 2018, I received a very cordial email from Evan Plant, director of Mainsail Ministries. Evan has also been serving as a question responder for over ten year at Got Questions Ministries, one of the top Christain sites on the web. He notified us that he had used one our articles on the intermarriage of Ruth and Boaz as a resource for the question Should Ruth's being a Moabite have excluded David from being king?

We were very excited to hear this, and after exchanging a few emails, I also learned that Evan and I had similar technical backgrounds before he retired to concentrate full-time on his ministries. Hopefully, I'll be following him along a similar path soon. Thanks again Evan for using our article in your work. I highly recommend that our readers visit the Mainsail website for additional fine articles.

The second shout-out goes to Emerson de Oliveira of Logos Apologética Cristã (Christian Apologetics Logos). Emerson translated and published our article Benefits and Blessings of Studying Theology at Os benefícios de estudar teologia. This was also done in 2018 but I only stumbled onto it recently by accident.

I’ve always wanted to get some of our articles transferred into other languages but haven’t had the knowledge or the resources. I’ve issued engineering documents in Spanish and German in the past, but only did the technical terms myself. I always had to get help in creating sentences with proper grammar. Thanks so much Emerson for translating our article. We highly recommend Emerson’s site to our Spanish speaking readers.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Born this Way?

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ

Webmaster Note: Jim wrote this excellent article after the Lady Gaga song and album came out, but his writing had been previously rejected by others as being “too controversial” and/or anti-gay. Yet, an honest reading of the article makes clear that Jim is addressing a universal condition that affects each of us, both homosexuals and heterosexuals alike.


“Baby, I was Born This Way!” - Lady Gaga, 2011

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV).

It was the incident in the Garden of Eden that gave each of us all our sinful nature. In Romans 5:12, Paul says “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”. Jeremiah 17:9 explains “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” David said in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins”, and in Romans 3:23, Paul said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

While I don't think that anyone’s theology should be based on some pop/rock song of the past, Lady Gaga does make a good and true point that we're all “born this way” (I can't say that I agree with the rest of the song though, but you can find the lyrics on your favorite search engine and judge that for yourself).

We’re all “born this way”, myself included, which is to say we’re all born with a sinful nature. This sinful nature grows differently in different people and manifests differently in each of us - blossoming into different “flavors”, one might say. A thief is “born this way”, as is an adulterer, a murderer, a liar, a gossip, a greedy person, a swindler, a fornicator, or anyone who oppresses the poor and feeble are all “born this way” (Ref: 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-6 and other passages).

God does not want us to stay “this way”, however, as is made abundantly clear throughout scripture, in fact we are at enmity with God when we are “this way” (Genesis 3:15).

God does love us however, and offers us all a way out of our bondage to this sinful nature! Jesus is quoted in Mark 2:17 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”. Paul also tells us “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6), and although we are “born this way” God gives us the opportunity to change all that!

Matthew 3:3-5 says that Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Nicodemus then asked him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. The way to change from being “born this way” is to be “born again”.

So although all of us were truly “born this way”, we don't have to stay this way! Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Personal Mini-History and Notes

We began our blog (in its current form) in the summer of 2009. As longtime readers have probably noticed, the frequency of our posts steadily decreased after the first few years due to the external workload of the primary blogger (me) sharply increasing. In 2012, I took on several new electrical engineering design projects such as the largest shipping terminal in Costa Rico, a new Substation for the US Coast Guard in Puerto Rico, a Naval Base in Florida, and a major maritime port in New Jersey. Then, from 2013 – 2016, I took on the Substation, Transmission and Distribution, and Telecommunication design of several industrial cities in the Middle East, during which a veteran engineer and great friend whom I’d been splitting some of the work retired.

After getting a few weeks break in the summer of 2016, I then took on several major Ports and Maritime projects along the East Coast, with scarcely a day off (including weekends and holidays) for the next two years. I was then contemplating retirement, but took on another project for the Navy in which the design phase ended last week. So, I’m once again seeking God’s will whether to retire in order to research, write and minister full time, or to continue working. Whatever happens, I’m hoping to at least cut back on my engineering work, perhaps to a part-time consultant, so that I may spend more time on our website, blog, and other ministries. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.