The Pagan Path

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Animal 'Crackers'

You may have heard rumors floating around out there that the Story of Noah's Ark, with the animals congregating in the Ark, whether 'two by two' ( unclean ) or seven ( a complete number ) of the clean animals, was simply an allegory for Gentile peoples. Whatever the case may be, there is definitely more to this Story than first meets the eye!

God did not spare the ancient world, but brought the flood on the world of godless people; the only ones he saved were Noah, who preached righteousness, and seven other people.
II Peter 2:5- GNT

Depending on which version you read, and I'll be the first to admit it, this IS a presuppositional statement, Scripture seems to be pretty clear that there were only 8 people aboard the Ark! Genesis 7:7 ( interestingly enough ) says, 'So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark'. Pretty simple, right?

Covenant Creation, which I fully ascribe to, says that the previous chapters, in particular 1 & 2, refer, not to the creation of the physical universe, but to the institution of covenant, or a personal relationship between our Heavenly Father and His Creation! Whether the animals described in short in Genesis 1:24 & Genesis 2:19 were actual, literal animals, or whether they were simply allegorical representations of Gentile peoples is really somewhat beside the point when it comes to the Story of Noah!

The whole point of the Story was to prefigure salvation in Christ. If indeed the animals that were brought onto the Ark were just Gentile peoples, or those outside the Covenant of Faith, this would almost seem to make sense, because it would prefigure the entrance of Gentiles into the Covenant! This seems to work well with the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, in that it is He that brings individual people to salvation, according to His will! 

The Scriptures though, as we have seen, tell us clearly that it was animals, both clean & unclean ( clean for sacrifice & unclean to repopulate the land ), that were brought to the Ark. Peter's vision in Acts 10 does tell us that the Gentile nations had been cleansed, or prepared for relationship with their Creator, but it does not necessarily follow that the Story of Noah did not involve animals. 

Non-human creatures were doubtless part of the original creation! There should be no doubt that they were brought onto the Ark ( unless you want to believe that it's just a story ), and while they were significant of the Gentiles entrance into the Covenant, they were just animals, nonetheless!

It could well be argued, maybe, that is Covenant Creation views that have lead to this ( Gentiles 'animals' on the Ark, etc. ), but as with so many other doctrinal views, it is not Covenant Creation itself that leads to error, but merely human reasoning! Presuppositions have a large part in constructing our world-view, as well as adding unnecessary baggage. If we are of the notion that the Story of the Flood is simply an allegorical story, significant of salvation in Christ, then we could easily put two & two together, and 'see' that there were no actual non-human creatures on the Ark! In fact, there was no Ark; it's all just allegory!

To get back to the Story, though, in which we partake; the Ark, which WAS symbolic of Christ, literally saved 8 real people from the Flood of Noah's Day. This was significant of our Heavenly Father, through His only begotten Son, saving His People ( Israel ) from their sin, as we have seen! To say that the 'animals' on the Ark were actual Gentile peoples is really to fly in the face of Covenant Creation, and its insistence that the Flood of Noah's Day was localized rather than universal, or world-wide. More importantly, it wreaks havoc with the symbolism employed by Gospel writers and theologians alike that the Story was significant of Salvation in Christ!

Why, if the animals, in particular the unclean ones, were Gentile humans, why is it that only two of each were saved, while the rest perished outside the Ark? For that matter, if the clean animals were merely representative of the Sons of God, why does Scripture record that there were 7 of each, besides 'Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives?

In conclusion, though more could doubtless be said here on the subject, let us just remember that although it is important to know that these animals, both clean & unclean, symbolize the People of God, both Jew & Gentile, it is more important to live as those who have been freed from the tyranny of sin & death! Because of the Salvation of those in the Ark, countless generations have been freed from that awful tyranny! 

As we live in that Freedom, let us always be thankful to our Heavenly Father that we were included in the company of those that 'God has cleansed'!

Amen & Amen!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Blessed Hope of Israel: Fulfilled

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

Too many Christians today believe that Jesus came so that His People could go to 'Heaven' when they die; not only does this water down the Gospel message, or rather, their understanding of it, it is totally unbiblical! Jesus never told anybody to 'get saved so you can go to Heaven when you die'! He DID tell them that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, and that they needed to be born again to enter it!

According to most Christians today, even some who claim to believe in a Fulfilled Gospel, one does not enter Eternity till their physical bodies perish and they become a free spirit.This is likely purported because these preterists want to maintain a certain level of orthodoxy; this is, after all what the mainstream church has taught for centuries! Most Christians, futurists especially, believe this for several reasons, two of which are that here is a bit of gnosticism in their 'baggage', and many have simply accepted what their pastor told them or what their parents and grandparents believed!

Jesus died so that we, His People, the 'Israel of God' might live; He did not suffer on the cross so that we could go to 'heaven' when we died! he promised His disciples in John 14:23, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. This is undoubtedly fulfilled, and being so, Paul's words in I Thessalonians ( 4:17 ) are undoubtedly true as well; he told the Thessalonikan believers, 'Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord'. Paul never told anybody that their being with the Lord necessarily involved dying, and he most certainly did not say here that if they were alive at the time of His Parousia  they would die!

Jesus promised that those who believed in Him and loved Him would not die; they would live forever. Obviously, He was not speaking of physical existence, because we who love & believe in Him still lose our biological presence; it becomes worm-food, it was never meant to last forever! Our spiritual 'body' however, continues on after it is separated from its biological host; like Jesus said, 'we' will never die!

One problem with Modern Christianity, and indeed, much of ancient Christianity as well, was the whole idea, or notion that these promises in Scripture were primarily made to individuals. A careful study of the Greek usage here ( tenses, etc. ) will reveal  that, for instance, in John 3:16, Jesus told Nicodemus, as a representative of Israel, 'you ( all ) must be born again'. Although much of the Greek Scriptures do have an individual aspect to them, it is to the corporate body of Israel, who was dead ( in sin ) that the promises were made; Ezekiel 37 is probably one of the clearest examples of this in the Hebrew Scriptures.

We were not quickened ( made alive ) so that we could enjoy the Presence of God when we died; we ( corporately ) were 'born again' so that we could live IN His Presence ( remember all that stuff ( Leviticus 21:11, Numbers 6:6 ) about not going near a dead body, in the Old Testament? )!

As we live forever in the blessedness of His Presence, let us rejoice in the fact that we do not have to experience physical death in order to enjoy Communion with Him; our, or rather 'their' Blessed Hope is fulfilled!

Amen & Amen!

Charles Haddon Shank

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

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

Does God lead His People into temptation? 

From just a cursory reading of the history of Israel, it would seem that He does! From the record of the Exodus from Egypt it looks like Israel was led into temptation many times! King David was 'led' to witness Bathsheba's 'private' moment on the roof, and later, because of this glimpse, to commit adultery, deception, and finally murder! In I Samuel 24:1, we read, 'Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah'. And, after all, our Heavenly Father planted the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil in the midst of the Garden! Why would He do this? And why would Jesus teach His disciples to pray that He would not?

James stated ( 1:13 ) that  'God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone', almost in seeming contrast to the temptations that we have witnessed throughout Scripture. In the next verse, though, he clears up any seeming contradiction by saying, 'But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed'. The temptation is there, but it is when we ( personally ) give in to this temptation that we ( personally ) that we fall into temptation!

When Israel was led into the wilderness and started to run low on food & water, they had a choice; trust that the One who led them, by the hand of Moses, out of the slavery of Egypt, or trust their own eyes & understanding, and complain & rebel against His good providence! When David saw Bathsheba as she bathed on the roof, he had a choice to make; he could either avert his eyes and forget that he had ever witnessed he 'private' moment, or he could take advantage of his position, let his desire lead him into grave sin, and finally, into murder! Later, this same pride of position led him to unlawfully take a census of Israel, a decision which led to great loss in Israel!

All these examples, to say nothing of the Temptation & Fall in the Garden ( of Eden ), might lead us to believe that the God of the Old Testament was petty & vindictive, that He placed temptation in the path of His children so that He would have an excuse to punish them when they sinned!

Naturally, being human as we are, we like to blame our problems on everyone & everything but ourselves, but we should realize, if we are honest with ourselves, that it is because of the choices we make that we fall into these temptations! The temptations are there, but when we choose to follow their lead, all manner of evil results.

Why then would Jesus instruct His disciples thusly: is it our Heavenly Father or our own naturally rebellious hearts that lead us into temptation?

Again, looking back at the history of Israel, from the Fall of Adam ( in the Garden ) to the Temptation of Jesus ( in the wilderness ), we should understand that Jesus' instruction here, as in every aspect of this model prayer, was meant to remind His disciples of their history! The present situation of Israel ( in Captivity ), and the temptations that surrounded them were what Jesus no doubt had in mind when He instructed them so. He wanted them to learn to rely, not on their own strength, as Israel of old had, but on the Grace that He had shown throughout their history!

Knowing our weakness, as He does so well, Jesus instructed His disciples with two-fold purpose to pray this prayer. First, prayer is a necessary part of our Communion with our Heavenly Father, and second, we understand that it is through His strength that we refuse to fall into temptation!

Should we use these words as a model for prayer today? There is certainly no harm in it; we still face many temptations in today's world! While we should understand that, historically, Jesus meant for His disciples to remember their history, we should also realize that we face our own temptations today. Though the temptations that they faced were of a somewhat different caliber, living as they were, under the captivity & condemnation of the Old, or first covenant, we, under the New Covenant, face temptation as well!

There is one advantage that we have over those first-century disciples, who first received Jesus' instructions: unlike them, we have the Law written, not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts! Our Heavenly Father has taken up position with us once more, and now dwells with ( in ) us, not in a temple made with hands, but in the Temple made without hands, One of His own building!

Let us thank our Heavenly Father that He delivered His People from the temptations of that old system, into the blessedness of eternal Communion with Him! Let us continually thank Him for the Strength He daily grants us to refuse the temptations that surround us! 

As we Commune with our Heavenly Father, let us always remember, in thankfulness, the temptations of our spiritual ancestors in the wilderness, and the deliverance that we witness in the pages of Scripture. Because of the deliverance from Sin & Death that Jesus wrought on the cross, His People no longer face the temptation they faced under that first covenant, let us forever thank Him for this deliverance, and Live eternally with an attitude of gratitude in daily Communion with our Heavenly Father and with His People, His Temple!

Amen & Amen!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reflections on the Old World

How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? 
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth— A woman shall encompass a man.”
 (Jeremiah 31:22 NKJV)

What is this; 'a woman shall encompass a man'?! Doesn't the apostle Paul clearly say in several places, and in other words 'the husband is the head of the wife', 'wives, submit to your own husbands' ( Ephesians 5:25 )?

At face value, we read that 'the Lord has created a new thing in the earth'. This comes with the context of  'a new covenant', 'not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt'. This was something different, something that had been in the Mind of our Heavenly Father since before Time began, but hidden to the eyes of man, a mystery!

You may well ask, 'what does He mean that 'A woman shall encompass a man'?' This question has no doubt been on the mind, at least for a little bit, of everyone over the ages who has stumbled upon this enigmatic phrase! For something to be encompassed, or compassed about ( surrounded ) could carry several connotations! To be surrounded by something, as in Revelation 20:9,we see that the saints of the Lord were besieged by the Enemy that surrounded them! However, in the Book of Job, as well as in Psalm 139:5, we read that the Lord surrounds His people with a 'hedge' of protection!

In context, Jeremiah 31 is the most famous revelation of the New Covenant in the Hebrew Scriptures that we have. The first part of this chapter in Jeremiah's revelation shows our Heavenly Father's Promise to Redeem & Restore His People, and throughout, but especially toward the end, He gradually unveils His New Covenant as the means by which He will accomplish the Salvation of Israel!

We should think immediately, when reading that 'A woman shall encompass a man', of the Wife of our Heavenly Father protecting His glory, much as an earthly ( human ) wife, a good one anyway, will defend her Godly husbands honor ( and life, if need be )! The apostle Paul wrote, in Ephesians 5:23, 'the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church'. Just as in this grand adventure that we call life; the Body of Christ protects the Head. Physically speaking, the body, when falling, will do almost anything to protect the head, and thus it is with the Spiritual Body, it will protect its Head at all costs!

That 'Old World' better known as the Old Covenant ( age ), was ready to pass away, according to the writer of Hebrews! With it would perish the elementary principles of that first 'world' ( II Peter 3 ), one of which was the earthly tabernacle, or Temple made with hands, where our Heavenly Father dwelt among His People. At the Consummation of the Ages, He would finally marry His people, and dwell with them, as One, in a New Temple, One not made with hands, but One of His own building!

This New Temple, which the Son of God prepared for His Dwelling, as described so mysteriously, yet plainly, in John 14, was His People, the Wife for which He had worked those many years! As His Wife, Israel, as the Body of Christ, the Church, we now encompass our Head, and surround Him with a protective barrier from the stain of dishonor!

Yes, as the Children of our Heavenly Father, we often fail to protect Him as we should, but glory be; He is our greater Protector! Though we are no longer children, and here I'm speaking of the corporate Body of Christ, not individually, we have matured to the point that we are fit to house the Holy Spirit in toto, we individually have a long way to go! We are not the protectors that we should be, maybe, but we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, nonetheless!

Under that first covenant ( which might better be termed 'a betrothal contract' ) the children of God were mere reflectors of His Glory, they were, in essence, like the physical Moon, which orbits our planet, reflecting the smallest bit of the Sun's light on a sleeping world. In the New Covenant, as we are, we no longer reflect the Glory of our Heavenly Father onto and into a darkening, sleeping world; we, in essence are the Glory of our Heavenly Father, shining His ever-present and all-powerful Light into an awakening world, a world that is only dark because we have failed, corporately to shine His Light!

To the extent, however, that His people do shine, and have shone that Light, the effects have been that to transform that part of the world into 'Heaven on Earth'! Are there still dangers, yes! Do people still weep? Is there still biological death? Yes, to both of these and more, but as we continue to persevere in shining His Light into this Brave New World, we will gradually transform our 'world' into 'Heaven on Earth!

Biological death is a part of biological life! If we were meant to exist forever in these bodies that we now inhabit, our Heavenly Father would have constructed them quite differently! If there was no danger, there would be nothing to protect or be protected from! Some would say that if there was no Darkness, the Light would not shine; although this is true, the Light manifests itself best in the Dark, our Heavenly Father, who alone is immortal, will forever shine through His people, for we are His New Temple, where He has taken up Permanent Residence!

Glory Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Bara'; the Creation of Covenant

And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you [ are ] shall see the work of the Lord.
Exodus 34:10

Traditionally, Genesis 1 & 2 refer to the creation of the known universe, or at least the physical globe on which we stand, and the Sun, Moon & Stars which give us Light. The fact that no planetary orbs besides the Earth, Sun & Moon are mentioned in the account should give us pause, first of all, because they are part of God's Creation, just like the others, and second, because if the Divine Author had meant to give us a physical cosmology lesson, He most certainly would have included them in this account. Obviously, He didn't think they were important enough to mention, although the writers of Scripture made numerous mentions of constellations and such. (  II Kings 23:5, Job 9:9, 38:31, Amos 5:8 ) Also, the Moon is spoken of as 'the lesser light' ( Genesis 1:16 ) Scientifically, we have discovered that the moon is not a light at all, but simply reflects the Sun's light!

Paying close attention to Gesenius' Hebrew/Chaldee Lexicon, we can see that the word translated 'create' or 'created', most often in Scripture, 'bara'' is tied very closely to the word most often translated 'covenant', 'bĕriyth'. The former word is also used to describe the cutting down of trees ( Joshua 17:15-18 ), filling oneself with the meat of sacrificial offerings ( Samuel 2:29 ), choosing or appointing ( Ezekiel 21:19 ), and for literally slaying ( cutting ) with the sword ( Ezekiel 23:47 ).

As we have noted before, the Hebrew 'bara' literally means 'to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting'; on the other hand, 'bĕriyth', which itself formed from the root of the former word, means ' covenant ( from the idea of cutting )'.

The Cosmology of Creation

As we have also noted before, the phrase 'heavens and earth', in various iterations, is used throughout Scripture in a very peculiar way. While it seems most often to refer, especially with a presuppositional bias, to the physical elements of this world in which we live, but, particularly in the prophetic, or apocalyptic Scriptures, this phrase, in it's various iterations, is used in a uniquely literary way!

In Deuteronomy 32, for instance, as Moses is giving his farewell speech to the Israelites he refers to them as the 'heavens and earth.' The first chapter of Isaiah, almost word for word, echoes this admonition, and David, in Psalm 50, uses similar terminology to refer to His people, in one of many examples of what may be called Biblical Parallelism. Psalm 96 also contains this kind of literary genre to refer to His human creation. The Book of Isaiah is full of these references, with 13:13 announcing the coming judgment on Israel as a result of her unfaithfulness. 44:23 records another command like the previous ones in Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 1, except this time, in exultation of Her just judgment! 49:13 contains another such adjurement! In Isaiah 51:16, we find another example of that Biblical Parallelism, where our Heavenly Father refers to His special People as the 'heavens and earth'. Jeremiah 4:23 again echoes Genesis 1:1, where Israel is warned of imminent invasion & destruction. Finally, we find in Zechariah 12 yet another example of this literary style that David uses so well in his Psalms!

Previously, we have seen, that though there are these and more passages that speak of our Heavenly Father's Covenant Creation, there are those as well that seem as clearly to point to the physical creation, or speak of an earthly cosmology. It is clear that the Creator of Heaven & Earth made everything that is! The universe, which we have only begun to discover, is infinitely full of possibilities, and man will most likely never reach its limits!

This Is Our Father's World!

Heaven & Earth, while in a purely covenantal sense, refer to the creation of covenant ( relationship ) with His good creation, also refer to the relation between man & woman! In Joseph's second dream, recorded in Genesis 37:9 & 10, his father understood immediately that his son's dream of the Sun, Moon & Stars referred to himself, his wife, and his sons.

The Moon reflects the light of the Sun, and shines a mere modicum of its brilliance, its glory onto the inhabitants of the night-time world. This is a perfect picture of the glory of the old, or 'first' covenant! As the Moon, or the Betrothed of Yahweh in that first 'heavens and earth' ( II Peter 3:5-7 ) shone His Glory into a darkened world, so now the Son of God shines His Light in blessing on the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts.
Haggai 2:9

For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.
Hebrews 3:3

Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth ( II Corinthians 3:9 ) in reminder that, while 'the ministry of condemnation' was itself glorious, 'the ministry of righteousness' was much ( infinitely ) more so! The Creation of the Covenant had finally matured, and now would spread like the True Vine it was over all of God's good Creation! His Covenant would finally reach its Consummation; Heaven & Earth would become One, and, because of the Glory of His New Creation, there would be no need for the Sun or the Moon, for 'the glory[k] of God illuminated it. The Lamb [ is ] its light'!

As we Live & Love in this New Creation, let us forever celebrate the glorious fact that our Creator & Heavenly Father loved His Creation so much that He divested Himself of His Glory, took upon Himself the common clothing of man, and died for the sins of Man so that He could have a relationship with His Creation!

Let us forever enjoy, not only this infinitely glorious fact, but also the physical Creation that He has so graciously placed us in & among!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, March 21, 2014

Preterism; It's About Time ( TO GET OVER IT )

Enough already!

Yes, the long-awaited Parousia occurred, being finalized in the events including the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD70, and the 'lat days' judgment, the 'coming on the clouds' that so many Old Testament saints prophesied ( Psalm 96:13, 98:9, Isaiah 26:20, 62:11, Jeremiah 9:25, 30:3, Ezekiel 39:8, Daniel 7:13, Joel 2, Micah 1, Zephaniah 1:15,  Zechariah 2:10, 14:1, Malachi 3 & 4 ) Yes, that 'Day' came & went, along with it's accompanying blessings & cursings!

Probably the greatest controversy among preterists today, full or so-called partial ( futurist ), centers around the resurrection. 'Did it happen in AD70, and if so, where's the proof?' 'Was it an individual ( biological ), or corporate/corporeal ( spiritual ) event?' 'Jesus was raised physically, so must we be!' 'If we are partakers in the resurrection, then we do we still die, why do we still have pain; why do we still cry?'

The questions/speculations & debates are seemingly endless and it usually ends up feeling like you're beating a dead horse ( or being beaten with one )! Why do we proffer & suffer such abuse? Are we not all One Body; do we not all serve One Master? Do we not all have the same Father?

Well, you would think so, but just like many siblings, we each have our own agenda, we want things our way, and when things don't go our way, we're not happy!

Many 'preterists' out there are looking for something new; something that no one has thought of before ( 'there is nothing new under the Sun' ), and when they believe they've found it, they want to make it their own, and selfishly tell others that they can't use it without their consent ( 'It's mine, my own, my precious' ) by copyrighting it or simply giving it their name. Sometimes they simply want the recognition and '15 minutes of fame' ( did you know that when you point your finger at someone, four more are pointing back at you?? )

The point is, all this arguing debating seems to serve no other purpose than to puff some up and put others down! 'Well, he/she believes this or that, yet doesn't believe this or that; how inconsistent is that ( what a dumbass! )?!' 'They just don't see it!' Well, they will continue to be inconsistent, and fail to see it, as long as they fail to see in you the applications of the implications! If they see that, for all your superior knowledge & wisdom that you are, after all, no less a dumbass than they are, then why should they bother themselves to switch gears and try a paradigm shift? Especially when a paradigm shift will most likely bring nothing but pain & heart-ache; on top of that, the loss of livelihood is very likely, along with broken relationships of all sorts!

If, however, we as believers in a fulfilled eschatology would begin to make more application of the implications, instead of fighting like cats & dogs over what exactly those implications themselves imply, then maybe we would have more of a positive, rather than negative effect on our 'world! Trust me, we are having an effect on the world around us, but it's not always a good, or positive one, especially with all of our bickering & dickering!

Okay, the People of God have been Resurrected; as Jesus told Martha, just before He symbolically raised her brother from the dead, 'whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'. Whether you believe that Lazarus is alive today or not, this is what Jesus told Martha, and she believed Him! Does it matter whether or not one believes that we are in Eternity now, or that we don't enter Eternity until we exit this biological body ( gnosticism? ) Does it matter whether we have been or will be resurrected individual or as a corporate Body?

'Is this all we have to live for; is this all there is?'

In a manner of speaking, this is all we have to live for! But oh ( heavenly chorus ), what a  Life! Yes, we still have aches, we still have pain, our biological bodies still perish, and when they do, there are plenty of tears to go around! Jesus said though, that we will never die, and that if we believe in Him, and trust the Wisdom from Above, that we will never lack any good thing! We are a New Creation; in Communion with our Heavenly Father, we have everything we need, both for our physical & spiritual existence!

Why do we have to make Life harder and more complicated than it really is? Can't we all just get along? Can't we all Love without believing the same things? Even if we don't see our Father, Mother, Sisters, and Brothers in the same Light ( and we're not going to, that's what makes Life interesting ), we can still Love each other, like the siblings we are, and Live the Life that we have been given!

Live & Let Live is a good motto to live by! If there was more Living, there would be less Dying ( metaphorically speaking, anyway )! It has been proven over and over that a person who has more to Live for will usually have more of a spirit for fight physical ailments ( it's not all in our heads, but a greater part of it is ) The choices we make have a great ( positive or negative ) effect on our biological bodies as well. Good choices coupled with a positive attitude most often lead  to a longer physical existence, whereas poor choices along with a poor attitude most often lead to a shorter time on this earth!

If we believe that we are partakers in the Resurrection, then let's Live like it! Since we are a New Creation, let's Live like it! 'Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new'; why are we still tearing at each other, dragging each other down, refusing the Communion that our Father has blessed us with, and scrambling for every last scrap we can call our own?

Let's stop debating and start Living! If we want to get together every so often for some good Fellowship & Communion, let's take over the local bar, throw back several tall, cold ones ( or warm ones, as the case may be ), or just go for a good long or short retreat in the beautiful mountains of Montana!

Other than that, let's just live in application of the implications! Let's take the principles of fulfillment ( preterism ) and apply them ( consistently ) to every area of our lives!  Doing this will have a much better, positive & lasting effect on our Lives and the Lives with which we come in contact every day!

Amen; let it be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Implications & Applications Too; the Consummation of the Ages

Here I go again, but this time, I'm not on my own; this time I've got backup ( you know who you are )!

More Implications & Applications? How far will we go; where will we stop?

Well; this could go on forever, almost! Covenant theology, and in particular, as the case may be, Covenant Eschatology has many far-reaching ( and sobering ) implications. Some of these implications make more acceptable fodder for our canons, while others are pretty much taboo!

As for implications, have you ever thought seriously about what Paul was actually saying when he coined the phrase 'Christ in you', why Jesus would call the Church His 'Bride', and why Paul again calls us 'the Body of Christ' and says that we are married to Him? Okay, sure, it's common knowledge ( to most Christians ) that Christ is in us and we are in Him, metaphorically speaking ( Paul says that we are 'the temple of the Holy Spirit' ). Again, though most Christians would probably say that we are not yet married, the Church, at the Consummation of the Ages, became the Bride of Christ, One with Him, and therefore, His Body!

Why are we, as Christians, so afraid to go where no man has gone before and acknowledge what God in Christ has done for His People? By making us, or more correctly maybe, the first-century Church His Bride, and putting His Holy Spirit ( the God-head-John 14:23 ) within us, what kind of imagery should that evoke?

Well, for whatever reason, and you can probably blame the larger part of it on puritanism, certain subjects are taboo, at least in public! We should not delve to far into these matters because, well 'it just ain't right'! While it's a touchy subject to broach, especially in 'pub-lic' ( and God forbid anyone explore or be comfortable with their sexuality outside marriage ); 'May God Have Mercy on Your Soul' if you even think about attributing anything of this nature to our Heavenly Father!

I'm delving into it now; I'm headed for second base! Arguably, not the brightest move I have every made, but here goes; it's about time that Christians, of all shapes, size, and constitutions began to realize & acknowledge what it truly means that we are the Wife of God, or the Offspring of the Bride of Christ! Maybe that has been one of the problems with the Church all along; not wanting to admit that She is 'the weaker sex'! This is most definitely the root of all the evil when it comes to the notion that the Marriage has not yet been Consummated and furthermore that we will not be joined with our Husband till we meet Him in some sort of pie-in-the-sky affair!

'Let's talk about sex, baby; let's talk about you and me'!

Admittedly, this is a hard subject to broach, and one could easily question the wisdom of doing so in today's ecclesiastical landscape! If we can't discuss this rather touchy subject without getting all red-faced ( or is that 'purple' ), maybe that could help explain why the Church has been so lax in the past millenia or so when it came to Her Wifely duties.

What DOES it mean that we are the Wife of our Husband, or even just the Offspring of the Union of Heaven & Earth? If we are the Wife, are we not to God what our wife is to us, or as wives, what we are to our husband? Could our interaction with our Heavenly Husband, our Communion, be termed 'spiritual sex'?

If we are simply the Offspring of that Union of Unions, does that mean we are the result of 'spiritual copulation & fertilization'? Usually, this is how offspring are produced, biologically speaking: the male enters into the female and copulates, thereby fertilizing her egg, in effect germinating the seed which becomes a full-fledged offspring! In much the same way, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin Mary, her Seed was germinated through 'Spiritual Copulation'! Of course, we know that this Blessed Event was simply a picture of the Consummation of the Ages, when Heaven & Earth became One, and God married His Bride!

There is a joke circulating on the 'web' lately that states, 'The Roman Catholic Church says that abstinence is the best form of birth control, but try telling the Virgin Mary that'!

Rather crude maybe, but it brings up some interesting speculation; whether you believe that it was an Immaculate Conception ( before she came together with her husband ), or whether she was somehow physically inseminated ( 'Who done it?' ) by the Holy Spirit, her Seed was germinated in a very real and very physical, biological sense!

The implications of this kind of reasoning  are very hard to swallow, maybe, and could get quite graphic, but what good are implications without the necessary applications? Whether we are the Wife of God or simply the Offspring of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, what does it mean to us today that we are One with our Creator, that we are His Temple, and Priests individually within that Temple? Why has the Church, for so long, been simply preparing Souls for the Afterlife? Could it be because She believes and has taught for ages that we will not be Married till the Afterlife ( AKA, Eternity )?

If the Church, as the Wife of God, would simply come to the FULL understanding and realization of Who She really is, and start acting as One with Her Husband, instead of a simpering old maid waiting for her fiancee to return from the war, then maybe we would see more & more of Heaven on Earth!

This may be a shocking revelation, but if there is Offspring, there was Copulation & Fertilization; Jesus was truly a man, yet He was truly God ( even the Creeds say so ); How the ( expletive ) did that happen?!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Glass Houses

'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!'

You've all heard the old adage, and probably even used it yourself on occasion, but did you ever think of applying it nationally? Apparently the leaders of this nation haven't! If they had, we probably wouldn't be trying, for nearly two centuries now, to be the world's police force!

'But the world needs a police force', you might say. Looking at all the evil out there that occurs on a daily basis, all the injustices that are perpetrated on the 'innocent'; one might be inclined to agree! With all the 'boogey-men' at large in the world today, is it not wise & honorable for US to have taken it upon ourselves to 'heal the nations' and lift up the down-trodden by giving them the 'gift' of democracy?

There are several ways in which this issue could be approached. In a manner of speaking, we in America DO have it better than many other nations ( those not ruled by a democracy-hey wait; I thought we were supposed to be a Republic! ), but just because it's working SO WELL for US, doesn't mean that's the way it should be for everyone!

( I hope my readers noted a BIT of sarcasm there! )

If the U.S.Inc. was truly trying to 'make the world a better place' by spreading 'freedom & democracy, they might warrant a bit of praise ( maybe even some good ole' back-slappin' ), but I believe that WE know better! On the surface, it may seem ( Uncle Sam's Misguided Children may not be a mis-nomer ) that there are noble intentions & aspirations behind all the policing and warring that has been perpetrated by the U.S.Inc., but you may rest assured that behind every exercise of strength & power lay a selfish, even evil purpose!

Now, I know that there are many military and ex-military personnel out there who would beg to disagree ( some of whom I know personally ), even vociferously, and who might even respond verbally! They would most definitely be within their rights to do so, and in fact, I would expect no less from them! The Military Complex is just a big business, run by a big corporation ( U.S.Inc. ). It has been so for so long ( time immemorial ) that it might be hard to nail down when it began!

As an example of why the old adage above can & should be applied nationally; I would ask you to remember the events of September 11th, 2001! Horrible, horrible events! The world is still reeling from its effects. Some countries have since declared bankruptcy, while others have had an economic crisis of some sort or another, and there have been large-scale riots, revolutions & coups from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe!

These dastardly events were 'justly' perpetrated, purportedly by a people that the U.S.Inc. ( no thanks to the Christian Right ) has thrown stones at for years! Whether you believe all the paranoia about 9-11 or not, it was people from a foreign nation, and subscribing to some form of Islam who carried out these attacks, and WE have been at war ever since; it's good business!

This is just one example; more could no doubt be given!

Now, right is right and wrong is wrong, right?! Is it right to unjustly take ( steal ) from one person to give to another ( I believe that's called 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' )? Stupid question, right? Yet this is what is being done in order to 'make the world safe for democracy'! I don't want to go into a history of the Income Tax, but if you ask anyone who has to pay it, it's highway robbery! ( now if they willingly gave a percentage of their earnings, that would be a different matter )

Is it right to do wrong in order to do right? Again, 'what a stupid question'; it's never right to do wrong, no matter how 'right' the end result! The U.S.Inc. has perpetrated so many atrocities in the name of justice & world peace that it's not funny ( I'm not laughing ) If the U.S.Inc. had kept their nose out of the Middle East, would the 9-11 attacks have occurred? No one can know for sure, but we can say for sure that our nationalistic policy of preemptive strikes & unjust war have no doubt angered a lot of people in that region of the world, and brought a lot of unwanted attention to our hallowed shores!

One more thing; The U.S.Inc. IS ruled by a democracy, but that in itself is where WE have gone wrong! Our fore-fathers shaped a Republic out of wood, hay, stone & stubble! It was supposed to be a government 'by the people, of the people, and for the people', but it has come to be, especially in recent times, a socialist oligarchy, where rule & power are determined by wealth & status!

What about 'glass houses'? We have seen, in many different areas & contexts, where'throwing stones' has gotten us. If we continue to 'throw stones', we should expect our 'house' to come crashing down on us, and most likely impaling us in turn with the shards that remain!

Is there any way that such a catastrophe can be avoided? Some would say no, 'it's too late; we've gone too far too turn back now'! I would tend to agree!

However, our Father is the God of Miracles!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, March 17, 2014

As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us

So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
Matthew 18:35

We pray, in this model prayer prayer we call 'The Lord's Prayer', that our Heavenly Father would forgive our sins. In covenant context, we know that this was fulfilled through Jesus' intercessory prayer; 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do'. In Luke's account of the Gospel ( 7:28 ), Jesus instructs His disciples to 'bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you'.

The historical context of Jesus' words here tell us that it was to His first-century disciples, first of all, that these instructions were given. Those Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah were undergoing persecution at the hands of their Jewish brothers, those who rejected Jesus, and conspired to put Him ( and them ) to death! These words were a precursor to Jesus' prayer on the cross, as we read in Luke 7:28!

Should we, as the Disciples of Christ today, continue to pray this prayer?

With the understanding that it is fulfilled in us, who are the Body of Christ, there is no harm in reminding ourselves daily that forgiveness is essential to right relationship. If we do not forgive each other, we cannot expect to be forgiven; the words may be uttered, but if either party harbors guilt and anger, the relationship will suffer until guilt is forgotten and anger soothed.

Jesus told His disciples to 'bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you'. Why would He give them instructions to this effect?  Well, one reason was that He wanted everyone to know who were His! If these Followers of Christ, soon to be known as 'The Way', did not revile in turn ( Isaiah 53:7-9 ), but returned justice for injustice, and love for hate, then the world would take note that these were the True People of God, for it had been prophesied that the Messiah would do this!

Another reason that Jesus instructed them so, is because our Heavenly Father, better than any earthly father, understands the necessity of forgiveness; He seeks a right relationship with all His Creation, and knows that it is only through forgiveness that this will come about! 

We MUST forgive, if we are to be forgiven! Most important maybe, besides the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, is to forgive ourselves. If we cannot forgive ourselves, it is that much harder to forgive others! To reverse that, if we can forgive ourselves, it is that much easier to forgive others!

This is where understanding that we are forgiven utters its voice loudest; if we know that we are forgiven, then, out of gratitude, we can forgive others!

We should thank God every day that we are forgiven, that through this forgiveness we have the capacity to forgive others, and to maintain a right relationship, not only with our Heavenly Father, but with His People as well!

As we forgive those who sin against us every day, let us remember that Jesus gave this warning to those who had been forgiven, that if they, like the unforgiving ( wicked ) servant in the parable in Matthew 18:21-35, did not forgive their fellow-servants, they would join them in prison! 

Let us always have an attitude of gratitude for the forgiveness we have been shown, and we will forgive our brother any trespass!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Capitalist Pigs of War

'What's wrong with a little friendly capitalism?

Doesn't everybody have the right to capitalize on their labor? 'Well sure', would be the right response; if we couldn't capitalize off our labors, what would be the use in laboring, right? Is it right, though, to capitalize on someone else's labor? Here is where the proverbial 'rubber meets the road' ( and sometimes, 'the shit hits the fan' ); it depends on whether you have justly and rightly hired that person in order to profit from his labor! If you have hired any certain person with the understanding that his ( or her ) labor is going to profit you, the employer, then that person has knowingly and willingly agreed to work for you and bring you a profit.

When you hire such a person, it is up to you how you reward that person for his ( or her ) labor. Depending on how you reward their labor, you may have a loyal employee for a good while, maybe even for life! On the other hand, though, the work or labor rendered by the employee may determine how long you wish to 'capitalize' on their labors. The employer & employee must work together, each giving as received in order for the relationship to work!

In this nation, we are supposed to be operating on what has been termed a 'free market' economy. This economy still operates on the basis of the principles of capitalism. In order for this principle to be implemented to its maximum potential, all parties concerned employer, employee, and buyer must work together with the agreement that the buyer will purchase, with the fruits of their labors, what the employee has agreed to make for the one who has employed him ( or her ).

As the case may be, we still operate, in this country, on this same basic principle. The employer hires people to make him ( or her ) a profit, and these strive mutually, to maintain this relationship, both hoping to capitalize from it! If one or the other cannot capitalize on this relationship, the relationship will normally be brought to a close, however abrupt.

There is nothing wrong, inherently, with capitalism! It is, however, an 'ism', and having to do with man ( and woman ) is subject to the emotional nature of the individual! Human beings, being made in the image of God, as is supposed, are thereby capable of great good, but they are also capable of great evil! As much as some strive to maintain a good relationship with others, some are not so careful, and as they refuse to maintain, or even acknowledge this most basic of needs, the relationship, both individually & corporately, suffers as a result!

Human beings are, by nature, selfish individuals! If something, whatever 'it' may be, does not profit the individual, that individual, by nature, will not work very hard to pursue that avenue! However, some people are able, to whatever degree, to work past that selfish, individualistic nature and work, not just for the common good, but for what is right, individuality be damned!

With a multitude of small businesses run on this free market principle, capitalism seems to thrive, but the bigger a business grows, with the greater diversity of its employed, the more this capitalist idea seems to fall apart! With the lack of personal responsibility we are increasingly seeing in this nation, more and more supervisors are needed, and so the potential for capitalizing on the labor output is decreased, and the need for labor that can best profit must be increased!

As we go around on this merry-go-round, we must take into account that, not only are the business owners human, but their employees are human as well, and thus the whole situation can quickly become a powder keg, ready to explode! The employer wants to make a profit on the labor of their employee, and the employee wants to make enough of a profit to take care of their family, plus live fairly comfortably, while the buyer just wants to be able to purchase what they need to take care of their family at a reasonable price!

Again, because all these individuals have their own concerns & worries, and usually not the same ones, there is usually trouble brewing in the workplace, and it just tends to get worse the larger the company grows!

The War Machine

Most, if not all wars in at least the past hundred years or so, which have been entered into or perpetrated by this sovereign nation, have been driven by business concerns! If our leaders determined that the cause was worthwhile ( made good business sense ), then this nation was dragged, sometimes against the will of the people, into another needless war, simply because 'they' deemed it necessary for the good of this nation ( and again, we can't forget their selfish individual concerns )!

'War is Hell', but it is also good business! Politics aside, if war was not such a profitable business venture, do you really think that our fearless leaders would be so quick to jump into it, or rather, thrust US into it?!

As with any business, big or small, selfish individual concerns play a big part!The fearless leader who thrusts 'the little people' into battle with who-knows-what unseen enemy must think first of how this effects him and his immediate family, then how it will affect those who take their orders from him, and finally, how it will affect the poor 'grunt' on the battle-field. The whole 'order' of things is then reversed, and makes its way back to the top!

I'll be the first one to admit it; there are those overseas, and here at home, who actually are serving their nation to the best of their ability; they look at what they're doing as more than just a job, and have purposed in their hearts to lay down their lives for 'The Cause', however misguided that may be, if necessary! How many of those individuals though, who actually feel a duty toward their country ( again, however misguided that may be ), would continue to lay their lives on the line, often on a daily basis, if they were not getting paid what they are?

War is just good business! It creates jobs and bolsters the economy! So it has its casualties, but you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette right? We must fight for the greater good! Better for a few to die than a few thousand! It's those damned Muslims; they just won't leave us be! Wait a minute...........

Well,, whatever the case may be, we're not going to get out of this mess by using the same strategy that got us here in the first place! More of the same will only get us to where we shouldn't be going all the quicker! We may try to reform this system from the inside, and maybe there seems to be some wisdom in that, but there is some doubt if that will even help at this point. The strategy that seems to have the most is to try to reform the system from the outside or just eliminate it entirely and start all over! This may actually be our best option!

This nation, and the capitalism that it runs on, needs to be reformed from the inside, but there is only One who can accomplish that, and it looks like He has left this nation to its own devices and given it up to its idolatry! All that we can do, it would seem, and the best we can do as well, is to reform our 'world' from the inside, and arm ourselves with the knowledge of who we truly are and what we're really about, 'Our Father's Business'!

Charles Haddon Shank

The Significance ( and Importance ) of Being Human


With an air of indignation
Smiles a painted porcelain face
And we're supposed to trust this
Decorum has its place
But you and I beyond that
With a question I might ask
How suddenly the smile doth crack
When we slip beneath the mask.-Blues Traveler

Human beings are fallible, or put simply, able to fail! There's no doubt there, as long as we are human, failure will always be an option. Try as we will, we may, and often will, succeed more often than we fail, but be sure that at some point, we ARE going to fail; it's a fact of life!

I try to look at failure as Edison did; 'I’ve tried everything. I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work'. The best we can do is try; sometimes we succeed right away, sometimes it's not till we have failed many, many times! When we persevere, however, we have succeeded, whether it's in figuring out that it can't be done, or just in finding 10,000 ways it won't work ( 'try, try again' )!

There are those out there who will try to tell you, 'if you just believe', you can do anything you want! We've yet to see any of them 'add one cubit to his stature' or sprout wings and fly! Yet, with the progression of technology, we have, almost literally, seen men 'sprout' wings and fly! Wilbur and Orville Wright, much as Edison, I'm sure, found many, many ways that it wouldn't work before they finally figure out one that would! Their experimentation led to the first man-made flight ( unless you count Greek myth ) and, 'O, how far we have come since then!'

Humans are able to fail, yes, but they are also able to succeed! The successes & failures of man ( human beings ) have become the stuff of legend! Over the millenia, especially in the past several hundred years, many have now gone where 'no man has gone before'; we have made many great leaps as a race! Much of this is due in great part to huge leaps in technology, but as much is due simply to the perseverance of man in his fallibility! Though these men & women knew that their efforts were subject to failure, they also knew that if they tried enough times, and persevered, that their dreams could come true!

Another area in which mankind has made amazing progress over the past thousand years, is in their understanding of God's Creation, or the field of Science. From a literal reading of certain passages of Scripture, up until the time of Galileo & Copernicus, the prevailing notion was that the sun revolved around the earth.  One can only imagine how many times both of these men tried ( and failed ) to officially disprove that notion, before they finally succeeded! This view, known as geocentrism, is around today, though not nearly as popularly accepted!

Reflections of Glory

Man; fallible but perserverant as he is, can only recreate, being made in the Image of his Creator. Solomon, the wisest king of Israel, once made a statement that is far-reaching and eternally true; 'there is nothing new under the sun': he, with the Wisdom from Above, knew that man, in all his creativity, could only add on to what was already there, to do what had been done before.

We, with the blessing of our Creator, have been able to make great progress in our evolution, but even though we have made such leaps in the fields of Technology & Science, it boggles the mind to think about how much further we have to go; the possibilities seem to be endless! Some even hold out the possibility or probability that we will become gods ourselves!

In some sense, this is true, we are gods, and creators ( of a sort ) in our own right! Jesus Himself, quoting Solomon's father, said, 'You are gods' ( John 10:34 ( Psalm 82:6 ). In the beginning, God created man in His ( 'male and female He created them' ), and gave them to be lords over His Creation!

Looking at all the ways in which mankind has failed ( in so many ways ) since that time reveals in a greater light the manifold ways in which they have succeeded! In every example of their failure, we can see how, through that failure, even greater Success & Glory came about! Conversely, looking at the great leaps that mankind has made, we can as easily look back and lament the manifold failures that have led to this glorious progress!

Immanuel, God With Us

When God divested Himself of His Glory and came to dwell with us as the Son of Man, He did so to cement a relationship with His Creation! Although known to His people, the knowledge of the Creator of Heaven & Earth had not spread very far beyond the cradle of civilization. With the Advent of this Knowledge, Science & Technology began to grow by leaps & bounds! 

Though man often denies this Knowledge and attributes His success to himself ( as a god ), as we saw earlier, man can only re-create; we can only take what already exists and use it for our purpose; we can not make something entirely new to do something that has never been done before!

Life itself & the ability to breathe in & out ( 'fearfully and wonderfully made' ), to recreate in our own image, is a Gift from God, and one which is made possible by the fact that this IS His world, His Creation, and that He dwells with us! If not for the Knowledge of God being spread throughout the earth, neither science nor technology would have seen the progress they have, in fact, it is barely arguable whether they would have seen any progress at all!

Human beings are fallible, yes; they will never be anything but! However, our Creator & Father is infallible; He cannot and never will fail; whatever He has ever set out to do has come to pass ( Isaiah 55:11 ); we are not like that: we can only strive to do again what He has already done, with the knowledge & ability that He has severally given to us, to varying degrees of success; this is part of Being Human!

As we strive, in our fallible humanity, to reflect this Image of God on a world that desperately needs a Father, let us persevere through our failures, knowing that our failures bring success! Let us recreate as we were created, and continue to spread the Love &; Knowledge of our Creator & Father 'as the waters cover the sea'!

Amen & Amen, 
Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Forgive Us Our Sins

This aspect of the our model prayer is synonymous with the apostle John's famous injunction in I John 1:9; 'if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [ our ] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' Israel had sinned, and needed to be forgiven before She could live again in God's Presence! As with all aspects of this prayer, we must consider the historical and covenantal aspects of Jesus' words here, if we are to glean a correct understanding of it's meaning!

In modern usage and understanding, as with the previous phrase, it is right & good to ask these things! However, as with the previous phrase, we must understand the significance that Jesus' words would have stirred up in the minds of His original audience, bringing to their remembrance that Israel had sinned and died. Before She could be resurrected, as promised, She had to be forgiven; thus, Jesus instructed them to pray in this manner!

Unlike the previous phrase ( 'give us this day' ), 'forgive us our sins' was of greater significance to that generation! Yes, we as Christians fail to uphold the Law of Love as we should, every day, but our sins have been forgiven! We should instead, in constant Communication & Communion with our Heavenly Father, thank Him for this forgiveness!

Israel, under that first covenant, had partaken in the sin of Adam, and thus died, so it was for this sin that Israel needed to be forgiven! As the New, or True Israel of God, the disciples of Christ were given this model for prayer to bring to their daily remembrance this damning fact. Through this realization, the disciples, representative of the Israel of God, repented of, and were forgiven for the sin of Adam!

As we thank our Heavenly Father in constant Communion & Communication with Him, let us always remember that the sins of His People have been forgiven!

Let us live our Lives in an attitude of Thankfulness as we Eat, Pray, & Love in and for His Kingdom & Glory!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Armed Citizen

When justice is not served, either by voting your conscience, or, in the case of the court system, a trial by jury, what course of redress must we take to rectify the situation and make sure that justice is served?

How far will we go to see that things are done right and that they continue to be so?

Politics, loosely defined, is 'the decision of the people', therefore, politics will rule the day! The problem with politics, is that the people's decision is, more often than not, the wrong one. If more people would be inclined to unselfishly make the right decision, then politics would not be such a dirty word, and this country, or nation, would be in a lot better shape! As the case may be, though, things are what they are, and we have been ruled by bad decisions for at least the past 150 years, and probably closer to 200!

Politics, therefore, IS the answer; if we could but reform the people to such a point that they would start, as a whole, to make good & just decisions, this would go a long way toward redeeming us from the mess we've placed ourselves in. However, we've been floundering in this morass for so long that most people have become accustomed to making bad decisions, and have even become so comfortable with their imprisonment, that they will fight tooth and nail to stay there!

'You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged, and many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it!'
Morpheus-'The Matrix'

Say what you will about 1999's 'The Matrix'; it nailed the problem, especially in the quote above, in today's American society! Americans have been so dumbed down by the government ( public ) schooling system and the major news media ( along with the 'boob' tube ), that this movie-quote ( ironic, no? ) almost perfectly epitomizes America today. Most people in this nation are so far gone, in fact, that they don't even know that they've been duped ( hornswoggled )! They think that they must accept tyranny, and in many cases, willingly prostate themselves at the feet of this bestial idol!

Many want to believe that if we could just educate people as to the way things outta be, people would wake up and smell the coffee. That's a very pleasant pipe-dream, but a pipe-dream, nonetheless! Its not likely! More likely, and more and more are preparing for it, is that this country is going to be ravaged by a civil war that will make the last one look like a Sunday School outing! It may not be as bloody as the last one, but when all is said and done, you must realize that America, as we know it, will be no more; maybe that's a good thing!?

Being armed and prepared doesn't necessarily mean hording guns and ammo ( although that's not a bad idea ); we should also arm ourselves with knowledge! Without the knowledge of who and why we are fighting goes a lot further than having the idea of 'kill them all, let God sort them out' ( if we did that, there wouldn't be anyone left ) The knowledge of who we are and what we're about will go a long way too. If we have faith in the God of Israel, and that 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue [ which ] rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn' ( Isaiah 54:17a ), then we will be more prepared to rightly & justly defend ourselves and those that God has given to us, when the need arises!

Properly armed, the good citizen will know how best to make his ( or her  ) vote count, whether with the pen or the sword, whether in the ballot box, the jury box, or on the field of battle! 'When the people fear their government, there is tyranny, but when that government fears the people, there is freedom. Truer words were never spoken, and when people begin to submit to the governance of our Heavenly Father and realize how best to rightly & justly govern themselves, we will begin to see the course of this nation radically altered!

Will justice EVER be served in this nation?! Will politics EVER be anything more than just a dirty word? Will the sheeple of this nation EVER be ready to be unplugged, to wake up and smell the coffee burning? The Answer to these questions and more is right there, waiting to be found!

It begins with you!

To borrow another quote from 'The Matrix';

I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. 
You're the one that has to walk through it.

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, March 07, 2014

Did the Father Forsake His Son?

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? [ Why are You so ] far from helping Me, and from   the words of My groaning?
Psalm 22:1

Did Father God leave His Son to die on the cross of Calvary? Cruel as that may seem, and very really, He did! One might say that Jesus, as a Man, simply felt that His Father God had forsaken Him, but no matter how you slice it, there seems to have been a very real separation; in fact, there WAS a very real separation; Jesus died, for real!

Jesus, if He had wished it, could have come down off the cross, right? He could have kept Himself from dying at the hands of those angry men, both young and old, right?

As God Himself, Jesus surely had the power to do these things, right?! Even the Accuser knew that; 'For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In [ their ] hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' ( Psalm 91:11 & 12 ) When Jesus was on the cross, His Accusers taunted Him with 'You who destroy the temple and build [ it ] in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.' ( Matthew 27:42 )

Besides the fact that we can see, looking back, it was our Heavenly Father's Plan for His Son to die on the cross of Calvary, Jesus, even though He asked at least once, 'Take this cup away from Me' ( Mark 11:36 ), chose to hang on that cursed tree and die for the sins of His People! 

Could Jesus have come down off the cross and kicked some Pharisaical butt? They sure thought He could have, if He was Who He said He was! Most Christians today would like to think He could have, and maybe even have envisioned Him doing so ( especially after watching Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' ), but the fact of the matter is, that He did not; He fully and freely obeyed the Will of His Father!

One might wonder where we're going with all this! 

Well, if Jesus was God, or the Son of God, why would He say 'But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only' ( Matthew 24:36 ), when He had earlier predicted, with all certainty, 'there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom' ( Matthew 16:28 )? Then again, He told the Jewish high priest, 'hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Did Jesus, as the Son of God, know 'that day and hour', or did He simply know, for damn sure, that His Day was coming? John recorded that He uttered these words from the Right Hand of the Father ( numerous times ), 'Behold,[e] I am coming quickly!' ( Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 12 & 20 )

When He referred to Himself as 'the Son of Man' before His glorification, was he making a reference to the notion that He was somewhat less than God? Did He not come down off the cross because He wasn't yet the Son of God? 

Were His Accusers right?

Well, Jesus referred to Himself as 'the Son of God' quite a few times as well, although only directly & clearly in John's record of the Gospel! According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, He hinted many times that He was the Son of our Heavenly, and interestingly enough, the clearest reference to ANYONE as a son or sons of God is given of us!

So, clearly, Jesus WAS, prior to His glorification, even, the Son of God! Why then, do you suppose, did He say 'of that day and hour no one knows'? 

Well, later on His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave His listeners a hint as to why: He told them 'Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming.' ( Matthew 25:13 ) Mark recorded that Jesus spoke these words during His Sermon, 'but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.'

Jesus was known for His insistence that 'My Father is greater than I' ( John 14:28 ), so for Him to say that not even He knew the day or hour of His coming would by no means imply that He was any less than God Himself, just that He, as the Son, knew that all things were in the Father's Hands!

He knew that He was going to be sent to judge His covenant people, but not exactly when!

Let's cut into the issue of separation here! When God the Father sent His Son to die for the sins of His people, as we have already explored, there was a separation, a death of sorts. When Jesus uttered those famous last words on the cross of Calvary, might He not truly have tasted that death for the first time? When He felt His life-force draining out of Him, do you think maybe the realization of what it meant when He was sent to this realm finally hit Him with its full force??

Jesus was, as certain confessions say, ''fully man, and fully God', but for the Purpose of the Eschaton, He was separated from His Father, and experienced the pain of covenantal death in the stead of His People, Israel! After He was raised by the Power of the Spirit, He resumed His place at the Father's ''right hand', until the Marriage Supper was made ready, the battle was prepared, and He came, in the glory of His Father ( Matthew 16:27 ) to claim His Bride!

Glory be to our Heavenly Father, who cut this Covenant with us!

Charles Haddon Shank