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.


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.