The Pagan Path

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spiritual But Not Religious

You have doubtless heard this phrase used by many people ( acquaintances ). You may have even used it before, in referring to yourself, but what does it really mean? Most, I fear, when they claim that they are 'spiritual but not religious', have cut most, if not all ties with what is traditionally known as 'Christianity'. They claim, to one extent, to have the work of the Spirit ( ? ) in their 'heart', but have not much if any fruit to show for it! Now, to be fair, not all who make this claim have taken on a 'lone-wolf' stance, and distanced themselves ( purposely ) from 'Christianity' in general, and the institutional church in particular ( can't say I blame them for that! ) Some of those, I believe, who say that they are 'spiritual, not religious', have simply become fed up with the antics that go on in much of the institutional church, and have thus withdrawn, taken a step back, so to speak, if not cutting all ties, whether by choice or not, from traditional ( orthodox ) Christianity.

Many, though, whether consciously or unconsciously, have molded their lives to this phrase, 'having a form of godliness but denying its power'; these claim the work of the Spirit in their lives, as we saw above, but disdain to show the fruit of that Spirit in their lives.

The online version of Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines the term 'religious' as 'relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity', 'a religious person'. Here is what the Wikipedia article that I read had to say on the subject of 'religion'; 'Religion is a collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values'. Even apart from these 'secular' definitions, not to mention injunctions from Scripture itself, like 'Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees' ( Hebrews 12:12 ), to those who are spiritual, as Paul had written in his letter to the Galatians ( 6:1 ); 'Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who [ are ] spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted'. James wrote, most famously, 'faith without works is dead' ( 2:26b ). As intimated earlier, though, many who claim to be 'spiritual, not religious' ( in fact all of them; everybody is religious, just not all follow good religion ) are actually very religious about it, allowing their spirituality to flow out through their lives into the 'world' around them!

So then, a very pervasive and wide-spread misunderstanding of 'religion' is the real culprit! Although some that claim to be 'spiritual but not religious' will fall into the category of those who claim to be followers of Christ ( Christians ) but whose works do not show it, as many or more make that claim simply because of the belief that to be religious, one must follow some sort of institutionalized 'religion', or belong to some 'church'. For whatever reason, these people seem to have difficulty understanding that to be religious is to, as James, again, put it, 'Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [ and ] to keep oneself unspotted from the world' ( James 1:27 ).

Religion, as we have noted previously, is ( or can be ) a good thing; it just depends what you base your religion on, and how your religion affects your actions. If you believe, as Hitler reportedly did, that only blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryans ( no Jews, gypsies, or commies ) should inhabit his Third Reich, and based on that belief ( his religion ) begin to exterminate any and all who did not fit those criteria, then yes, that religion would be wrong, and not to be followed. If you believe, on the other hand, that all men are created equal ( with equal rights ) in the eyes of their Creator, and act according to that belief, religiously visiting ( giving aid to ) widows and orphans in their time of need, then that is a religion to be followed, and is worthy of great commendation!

To be truly spiritual is to be religious! According to James' words at the end of chapter 2 of his letter, one who is not religious about their beliefs ( faith ) is spiritually dead! It is possible to be religious with being spiritual ( this happens too often ), but it is quite impossible to be truly spiritual without being religious!

Let us all do our best to be spiritual AND religious ( for otherwise, we are spiritually dead )!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The 'Heart" of the Matter ( Guns don't kill people; people with guns kill people )

I became acquainted with this phrase ( Guns don't kill people; people with guns kill people ), about 25-30 years ago. The same holds as true with rocks, and the principle behind this phrase holds true, as well, of the fist, the foot, or anything at all that could be used as a weapon to hurt or kill someone else. A 1973 Oldsmobile comes to mind........awesome weapon!

The news media, as usual, has moved on to splatter our front-pages with the latest ( worst ) news. The Sandy Hook tragedy now past, the news media has been covering, though not to the same extent, interestingly enough, an old enemy, the debate on whether or not to, and even to what extent to ban guns. I say 'an old enemy', because this debate has been raging, though usually in the background, for decades now. Although this seeming 'solution' to a symptom has convinced many of its effectiveness, this debate, and the accompanying legislation ( some of which is already in effect ) has been shown to be, in reality, ineffective at the least, and downright dangerous ( insidious ) at worst!

Many questions could be asked in regard to this legislation, questions like, 'if good, law-abiding ( though ignorant ) citizens 'dutifully' ( ? ) obey this legislation and get rid of their guns, and criminals, who are usually not thought of as law-abiding, disobey it; who has the guns?'

Among many gun-owners, the more freedom-minded in particular, there is a notion that has been circulating for years that the reasons behind all this anti-gun legislation are especially insidious. The theory, and I had been inclined to believe it, is that this is what happened in Nazi Germany right before its takeover by the National Socialist Party under Hitler. One can read all the propaganda on both sides and decide for themselves, but I think it is far from clear that this is what happened!  ( And please don't get me wrong; I am NOT advocating Nazism, Socialism, or saying that Hitler was a nice guy, really! )

Back to the issue at hand, Solomon tells us, in Proverbs 4:23, 'Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it [ spring ] the issues of life': Jesus told the multitudes that listened to Him, that 'out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies' ( Matthew 15:19 ). History, and not just Scriptural history ( think of Sampson's jawbone 'incident' in Judges 15 ) makes abundantly manifest the fact that if someone wants ( or needs ) to kill another human being, he's going to do so with whatever weapon first comes to hand, even his bare hands if that'll 'do the trick'! Sure, a gun, because of the element of surprise and the longer-range effectiveness ( sometimes ) makes it easier to kill, but history is clear; if someone wishes to kill another, he ( or she ) is going to do so, even if it means just giving them a push ( over a cliff )!

So; as we have seen from the two quoted Scriptures, and honestly, we can all personally attest to this, the 'heart' is where it all starts! Sure, we can blame our failings ( and we usually do ) on anything but ourselves, whether it be our environment, a fallen 'spiritual' being named 'Satan', on video games, or even the way the news media seems to 'glorify' violence, but when it comes down to it, we're the ones who make the choice. That's why Solomon said in his wisdom that we should guard our 'hearts'. Even though they didn't have video games back then ( to say nothing of guns ), there was plenty of wickedness and violence that they needed to guard their 'hearts' from.

Banning guns will never stop the killings! You may have heard the saying, 'if we can save just one life, it'll be worth it'. Sounds almost worthily self-sacrificial, right? Wrong!!! Besides being a forced ( legislated ) sacrifice ( our freedoms for the possibility of saving 'just one'? ), we can simply point back to a fact that was pointed out earlier; if criminals are the only ones with guns, how long do you think it would take for that 'one' to be saved by an outright ban ( unless the 'one' was a criminal )?

One may postulate that if the Sandy Hook murderer had only been able to get a 7-round clip for his Bushmaster rather than the 30-round, that 20 less people may have died: that's entirely possible, but not likely, and really, truly, it's beside the point ( WAY BESIDE THE POINT )! Oh wait; ban all assault weapons, especially ones that can hold more than five rounds; that way not as many will die next time!


Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Gathering Storm

As I write, it is December 21st, the day, according to many ignorant persons, the Mayans had predicted that the world would end. I just heard on the news that, since the 21st has come, and in certain parts of the world, gone, people are wondering if maybe this day just signals the end of an epoch or era, and the beginning of a new one! ( Sounds almost strangely familiar, huh? )

I agree ( I have been saying this all year ); this year ( 2012 ) could well spell the end of the 'world' ( question is; 'what 'world'?' ). In fact, I have more than once gone so far as to predict that very thing. Now, before you condemn me as being a false prophet, or prognosticator; remember that this year has signaled the end of many different things, the most recent probably, and no doubt indelibly etched in the memory of anyone with a heart, is the recent massacre of nearly 30 'innocents' ( mostly children ) in a small town in Connecticut.

While this, and other similar tragedies are just that; tragic, they also reveal the hypocrisy, particularly in the media, that has become rampant, and downright deplorable and abominable in this country. Without going to any great lengths; 'why are they so quick to condemn the murder of 20 children when they say nothing, unless it's in support, of the murder of the 3,000 plus ( statistically ) children who were murdered that same day in their mother's wombs?' ( Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not condemning the doctors any more than the mothers who selfishly conspired to murder their own children! )

This tragedy, conveniently enough, has served to raise the ire of the more ignorant citizens of this nation, against gun violence, and paving the way, no doubt, for further restrictions, if not an outright ban on guns ( which is what 'they' want, if you believe the conspiracy theorists ). And speaking of gun bans; this is not the only freedom that has been threatened, or even quietly ( and insidiously ) come to an end in the past year.

At this moment, the leaders of the country find themselves locked in a struggle to retain ( or regain ) the economic 'stability' of this nation. In the past few decades, if not the last century or so ( and much of this, for the average 'Joe', is hindsight ); much of our freedom, whether individual or corporate, has been slowly and almost silently eking away.

There is a 'storm' gathering, and the only way to either avert it ( this hardly seems possible ) or to make it safely through, is to call upon the Master of Seas and Tempests. The Gospel according to Mark, in chapter 4, verses 35-41, records the instance where Jesus significantly calmed the raging waters of the sea and stilled the gathering storm; He is the only who can still this tempest or guide us safely through it!

Sure; one may point out that we have averted many such 'storms' in this country in the past, and one may have a point there, of sorts, but how long does the respite last? A few decades, maybe? A few years ( at most ), before the problems crop up again and come back to haunt us!

Getting back to the main reason, and there are others, for this gathering storm; 'how long can a nation that has murdered over 55 million children ( and counting ) since 1973 ( and that's JUST since 1973 ) expect the blessings of a just God?' There is no doubt that this nation, to some extent, has enjoyed the blessing of the Almighty, due in large part to the fact that there is a remnant who have remained faithful to the Christian principles on which this nation was founded! It could also be said, that although the leadership of this nation has departed from those principles, there is still a semblance of those principles beating in this country, though you might say that it is long past time to 'get the paddles out'!

Though, as I will freely acknowledge, those tragedies, as the most recent one in Connecticut, are saddening, and most deplorable; they are nothing when compared to the losses this country has sustained over the last 39 years ( since Roe v. Wade ). Again, though this tragedy, and others like it, are deplorable, and much to be condemned, they are merely significant of the sickness that has overcome this nation as a whole. Sadly, especially, this includes many Christians, who, for whatever reason, have become almost fully immersed ( and entrenched ) in 'state-worship'. This sickness is caused by a stubborn self-reliance and a refusal to acknowledge and embrace a saving relationship with their Creator. Sadly, many Christians seem to have fallen into this trap, as well, and embraced the state as their 'worldly' savior, largely because of a misinterpretation of Scripture, along with a growing sense of apathy and laziness!

Can this 'storm' be avoided? Many think that through a re-education of the people of this nation it can, and indeed will be avoided! It will take a complete re-education, not only of the principles that our fore-fathers established, but of our relation to our Creator, and the re-establishment, in the hearts and hands of the people, of the truth and absolute necessity of that relationship. We have seen where simply following our fore-fathers has gotten us, particularly in the past 150 or so years! It would be good no doubt, and helpful, to return wholeheartedly to those principles, but there must be a repentance, a turning again to the One who established those principles in the first place, our Almighty God, Creator and Father!

With a growing apprehension, and yet peace.
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Born to Live!

Many Christians seem to almost be proud of the notion that 'Jesus was 'Born to Die', yes, that we might live, but there is so much of a focus, especially around this time of year, on the fact that He came to die ( for the sins of His people ), that we often seem to forget that, more importantly; He came to live, and to bring Life to those trusting in Him!

A friend was telling me just the other day that Christmas has become a bigger holiday than Easter. This is sadly true, and while much of this is due to commercialism and greed, this is as sadly true among many Christians who have also become caught up in the greed and idolatry so rampant around this time of year! I believe that another reason that so many Christians, even, have placed more importance on the birth of Christ than on His resurrection is the fact that most Christians do not believe that His resurrection has truly been effective yet, and related to this, there is also the 'ghost' of individualism that haunts them.

Don't get me wrong; it is good and right to celebrate the birth of our Savior! This is something; however, that we should be doing everyday, and not just around this time of year! The same goes, in all actuality, for Easter, or, to be more correct, Resurrection Day, where we celebrate the fact that death could not hold, and in fact, was defeated by Him. This leads us back to the sad fact that many Christians believe that His resurrection has not yet finally been effective, because of the belief that the death He died was to reverse the effects of physical death, rather than the metaphorical, or separational ( relational ) death that our first covenant ( federal ) head died in the day that he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

We celebrate the fact that He was born into this world to take away the sin of His people, and then, on Easter Sonday, or Resurrection Sonday, we celebrate the fact that He rose from the dead, defeating death, but we don't realize, sadly, that in actuality, death has been defeated! Too many Christians, and this is where the haunting 'ghost' of individualism arises, are expecting that their physical bodies will be raised again after they die. Maybe this is why Christmas has long had a more important 'air' about it than Easter, or Resurrection Day ( we can't forget the greed & idolatry thing, either )!

That He came to live, and to bring Life, that we might live, while not a totally overlooked fact, should have more impact on our daily lives than any separate celebration of His Birth, His Death, or His resurrection, for that matter.

Was Jesus born to die?

Yes, in a sense, He was, but it is so much more than that! He lived, most importantly, that He might, by His Life, reverse the effects of Adam's disobedience. He did this by fully satisfying the requirements of the Law ( since His people could not ) throughout His Life on earth, and then, yes, He did die for the sins of His people, and to defeat death forever by bringing His people back into Communion, and in fact Union with His Father, their Creator!

As we celebrate, to varying degrees, the birth of our Savior, let us always remember that He was born to live, and because He brought us Life, being the Resurrection and the Life, and remembering always this glorious fact, let us live the Life that He brought us, not as in hoping ( waiting ) for some future life! With the  realization our Life, the Life of His covenant people, is in Him; let us celebrate that Life, and live as those who have been freed from the bondage of sin and death!

Gloriously alive,
Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh, Worship the King!

Worship the King on His Throne
Not the Baby in a Manger!

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4: 4 & 5

At this time of year, especially, the vast majority of Christians, and even some non-Christians, like to celebrate the birth of our Savior, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it seems that many of those like to keep Him in the manger, so to speak, the rest of the year, just like they seem to do over this holiday season!

Most Christians are quick to acknowledge the fact that He IS ruling and reigning, but only in our 'hearts', and that He IS on the Throne, but only in 'Heaven', not on earth; I mean, all you have to do is take a look around you at all the evil in the world, to see that He must not be reigning ( yet ) on the earth, right? WRONG!

Much of the reason that there IS so much evil in the world is that too many Christians do not acknowledge that God, through Jesus, IS ruling and reigning on this earth, and though, at Christmas-time, and even sometimes throughout the year, they celebrate His coming into the world, most of them live the rest of the year as though He is still a baby, not yet having inherited, and not yet reigning in His Kingdom!

Ask of Me, and I will give [ You ]
The nations [ for ] Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth [ for ] Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.

 The vast majority of Christians, though, I believe, this number is gradually lessening, stubbornly cling to the traditional and orthodox ( ? ) notion that Jesus has not yet returned to claim His inheritance, and that while He IS King in our 'hearts', He has not yet taken up those 'reins', or that 'rod' that His Father promised He would rule with! Because they believe this way, many Christians live this way, and so have neglected their duty as His people to extend that reign and rule, keeping it to themselves, 'behind the eyes and between the ears', so to speak. Now, this is not to say that ALL Christians who believe, or say they believe thusly, live consistently with their proclaimed beliefs, praise God, but too many, for to long, have acted this way, and allowed the evil to overcome the good!

'Just wait', you might hear these Christians say, 'till Jesus comes back; He will set everything right again!' Has He not already set everything right again, as He promised in the Scriptures? Are we not a new creation, as He tells His people through Paul in that most famous passage, II Corinthians 5:17? 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me', These famous words from Paul's letter to the Church at Philippi are probably among the most over-used, as well as misapplied and misunderstood phrase quoted by many Christians today. We are new creatures, who can do all things ( through Christ ), but we can't overcome evil with good? 'Well, sure', you might hear, 'but we can't force others to do right, we can only live our own lives'. That's true, we cannot force anyone to do right, but by living our own lives according to God's Word, and by NOT keeping 'behind the eyes and between the ears', we, as the people of God, the Body of His Son, Jesus the Christ, CAN overcome evil with good, we CAN do all things through His Spirit within us, and as new creatures, we CAN set things right! In fact, THAT is the whole reason that we were made new creatures in the first place! 

There should be no doubt that we can accomplish this, that through our true worship of the King on His throne, we may influence the evils that beset us on every side, and turn them to good;                                 

The question is, 'will we?'

In the worship and service of the King,
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Life, Liberty, and the Soveriegnty of God

'We the people of Montana, grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of
our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of
life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future
generations do ordain and establish this constitution.'

In the past decade or so; we have seen the apparent decline of the greatness of our nation, as more and more laws are passed, to varying degrees of lawlessness, whether blatant or subtle. Many of these laws are so insidious as to be hidden  ( buried ) in other seemingly harmless and even almost helpful legislation, but for those who have seen through this facade; these regulations have been revealed for what they truly are; one more step on the downhill slide into a Godless and socialistic society! Well, on second thought; maybe 'godless' isn't quite the word we should use here, because there is a multiplicity of gods that our society in general, and our civil governments in particular, are guilty of exalting!

 The sacred volume of Scripture has much to say on the topic of 'Life, Liberty and the Sovereignty of God', and this is the foundation, needless to say, for which our founding fathers, those 'forgotten heroes' of our nation's gloried and storied history, unselfishly gave up their lives, liberty and property, and upon which their actions were based.

True freedom is that found in God alone! As our Creator; He has endowed each of His creatures with certain inalienable rights, among which are the pursuit of happiness, including the right to life, liberty and property. When we misuse, abuse, or just totally ignore ( neglect ) these God-given rights, we, to one extent or another, are stripped of these rights, whether lawfully or unlawfully. I say 'lawfully or unlawfully', because, as in the case of criminal misuse or abuse, these rights are regulated, or else, because of national judgment or just discipline, these rights are removed out of hand. This is not to say that, even when we are being judged as a nation, for whatever cause, we should not resist the tyrannical 'power' that seeks to strip us of these rights, for we should resist tyranny in all shapes and forms,  to the death if necessary, wherever it rears its ugly head! We must, however, realize that, in His total and complete Sovereignty, our Creator 'has a Purpose for every petty dictator' that man, in his vanity, deems to set up! God told that pettiest of dictators, the Pharaoh of Egypt ( Exodus 9:16 ), 'indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth', and revealed in Psalm 2, verse 6, 'Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion'! Whether we want to admit or not, whether we acknowledge it or not; our Creator has His purpose for all His creation, and His will is done; always!

'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. '

Our liberties, insofar as our own do not encroach upon those of another, are inherent; that is to say, they have been given us by our Creator, and are ours by very virtue of our being. When our liberties are threatened, or altogether taken away, whether it be 'piece-meal' or all at once, 'in one fell swoop', so to speak; it is our right, our duty, to fight for those liberties, as it is not our liberties alone that stand in jeopardy, but those of generations to come: this is why our fore-fathers fought so long and so hard, and often to the death, for our freedom. I say 'our freedom', for it was this they realized; they fought and died for our freedom!

As we have, in many ways, far removed from the ideals of these 'forgotten heroes'; we have lost many, if not most, of the freedoms for which they fought! Many of these freedoms have all but vanished with a graduality which is purposefully deceptive in its insidiousness, but almost as often they have been stripped in blatant disregard of the Pillars upon which this country was founded, that of Scripture itself, and of our fore-fathers stalwart adherence to those biblical principles ( as they understood them ).

Our Creator, He who covenanted with His creation, and upholds it by its every breath, has entrusted weak, susceptible and fallible human beings with their own government, and the government of the rest of His creation, both the human and animal, as well as natural, or material creation. We read in Genesis 1:26, after God had finished the act of creating man in His Image, 'let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' Man, whether he admits it or not, whether he follows his lofty calling or not, has been given the dominion, and when he freely gives that right, or blessing up to someone or something else; he is telling his Creator, in other words, just what Adam & Eve told Him on that fateful day in the Garden, and which their descendants, the children of Israel under the first ( typical ) covenant continually asserted: 'we know better!'

Our God-given liberties, which have seemingly been transferred out of our possession over the past several hundred years ( in this country ), have likely all but disappeared for several reasons. One is that men have told their Creator, 'we know better than You' ( and this may be the most important, as well ): secondly, our liberties have been encroached upon in this manner because God's people have allowed it to happen.

National judgment is not something that we can easily overlook, either!

With over 55 million children having been murdered in the past 35-40 years, the fact that we have lost so many of our covenant blessings, through the natural consequences of our actions, or else inaction, should really not be shocking in the least.

Deuteronomy 28 is most famous for its description of the blessings and cursings of the covenant. Some may protest at this point, saying something like, 'we are no longer under law, but under grace: we are in the new Covenant now, not that first covenant'! This is likely the greatest misunderstanding that the people of God treasure today! There is one Covenant; there has always been One Covenant, that Covenant being embodied in our Lord, Jesus the Christ, as prophesied in Isaiah 42:6 & 49:8!

But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, 
that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.
Deuteronomy 28:15

It is true that we, as the covenant people of God ( and this includes all who confess the Name ), have been 'conveyed........into the kingdom of the Son of His love', so that we are 'not under law but under grace', but even though we are allowed to pursue life, liberty and happiness through the good graces of our heavenly Father, He, through His most excellent Father-hood, has ensured that we reap what we have sown, so it is through our disobedience, whether out of ignorance or pure rebelliousness, that we have brought these curses upon ourselves!

If you look carefully at the wording of Deuteronomy 28:15 above; it is not saying that God would bless or curse, as has often been thought, depending on our obedience or disobedience, but simply, that these blessings or curses would come upon us ( happen ) as a result of either reaction. Just as these curses came upon the children of Israel, as we read in the pages of Scripture, so they now have happened to God's covenant people as a result of our disobedience. We may experience the blessings of the Covenant once again, only by repenting of our unfaithful disobedience, and returning to the faith of our fathers, 'lock, stock, and barrel', exercising the dominion, and thus, the liberty that we have been given!

'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.'

There is much talk of revolution, whether armed rebellion or quiet, subversive sedition, in this country today, and it is all well and good to speak of returning this country to her roots as a foundling nation, as the 'forgotten heroes' mentioned above envisioned her. Some, even many, probably many more than we would think, are ready to take up arms and fight ( on our own soil ) for the freedoms that 'big government' has wrested from our cold dead fingers! This sounds like it could work, and talking to those that are 'rarin' to go'; you might begin to think that it would, but as they say, 'freedom ain't free': it would be a long, hard, bloody battle, and if 'freedom' won out, which is very possible, even against the seemingly greater odds; in another 100 years, maybe less, we would have it to do all over again!

'Why', you may ask, would we prophecy such an end? Well; simply put, when mere humans are in control, something is bound to go wrong! Throughout history, this has been proven over and over again. Humanly speaking, the saying is abundantly true and verifiable, 'power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Human beings have shown that they cannot be trusted with power, unless and insofar as they realize and acknowledge with their whole heart, mind and strength, where that power comes from. Until men realize the fact that God is the only incorruptible Power, and that it is in His strength alone that we rule; there will be no true and lasting freedom. We may enjoy a sort of temporal freedom for a time, but only until the next petty dictator comes along!

Reading through the book of Kings, and even earlier, in the book of Judges; it quickly becomes very clear that, even though God's people enjoyed freedom from slavery or persecution for a time, after God had raised up a deliverer for them, more often than not, they returned to their slavery under some kind of tyranny as soon as that deliver had died.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, 
and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14

This verse has been quoted so often, by so many preachers of God's Holy Word, that many, I'm sure, have grown tired of hearing it, but hear and heed it we must! If we are ever to be the nation that our forefathers envisioned, and which we can become, by the grace of God, there must be a heartfelt and active repentance of the wickedness perpetrated in and upon this nation, by those who claim to know better, firstly, and secondly, by those who do not know better. There needs to be a national turning again, an active repentance, bowing our heads to the earth, and raising humble hands to our Heavenly Father, our Creator, and as children saying, 'abba Father! We need to humbly repent of our sins of omission as well as those of commission, whether committed in the folly of ignorance or the vanity of wicked rebellion, which is as the sin of witchcraft.

The sin of child-murder ( abortion ), and that most ancient of sins ( which is related ), Molech-worship, the selfish offering ( sacrificing, really ) of our children on the altar of state-craft, should be foremost in our minds when thinking of the needed repentance. As we heard earlier, over 55 million children have been murdered in this country ( that we know of ) since the supreme court judged Roe vs. Wade, and opened the gateway for child-murder, otherwise known as abortion, to be legalized. This is not something that can, or should, be easily passed over, or forgotten. With all this innocent blood on our hands, not to mention all the meaningless massacres and needless wars that have been perpetrated by this once-great nation, it is shocking, really, that we have seen the blessings that we have in this country!

Some may say, and this has been tried for centuries and it has failed as miserably for centuries; 'we just need better legislation', or, 'more legislation, better laws', but as history has manifoldly attested to; this is not the answer. The Answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind; the Answer is the Solid Rock upon which this nation was founded, 'one nation under God'!

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”

 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
Psalm 2:1-6

For years, men have sought to exalt themselves, believing that their power lies in their own strength, and not willing to acknowledge that their Creator has granted them the very breath they breathe, have set themselves up, in many cases, as gods. We may look at the historical figure of Alexander the Great, of Macedonia, or Greece, as a glaring example of the Sovereignty of God. It is very clear, looking back through history, that God did use this meglo-maniac to accomplish His purposes, to advance civilization to hither parts, and to spread the knowledge of Himself throughout the known world of the time, but it is also very clear that Alexander built himself up to the point that, without his acknowledgement of where his power came from, there was no way but down. Shortly before his thirty-third birthday, Alexander died, having accomplished the domination of much of southern Asia, from the River ( Euphrates ) to the ends of the earth, as far as the Himalayan Mountains in northern India. Although he had enjoyed great success in his military campaigns, and built one of the greatest empires the world has ever known; even his kingdom was crushed under that Stone that Daniel ( 2:31-45 ) foresaw as crushing everything before it.

Today, we face another such empire, built by the vanity of man. This empire, which may be called 'The American Empire', is not simply the machinations of one man, as Alexander's, but is the brain-child of many wicked men, at varied points throughout history, of which the British Empire, and before that, the Roman and Ottoman, were simply forerunners, and is simply the latest iteration of the vanity of men who exalt themselves against God!

I daresay, and without prejudice, that some of our founding fathers may not have been unfriendly to this notion of empire-building, but for the most part, I believe we can say with certainty, it was the furthest from their minds at the founding of this nation, 'under God'. This nation was founded as such, and as such, was secured through the blood, sweat, and tears of these 'forgotten heroes'!

 And you, Ezra, according to your God-given wisdom, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who [ are in the region ] beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know [ them].
Ezra 7:25

Even heathen kings, such as Artaxerxes of Persia, under whom this command was given, recognized, through the Sovereignty of God, that His law was good, not only for His special covenant people, but for all His creation. Before Artaxerxes gave this command, probably one of the most widely known foreign kings in the biblical record, and famously, rather than infamously, was the king, namely Cyrus, that had given the original command to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. In Isaiah 44:28, God called this heathen king ‘My shepherd’. In Isaiah 45:1, we read ‘Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held’. We have already seen how God, through biblical history, has used even those who had not made a covenant with Him, saying of this Cyrus, ‘he shall perform all My pleasure’, and of the Pharaoh of Egypt, ‘for this [ purpose ] I have raised you up, that I may show My power [ in ] you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth’.

David king of Israel wrote, in his 24th Psalm, ‘The earth [ is ] the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein’. He, recognizing, affirming, and ascribing that, as Creator of all; all belongs to God and all rests in His mighty hands, laid down most clearly in Scripture the fact that God does reign over all, and that He does rule over the affairs of men, righteously judging and having mercy in that judgment. This most wise and merciful God, our Creator and Father, has bestowed upon men the governance, first of themselves, then their families, those who have entered into covenant with Him willingly, and of their own accord, and finally of what is known as the civil realm. It is most obligatory upon us, as those that He, through the will of the people, has set to govern, to represent those who have elected us to these several offices according to His law, first of all, then according to the will of the people as set down in our State Constitution.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. 
All things were created through Him and for Him.          
 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Colossians 1:16 & 17

The sovereignty of God is incontestable! Any honest study of science, and of Nature itself, will prove the existence of a Creator, and though vain men have tried to deny this for years, they have found themselves stymied at one point; no matter how minute or microscopic ( atomic, even ) a 'particle' may be, there is no way, naturally speaking, that something could come from nothing; it had to start somewhere, with something! There is much talk in the news today about the 'Higgs boson', AKA the 'God particle', but the question here, as well, is 'where did that come from?' Everything, physically speaking, had a beginning, and everything, in the same sense, will have an end!

Much more may be said about the above truth, but now may not be the time to broach such a subject. What is before us, is that our God, and His son, Jesus the Christ, is, as the Creator of all things, absolutely sovereign over all things. It is from this Sovereignty that our own limited sovereignty, or liberty, emanates, and to which can be our only recourse in the face of tyrants who would wrest these inalienable liberties from our feeble grasp. We have not the strength, on our own, as much as we would like to believe it so, to stand up and, repulsing those oppressors and persecutors, to take back what is rightfully ours. Our 'founding fathers', to a greater extent, anyway, understood this, and when the time came to throw off the chains of oppression, and to stand and fight; they knew to raise their arms to 'Heaven' crying 'Abba, Father', for they knew well enough that their Creator is the only Provider, Sustainer and Protector!

We today, and in the days and years to come; have such an exalted and heady choice before us: 'Will we throw up our arms, like those of old, crying 'Abba, Father', relying wholly upon Him for the redemption of our liberties, and stand in His Strength to fight our battles, be they against principalities or powers, or will we bow the knee to the statist gods, those who do not acknowledge the Reign of Heaven, and continue to flounder in our pit of despair?

Through a recognition and realization of this sustaining fact, and through the active ascription of these foundational principles, we may yet again, begin to see the blessings of liberty for which our forefathers fought and died, and coming to fruition, may bless our children and grandchildren with the inherent freedoms which we all possess.

'Oaths do not in themselves produce a new and particular obligation, but are added as a sort of accessory bond to an obligation in itself valid. For always in swearing we suppose something, failing to perform which, we call down upon us the Divine punishment. And this would be foolish, if it were not unlawful to fail to perform the thing in question, in other words, if we were not already bound. Hence it follows that formal arts, to which attaches a defect nullifying the obligation, do not become obligatory by the addition of an oath. In the same way a previous valid agreement is not destroyed by a subsequent oath, nor is a right which another had thereby acquired now taken away from him. Therefore it is vain to swear that one will not pay one's debt to another. And an oath is not binding when it is established that the swearer supposed some fact which in reality was not such, and would not have sworn, if he had not so believed; especially if he was led into error by a trick on the part of him to whom he swore. Also the man who by an unjust fear makes me take an oath acquires in consequence of that oath no right legally to demand anything of me. Of no effect also is an oath concerning the performance of an unlawful act; or even that which concerns the omission of some good deed enjoined by laws divine or human. Finally, an oath does not change the nature and substance of a promise or contract to which it is added. Hence it is in vain that one swears to impossible things. And a conditional promise is not changed into an absolute or simple one by an oath. And acceptance is required just as truly in the case of a promise under oath.'-Samuel von Pufendorf-On the Duty of Those Who Take Oaths
The Duty of Man & Citizen According to the Natural Law

( A note to legislators, and those elected by 'we the people' to protect our God-given rights and to ensure the free reign of liberty; it is your duty before God, not only as oath-takers, to uphold your vows, but as sovereign citizens yourselves, to realize, recognize and uphold 'the Reign of Heaven', that is, God's sovereign rule, even in the affairs of mere mortals! )

Charles Haddon Shank

Biblical Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the New Covenant Era ( for Prabhu Das )

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife
 and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 

When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees on the topic of divorce, he told them, 'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so' ( Matthew 19:8 ). He went on to give them then, a bit of instruction which has become a quick-gauge for this matter; 'I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[d] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery'. From here; we traditionally go to I Corinthians 7: 10-16, where Paul wrote such things as, 'A wife is not to depart from [ her ] husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to [ her ] husband. And a husband is not to divorce [ his ] wife', and 'the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband'. There are at least two things that we must consider when reading the first statement, and this could be applied to the second as well; first; we must remember the context in which Paul wrote these instructions, and the situation that he was likely dealing with when he penned these words. At the time of writing; Paul and the early Church were dealing with new converts to Christianity, men and women, who had spouses who, in many case probably, did not share their paradigm shift, and remained ensconced in their Jewish upbringing. We may note too, that Paul wrote that a woman was not to depart ( separate ) from her husband ( we may refer here, to the story of Hosea and Gomer, in Hosea 3 ), but that if she did, she must be reconciled to her husband, or at least remain celibate during the separation. The husband was by no means to divorce his wife, except for the reason Jesus had given. Secondly, and this flows right from the first, and might seem almost unnecessary; they were to remain together, not only because of vows which they had made before God, but that the believing spouse might have a saving effect on the unbelieving.


Do a man and woman literally become 'one flesh' when they are joined together in holy matrimony? They remain two separate and distinguishable people, do they not? Yet, God calls them 'one'! Obviously, this oneness of 'flesh' with which they were blessed was not a reference to their physical status! This statement could only refer to their spiritual status, especially as we see Paul, again, making such a statement as this, in Ephesians 5:22-33; 'This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church'.

Marriage, as an institution, is simply a picture, a moving picture, you might say, of the bond between Christ ( God ) and His Bride ( His People ). As such, unity in the marriage was to continue as a testimony to our spiritual unity with our Husband, our Creator and Father. When a divorce occurs, and this is an undeniably ugly fact, there is an adultery involved, whether it be the actual physical act, or whether it be a spiritual one. There is an idolatry, a worship of or clinging to, other gods!


Divorce, and this is a fact that I can personally attest to, is ugly! Especially so when children are involved, but even when it happens where there are no children involved; divorce tends to tear at the very heart of all those involved, even if both are unbelievers, particularly when they have been together a long time.

In the gospel according to Mark ( 10:9 ), in the parallel passage to that first quoted, Jesus said, 'Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.' We may refer to the last part of the section on marriage as to why a man and woman should remain in the holy estate of marriage in which they were placed: it is because their marriage bond reflects the unity between God and His people, and when divorce occurs, especially ( maybe only ) between believers, it reflects a spiritual adultery, a worship of something other than the one true God. This is why God came down so hard on the children of Israel under the first, or old covenant!

Marriage, as it is designed, and as was already pointed out, is meant to be a reflection of the unity of God and His people, but, physically speaking, it is so much more than that! Wise King Solomon had a few words to say on the subject, not of marriage, precisely, but of relationship: he wrote, 'Two [ are ] better than one,
because they have a good reward for their labor
', and '
if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
but how can one be warm [ alone ]?
  ( Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 11 ) These words really almost describe the epitome of the real, actual purpose of marriage. When divorce occurs, this bond is broken and no longer ( depending on the marriage ) do you have that same warmth ( especially here in Montana! ), nor do you have as great a reward for your labors!


Divorce, like it or not, is a fact of life, not only among the unbelievers, but also, and even more disturbingly, among believers, Christians! This should not be, especially among those who claim the Name, but the sad fact is, that just as most everyone else, even some Christians seem to forget, or ignore, their marriage vows, and separate for whatever reason, because they can't get along anymore, don't love one another any longer, etc: it happens! When this happens, and it is not always inevitable, sometimes reconciliation is possible, one party, or both, will often, somewhere down the road, think of getting married again.This is only natural, and among most Christians especially, it's the only way, lawfully, to follow Solomon's wise advice.

Some Christians have tended to take the words of Paul quoted earlier, and apply them today, in a very strictly literal, rigid way, and totally forbid ( or shun ) anyone from remarrying after a divorce, or from marrying one who has been divorced. As we saw earlier, though, this was not quite what Paul was saying, or dealing with when he wrote those instructions. He was dealing, not so much with divorce, although that was certainly in the picture, but because of separation ( division ) caused by this 'new' religion.

God's purpose, as shown in the institution of marriage, has always been to reflect the Oneness, not only of Christ and His Bride, God and His people, but the unity within the Godhead itself! Marriage, though not the only picture, is most likely, humanly speaking, the best representation of this unity! When this bond is broken; it must be  either restored or renewed. If it cannot be restored, and often, humanly speaking, it cannot be, it should be renewed, forged again, that God's purpose in this matter may be fulfilled!

The concept of remarriage may cause some people, in particular if they were scarred by their divorce or marriage ( or both ) to say, 'What am I thinking; didn't I learn my lesson the first time?!' These thoughts, while they are only natural to many people, even Christians, are way off the mark, and missing the whole point!

Aside from King Solomon's wise and astute observations above; the point, as we have noted, of marriage, is to reflect the unity of Christ and His Church and to glorify Him through that marriage by shining the light of that oneness into every dark shadow, and turning it into light!

Sure: it's possible to be of service to God and His Kingdom if one remains celibate, in fact, sometimes wisdom seems to tell us that we can be of better service this way, but with a good marriage, I believe that the service rendered to the Kingdom can be so much more and better!

Prayerfully and introspectively,
Charles Haddon Shank