The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Friday, March 23, 2012

Godly Government ( a short commentary on Romans 13:1-7 & I Peter 2:13-17 )

'Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.' ( Romans 13:1 & 2 )

When a Christian tells you that God has commanded His people to obey any and all governmental authority, especially in the civil realm, your first question should be, 'did God institute 'bad', or wicked government?' Further, and maybe even more to the point; 'does any sort of government still have God-given authority when they cease to reward the good, and punish evil-doers, and instead punish the good, and reward the evil?'

An argumentative response to either of these questions may take you back to Exodus 9:16, where God told the Pharaoh, 'for this [ purpose ] I have raised you up, that I may show My power [ in ] you'. You may ask this question to that; 'was Moses then, acting in disobedience to, or resisting the ordinance of God?' I don't think anyone in their right mind would answer in the affirmative here, because, quite obviously, God told Moses to do what he did, in fact, God pretty much had to goad him to do it!

When faced with the 'dilemma' of whether to obey a wicked and perverse government, based on passages like Romans 13:1-7, and I Peter 2:13-17, the thing we must always remember to do, is to view these statements through the lens of historical context; in other words, we must keep in mind the 'audience relevance', or what it might have meant to those living back then, in the time of Paul. To whom Paul was writing must also be considered. Paul wrote these words to Roman Christians, some of whom were likely former Jews who had converted, as did Paul, to worship of the One, True God. What sort of authority, then, do you think he was advocating obedience to? Taken the way most Christians interpret this passage; Paul was telling his brethren not to resist the Roman authorities! If the Roman Christians had not resisted the 'authority' of the God-less Roman Caesar; Christianity, as we know it, probably would not exist today! I think we can say, with some certainty, that Paul was not advocating strict obedience to all authority!

You've no doubt heard the argument, based on Peter's statement in Acts 5:29, 'We ought to obey God rather than men', that we are to obey the civil government unless they command us to do something in direct opposition to the Word of God. In a sense, this is true, right, and good; we are commanded by God to do what is good, and right, and just! 'How much', you may ask then, 'of what the government tells us to do is NOT against the direct commandments, or Law of God?' When was the last time that you heard of a government official truly claiming the name of Christ, and following the Law of God in his own life, much less, making just judgments according to that Law? There are numerous politicians out there, some even vying for the ascendancy this year, who claim the Name, but their personal lives, to say nothing of their voting records, tell a much different story. If any one of these men tells you to do something good and right, then by all means do it, but not just because they told you to, but because it IS good and right! There shouldn't have to be laws telling people to do what's right!

A bit of context might be in order here: Jesus told His ( first-century ) followers 'not to resist an evil person' ( Matthew 5:39 ), but we must remember that He was in the midst of preaching the famous 'Sermon on the Mount', where He made such statements as, 'Blessed [ are ] the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God', 'You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden', and 'Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away'. Jesus was not telling His followers not to ever resist evil; God forbid! He was simply stating what Paul would reiterate later in this same letter to the Roman Christians ( 12:18 ), 'If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men'. I ask you; 'as it depends on us, and our conscience before God, can we do anything that a wicked and evil government tells us we must?' Again; 'God forbid!'

Looking then, at the context in which Paul wrote the words above, the words that many Christians use to excuse their own unwillingness to do what makes them uncomfortable, though it is right; we must remember that Paul was writing to a mixture of Jews and Gentiles ( arguments have been made, I believe, to either account ),and that the governing authority, most importantly, was 'God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil'. Though this was most likely spoken in reference to a civil authority, it most certainly NOT spoken of the God-less Roman authorities! The Jewish authorities are just as doubtful, so who do we have left? Paul himself, and those like him, those who exercised leadership within the Body of Christ, those who were called, ordained of God to practice that authority in the Church! 

'Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and [ for the ] praise of those who do good.' ( I Peter 2:13 & 14 )

One might say that Peter speaks here as strongly, if not more strongly, in advocating strict adherence to the commands, or 'laws' of the civil government. Peter is simply stating though, in context, what Paul had already said, and what Jesus had taught Peter told his brethren that they were to obey the ordinances of men who punished evil-doers and praised ( rewarded ) those who did good. In today's society, we have things turned around; the evil-doers are rewarded and praised, all too often, while those who do good, justly and rightly are the ones who are punished for their well-doing!

Are Christians, then, required to obey just any government agent or agency who lays claim to this authority? I believe that the answer should be a resounding 'NO'! Much to the contrary, in fact; I believe that the Christian is duty-bound ( before God ) to oppose any and all forms of wickedness wherever it 'pops up': this includes any insidious command of a wicked civil government, no matter how innocent the command, or 'law', may seem on the surface!

Getting back to commentary on the historical context of the Greek Scriptures; Jesus had also told His ( first-century ) followers, 'whatever they ( The scribes and the Pharisees ) tell you to observe, [ that ] observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do' ( Matthew 23:3 ): in today's day and age, we often find much the same, especially among our several church governments, but also, to some extent, in civil government. Most church leaders, if they are true to their calling, will not tell their flock to act in opposition to the freedom with which God, in Christ, has set us free, but, to use the '501 ( c ) 3 status' as an example, they will act in opposition to their teaching, showing that it is good and right to bow to idols, in essence, 'calling evil good'. On the other hand; it seems that, in the realm of civil government, things are getting more and more blatant, with more good being called evil, and more evil being called good!

Again; asking the question, 'did God institute ( ordain ) 'bad', or wicked ( tyrannical ) government?' We might well answer this question in the affirmative, because it is abundantly clear that God has, in the past, used such government, whether religious or civil ( 'is there really any difference?' ) to awaken His people from their slumber, and bring them back to Himself: we may pray that this is what He is doing at this time! Although this is true, that these wicked governments have been ordained by God, in that sense only, though, it is not to say that we are not to resist them, for *that*, I believe, is the whole point! By waking us up to the insidiousness of our government ( even our own ); God is showing His people the correct path, that the path that we are on in this nation is not one of goodness, righteousness, and justice, but is instead, 'the path of sinners'!

'Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes [ are due ], customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.' ( Romans 13:7 )

Echoing Jesus command in Matthew 22:21; Paul told his brethren that honor was due to those who did right, who faithfully fulfilled the authoritative duties of government to which God had ordained them. I believe, though, that the opposite is just as true, that both Jesus, Paul and Peter were reminding their readers that, if the ordained government did not govern accordingly, and did not reward the good and punish the evil, but rather called 'good evil, and evil good', that it was NOT due their obedience, and in fact was due their disobedience, and the opposition, or resistance!

As I have asked in a previous article, 'What is Caesar's?'

We, as Christians, must decide two things, then; 'Whom do we serve?', and 'will we receive the chastening that God has sent us, His people, through these wicked governments, and begin the long and arduous process of returning to self-goverment, leading to a Godly government?' Our response, both in word and in deed, will go far in determining whether this nation will again enjoy the blessings of the Covenant, true peace, and lasting enjoyment in the Presence of our Almighty God, Creator and Father!

In His grace,
Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, March 16, 2012

Anti-government, or pro-government?

There is a lot of talk going around, these days, about patriots, and maybe especially Christian patriots ( religious ones, anyway ) being anti-government! It is true, that in many, if not all cases, these 'patriots' have spoken out against, and maybe even actively opposed the present 'government' that has set itself up in the hallowed halls of Washington, D.C. ( District of Criminals? ), and not only that, but have sought to, and have sometimes succeeded in 'infiltrating' ( 'reasserting' might be a better term ) their local governments. I just read a long article in which one such 'standing' office-holder stated that he was 'very disturbed' by these attempts and instance! I say 'Glory, hallelujah'! If more of these office-holders were disturbed by these instance, and I believe we are seeing a very progressive trend in that respect, maybe we would see more government like our fore-fathers established, not only through the Declaration of Independence, and then the Constitution, but based firmly upon the biblical principles of self-government, of love for God, and your neighbor as yourself!

If more Americans were better at religiously, according to the above-mentioned principles, at governing themselves, there would be no need for any other government! The federal government exists ONLY, according to the Constitution, to protect the rights of those who hired them! Since we hired them, according to common sense, we can fire them as well! When anyone who has been called to such a position of power ( remember what this power is granted for! ), authority, and responsibility begins to abuse his granted rights, these 'rights' may be removed and given to someone who will exercise them more fairly, and administer them more justly. He, or she, still has rights, don't get me wrong, to exercise governance over his own property, but no man has the right to tyrannize the rights of others. If a person chooses to exercise in his own personal governance, the principle which he sought to exercise over the rights and property of others, that person has a right to do so, as long as he does no harm to another, although this would not be showing love for God, and your neighbor as yourself!

This, as I see it, is the biggest problem that we face today, as Americans, and especially as citizens of the Kingdom of God! The issue of self-government ( not anti--government, but pro-government ). I remarked to a friend recently, that we have abdicated our God-given rights, our duty, actually, to govern ourselves, and to properly administer the government of our realm, or sphere of influence. Why have we done this? How have we done this, and what motivated us to do this, you ask?! The cold comfort of the prison cell! The leeks and melons of slavery! We are ( I speak for myself, more than for anybody else ) LAZY! If someone else is willing to do something for us that we would rather not do ourselves, we are, by our very nature, more than willing to let them. Now again; please don't get me wrong: I am not saying that everyone out there reading this is lazy to the core, because there ARE many who have always exercised self-government, and justly administered their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or personal property, but it would seem that they are the exception, rather than the rule!

Our elected federal government is a reflection, like it or not, of society as a whole. If our representatives in Washington have instituted regulations that we do not like, and this is not to excuse their wicked tyrannical actions, it is because, in reality, it is what society warrants, it is what we have asked for.

Self-governance is the key, and not just any type of self-government; it must be a good, moral and ethical government, based firmly upon the principles outlined earlier, as found in Jesus' summation of God's royal law, in Matthew 22:34-40. The people of this nation have been slumbering the sleep of death, having become apathetic in their comfortable graves, but things set in motion long ago are 'happening' at last, are coming to pass, and are beginning to shake our comfortable little life behind bars! Some may feel like screaming out, 'put the prison bars back!' ( initially ), and it's not going to be an easy or smooth road back to freedom, because like we have seen, things have been percolating for many years, and it will take some time to return this nation to our founding father's blazing aspirations for it, and back to a God-honoring, God-fearing society!

Let the new reformation begin with us, let us govern ourselves in such a way that others, all around the country will see our government, and the accompanying blessings, and say, 'I want that!'

Charles Haddon Shank

A Reasonable Faith

The writer to the Hebrews said that 'faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen', but faith, by it's very definition was never a blind faith, but a strong, vociferous belief in something that you know, without doubt, to be true!

That God is, is without doubt!

A good friend of mine recently stated that two words describe our relation to God; 'thank' and 'you'. This says it all; first, our saying this acknowledges our belief that there is an Almighty God that we should thank for our very existence, and second, that  we should praise Him that He is our Father, and most willing to be in relation with us!

Our faith is in what IS, what was, and what always shall ( will ) be! Our faith is not in something imagined, but in Someone that can be proven; that Someone who designed and built our universe, Who brought all created things into existence through the power of His Word. Our faith is, in a sense, the sense of the quote from Hebrews 11, 'the evidence of things not seen', but, with the truth that has been revealed through 'Fulfilled', or 'Realized Eschatology', we do see these things, not only as fulfilled, but as gloriously present, and happening before our eyes!

I was recently rehearsing to a good friend of mine, how awesome it is that God has chosen to set us in such circumstances and insert certain people into our lives at such a point to lead to His ultimate and maximum glory; it is both extremely gratifying and humbling when a Plan comes together!

Although we do have faith in what is 'not seen'; we also have a firm belief because of what IS 'seen': as Paul told the Roman Church ( Christians ), 'since the creation of the world His invisible [ attributes ] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made'! By the beauty of the natural creation ( people, as well as scenery ), we KNOW that He is intelligent, and that He designed ALL for His glory! Discussing with a good friend tonight; I was reminded of a phrase that another friend of mine coined a few years ago, 'God draws straight, with crooked lines'! How true this statement is; you could hardly ask for a better example than me ( to be honest; I know I'm not the best, or worst )! God truly does not rely on our acquiescence to fulfill His purposes through us!

Another friend of mine recently. restated that 'sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right place': I couldn't have stated it better, God uses even the 'bad' choices that we make to lead us to the place that He wants us. This is not to alleviate our responsibility, to say nothing of our respons'ability', for the wrong-doings that we have committed, but God, knowing all things, uses our 'free-will choice' to lead us to His will, to accomplish the purposes which He had determined 'before the world was' ( John 17:5 ). This is 'a reasonable faith'; that all our actions, right and wrong, are used by God for the glory and advancement of His Kingdom!

If our actions are wrong, we do bring shame ( in our minds, anyway ) to the Name, but, in all reality, God uses even our wrong actions ( not to excuse them ) to bring glory to His name.

We naturally think; 'how could our wrong actions, our disobedience ( as in the case of Adam & Eve ), bring Him glory?'

In the case of Adam & Eve, for instance; their disobedience requisitioned the Redeemer ( 'He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel'- Genesis 3:15b ), the plan which God had made 'before the foundation of the world' ( John 17:24 ). Their actions brought death to their progeny, but they also brought Light and Life to their progeny, to us! Our faith, or to put it more correctly, 'the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God' ( Ephesians 4:13 ) , works that God's 'declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [ things ] that are not [ yet ] done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'. Not to excuse our wrong actions, for wrong actions will undoubtedly come; our actions bring about God's Kingdom 'on earth as [ it is]  in heaven' ( Luke 11:2 )! This is not something that puritanical, evangelical Christians like to countenance, but, like it or not; God's will is done, and it is done through the weakness of the sons of men, mere human beings!

'Imagine' that!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why Did the Jews Want to Kill Paul?

I was recently confronted with the question of which party of the Jews, Pharisee, Sadducee, or both, was trying to kill the apostle Paul, as recorded in Acts 23, and I replied that it was likely a bit of both, as both parties had a major problem with Jesus' Gospel going to the Gentiles, and their being redeemed along with the Jews.

Although this is no doubt true; I believe there is more to the story; more, especially, than what we can read within the confines of chapter 23. Paul was preaching this inclusive Gospel that Jesus had unleashed, this Gospel that told the Jews that it was not through blood, or birth, but through the promise, or the covenant of God's inestimable grace, that His Seed would be revealed. As Paul was brought up on these charges, trumped-up charges at that, he noticed that the counsel was divided; part were of the Sadducees, who 'say that there is no resurrection-and no angel or spirit' ( verse 8 ), and the other part of the Pharisees, who 'confess both'. Paul used this convenient truth to unsettle his adversaries for a bit. Although he had truthfully acclaimed the true reason that he was being persecuted by both parties, 'concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!', he reminded the more religious, or spiritually zealous, Pharisees, that he was one of them, or had been, anyway. He used his knowledge of the fact of the division in even the ruling class of the Jews to his benefit, in order to continue to spread the Good News of the grace of God in Jesus the Christ!

There are those in the Church today, who, like the Pharisees, believe and teach the hope of the resurrection of the dead, but they too, like the Pharisees, have greatly mistaken, both the nature and the hope of the resurrection. Another reason that these Jews wanted to kill Paul was the same reason that, not too long before ( decades ) they and their fathers had killed Jesus. Jesus was, in their eyes, anyway, changing the Law, or at least, the observance of the Law which they had grown accustomed to, and had not brought an end to the physical domination of Rome, as they had expected Him to. When Paul came along preaching the same message, and revealing that they, and their fathers before them, had gotten the wrong idea from God's Law; like they had with Jesus ( and succeeded ), they tried to kill the messenger. That he welcomed Gentiles to the Court only added fuel to the proverbial fire.

I believe that we can say, with utmost certainty, that Jews from both parties were involved in the plot to kill Paul, and likely more from the over-zealous party of the Pharisees, as they were the ones who would have had a bigger problem with his teachings, being the more religious sect of the Jews. Though Paul may have gained a slight reprieve, you might say, by calling to the forefront this sore point between the two factions, some must have seen through his subtle evasion, and decided, based upon the fact that he was disrupting their entire history as God's special people, that Paul must die!

The point, my friends, is that Paul WAS being persecuted for the hope he presented,as well as the teaching he gave of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees had a hope for, and a belief in the resurrection of the dead, like many Christians do today, but it was the nature of this resurrection, and maybe more importantly, the recipients of this resurrection, that really 'got their goat', so to speak! Paul taught, like Jesus had, that it was Israel herself that would be resurrected from the dead, from the death that Adam had incurred by his covenant-breaking action, or rather, inaction, in the Garden of Eden. The Pharisees, although they believed, as do most Christians today, that their physical bodies would be raised back to life ( anastasis ), they did not believe that they, as the leaders of Israel, needed to be raised from the spiritual stupor in which they had slumbered in relative comfort for years, even, almost, millenia! They were in fact, outright indignant at the very suggestion, and ready to kill anyone who threatened their national identity!

I pray this slight explanation clarifies, rather than blurs, why the Jews, both Phariseee and Sadducee sought to kill Paul, as they had killed his Lord not long before.

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, March 09, 2012

Property Rights and the Word of God

What constitutes personal property? The 'personal' part of that question is pretty simple; 'personal' means that something is related to, in essence belongs, in actuality, to an individual, whoever that individual may be. The 'property' part may be a little harder to define: 'property' may be defined as anything from something tangible, as a piece of real estate, or a vehicle, among many other things, to something intangible, as in 'intellectual property'. This, in itself can refer to a wide range of creations of the mind, such as music or art, which, although classified as intangibles, might often become, in reality, very tangible.

What gives any certain individual a right to any certain property? In the case of intellectual property, whether it remains, for the most part, intangible, as in the case of music, or certain forms of art, or whether it becomes very real ( Geppetto's 'Pinnochio' comes to mind ) and tangible, as in something created from the mind of any certain individual, an invention, we would rightfully say that individual has a right to do with his 'property', his creation, if you will, as he sees fit.

Much the same could be said about tangible assets, such as vehicles, and most commonly, real estate. Tangible property rights are usually more 'cut & dried'. In the case of something like a vehicle or a piece of real estate, when a certain individual acquires a piece of property such as this, as long as he legally and lawfully acquires it ( we'll get into this later ), he can rightfully be said to own that property. Legally and lawfully acquiring such property may involve acquisition through gifting, or granting, or that thing may be acquired by paying a certain sum of money, which corresponds to trading one thing of personal value for another.

Tangible property rights are usually easier to prove, as well, than 'intellectual', or 'intangible property rights'. In this case, there is usually a 'deed' involved, or a bill of sale, and as long as such deed or bill of sale can be produced, again, it is fairly 'cut & dried', when it comes to the question of what belongs to whom.

Another form of 'property'; which many of us may not be used to thinking of as 'property', when referring to 'property rights', is 'information'. You've most like heard that famous phrase, 'knowledge is power'; this is a very true statement; much of the loss of our liberties, whether in the short or long run, stems from being too free with our personal information. This is one of our 'property rights' which we alone have the power to reveal, and which no one has a right to ascertain, especially when we know that this 'power' will likely be exercised against us!

'The Cattle on a Thousand Hills' ( Psalm 50:10 )

Ultimately, all things, especially tangible property, may be said to belong rightfully to our Creator. As we have seen already, the creation, the product, of one's mind, whether it is classified as intangible, or whether it becomes quite tangible, can be rightfully said to be that individual's 'intellectual property'. Some might argue, I believe, the fact that we are the creation of an Almighty and Sovereign God, but I believe that our 'Founding Fathers' were definitely NOT a part of that crowd!

This country, founded upon the idea that we were created by God with certain unalienable rights, for many years since its foundation, was inundated by this theme, and every time it became necessary to elect new officials, or re-establish standing ones, an election sermon was preached before the body politic, reminding them of their duty before God and His people, and of their responsibilities in the solemnity of the oaths they were about to swear.

Beginning in the year 2000, in Jefferson County, Montana; Project Liberty Tree, a ministry of Covenant Community Church in Whitehall, Montana, has been delivering an historic election sermon before the body politic of the respective counties, and in 2006, before the State House in Helena, Montana.  This year, 2012, will witness the fourth such sermon given before the State House in Helena, and will be themed around this most important subject.

'The heaven, [ even ] the heavens, [ are ] the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men.' ( Psalm 115:16 )

There is no question, that as the creation of an Almighty and Sovereign God, man himself is subservient to, and indeed is the property of, his Creator. As we read in the text above, and we can also go back to Genesis 1:26-28; God has 'given', or granted, 'deeded', you might say, these rights to the sons of men. As men began to exercise this 'dominion' over the 'earth'; we, through history, have seen the rise & fall of many nations on this earth. The rise & fall of these peoples, or nations, was either because of covenant blessing or cursing, blessing upon one people, or nation, and cursing upon another, usually simultaneously! One nation, even through its wickedness, was raised up to exaltation in order to bring another low. Take, for example, the Pharaoh of Egypt, and God's use of his granted power to show His own power, as recorded in Exodus 9:13-17. Pharaoh unlawfully had taken the children of Israel as His property, but God revealed to him Whose property they really were, by redeeming them from their bondage and slavery to the Pharaoh of Egypt!

Because the dominion of the 'earth' has been deeded to the sons of men, or, more rightly, 'the Son of Man' ( Psalm 2:7-9 ); it belongs, by right of inheritance, to them, although ultimately, as mere creatures, all belongs to the Creator! We can exercise and claim ownership of property, specifically, tangible things, like real estate, but also intangible things, such as music, and even intellectual property which has been rendered tangible by invention or creation, such as vehicles.

This country was founded, as well, and labored successfully under the presumption that the fact, outlined above, is true and faithful, that all things created, are, by right, the property of the Creator, and only deeded to us in stewardship. The rulers in this nation seem to have forgotten this important fact, so is it any wonder that we find ourselves in the decline that we do, and all this, with 'heathen' nations knocking on our door, so to speaking, challenging our weakening power at every step?!

While we, as a nation, head toward what seems to be our inevitable downfall; we must realize the truth of these propositions, and recognizing, yet again, that we have rights only in stewardship as creatures ultimately, and most basically, belonging to a Creator; we must turn to our Creator in true repentance, and begin, once again, to exercise the dominion that He has given us, treating our property, not as our own, but as given to us in stewardship by our Creator.

'You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.' ( John 19:11 )

As we read, in context, Jesus' response to Pontius Pilate, we see a very similar theme to that in the response of God to the Pharaoh's evil actions. This must be our reaction to the evil around us, not that we shouldn't resist  this abuse of power, because we are commanded to defend our stewardship, but we should see the evil actions of wicked as a chastening from God, and an opportunity to repent, and turn from our own wicked ways. 

When property rights are mentioned; our thoughts, especially in this modern age, with its ever-changing definitions, naturally turn to pieces of real estate, or even probably a vehicle, or a house, or toys, whether they be 'big boys toys', or children's toys, in other words, tangible things. Among the more intellectual crowd: you'll likely hear more about 'intellectual property', things like music, art, and most especially theory, such as 'string theory', or the assorted 'sub-atomic particle theories'. One most important thing that many of us are not used to thinking of as property, though, is life itself! In 1973, the infamous 'Roe v. Wade' decision was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States, paving the way for the legalization of child-murder, a practice which has snuffed out a multitude of biological lives since that fateful and ominous day! 

Life is quite easily the most important and valuable 'property right' that our Creator has vouch-safed to our care; it is also, among many people, unfortunately even some so-called Christians, the least cared for property right! 

'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'.

This famous passage, among the first in that important document that basically spelled out the foundation of this country, is probably the most quoted among the liberty-minded, especially that important phrase 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'. Of even greater import, though, and far less quoted, is the opening statement;

'When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.'

This statement makes it clear that our founding fathers believed that it was necessary, their duty, in fact, for God's people to throw off these chains of oppression, to covenantally, and actually separate themselves from those 'powers' that had become tyrannical, in depriving them of their God-given rights.After the statements establishing what our most basic rights were, and from where they stemmed, the writers of this important penned these words;

'That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed'.

This is the purpose and extent of the power of government, whatever form it may take: the purpose of any form of government is to serve and protect the rights of the governed, of those who have elected them to that office. When any government 'power' over-steps those bounds, and asserts an authority over the people which neither God or the people have granted it, then the duty of said people is to remove that form of government, and to establish another, one that will serve them, by protecting their God-given rights, most importantly, the right to life!

'And the government will be upon His shoulder.' ( Isaiah 9:6b

 The term 'government' today, is another term that might need, not to be redefined, although there are some who could probably use a complete redefinition of the term, but a resurrection of the true meaning of the term. There are those, today, who, because of the corruptness of the government we have in this nation, have become almost rabidly 'anti-government'! As can be seen from a thorough study, beginning with Scripture, and as lately as 'A History of These United States'; we can see that government is necessary to survival, that, in fact, life would not long persist without some form of government. A simple, mechanical example is the gasoline engine. Another word that is more popularly known and used for 'automotive governance' is 'throttle' Imagine how long a tank of gas, the life-blood for the gasoline engine, would last, if the engine had no throttle, to say nothing of the danger presented by such a scenario! Government is necessary at all levels of life. If we do not govern ourselves; somebody else is sure to step in and govern us! Such has been the case throughout history, and we face the results of this abdication today, in this country, and all over the world.

There is good government, and there is bad government. Handing over, 'in toto', the reigns of government to any certain person, as our founding fathers realized, and thus formed a constitution to prevent, has the potential to become bad government, no matter the intent to begin with. When, however, the governor recognizes that he himself is governed by a Supreme Authority, by his Creator, and guides his own government by this infallible rule, the government cannot then be anything but good! Any form of government that does not recognize its own government by this Supreme Authority, cannot help turning to evil!

Isaiah prophesied over 2500 years ago, long before the revelation of the One he prophesied about, that this coming Savior would be our governor. Jesus told His followers, when He was about to ascend back to His heavenly, exalted position, that they would be rulers with Him ( traditionally, this is the basic meaning of the name 'Israel' ). As followers, disciples of Jesus, the Son of God; we, then are rulers with Him, and thus are to be governors, not only of ourselves, but of our spheres of influence. This, I believe, is what our founding fathers had in mind, both when they penned our declaration of independence from the oppressive powers of England, and then formed a constitution for the United States of America. They realized that, to put it in terms which everyone is very familiar with, 'power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely', when those in the human condition do not recognize religiously their own governance by the Rightful Governor of the Universe.

'But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.'

As we saw above, our most precious of property rights, life itself, was threatened by the decision of our federally constituted Supreme Court, almost 40 years ago. Since that potentially lethal decision was handed down, this country has witnessed the murders of over 54 million unborn babies. Aside from this most important and necessary of rights, a multitude of our God-given rights have been threatened, trampled underfoot, and/or just simply taken away. You do not have the right to drive your own vehicle, unless you apply for, and receive a certain little piece of paper that says you may. In fact; if you are caught driving without a seat-belt, or without having paid the proper fees for exercising your right to use your own property to transport yourself; you may loose even that slip of paper, in some states! In most states you do not have the right to even get married unless you apply for, and receive a permission slip from your public servant!

Our public servants, from the highest levels of the federal government, down to the lowest police detective , have been, for quite some time now, seemingly bent on protecting and serving their own interests, rather than serving the people whom they were called to protect, and guarding their God-given rights against those that threaten! Praises be to God, this is not always the case; there have been for some time, and the trend is picking up steam, those peace officers who are more concerned with keeping their oaths to the people they serve, in actually keeping the peace, while upholding the constitutional duties they have sworn to fulfill, than in serving the agency that writes their paycheck: when you think about it though; 'we the people' are the ones who write their paycheck! 

As promised earlier, a short explanation of what is meant by the legal and lawful acquisition of property, as opposed to the illegal and unlawful acquisition, is as follows: the legal and lawful acquisition of any property, especially tangible property, but not limited to that, will usually involve the written consent of the property owner, often in the form of a contract, or bill of sale. As often happens, though; certain property is not only acquire illegally, by sneaky and under-handed means, but sometimes ( often ) by blatantly by unlawful force is seized  from the individual! 'Eminent Domain' is one such egregious practice. If any given individual is willing to give up his right of property to the government power who requires it, then that is his choice, but when that 'power' forcefully seizes that property, by any means necessary, whether the property owner will or not, then this is an illegal and unlawful acquisition of property. This not only includes real estate, but can even extend to 'intellectual property', which includes information!

A Scriptural example of 'eminent domain' can be found most infamously in the story of 'Naboth's Vineyard', in I Kings 21. We read in this passage that Naboth was even murdered, just so that the king could lay claim to Naboth's property, which was more pleasing to the eyes of the king than his own!

How can we redeem the property rights that we have lost through our abdication?

In the upcoming election year, and even in the immediately preceding year or so; you have heard, and will likely hear even more, people saying things like, 'if only we can get the right man in office........'; sure, if we can get the right man elected, he could do a lot of good for this country, and he might even turn us back from the brink of destruction ( socio-economically anyway ). God willing, this may happen, but this is not our main problem in America! Our problem is US! You may remember that old saying, 'we have met the enemy, and he is us' ( from the comic strip 'Pogo' ); we can place blame wherever we will, we can complain about our elected leaders and servants all we want, but ultimately, the blame MUST be laid at our own feet: 'we the people' elected these men and women! Through the processes of election, we have the power, the authority, to choose certain ones to lead this country, all the way from the national level, to the most basic local level, the county sheriff, or even town peace officer, 'to serve and protect our God-given rights!

For far too long; we have chosen those to 'run' this country, from the most local, to the national level, that we know are; 1, lying through their teeth, or; 2, blatantly opposed to many of the principles upon which this country was founded, not least of which is clearly laid out, as we have seen, in our 'Declaration of Independence', that all men are created equal ( before God ), and that they are 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights'. We have ceded our rights, in many cases, to these 'politicians' who, like many others in this nation, long for the comforts of slavery, where at least they get to eat leeks and onions, than for the hard-won and dangerous fruits of liberty and true freedom.

These problems have been going on for hundreds of years, and even for millenia, all over the world, because when a people turns from their Creator and trust in, and rely upon false gods, these gods eventually ( usually sooner, rather than later ) totter and fall, often crushing underneath them, destroying in their down-fall, those who have prostrated themselves before them!

National repentance, beginning, not with our elected officials, but with us, 'we the people', is what is desperately needed in this nation 'under God'! Only if we, as a people, will turn back to God, and repent of our unfaithfulness in worshiping other gods, only then will our elected officials, reflecting this choice, begin to once again protect our rights, as is their sworn duty to the constitution, and made sure under God!

Our rights, as established by our Creator, are thus inalienable. Even though we have, willingly, in many cases, thoughtlessly given up those rights; they are still our rights; they are not ours to give, but to have, and to exercise, as God has called us to! Let us all, 'Today', begin to exercise our rights yo the 'property' that God has intrusted to our stewardship: let us turn, with our whole being, heart mind, soul and strength, to the Giver of those rights, to the One from Who flows all our sustenance, to God, the Giver and Sustainer of all life and property!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, March 02, 2012

A Good Judgment

'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son [ in whom ] he delights.' ( Proverbs 3:11 & 12 )

In today's day and age; the term judgment has come to have a bad connotation, but what does Scripture tell us about 'judgment'? As recorded by Moses in Exodus 6; God told His people, 'I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments'. Now, you might say that He was speaking of His judgments against the Egyptians, but that is just as true on the other side of the coin; His judgment was FOR the Israelites: the Egyptians got the 'bad' side of God's judgment; His people got the 'good'!

America, as a whole today, is under God's judgment, both physically and spiritually! His people, the Church, the Body of Christ, are on the receiving end of this judgment, as well, mainly because we ARE His people; we are His agents on this marvelous creation of His, that we call earth! We have not persevered to the end that we should, that of bringing all in subjection to Him, shewing forth His reign 'on earth as it is in heaven'. Now don't get me wrong; whether one acknowledges that rule, and that His will is done 'on earth as it is in heaven', or not; He is ordering all thing according to His own Purpose and Counsel! 

While we labor under His rule, ensuring that His will is done 'on earth as it is in heaven', as far as we can, in our finite weakness; we find that there are many within the Body of Christ that have abdicated their position of leadership within the Kingdom of our Lord and Master, our Creator God, our Husband. His people have arrogantly assumed themselves above certain affairs, government of the so-called 'secular arena'  being but one are in which She has proven faithless. Though there are many things in this world that could be regarded as 'secular'; government of 'Our Father's World' is not one of them!

God's judgment, both the bad and the good, is being brought to bear on America at this time; bad in the sense, as we've seen, that around 55 million pre-born babies have been murdered, numerous unnecessary wars have taken their toll upon this nation, and more and more states are beginning to legalize, and falsely authorize, same-sex unions, calling them 'marriages'. We could go on and on with a long list of the atrocities that are committed on a daily, if not hourly basis, in this country, much of it under the auspices of religion, and with its blessing, in many cases. Although, in especially one way of looking at it, the death, devastation, and wickedness that we see all around us, are banes upon existence, and are an adverse judgment in themselves; they are the result of our own wickedness and faithlessness, but they also have a good aspect to them. They are forcing the people of God in America to turn their accusations inward, to recognize the part that she herself has played in bringing these scourges upon this once-great nation.

Are we to judge, ourselves, the God-less enemies of America, both at home and abroad? You better believe we are, and not only to judge, wagging our fingers; we need to, it is our duty before God, after receiving the chastening of our Father, judging ourselves, and repenting of our abdication, to throw off the chains of tyranny and oppression, and take up the reins of government that God has entrusted to us!

We are weak, yes, but He is Strength itself! It is in His Strength that we are commanded to 'rule the nations'. Because we have abdicated or misused this position; He is ruling 'with a rod of iron', using the false strength of wickedness to chasten His sons: let us receive this chastening with a humble and penitent heart, and turn from our apathy and sluggish comfort, and judge as we were called to!

By His Grace, 
Charles Haddon Shank