The Pagan Path

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Wine ( 'old wine-skins'? )

What did Jesus mean, when He said 'Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved' ( Matthew 9:17 ). Common sense tells us, especially if you know anything about the power of yeast, that if you put un-fermented wine into an old, used wine-skin, you might have problems when the 'fresh' wine starts to ferment! Aside from the elemental and physical connotations of this statement; the immediate context of Jesus' words, above, immediately following a parallel simile, seem almost to be a random statement, and somewhat out of place, but when understood in terms of the covenantal and historical contexts of the change that was about to be fully and finally revealed ( within that generation-Mathew 24:34, I Corinthians 15:51 & 52 ), the 'old garment' and 'old wine-skin' that were about to be replaced was the old, or 'first' covenant ( Hebrews 8:7 & 8 ).

Paul, in Galatians 3:3, wrote, 'Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?' Apparently the Church in Galatia was having trouble with the Judaizers at that time and were being told that they must keep the whole law ( of Moses? ) in order to please God. Paul had laboriously made the point, though, that since they had received the Spirit of Christ, who was the end of the law; they must not seek to return to the useless ( dead ) works of the flesh.

In today's Christian 'world', we seem to be facing much the same problem. Though everyone out there who claims the name of Christ, unlike those first-century Jews, but like the Judaizers of Paul's experience, acknowledges Jesus as the Christ, they do not, for whatever reason, believe that the Purpose for which He died has been accomplished or fulfilled. Apparently, the Purpose for which He died was only to make salvation available to His people! Wait a minute; Scripture ( Matthew 1:21 ) says that 'He will save His people from their sins'! Something isn't right here!

Old wine, new wineskins?

Paul wrote that 'Therefore, if anyone [ is ] in Christ, [ he is ] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new'. Most Christians know this passage by heart, but is it truly realized in their lives? Sure, if you ask them what it means to be a new creation, they will probably give you a more or less accurate biblical definition, at least, according to their interpretation, but are they really acting like a new creation? Are they acting as if the creation HAS been made new, as if the death ( of Adam ) HAS been defeated? No; until Christ returns, they say, the creation will continue as it has since the beginning ( II Peter 3:4 ), and will only then be actually new, since the old will be burned up in a great conflagration!

Clearly, something is wrong in this picture! If Jesus did not return as He said He would, in the first century, making 'all things new' ( Revelation 21:5 ), then what else did He promise that hasn't come true?

Can we truly say, with any conviction or veracity, that this earth has been renewed? Well, to be honest, 'NO'! This world, the terra firma that we inhabit is the same old earth it's always been and always will be! It may be in God's Master Plan for this planet we call earth to one day wind down, and in its relation to the Sun, possibly even burn up, but is this what Scripture prophesies? Far from it! As a covenant book about a covenant people, Scripture speaks of a Day to come when God would renew His Covenant with His people, working a change within them, 'burning the hell out of'em', so to speak, and making them ( us ) a fit vessel for His dwelling-place, the New Temple!

Because, as some say, Jesus has not yet made all things new, we must wait until He returns to
experience the fullness of this newness!  As we have discussed before, the correct covenantal,
historical and grammatical understanding of the 'world' of which Scripture speaks is not ( necessarily ) the world with which we are familiar. When most Christians, for instance, read that 'God so loved the world' ( John 3:16 ); they tend to think globally ( not necessarily wrong ), rather than covenantally, as was universally understood at the time of writing.

In many ways, the problems that we face in this Life come to a head when we try to place new wine into old wineskins! When we understand that Our Heavenly Father placed Himself ( Wine-John 15 ) into ( made ) New Wineskins, how can we think of trying to use old wineskins for a New Purpose?!

Charles Haddon Shank

The Fulfilled Gospel, Articulated

Is the Gospel of Jesus the Christ still relevant in this day & age? If it's all fulfilled, do passages like John 3:16 hold any meaning for those of us living in the 21st century? Must we be 'born again' today, in order to enter the Kingdom, or have we inherited the blessings of the Resurrection? These questions & more may be answered in this short article, but many more like them may be engendered!

Lately, we have explored, to some degree, the notion that we, as followers of the Christ & in fact, Christ-bearers, are the Son of God! As the first Adam was given dominion over the 'beasts of the field', and Israel, under that first covenant was made to be 'a nation of priests', so we, as the Body of Christ, are to continue to spread & share the Good News of the Presence of our Heavenly Father & His Kingdom! To be sure, we are simply The Temple of the Holy Spirit, and His Power overshadows us still, but the influence that is brought to bear in us is well-nigh infinite!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

The context of Jesus' words here demands that we understand that Jesus had come to die in place of His people Israel & that whoever from that world accepted Him as Messiah would have The Eternal & Supernal Gift He offered! This Promise, however, though fulfilled to the Remnant of Israel, is translated to those who would afterwards believe on Him ( John 17:20 )! According to a Fulfilled Gospel, even those who believe in Him today as the Savior & King of His People can enjoy that Promised & Eternal Rest!

Our Heavenly Father, yes, loved that 'world' so that He gave His only Begotten Son, but He loved His entire Creation so much ( as any good father ) that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for His entire Creation ( I John 2:2 )! In this sense, then, we may witness to the universal facet of the Gospel! Although the original Good News was revealed, in the first century A.D., to those living in a certain region or area in the Ancient Near East, the Gospel is to & for all men & women everywhere ( Luke 2:14 )! The angel, or messenger, told Joseph that Mary's Blessed Child would 'save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 )! This Gospel, in its first century context, was given first of all to the Jew ( Hebrew ) & then, as the apostle Paul revealed, or rather reminded his Jewish contemporaries of, to the Gentiles as well & from there to the uttermost parts of the earth!

Jesus told Nicodemus, not that he ( singular ) must be 'born again', but that this new ( spiritual ) birth must occur before his people could inherit the Promised Kingdom! As a true representative of his people ( Jews ), Nicodemas understood Jesus to be speaking in a physical sense, but Jesus never meant to convey a physical truth! The apostle later wrote hard sayings such as 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God' ( I Corinthians 15:50 ); how else are we to understand this statement if not spiritually?

We have noted previously that these truths are 'spiritually discerned' ( I Corinthians 2:14 ); it is only by understanding them thusly that we can glean any hope at all from such a statement! For instance, if 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God'  ( in a biological & individual sense ) because if this is understood in a physical biological sense, we will never enter, or see, the Kingdom of God! From a futurist perspective, where we will be resurrected to physically perfect biological bodies, we ( individually ) will never see His Kingdom, even after we die! 

The Gospel of Jesus the Christ is the Good News ( for ALL men & women ) that Heaven came to Earth, that our Heavenly Father now dwells with ( in ) His People & that we His People HAVE inherited His Kingdom! Covenantally speaking, only those who are obedient to the terms of that Covenant will enjoy the blessings of this Marriage, but ALL live within the confines of that Covenat, whether they realize it or not & whether they like it or not! 

May we ever live this Truth, prayerfully & humbly realizing that, as Christ-bearers, Christophers, if you will, we represent the Fulfilled Good News of Jesus the Christ before the entire world! Let us hope that in this coming New Year, we can all do a better job of bearing ( witness to ) the Gospel of the Kingdom! Let us be the 'thousand points of light' that we were made to be ( Daniel 12:3 )' as we ever witness to this Fulfilled Gospel! Let it be fulfilled in us!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Lord of Creation

Most Christians believe that Jesus is ruling now, but only in our hearts; Jesus, according to this belief system, has yet to return and set up His earthly Kingdom, which according to Scripture, will never end! While waiting for Jesus to set up His earthly Kingdom, most accept the earthly rule of those who are not in agreement with Him, and some even that are in direct & flagrant opposition to His rule!

It is difficult, no doubt, for many people to believe that Jesus is ruling on the earth at this time, what with all the wars, violence, sickness & all manner of evil that seem to persevere! What we must remember though is that He rules through His People! We are His Hands & Feet, so when we neglect our duties, it is no wonder that Christians & non-Christians alike witness all the present evil in this glorious world He has given to the sons of men, and decide that Jesus has not returned yet & that He is not yet reigning over His creation!

The prophets, in Scripture, told of a time to come when the Creator God would bring His Kingdom from Heaven to Earth so that the whole Earth would be filled with His Glory & the Knowledge of God would cover the Earth as the Waters cover the Sea! Daniel, in particular, prophesied, 'in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.' ( Daniel 2:44 ), but even David, king of Israel, proclaimed this Good News; 'I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.' Most Christians, of course, because they see evil so rampant throughout the earth, do not believe that this has occurred yet!

You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Exodus 20:5 & 6 

Many idols have been erected in this nation of fools & some of these are worshiped even by well-meaning Christians! Since Christians have bowed before these idols & served them ( though unwittingly or unwillingly ), rather than bowing before their Heavenly Father alone & serving His Will, this Kingdom, from a human standpoint, anyway, has been tainted! We see the selfishness & vain-glory of man ruling the day, even among many so-called followers of Christ!

The Church is in confused disarray, believing, in a variety of ways & to different degrees, that Jesus will return one day, in Power & Glory, visiting destruction on His ( disobedient ) Creation & rescuing His Good Creation from the powers of Sin & Death! We ferociously & vociferously debate each other over whether Jesus' Return will usher in a veritable utopia or whether the Promise of His Return was a spiritual one;  whether Time will be no more, or if we will inhabit this cleansed earth in spiritual, yet somehow physically perfect bodies! All the while, many of these same Christions are bowing before & serving the same idols that the rest of the ( unbelieving ) nation is worshipping!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6 & 7 

The Promise of a Messiah was made specifically to Israel as a nation, but from there, as Daniel prophesied, He 'became a great mountain and filled the whole earth'! Israel, like the first Adam before him, was to be a priest to the nations around him, to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of Grace & Love to all of God's Creation! In the Fulness of Time, the Messiah of Israel did come & the Kingdom was transferred over to His Hands!

In this Season, we celebrate the Coming of our King, but do we yet fully understand or realize the Nature & Extent of His Rule? We sing songs during this Season which exalt His Reign, but do we truly believe that He is Reigning & Ruling currently, or do we act like He must come again and perform another rescue operation? Why can we not see see that He has given us dominion ( Genesis 1:28 ) & that must simply exercise that dominion in order to see its fruits?

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Party's Over

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.

After almost two centuries of the 'party system' here in America, what do we have to show for it? Our country's getting older & deeper in debt by the day! No doubt, we should not blame it all on this system, but much of the problem with where our great nation has fallen to can be blamed on this system! While it's true that there are all sorts of people in this country, all with different beliefs & political leanings, the Rule of Law is not subject to a party system! Sure, different people interpret the Law in a variety of ways, bu when it comes right down to it, the Law ( Common Law ) upon which this once-great nation was founded is pretty clear; there is a right way & a wrong way, and neither of the two main parties, not to mention all the stragglers ( Tea Party, etc. ) have everything right! ( On the other hand, they aren't doing everything wrong either! )

As we've discussed before, and it's as plain as the nose on your face, the people of this nation are the root of the problem! If certain people in this country didn't want Obama, for instance, in office, he wouldn't be there (  you could say the same for Bush II, Clinton, Bush Sr, and on down the line )! There again, you can see that there are puppet-masters behind the scenes, pulling the strings according to their own hidden ( not very well ) agendas, but if we hadn't adopted a party system, but had stuck with the plain interpretation of the Common Law, we most likely wouldn't have the problem ( with these puppet-masters ) that we do!

This may sound shocking, but Obama & his reign of terror ( remember, we can't blame it all on one man ) may be the latest, best thing to happen to this nation! He has sure woken a lot of people in this nation from the slumber; gun dealers love him! It may have slowed down by now ( kinda doubt it ), but people are buying guns and ammunition in drove since the Obama Administration initiated some of it's less then gun-owner policies. Not that the Tea Party, or any other Freedom Party will ever make a huge difference in the politics of this country, but the Occupy groups that grew out of the loss of personal liberties in this nation are a good indicator that many of the people of this nation are sick & tired of the bullshit  that is starting to hit the proverbial fan!

How much more will we take?

In Tennessee Ernie Ford's famous '16 Tons', we see a man who has become so encumbered by debt, so weighed down by his own allegiance to 'the company story', that he feels like he'll never get out of it! Much of the problem in this nation is due to the fact that we have been false educated into believing that we 'must' work for 'the company store', that we 'cannot' govern ourselves & that we 'must' vote for the lesser of two evils ( it's our civic duty )! None of the above is true & if every American were to begin to think for themselves, they would soon realize that they don't 'have to' work for someone else to make a living, they 'can' govern themselves ( according to Common Law ) & that to vote for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil!

It is true that most Americans, much like Israel of Old, if given free reign ( governance ) would be doing what was right in their own eyes! Though many of these would be guilty of almost total anarchy if given the chance to govern themselves, probably as many more would obey ( however loosely ) the Common Law that is the foundation of our society!

As more & more people are woken by the crashing down-fall of this once-great nation, we will find that Americans will not take it forever! The Loss of Liberty which this nation is undergoing at this time will have the greatest effect in this concern. Many or most Americans have become so complacent in their chains that they don't even realize they are in chains!  Much of this can be blamed on the education they received, mostly in the government schools, but in private schools, Christian even! The government schools, for so long, have indoctrinated America's children, teaching them to sit down, shut up & 'obey your master' ( Metallica, anyone? )! Christian schools. for the most part, have taught much the same thing, telling the children that we must obey the current regime, because we are 'in the world but not of the world'. We should leave 'them' to their own devices because 'Heaven' is our home, & we'll get there by & by ( Jesus is coming soon )!

Education may eventually bring us back to the desired State! If enough people begin to realize ( by being shown ) how easily we can slip out from under this yoke, we may be able, either through quiet or noisy revolution, to turn this ship around; America may be saved! Don't hold your breath though, as to this happening, especially anytime soon! Our liberties have been eked away ( most insidiously ) for so long that it may take an armed revolution to get us back to the garden. America, as we know it, will never be the same, one way or the other, you can count on that!

It is for damned sure, though, that no certain 'party' will save us! History has shown us that politics as usual ( this includes the Tea Party & any other political party ) is just that, a 'party'! 'If you don't follow the agenda of any certain 'party', you are the enemy'! Sad to say, but any 'party' can be corrupted by its leaders. We will never solve our problems by joining any certain party, or by giving our allegiance to any leader but One!

By giving our allegiance to our Heavenly Father alone & to no mere man, we may learn to govern ourselves, to work for ourselves & to rely upon His leadership alone! This may not happen overnight, in fact it most likely won't, but Our God is Sovereign; it could well happen just as it happened to Saul on the road to Damascus! This nation has been in a downward spiral for so long that it will probably take at least as long ( short of armed (and Godly ) revolution ) to recover from her long history of idol worship!

All we can do, as the Watchmen we are ( Ezekiel 30 ) is to warn the leaders of this nation of impending judgment & doom, live our own lives under the protection care & governance of our Heavenly Father & by thus doing, show people a better way!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

To the End of the Age

What did Jesus mean when He told His disciples He would be with them 'to the end the age' ( Matthew 28:20 )? Was Jesus telling them that once the end of that ( current-I Corinthians 10:11 ) age had come, that He would no longer be with them?! Was He speaking of the 'age to come' and revealing the end of this ( so-called ) Christian Age?! Maybe the clue to deciphering Jesus' words here lies in discovering the 'end' of which He spoke!

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 
( ‭I Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬ )

Why would Peter tell his readers this? If he told an American Christian this today, either one of two likely scenarios would happen; either he would be laughed out of town ( on a rail ) or the listener ( reader ) would take note of his warning & then do one of two things! He would begin to prepare himself for the coming of Christ & the utter destruction of the world ( wait.... ), or he would tell himself 'eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die'! But Peter did not write these words to American Christians living in the 21st century; he wrote them to Hebrews living in the 1st century A.D.! When we hear someone talk about 'the end' of something, we usually think 'cessation'; the beginning of something 'new' maybe, but the cessation of what is 'old'. To a good Hebrew though, one well-acquainted with the Story, 'the end' would have more of a connotation of the goal or end result!

In His model for prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray that His Father's will would be done &
that His Kingdom would come 'on earth as it is in heaven'; this was the end result that Jesus taught His followers to seek! He did not teach us, nor did the apostles later, to long for the cessation of life as we know it, but instead, He taught those first century disciples, as did the apostles as well, to expect to witness the end result, or goal of the ages, the Eschaton, the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

Jesus was in fact, the End of which He spoke! Yes, the cessation of the ministry of death, or Israel under that first ( covenant ) was drawing near. The time of their judgment was 'at the door' ( James 5:9 ), but more importantly, the promise of God Himself was about to be fulfilled, 'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.' ( Genesis 3:15 )! As the Promised Seed, Jesus was about to crush the head of 'the serpent' ( Romans 16:20 ( John 19:30 ) & usher in 'the age to come' of which the prophets had spoken, the Kingdom of which Daniel had prophesied as lasting forever ( Daniel 2 )!

The Goal of the Eschaton, as we have noted, was that God's will would ( once again ) be done 'on earth as it is in heaven' & that the Everlasting Kingdom of which Daniel had prophesied would finally come to bear! This 'end' was reached in the 1st century, beginning with the ministry of Jesus & the Apostles, finding it's culmination in the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem & the Jewish Temple in 70A.D. & is now being fulfilled ( filled up ) through The Ministry of Life, in & through His People, the Anointed Ones, the Church! As the True Israel of God, we are to bring the Light of this Good News to the darkest corners, to expand the Gospel of the Kingdom to the farthest reaches & to be what the original Adam & Israel were supposed to be, Heavenly Ministers of Grace & Truth!

Could the end be near in our day; could this globe which we all inhabit come to a sudden halt & be burnt to a crisp by an angry sun? Sure, it could happen! Things could heat up and transpire just the way some scientists & fear-mongers are prophesying, but we know that this is not the 'end' prophesied in Scripture! That 'End' ( goal ) was realized in the 1st century ( though most have yet to realize this glorious fact ) & consummated the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, with the end result that the Holy Spirit has taken up permanent Residence within His People ( John 14:23 )!

Could it be that Jesus was speaking of the Comforter ( John 8 & 14 ) when He spoke these words to His disciples? Was He simply comforting them with the knowledge that He would not leave them or forsake them, even though the world seemed to come crashing down around them? 'The end of all things' ( that they had previously known ) was most assuredly upon them & the world in which they had grown up was about to come crashing down around them, but they 'had light in their dwellings'!

With the Knowledge that the End of the Eschaton not only came, but stayed, 'let us eat drink and be merry', for we never die, having entered our Eternal Rest! They reached the End ( Goal ) of the Age in the 1st century & we now live in that Completion, as the result of that Divine Marriage!

Charles Haddn Sgank

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Healthy Sexuality

It is fairly well accepted that, within the bonds of the marriage covenant, sexuality is a good & right thing to explore! It is outside these bonds that it is usually frowned upon & even forbidden. Sensuality, on the other hand, is barely mentionable, especially among many Christians, causing such a sensation in most circles, that it is even more taboo than sexuality! Even within the bonds of the marriage covenant, according to most Christians, sexuality & sensuality should be kept under lock & key, behind closed doors, so to speak!

Human beings of both genders, or sexes are, by their very nature, both sexual & sensual creatures; to deny this is to deny our Heavenly Father's creative ability! Woman was created to complement the man, no matter how you look at it; they fit together like hand in glove! Man was created with a certain instrument that is designed precisely & perfectly for sperm delivery! At the same time, this instrument is designed in such a way as to give both parties a considerable amount of pleasure during this process! The woman too, is not without an arsenal! Though purposely & perfectly inverted from the man's, her instrumentation is also designed to give a large amount of pleasure during a certain activity!

There is nothing wrong, in itself, with exploring one's sexuality! Sensuality, though stifled among many, is only natural and a necessary part of God's good creation! Why then are both of these completely healthy & natural feelings ( for lack of a better word ), condemned? Why is the practice of one's sexuality almost a taboo subject, whereas sensuality is not even a mentionable subject? Since we were made that way, what is wrong with a healthy bit of exploration & even ( gasp ) enjoyment? Well, as with most things & as the wisest man that ever lived once said 'there is a time for every purpose under the sun' ( Ecclesiastes 3:1 ) 'the way of a man with his virgin' is conceived by this same wise king as something which is too wonderful for even his full comprehension! There is a time & a place for everything, although anyone with the least bit of intelligence could tell you, especially in this day & age, that a park bench in the middle of a busy park, on a bright, sunshiny day, is probably not the wisest choice to explore either your sensuality or sexuality! Would there be anything intrinsically wrong with doing so? Not necessarily, but it sure could turn into an embarrassing & potentially dangerous situation ( ever get a sliver in your.......ahem; gives all new meaning to the phrase, 'shiver me timbers'! )!

So, if not the above scenario ( ouch ), where then & most importantly, when then? If not just anywhere & anytime, what would be the best scenario for a healthy & consensual time for exploration? Well, obviously, wisdom must play a part! Good sound, Scriptural wisdom tells us that the parties must be man & wife! When the parties are not man & wife, not only do they put themselves under condemnation, both God's & man's, they open themselves up for a world of unnecessary hurt! Seriously, there is plenty of room for hurt, even if they are man & wife! ( plenty of good, sexual healing, as well, too )

When both man & maiden ( virgin ) determine within themselves to wait for the right moment to go exploring, both the sexuality & sensuality are heightened dramatically! 'Timing is everything', they say & 'they' are right; when one waits upon their Father's wise bestowment, both the sensuality & sexuality can be so much more enjoyable, knowing, for one, that our Heavenly Father views such wisdom in a kinder light! The communion of the saints can be so much better too, as we are not hindered by feelings of guilt, even if we are able to keep our illicit activities under wraps!

As men & women of God then, both young & old, let us determine within ourselves to leave the exploration of both sexuality & sensuality to those in the marriage covenant! If certain parties can not keep it together & in their pants, then, as the apostle Paul wrote, 'it is better to marry than to burn'; if we cannot keep it ( them ) together & ( it ) in our pants, then rather than stifling our God-given & blessed creativity, both ( consensual ) parties should consider covenanting together before they do something stupid!

Charles Haddon Shank

The New ( Relative ) Morality

'If it feels good, do it!'

How often have you heard this statement from those who are acting according to their own lusts and not according to what our Heavenly Father, in Scripture says is right & good? To those who's consciences have been seared, what feels good to them seems right! ( It feels so right, it can't be wrong' ) Conversely, if something doesn't feel right to them, then it must be wrong! This should sound strangely familiar to us, and akin to the notion that truth itself is relative, that while something may be true for one person, it is not true for another!

Before someone notes that this statement is true, in a sense, that what is true for one may not be true for another, let me just say this; it is true! In the sense that it is is true that one may have finished his or her race, it may not be true that the other person has finished his or hers. In the same line of thought, it may be true that one person is wearing blue, for another, it may not be true, for they might be wearing red or green! ( It is true that some will take the blue pill, while it is also true that others will take the red ) No, the Truth we are talking about here is that the Sun is a giant ball of gas, & molten rock ( we think ), the earth is a big rock, covered with dirt ( grass ) & water, 2 plus 2 equals 4 & our God is a Living God! This is called Absolute Truth!

Many people today, including some 'Christians', seem to be of the opinion, for varying reasons, that morality, like truth, is relative! What is wrong for one person & what is right for one may not be right for another; it all depends on how you feel about that. For instance, most will agree that abortion is murder, but in the case of rape & incest, those feelings carry the day, and murder in those cases is perfectly acceptable! While it may seem a hard thing to tell the victim of a rape or incest that she is murdering her child by aborting it, this is one of those absolute truths! There are always other options for those victims & murder is not a viable one!

Scripture is very clear; there is a right & there is a wrong! If something is wrong for one person, it is wrong for all people. Most Christians will tell you, in other words, maybe, that we are only to judge those inside ( the City? ), but not those outside; is not the same thing true for those outside as those inside? Can we not judge, if we see someone outside doing what is wrong, as well as we judge those inside? Wrong is wrong & right is right!

In today's society, many or most have been desensitized, through various means, to the clear distinction that Scripture dictates! We have men joining men in unscriptural unions and calling them marriages; many Christians are accepting & even embracing this fallacy! On the other hand, women are doing the same in direct violation of the established order! This new morality dictates that as long as they love each other & commit to living together within the bonds of holy matrimony, they may even call themselves Christian!

Who are we to say that they are not followers of Christ if they have truly sacrificial love for each other & for the brethren?! One might well say, on good authority, that Christ, though He surely loved His own, men & women, He was not a homosexual, He followed the natural order which His Father instituted when He brought Eve to Adam! Although we do not have the authority to say whether or not Jesus Himself ever married, it is safe to say that He agreed with His Father's model for marriage!

More could be said here & might well be at some point, but for now, this should give you something to think about! Is it right to do what Scripture condemns as wrong, even though maybe not expressly? There are some today who try to justify themselves by saying, 'that's old testament; we're under Grace, not Law'! This could be another whole subject, and in fact this blog contains a few posts on that subject, but the fact remains, right is right & wrong is wrong; like our Heavenly Father, these Truths do not change!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, December 08, 2014

Marrying & Giving in Marriage

For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Matthew 24:38 & 39

The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Luke 20:34-36

As a believer in Fulfilled Eschatology, you most likely have come in contact with someone who asks, if the resurrection is in the past, then why do we still have people marrying and being given in marriage?' Some might even go so far as to say that since we are 'sons of the resurrection', all bets are off; there is no need to be married any longer, there is no longer anything such as sin or fornication, since there is no marriage anymore! Those who propose the former, though most wouldn't touch the latter with a ten foot pole, have missed the Story!

Besides the fact that they cannot connect the 'world' of Noah's Day & its ultimate judgment with the 'world' of Jesus' Day & its ultimate ( and final ) judgement, those who would say that the resurrection cannot have occurred yet seem to have needlessly & carelessly attached a biological & individualistic meaning to the words of Jesus. When the God of Israel charged His covenant people with adultery & issued a warrant of divorce, it was not because the Body of Moses had committed the physical act of adultery with the surrounding nations & their gods, though, no doubt many of them, individually were guilty of this crime; it was because they had forsaken their covenant with Him & had prostrated themselves before these false gods!

The Scriptural concept of marriage has a physical & individual aspect to it, no doubt; in the Institution of this Sacrament, Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, brought Eve to Adam & they became 'one flesh' ( Genesis 2:24 ), Isaac 'took Rebekah and she became his wife' ( Genesis 24:67 ) & so on, but more importantly, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, marriage is a picture of 'Christ and the church' ( Ephesians 5:32 ). The ( human ) Institution is itself simply a picture of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

Eschatologically speaking, this Marriage has occurred! This is why Jesus said that the 'sons of the resurrection' 'neither marry nor are given in marriage', because they are already married! Individually, of course, men & women still marry as a picture of this Greater Spiritual Truth, but corporately, as the Body of Christ, we have been married to the One who came from Heaven to take up residence in our midst! For us, there is no more 'marrying and giving in marriage', for we, the Body of Christ, have been married since the 1st century!

Charles Haddon Shank

Someone to Hold

Let's face it; the human touch, physically speaking, has no equal! Yes, being the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we are in daily communion with our Heavenly Father, but without that sensation that only another human being can bring, it's hard sometimes to feel even that Love! We know that we have His Love, for more than any good biological father, our Heavenly Father's Love is truly limitless & truly unconditional,but humans all have that basic need, some more than others, to feel the emotional charge when two bodies touch, or come together!

As the Body of Christ, though, we must be careful with whom we come in contact, for the human touch, if not kept in check, can cause a world of hurt! Most of us, in one way or another, have experienced the hurt that comes from unlawful or unwise ( careless ) contact. It is difficult, often ( usually ), to keep our feelings in check when those feelings pop up, and harder still to reign in those emotions that long so severely for that release!

This is not to say, puritanically, that all human contact outside the covenant of marriage is unwise or unlawful! You may have heard that a 20 second hug everyday is good for the human biology ( or something to that effect ); it can be a good thing, in many cases, but there are also certain ways in which such prolonged contact can lead to unwise & even unlawful actions! It is not too difficult to imagine, when things begin to heat up, an emotional discharge of pent-up energy working it's way to the surface! More often than not, pain is involved, to whatever extent, whenever emotions are allowed to rule!

Scriptural principles, stemming from the first recorded murder ( Genesis 4 ), tell us that our desires tend to rule over us, naturally, but that we should instead rule over them! This again is not to say that all desires, or even emotions are an evil, for to desire a good thing is good & right, and sometimes an emotional release is just what the Doctor ordered! On the other hand, if we allow those emotions & desires to rule us, to dictate what our actions, or rather, reactions will be, then is when the hurt comes flooding in! Feelings change & emotions can be very volatile ( unstable ), so when they are given free rein, the amount of pain that can result is almost infinite & and as anyone who has ever experienced this can tell you, the effects can seem never-ending!

At this point, you may be wondering if it is ever wise or lawful to express our emotions, or let our feelings show! Should we always keep that need for human contact in check at all times? Can we never allow an emotional discharge to escape?

As with all things, there is a right way & wrong way to do things! There is a right time & a wrong time to let our feelings show, to express our emotions in action! We must judge according to the Revelation of God's Word & Holy Spirit within us as to whether it is the right or wrong time, the right or wrong way to act or react!

'There is a Balm in Gilead!'

There is a healing for all the hurt that is caused by a premature release of emotion, by an untimely expression of feelings! The scarred memory of this hurt will often remain with the bearer forever, but the Hurt will be Healed & the pain will subside! Our Heavenly Father has so ordered the Body that one member cannot help but feel the pain of another & thus to do his or her part to heal that hurt member!

We all need that special someone to hold, but when we allow our feelings & emotions to dictate the one ( or ones ) that we cling to, then we have just opened ourselves to a world of hurt! It is only by trusting to our Father's wise bestowment that we can hope to avoid all that hurt & pain, to wait on His timing to release those emotions & to show those feelings to that special 'Someone to Hold'!

May God grant us His Grace in this matter, as in all of life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Exploring the Problem of Evil ( The Nature of Evil )

Evil is a funny thing; it's all around us, yet actually, it doesn't really exist!

Some may beg to differ, and in fact, history itself seems to teach us to the contrary! Though our own experience seems to tell us that evil exists, as we have seen previously, evil is not a tangible thing, per se; it simply happens! For ages, there has been talk of evil personified, and truly, it is rather useless to deny the fact that some people are, well, just plain evil, and then there are those that are more insidious ( 'Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light'-II Corinthians 11:14 ). There can be no question, especially in light of yesterday's & today's headlines, that there is plenty of evil happening all around the world; even here in our own country!

Can evil BE personified? Does it have a nature ( of its own )? Sure, we can look at many Scriptures that seem to prove the existence of a malevolent spirit-being named 'Satan', yet these same Scriptures, in most if not all cases, prove this 'Satan' ( adversary' ) to be a mere man ( Ezekiel 28:2 )! In this sense, then, evil exists in the form of any person who exalts himself above God! In actuality, though, evil is something that happens, because an 'evil' person can repent, 'evil' can be redeemed, 'evil' can be rectified!

Traditionally, for instance, 'Satan', as a fallen spirit-being, can never be redeemed! Even the angels in Heaven itself will never experience the joys of salvation! There is much useless ( and rather idiotic ) speculation associated with many of these traditions, even though there are doubtless numerous proof-texts to support this tradition.

Evil is most definitely a big problem in this day & age, as in ages past, and it most certainly has a definable nature to it! The apostle John, when he wrote his letters to the Church in Jerusalem ( I John 4:3 ), warned them that 'the spirit of the now already in the world'. According to John then, who walked with our Lord, this was not simply a person, but one 'that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh'! There was a certain spirit of men in Jesus' time that did not believe He was the Son of God & there was an opposing spirit that believed He was Who He said He was; it was the former 'spirit' that was cast into the Lake of Fire at the end of that age ( Revelation 20:10-15 )!

Let us explore a few of the more familiar texts that 'prove' the existence of this fallen spirit-being!

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
Job 1:6

Although traditionally speaking, this is fairly strong evidence that 'Satan' exists, we know, both from further contextual study of the phrase, 'sons of God' ( Genesis 6:2 & 4, Galatians 3:26 ), that these referenced were simply men with a spirit in communion with their Heavenly Father! There is further speculation among some traditions, that posit that those 'sons of God' in Genesis 6 were spirit-beings themselves, but this has been shown to be absurd, almost to the point of hilarity, if not for the fact that many still believe this!

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

This event is used by many to 'prove' the existence of 'Satan' as a fallen spirit-being! Questions like, 'was Jesus simply battling with His own inner demons?', might be aimed at those who deny the existence of this 'evil' being. 'How could the Jewish High Priest have taken Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple?'  'How could he have taken Jesus up to a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world & offered them to Jesus if only He would fall down & worship him?' Besides the fact that there is no literal mountain on this globe for any man, even Jesus, to be able to see every kingdom on earth, this can be shown, in the context of the Story, to be simply a glimpse of Jesus's Temptation by 'the lust of the eyes' ( I John 2:16 )

And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Luke 10:18

There you go, irrefutable proof that 'Satan' exists, or used to, anyway; Jesus Himself witnessed this 'Fall'! This however, itself brings up interesting, though quite useless speculation about 'when': was Jesus speaking of seeing Satan cast to earth at some earlier point in history ( Lamentations 2:1, Ezekiel 28:16, Isaiah 14:12 ), or was He speaking, as is traditional & orthodox, of the fact that He had granted His followers 'authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy'? Was Isaiah 14 simply a preview, if you will, of coming attractions? Was the fall of the king of Babylon really just a type, in metaphor, for the future fall of Satan?

There are many more & maybe better 'proof-texts' for the existence of 'Satan', or of evil personified, but these will suffice to show that this spirit was simply one in opposition to the Spirit of God! Men who possessed this spirit, who opposed God's Purpose of Redemption for the whole world * not just Israel according to the flesh, were the Adversary, or adversaries of which Scripture speaks: I mean, for God's sake, Jesus called Peter himself 'Satan' ( Matthew 16:23 )! And why? Because Peter, at that point, stood in opposition to the Purpose of Jesus!

Again, there can be no question that evil exists in the form of anyone that exalts himself or herself against the purposes of God, who denies that 'Jesus Christ has come in the flesh'! There is much evil in the world, but it comes simply from those who nurture & spread this spirit of malcontent & hatred, their hatred of God & denial of His loving Natures causes them to perpetrate such acts that are worthy only to be called 'evil'! Our only respite from this 'evil', through the Power of the Spirit within us, is to work, both to rectify the existent evil & and to stay our own hand from doing evil!

May we ever work to this end, always bearing this Spirit Within us & presenting the Love of God to His World, opposing 'evil' in whatever form it may take, in the knowledge that the Spirit Within Us is greater far than the spirit of malcontent & hatred ( 'evil' ) that possesses many in this world!

Let us go forth, conquering & to conquer!!!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Agents of Reconciliation & Redemption

It's that time of year again; time to give thanks for all that we've been given in the past year ( yeah, it's almost over ) & time to look forward with joy to what we'll find under the Christmas Tree ( or parked in the garage, tied up to the dock, etc. )! As one of our local radio stations has been airing recently, 'it's the return of 'A Season for Giving'! ( Don't get me wrong; what with the colder weather ( higher heating bills, need for warmer clothes, etc. ) & the already weak economy and such, 'A Season for Giving' is a great idea! )

It is good always to give thanks! Not only is this a biblical concept, it is a very good idea as well to always persevere with an attitude of gratitude! In today's society at large, it is often very difficult to keep such an attitude, but studies have shown that if this sort of demeanor is ever-present, things seem to go a lot smoother! The introduction of 'A Season for Giving', therefore, though a great idea for our times, is only a temporary fix for what is merely a symptom of one of society's greatest dilemmas!

As Christians ( and even many non-Christians ) in the midst of a largely un-Godly society, we often despair of ever fixing this society; our best hope is for God to reveal His wrath from Heaven, cleanse this world of unrighteousness & usher in a utopian society, one free of any vestiges of sin, or evil! The thing that many Christians have neglected to take into account though, is that our Heavenly Father already accomplished the redemption of His People; it's all there, in black & white for anyone to see, provided they have eyes to see & ears to hear what the Spirit is saying! ( okay, so the 'utopian society' might be a stretch )! Sin & Death were defeated at the cross & finally & forever destroyed with the cessation of the Ministry of Death! We tend to gloss over the fact that the Virgin Mary wasn't a Roman Catholic, John wasn't a Baptist & Jesus Himself wasn't a Christian!

The Story that is revealed in Scripture, though it has relevance for us, is not about us; it's about a bunch of Hebrews ( Jews ) in the Ancient Near East! We, as the Body of Christ today, benefit from the Accomplished Redemption of that Jewish Society, they having been reconciled to their God & Father! Having been redeemed & reconciled to that same God & Father, we, as the Body of Christ, have been given the task of tending His Garden! In His Strength, we are to go forth, redeeming & reconciling His creation ( society ) to Him!

We are 'a redemptive society', but how well do we, as the Body of Christ, understand this; how well do we live it? Are we here to wait for the Son of God to return, when He is already here? Must we wait for 'A Season for Giving' before we realize the needs of those less fortunate? Why else are we here, but to forgive those who wrong us, and not returning evil for evil, to effect a positive change in this world in which we live?

As we work & play in the midst of this holiday season, let us remember that this is not the only season for giving, or for remembering the poor & needy among us! We, as the Body of Christ, should always be ready to redeem the time we have been given & to spread the Gospel of Reconciliation through a life of forgiveness! May we ever follow Christ in this & and may the blessing of our Heavenly Father be upon us, as we endeavor for His Glory & our good!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, November 28, 2014

Beyond Covenant Creation; the Sacrifice of Israel, God's Only Begotten Son

Undoubtedly, the Scriptures are not a science textbook! In this day & age, even many Christians are beginning to realize this startling & almost horrifying fact, though probably as many more or holding vociferously to the old, archaic notion that the creation story related in the first chapters of Genesis is indeed a scientifically accurate, chronological account of the very beginning of Creation! We may read this account scientifically, but when we try, through that science, to prove certain 'facts' about this terra firma, then is when we run into trouble!

Being fully convinced of the truth that the account ( s ) in Genesis 1 & 2 are about the Introduction of Covenant rather than about the formation of the material world, we ascribe with all certainty to this 'model', and we understand many of the implications of this sobering, yet freeing truth! However, though this truth is becoming clearer & clearer every day, we might understand too, that while the importance of understanding ( intellectually ) the concept & construct of the covenant life is great, putting those implications into practice is of utmost importance! More & more, Christians & non-Christians alike are beginning to live according to this glorious Truth, whether or not they acknowledge & understand  ( fully ) the importance of this kind of Theology!

Covenant Creation really opens up the Scriptures! Reading the Revelation of God's Word in this Light makes certain heretofore obscure & meaningless passages grab our attention like never before! And, we've only just begun! It's really only in the past few years, certainly no more than a decade, that this construct, or conception has really begun to jockey for position with the more traditional concepts & beliefs that have been held for millennia! The Implications & Applications that Covenant Theology, from Covenant Protology to Covenant Eschatology & Beyond, have on this Life are Infinite! Understanding the covenantal relationship that we have with, not only with our Heavenly Father, but with all of His good Creation, should have a most profound Impact upon the way in which we live our lives, but what are the fruits that we have harvested from this 'tree', so far?

So far as I have seen, there are but a few discussion groups on the Internet, Facebook in particular, that are dedicated solely to the discussion of Covenant Creation! One of these seems to be aimed more at discussing the idiocy & inconsistencies of this position, while another group has been opened exclusively to those who already strongly hold it, or at least are hungry for the truth it holds! Both groups are relatively interesting & fruitful, but unless there is a meaningful change evident in the lives of those who get embroiled in such discussions, of what real use are they? Although we know than any lasting change will take time & in order for us to act on what we know, we must first be sure of what we know, there is a time when action must take the place of discussion! That time is Now; we must begin to act on what we know, not before it's too late ( for 'twill never be too late ), but while this biology endures, for as long as our bodies encapsulate the Breath of Life, we are God's Hands & God's Feet!

As faith without works is dead, so discussion of the principles of Covenant Theology, whether Protology or Eschatology, is useless unless necessarily accompanied by a notable change ( for good )! So many of us seem to substitute these discussions for meaningful change ( action ) & when it comes to instituting or applying these implications, it seems that we are fruitlessly discussing them to death & then going about our relative day to day with almost no noticeable change ( for the better!

Covenant Theology, both Protology & Eschatology, makes so much sense of Scripture that it's almost frightening! Having come to this understanding, it's becoming more & more difficult to envision life without it! Once you've drunk deeply of its waters, you'll never be truly satisfied with the traditional theology that most of us grew up with!

A return to the beginning, to the drawing-board, so to speak, is what's called for here! In many if not most cases, this all-encompassing paradigm shift is so pervasive & so with any previous paradigm, that it will take a complete reversal, almost, to relieve ourselves of the errors that have become so prevalent in our modern theological landscape! If we can somehow implement the changes in our society that Covenant Theology necessitates, then & only then will come to fruition the countless hours of discussion!

'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End'! When we begin to understand the full import of these words, to witness the Protology & Eschatology of Israel, then it becomes infinitely clear to us that the Scriptures were never meant to simply relay the truth of biology, but are a record of the introduction of Heaven to Earth & the redemption of His Creation to Himself, through the ministrations of the Son of God! The preparation of Israel, from the First Adam to the Last, to be the necessary sacrifice for that Redemption & Marriage, was initialized 'in the beginning', as related in Genesis & finalized with the Advent of the Jewish Messiah, or Jesus, who was the Christ!

With the advent of this sobering, yet freeing truth, the Truth of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, many things have changed & Lord willing will continue to do so, but to enable that change, we must be willing to move beyond any theology we might hold & put those beliefs into practice, to let them flow out through our fingertips into a suffering world that needs our Redemption!

As the Embodiment of God's Son ( corporately speaking ), may we always let this Redemption flow through us to the 'nations' around us, may we be the Waters of the River of Life that flows out from our Heavenly Father's Temple! Let us venture beyond our theology, Covenant or otherwise, with the realization that God IS who He is & WE ( corporately ) ARE His Temple!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Courtship of Israel & the Creation of Covenant

When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 16:8

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
Genesis 6:1 & 2

Israel is known as the wife of Yahweh/Jehovah/God! Whether you understand Israel as being only those according to the flesh, or as those according to Promise ( Spirit ), she was and is what may be called The Marriage of Heaven & Earth! The Sinai Covenant, having been traditionally viewed, among most anyway, as the institution of this Marriage & the Formation, or Genesis of Israel as a nation, some have come to see, that Sinai did witness the Genesis of Israel & even more, that this was not the institution of the marriage, but simply the initialization of it! What was begun in the beginning ( 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' ) was the formation of the apple of His eye ( 'As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths'- Ezekiel 16:4 ). When she had matured physically & was ready to be married, Yahweh instituted a Covenant of Betrothal with her, promising, through that Covenant, to marry her 'in the fullness of time'!

Scripture, or the Holy Bible as we English-speaking peoples know it, has been known as a Book of Covenant, in certain circles, God's Love Letter to His People! It is that! How much, though, do we understand by those words? Is it really as simple as 'For God so loved the world..........' ( John 3:16 )?
Well, yes, it IS that simple, but how well do we understand what it really means that 'God so loved the world'? Reading passages from The Song of Solomon & this from Ezekiel 16 ( 'indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine' ), we see how much impact that phrase really has!

Many Christians ( even non-Christians ) look at the passage above, from Genesis 6, and they see male demons, or fallen spiritual ( non-physical ) beings procreating with female human beings! Not only is this a ridiculous assertion, it has been found through further study, that these 'sons of God' were simply a reference to the sons of Seth, rather than sons ( 'daughters' ) of Cain. The 'sons of God'' in this passage, as well as others, may be seen to refer to & picture those Covenant Children who would become the 'sons of God' ( Matthew 5:9, Romans 8:14 ) in 'the fullness of time', that is, when the Marriage had taken place!

As a sort of side-note, you might say, it was fallen spiritual beings ( Jude 6 ) who impregnated the 'daughters of men'! It was those children of Adam through Cain who had rejected the Knowledge of God & had thus given up the blessings of His Inheritance! These 'angels' ( messengers ), like Israel according to the flesh, failed to relay the Message of God's Love & instead had sown seeds of discord & hate! Because of this failure, God sent His only begotten Son, in 'the fullness of time' to gather His Bride from 'from the four winds' ( Matthew 24:32 )!

The spreading of Yahweh's 'wing' over Israel should bring to our minds the courtship of Ruth & Boaz, wherein she requested of him, 'Take your maidservant under your wing,[a] for you are a close relative' ( Ruth 3:9 )! This strengthens our assertion that this Covenant was not a Covenant of Marriage ( although a Promisory Covenant ), but simply a Covenant of Betrothal!

Much more could be written here, concerning this Courtship, the Choosing ( election ) of the Bride of Christ & the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, but since the purpose of this post is simply to inspire thought in the People of God, we will go no further here, except to say that the Creation ( fattening ) of 'the heavens and the earth' was simply a preparation of the Son of God ( Luke 3:38 ( Exodus 4:23 )  Hosea 11:1 ( Matthew 2:15 ) for that Marriage!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Tangled & Random Web We Weave

The internet ( thank you, Al Gore ) is a two-edged sword; it can be either a blessing or a cursing, used for good or evil! There is a lot of good stuff out there, but there's also a lot of bad; you can easily find millions of search results, literally in seconds, on any subject you can think of, theological & mundane. Anymore, pastors don't need much of a personal library, as long as they have the internet & time to search for the titles they're looking for. This is not a guarantee that the specific title they're looking for is on the world wide web ( legally or illegally ), but, for the most part, if it's in the public domain ( and even if it's not ), it's somewhere in cyberspace!

On the dark side, you can just as easily ( or easier ) find pornography, to whatever degree your little heart might desire! Sometimes. dancing images of naked women or little girls even, will pop up on your screen because you simply typed in one wrong letter in the address bar, or entered the wrong search terminology. Yes, it's not just the men who 'benefit' from this Pandora's Box, either; women can lust after their favorite Chippendale ( sans tights ) with just a few clicks of a button!

Social networking, on the other hand, and Facebook in particular, has become such a huge business ( 'everybody's doing it' ) that people must often wonder how they got along without it! It IS an easy way to keep in touch with family & friends, as long as they 'do' Facebook anyway, especially in this day & age, with the busyness of our lifestyles. With the advent, in the past decade or so, we can now carry Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & a horde of other internet sites with us wherever we go, even Youtube! Speaking of Youtube, if you need instruction on anything from small engine repair to how to load a pricing gun, you can probably find the video you need on Youtube! In fact, I just recently read a story about a former NFL star who had never farmed in his life, quit a very lucrative career in the NFL, and learned the ins & outs of farming by watching Youtube videos!

Again, there is a dark side as well, to this social networking thing! Many relationships have come to bear through Facebook ( or other SN sites ) but as many or more have crashed & burned because of it! One of the problems, as my brother-in-law has pointed out, is a lack of accountability. Because of the world wide web, you can say almost anything & get away with it! You may be looking at ( and lusting after ) the most drop-dead gorgeous blond with the most luscious & delectable boobs you've ever seen, and you may become hopelessly entangled in her web of deceit, only to find out ( too late ) that 'she' is an over-weight black man, living on Social Security & foodstamps!

Even if you live in the same town as certain of your FB 'friends', because some people are often prone to talk more freely in cyberspace, relationships have been known to go flat! With Facebook, as with texting or any other form of electronic communication, though it is easier, often, to relay a message or hold a sort of conversation, it is also easy to misread, misunderstand or even misinterpret what was relayed!

One may sign up for Facebook or a plethora of other SN sites out there ( even dating sites ) with the best of intentions; some may even have a positive impact on their cyberspace, or find the woman ( or man ) of their dreams & live happily ever after, but as the case may be, probably more often than not, one will find their hopes & dreams dashed, and find out, too late usually, what a negative influence this internet can be!

As with all of life, care & caution must be exercised when it come to the World Wide Web! One must know the difference between good& evil, as well as having the gumption to put that knowledge into practice! The internet is not evil in & of itself; pornography even, would not exist if it were not 'good' business! If people were not so easily ensnared by its seductive influence, it would not be such a booming enterprise! Even though it is well ensconced in the hearts of at least 75% of this nation of dupes, if even half of those were to, all of the sudden, stop viewing it online, or even to stop paying for the 'service', it would no longer be the thriving business that it is now!

As with politics, people are to blame for the problems & yes, the evils that we love to complain but usually don't do a damn thing about in today's society! If everybody in this country had a sudden change of heart, and just stopped ( Cold Turkey ) perpetrating or turning a blind ( ignorant ) eye to the evils that occur every day, every hour & every minute in this nation, we would see such a Revolution as the world has NEVER seen! All the Great Awakenings & Revivals of Righteousness this nation has EVER witnessed would pale in comparison & and many of the evils that now plague us would simply dry up  & blow away!

It starts with the Family! If we don't get that right, then NOTHING else will turn out right! Political intrigue & social action might seem, on the surface, to alleviate the problem, but as we've seen for the past several centuries, they only entangle us more hopelessly in the web of deceit & despair! If we can untangle ourselves from this web, at the same time utilizing it for the good that we can accomplish through it, having a positive rather than negative impact on society, we can turn this country around, although it will be a slow progress; it's taken years to sink to the level we've gotten to & it will take as long if not longer to climb out!

May we, as the Covenant Community of God's People, lead the charge in this Blessed Endeavor!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Idol on Every Street

Just about everywhere you look these days, even in the midst of the most beautiful parts of God's good creation, are idols! These, according to definition ( ), can be anything from 'an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed', to 'any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion' or even 'a false conception or notion; fallacy'. There are parts of God's good creation that people have made into idols & there are constructs of men & women, whether material or intellectual, that were made, if not expressly for that purpose, for no other real purpose then the admiration & adulation of others!

Just south of Glacier National Park, here in beautiful Montana is a slightly down-sized rendering of one of the largest & most infamous idols in the nation, The Washington Monument! Not much more will be ( or need be ) said here concerning this most famous phallic symbol, but suffice to say that this 'erection' is very significant of the sexual 'bent' of this nation! Although this is actually, by far, not the largest such 'erection' or construction in this Nation of Whoredom, it is maybe one of the best-known symbols of the idolatry for which she is known!

Just as in the days of Israel according to the flesh, much of God's good creation has been utilized as idols as well! The reason for this is that idolatry rests securely within the hearts of men & women who have not actively sought & cultivated a right relationship with their Creator ( Heavenly Father )! An example could be the difference between one who looks at the beauty of Nature & ascribing it to our Almighty & Beneficent Creator, enjoys it as such, and another, who looking at the same Beauty, ascribes it to Chance & so approaches it with a reverence & worship due the Creator alone!

Not only can the material good Creation or construction of man be worshiped as idols, they ( idols ) can also be the property of the intellect! One example of this, particularly in this day & age, is the very Constitution of these United States itself! How often do you hear people from every walk of life, including most Christians, lamenting 'if ONLY this country would return to the Constitution!'? The Constitution is by far not the only culprit when it comes to the intellectual property of idolatry ( in fact, you could almost say that idolatry is a merely intellectual property ); in many cases, what we know as the Holy Bible has itself become almost an idol, not unlike the Law & the Temple did in the Days of Israel ( according to the flesh )! Many Christians maintain, irregardless of the truths of Audience Relevance & Covenant Context, that it's Eschatology refers to our own day, and not only that, but that it is the VERY Word of God & not simply the Revelation of that Word ( as interpreted by man over several millenia ) which now dwells, in His Fullness ( Colossians 1:23 ) within His people, the ( Corporate ) Body of Christ!

Idolatry, just as in former days, takes many forms, as we have noted! It can include anything from the misplaced adoration & adulation of the Natural Creation itself, human & material, to the worship of the pro-creation, materiel & intellectual of the creature! This could include the Sunday Worship of crazed football fans at the local center for idol-worship on some mountain ( or at the foot of a mountain ), but it also has to do with our priorities! What importance do we place on certain activities? Would we rather do one thing over another? If so, 'why'? If not, 'why not'?

Now, having said all this, placing more importance on one activity, place or thing ( even person ) does not make that activity, place or thing wrong, or evil! As we saw earlier, idolatry stems from the heart, the innermost being! It is why one reveres this over that, or even worships in the midst of God's good Creation that makes an idol out of it! Even our own intellectual property ( I speak mostly to myself here ), as well as that of others, can become an object of Misplaced Worship to us!

Let us determine in our own hearts ( innermost being ) to remove these idols from this temple & to place our adoration & adulation solely where it belongs, at the Feet of our Heavenly Father ( metaphorically speaking )! In our determination, let us live our lives in worshipful Adulation & Adoration, Exultation & Exaltation of our Heavenly Father! Nothing more & nothing less than this will do!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, November 17, 2014

Explaining the Problem of Evil

Can the problem of evil even BE explained? Put simply, yes! Can we explain why an almighty Creator allow it to exist, or happen? Well, that one might be a bit more difficult, though not impossible! Does God allow evil to exist, or does He allow, even cause it to happen? The question we might better ask is, 'what is evil?' Is there such a thing as 'Evil', or is it merely something that occurs ( happens ) contrary to what we know is right?

The Epicurean Paradox goes something like this;

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent!
 Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent!
 Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? 
Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?

The Problem of Evil has plagued the creation since, well, since man was on the earth! Not that 'evil' or wrong-doing, is relative, like an Epicurean might say, but very often, one looks at the actions or character of another and pronounces those actions or that character as evil. for instance, one will say, 'he's an evil man'! Then too, we have the wisest man ever saying , 'This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all'. Is Solomon here accusing his Creator of evil-doing?! We know that the Creator said, through Isaiah ( 45:7 ), 'I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.' The word here translated 'calamity' is the Hebrew 'ra`' elsewhere translated 'evil'.

This is not to say that God is the Author of Evil, because Scripture tells us that 'God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good' ( Genesis 1:31 ) God made ( formed ) man in His Image, and called it 'good'! Through man's disobedience to God's Law, 'evil' happens; it occurs when man does something which either God or his neighbor does not approve of, and yes, God uses, or even causes 'evil' to occur! Whether for eschatological purposes, as we read in Isaiah 45:7, or in the world today; the Almighty's purpose is fulfilled, either through 'The Evil That Men Do' or 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People'! This is not to say, either, that our Heavenly Father approves of this 'evil', or even that He is empathetic toward those who perpetrate it; it is not merely relative: Scripture is clear enough that our Heavenly disapproves of 'evil' & punishes those who perpetrate it!

How, then, can we explain it; why does it happen & why would an almighty & good God allow it to persevere? Well, we've already seen somewhat why our Heavenly Father allows it to happen, but WHY does it happen & what can be done to stop it from occurring? Why DO men do the evil that they do?!  We saw too, that when men are disobedient to their Heavenly Father, that they are guilty of committing evil! Even when men do something of which their neighbor disapproves or just plain hates, this is often viewed as an evil too! 

'Evil' then, is something that happens; whether men act in disobedience to the Law of God or against the preferences of their neighbor; it is without doubt, something that occurs! There are, no doubt, evil people out there, and sometimes these people must simply cease to exist if their evil is to be eradicated, but often, if caught soon enough & 'nipped in the bud' ( Ecclesiastes 8:11 ), the 'evil' may be redeemed & turned around in its tracks! One example I have given before & there are countless others out there ( the internet can be a great blessing! ) is a friend whose beloved daughter was killed through the evil actions of a drunk driver! That man was turned around in his tracks, and now shares a table with the family against whom he committed the evil!

Because 'evil' is simply disobedience against the Law of God, it is as easily cured; just don't do it! I know, easy to say but hard to do. Then we have the problem of what to do about all the evils out there in society! We can do our best to avoid them, but they're still there & there are too many that do follow that crooked way!  The best we can do is to avoid those evils ourselves and encourage others around us to avoid them as well. If an evil ceases to be fed, it will soon cease to exist! Another way to say this is, if people stop doing it, it won't happen!

Just like corrupt politics, 'evil' is not something that can be reformed! The people that do evil, just like those who have corrupted politics, must be either redeemed or eradicated! We can eradicate the evil in our own lives by ceasing to do what we know is wrong & we can set the example for our neighbor to follow & even encourage him to do right, rather than wrong, but we may not force someone to cease from evil & do good! Well, we probably could, but then we'd end up with the same problem we have now!

Rather than trying to explain evil by trivializing & and relativizing it, then, by using Epicurean reasoning, as we saw above, let us  accept the fact that 'evil' exists only because men ( people ) who are not in right relationship with their Heavenly Father and so do what seems right to them! We know what is right to our Heavenly Father & if we act accordingly, we will have taken a giant step towards The Eradication of Evil!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rebuilding a Free Society ( From the Top Down )

No, this article, contrary to popular opinion, is not going to be another 'revolutionary' one about reforming the powers that be ( not what you would normally think of when hearing the phrase 'top-down' ): on the contrary, we will be investigating how to begin a reform where the balance of power truly resides ( in an earthly, human context ), and why that balance has shifted.

How should we then live?

'Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other'. These words, spoken by John Adams, one of this nation's Founding Fathers, go well with another statement he made in reference to 'we the people'; he said '[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.' The vision that our Founding Fathers pursued was that of a free society, one which was based upon self-governance, and not upon the rule of a king, or any other sovereign, a master, you might say.

The place to begin this reform, then, is in the hearts of 'we the people', and this reform must be a 'top-down' reformation! The past two hundred years or so of our history as a nation has shown us that, unless, as John Adams prophesied, we remain a wholly religious and moral people, our Constitution would do us no good, and in fact, could end up doing more harm than good ( this is starting to sound strangely familiar! )!

 'Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.'

Paul wrote these words to the Christians at Rome, proving that even though the Law was good, because of his sinful and naturally disobedient nature, what had been given to bring Life had only brought Death ( note that Paul was speaking in a corporate sense here, as in the prayer of Daniel )! Because the Body of Israel had clung to an outward show of obedience to the Law, rather than practicing from an inward change of heart its requirements, it had brought them down to Sheol rather than setting them free!

My point here, is that returning to a mere outward adherence to the Constitution will not return this nation to a free society, and definitely not even to the vision that our Founding Fathers fostered! If this nation is to return to being a free society, to say nothing of their vision, she must return, at the very least, to being a moral and religious people, and ultimately, to a true worship of our Creator, Father, and God!

This 'top-down' reformation, through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, might begin with a re-education of the American people of the principles upon which this nation was birthed, but it cannot stop there, and indeed MUST not stop there! It must flow through the ordinary citizen and out through their fingertips; it must begin with a head-knowledge, but that in its turn, must flow from a recognition in the very heart of the people, an acknowledgement by the spirit, and must prove its mettle through active repentance and turning!

 I have recently had the privilege, though no doubt, you will not find even a 'blurb' of this story in any major news media ( in this country ), an account of the current Ugandan president doing something that every national leader needs to do; leading his nation in a prayer ( and hopefully action ) of repentance!

He prayed, 'I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness, we confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal'.

This prayer to an Almighty God sounds much like that of Daniel, in his intercessory prayer for the children of Israel in their Captivity. It also sounds very similar to the prayer that we should be voicing, not only with our hearts, but with our hands as well, before our Almighty God and Father! We are as guilty as any Ugandan, of the sins of idolatry and witchcraft! We have as much need as they, to confess our sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal!

Why have we not done this, as a nation?

One can easily and quickly answer this by blaming these atrocities on someone else; from saying 'the devil ( 'Satan' ) is the true ruler of this world', to saying 'our political leaders have become more and more corrupt, and have led this nation to the brink of disaster' ( I believe that this, somehow, is related to the first reason ), but when we say things like this, we do two things ( for starters ); we take the focus off ourselves and our own wickedness and pure laziness, and two, we admit that we have become a nation of 'sheep', and fit only to be led or driven!

The Constitution of these United States, as I am beginning to understand it, puts the power of life and death, so to speak, squarely in the hands of 'we the people'! Don't get me wrong; I am NOT saying that this is a perfect document, or completely in alignment with the Law of God, but I do believe that, as our Founding Fathers fought to ratify this document according to their understanding of the doctrines of True Liberty, strict adherence to this document is not what has gotten us to where we are today!

Many think, and there has been a great push to do this, lately, that if we can just get our leaders to return to the 'first principles' ( of the Constitution ), then all will be well once more, and our nation will once again thrive with the liberty and security she enjoyed in the beginning: sadly, this is not the case! If you will honestly think about how we got to where we are today, and how long we have been sinking into this pit of slime and ooze; I believe you'll find that it was not to long after the ratification of this Constitution ( 100 years, give or take ) that things began to transpire that led to the tyranny and misery that we see so rampant and blatant today!

The only effective response to the degradation that we see in this nation is a full-scale repentance and return, not merely to the Constitution, or to the principles upon which it was formed, but with all our heart, mind and strength to True Worship of our God and Father!

We can strive as long and hard as we want, to make sure the right man gets elected as 'the leader of the free world' ( president ), and that may seem to go far toward solving our problems, but until there is a change of heart in 'we the people', not even the best, most Christian man ( or woman ) in these United States would be able to make much difference!

The prayer of the leader of Uganda, as we noted above, could go a long way, if in true earnest & honesty, in restoring that nation, but he cannot do it alone; every man ( and woman ) must recognize, and repent of, this same selfish idolatry that he admitted to and interceded for. In our nation as well; if our president was to become the leader he should be and lead his country in an active prayer of repentance; I believe that it is quite possible many in this nation would turn from their idolatry back to the true worship of God. Again though, sadly, there is a far greater number, I fear, that are far too ensconced and comfortable in their own idolatry, and such a president probably wouldn't be president very much longer!

Obviously, we cannot 'fix' our problems by using the same means that created them ( politics ); that is, unless we start raising up the kind of people that John Adams envisioned, 'a moral and religious people'! How can this be accomplished? Well, put simply, we could have a big genocide of sorts ( 'kill'em all & let God sort'em out' ), then start the process all over ( that's almost inevitably what would happen-John Calvin's Geneva? ), or just start another nasty Civil War, the effects of which last for many, many decades & centuries ( in fact, we still feel its effects today )! A better solution, though, and one maybe more in line with Kingdom principles, is to transform society from within, beginning at the beginning, so to speak, the family!

With a good, Godly focus on the family, teaching our children Kingdom principles & raising up a generation of men & women who would not only vote for & support good, Godly leaders, but would themselves step up to the plate & be good, Godly leaders; Politics could well bring this nation out of her idol-worship & back on track to becoming a free society! Until that happens, politics as usual will have the same effect it's always had, no positive & lasting one! As basically the decision of the people, politics will always be effective & and if the people are corrupt, so then will be the politics!

The only hope we have for a truly Free Society, is for one without rules & regulations, one where the people themselves live & do what is right, because it is right! If one only does what is right out of fear of reprisal, are they truly doing right? Can morality be legislated? Many Christians would most likely answer 'yes', but is it truly morality if the laws are obeyed through outward, but not inward observance?

May we, as a Covenant Community, purpose within ourselves to live these Kingdom Principles & raise up a generation of men & women who will govern themselves by these same Principles & themselves to raise up their own generation of men & women who would in turn govern themselves by these Kingdom Principles & so on & so forth! Politics is dead; let's bury her on move on, or rather, 'back' & start where we should; at the beginning!

Charles Haddon Shank
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Read more:'

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thank God It's ( Black ) Friday!

In this day & age, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day, has been known as the second biggest, if not the biggest shopping day of the year! I mean, really, a 50" Flatscreen for $200; a Playstation 3 for $100 or even $75?! Who, in their right mind would pass up on deals like that?! Recently I have heard that one can't really call the day after Turkey Day Black Friday anymore because the stores are all starting to open earlier & earlier on Thanksgiving Day! And why; to capitalize on the greediness of a population dedicated to idolatry & comfortably numb in their chains of servitude! I actually heard recently, from someone in the know, that certain shoppers have come into certain stores, asking why they're open on Thanksgiving Day!               ????!!!!

The original Black Friday, on the other hand, while it was, to many who witnessed it, a Day of Mourning, brought a kind of selfish joy to most, not unlike today's Black Friday celebration! On that Friday ( traditionally ) a world-changing event occurred, one that affected not just those who were immediately involved & closest to the situation, but for generations to come & people from every nation & all walks of life! On that Black Friday, the heavens themselves actually dimmed their lights in mourning for the death of the greatest Man who ever lived. On the Third Day, though, the day after the Sabbath, the morning light shone bright & clear in exultation of the Resurrection of the Son of God who had surrendered His life that we might Live!

What a contrast we see between these two! On the one hand, we have selfish & greedy idol-worshipers mauling each other to get the best deals they can & on the other, we have a bunch of selfish & greedy idol-worshipers killing the King of Life, just to try to keep their unstable chains! Really, not much of a contrast there; more like an unsettling & even frightening similarity! It makes one wonder, as I'm sure the true worshipers did in Jesus' Day, when God's righteous indignation was going to bring these idols crashing down! In fact, the disciples almost unwittingly, asked this question of Jesus, and received the answer, 'Watch & Wait' ( Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 )!

On the first Black Friday, the Salvation that those true Jews & Gentiles had looked for was Realized ( though not fully Revealed until 70AD )! Belief in the Sufficiency of that Sacrifice brought Reconciliation between Creature & Creator & made manifest the Way back into the Presence of our Heavenly Father! The Holy Transaction made that Day was one of Eternal Value! Those who endured to the End, not hoping for something better, as most Americans do every Black Friday in today's day & age, but looking forward to & hasting ( not 'Hastings' ) that One Day when their Redemption would finally be Realized, they received the Gift of Eternal Salvation in that Blessed Presence!

No more can millions of greedy shop-keepers simply advertise Black Friday sales to get millions more idol-worshipers in their stores, since most of them are viciously competing with each other for their business on the day which has been officially set aside for people to be thankful for what they already have! Instead of enjoying the gifts that we receive every day & taking some time out to celebrate life, many Americans, at the instigation of these greedy shopkeepers, have forsaken these blessings for the hope of something better! Seriously, though, especially when you consider how much better most Americans have it ( materialistically anyway ) than the people of other nations, how could we as for anything more?!

Is there hope for America? Undoubtedly there is! It rests, though, not in the false hope of getting someone better in the White House, or finding the best Black Friday ( now Thanksgiving Day ) Deals! Our hope for a better tomorrow rests firmly in the events of that original Black Friday & in the Resurrection that followed! May we, as a nation look only & always to back to that Black Friday in the hope of a better tomorrow, and not to the next Black Friday Sale in the selfish hope for something better!

Charles Haddon Shank