The Pagan Path

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Change of Life ( from Death )

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 
(John 5:24 NKJV)

This is well-accepted by the majority of orthodox theology in all of its glory, but for the most part is stated merely as an 'already-not-yet', or that was it simply meant to comfort those first-century believers that they had been transferred from the ministration of death to the Kingdom of Life! Most if not all orthodox Christians accept this Truth, like the Truth of the Resurrection and other closely related Truths, as an Already Accomplished Fact, but Not Yet a Present Reality!

The Death of Adam, to the minds of most Christians, is primarily physical, biological death, brought on by The Curse! Though most orthodox theologians acknowledge the spiritual nature of this 'death' ( 'in the day you eat' ), it is averred by the majority that this separation was significant of the biological death brought on, or so it is presumed, by this Curse!

Several problems may immediately be noted with this view, most glaringly, maybe, that the apostle Paul tells us that it is 'first the natural, then the spiritual', not the other way around. In the same manner, Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born of water ( natural birth ) and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven ( Life )'. It was the Curse of Spiritual, or Separational Death from which Adam's Race must be healed, not the separation of the body & spirit!

The Natural of which the apostle wrote in I Corinthians 15  was a reference to that first ( covenant-Hebrews 8:4 ) or contract, that which became The Ministration of Death for Israel according to the Flesh, or Israel under the Law! The Spiritual, in natural succession of course, referred to the New Covenant in Christ. This New Covenant, of which Jesus was not only the Mediator, but really, the Personification, was A Covenant of Marriage, The Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

The Curse of Adam, to die the day he partook of the forbidden fruit, was fulfilled, not in the expiration of his biology in the day he ate, but rather in that he was removed from the blessedness of The Presence in the Garden! From that day forth, he would have to labor for his sustenance, with the sweat of his brow obtaining his meager existence; no longer would he enjoy the Restfulness & Ease of the Immediate Presence of God!

In Christ, or The New Covenant, Adam's Race was restored to that Communion with his Creator which he had enjoyed in the Garden; the Death which he had experienced in the Garden had been changed into Life!

Another problem, and possibly even more troubling, which we may note with the belief that biological expiration was brought by the Curse is the fact that with this doctrine is included the partial ( incomplete ) salvation of His people! If Jesus' Resurrection ( from biological death ) was His Victory, then, since Christians still physically expire, our salvation from the death of Adam is indeed 'already not yet'; the salvation of The Israel of God is not yet complete, and we have not been made a new creation!

The Witness of Scripture seems to say something else though; the writer to the Hebrews told them that they had been 'perfected forever' ( 10:14 ). Note that the perfection spoken of here is not ( necessarily ) as we tend to define it, especially in this day & age. The Perfection of which the apostle wrote here is the Perfection, or Completeness of the Body of Christ! As individuals, though we are doubtless part of the New Creation, we are very obviously NOT a New ( biological ) Creation!  ( Anyone suffering through any sort of physical ailment related to their biology can attest to this! )

Although the biological Body of Jesus was raised from Death and given New Life, this Resurrection was not indicative of A Reversal of the Curse! By restoring Adam's Race to Full Communion with their Creator through Covenant, Jesus had already orchestrated that Great Reversal! 'So why raise His physical Body if He had simply defeated Spiritual or Separational Death?' you might ask. Think about it this way then, if Jesus physical, biological Body had remained in The Grave, do you think those weak, unbelieving Jews would have been able to 'see' that He had defeated Death?!

Since, as Scripture makes so plain, and as the Body of Christ, we HAVE passed from Death to Life, and ARE a ( made ) New Creation, we must see that it is not our biology that needs to be redeemed, for biological death, as any biologist can tell you, is a necessary part of biological life. Since we have, as a Body, been fully redeemed, why do so many Christians have trouble seeing this glorious fact?

As we ponder the answer to this troubling question, and other related questions, let us remember that all our questions will be answered in God's Good Time! We may be frustrated and even get a bit miffed by the ignorance & stubbornness of those who cannot 'see' this glorious fact, but we must not let our impatience, even our idolatry, get the best of us; as always, we must respond to this blindness with the Love & Understanding of the Spirit Within Us!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Judges of the Earth

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28 NKJV)

Judge not, that you be not judged. (Matthew 7:1 NKJV)

Huh; how were they supposed to judge the Twelve Tribes without judging? In both of these passages, the same Greek verb,  krinõ is used, so how can we reconcile this seeming inconsistency? Well, there are several ways to clear things up a bit, the most obvious, of course, being that we tend to read these words as if they addressed directly to us!

Although in both cases, Jesus was speaking directly to His contemporaries, most, if not all Christians today ( even non-Christians ), interpret Jesus, in the latter passage, as speaking directly to People ( particularly ) of all Ages! In the first passage, Jesus is pretty obviously speaking directly to His first-century disciples! ( for most Christians, the fact that they would judge the Twelve Tribes should be more than enough to tell you that ), but in the second statement ( actually first, chronologically ), it is universally accepted, in most cases, that we are, in no way, shape or form, to judge others!

Another way to clarify the seeming inconsistency here ( related to the first ), is to realize that Jesus was speaking to two different groups! The first statement was clearly directed toward His ( Jewish ) first-century disciples, but the second was made during Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and was more of a blanket statement, directed toward His entire congregation. Reading this statement in context with the following words, 'For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you', tells us that Jesus was only warning His congregation ( audience ) that if/when they judged another, and doing the same things, they would receive a similar or greater judgment in return!

In relation to this, as well, is the fact that historically, Jesus' statement to His disciples was directly linked to the Hebrew Scriptures, which they knew well & understood even better ( this is questionable )!  Judging the Twelve Tribes was something that they had been doing in the days before the earthly kings. Jesus told His disciples that the reign of these earthly kings was over, and that they would instead, reign with our Heavenly King from His Heavenly Throne!

In all this, and lost on most Christians today as well, we must realize that the People of God is but One People! The Continuity of the Story is one of the most glorious aspects of Scripture! Because the Story of the Church is simply a Continuation, or Fulfillment of the Story of Israel, we can take great comfort in knowing the true impact of the statement, 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) By syncing our History with that of the Ancient People of God, we understand that He holds the same Love for us as He held for them, an Undying & Eternal Love!

As Judges of the Earth, we are to judge for ourselves what is right and what is wrong! This is not to say, of course, that we can define, as we please, what is right and what is wrong; God forbid! We have His Word and a Cleansed Conscience to tell us what is right and what is wrong; we are to judge by these Guidelines! His Law, written on our hearts, guides us into all Truth, and comforts us in our tribulation!

When Jesus warned the Pharisacal Jews that they should not judge others, He was not giving a blanket commandment that people of all ages should not judge, but simply that we should not be hypocritical about our judgments! The problems they faced in Jesus' day are alive and well in ours!
Hypocrisy in judgment is as real & glaring a problem as His first-centįry disciples faced!

To judge without hypocrisy, we must first, as Jesus said, 'remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye'. This is something, whether we want to or not, that we must do, for we are The Judges of the Earth! Let us therefore determine to judge with A Righteous Judgment, not in a hypocritical way, but as those who have been Cleansed & Redeemed, in the Knowledge & Realization that we are the Fulfillment of the Promise, The People of the Presence!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The God Consciousness

Man has long been aware of a Higher Power! The form or shape that Higher Power takes, at least, in their own mind, is where the main disagreement comes in. Pretty much every culture, at it's very base, has some sort of Creation Story, and while some may be further away from the Truth than others, most would agree, I think, that they all have some semblance of Truth, somewhere in the various accounts!

The impact that this awareness has on any given culture is usually determined by the relationship of the Created to the Creator! Some cultures believe that their Creator/God is a personal One, while others are more of the opinion that He is a petty, vindictive God who threatens to overturn your world if you don't follow His every command ( to the Letter ). Others still, believe that theirs is a God who created the world we live in, then stepped back to let it run itself, and eventually, to run down!

The Christian religion, and the culture it has spawned, teaches that we serve a relational ( personal ) God, One who deals personally with every one of His creatures, even if they don't respond to or acknowledge Him. To varying degrees, Christian theology portrays a loving Creator who cares so much for His Creation that He deemed to pay the penalty that His own Law required, just to save them from their sin & death and bring them into healthy & lasting relationship with Himself! If any other religion can boast this, I have not heard of it!

Many Christians today, for whatever reason, seem to be of the opinion that though He is a personal God, He is still petty & vindictive, and if you don't follow His every command to the letter, He will come down on you like a ton of bricks, or more likely, a bolt of lightning, with which He will hammer you into submission and force you to love Him! Others realize & acknowledge that He deals with His Creation in Grace & Truth, and in Eternal Love. Still others are aware of His dwelling with ( in ) His Creation ( as in the beginning-yet better ), and that He deals with This Creation in a covenantal manner, on both an individual & corporate level!

The Cleansed Conscience is very aware of the Purity of the Presence in their Life! While acknowledging individual imperfections, those who bear a Cleansed Conscience acknowledge that the Work of Christ is fulfilled in the Life of His People! ( a quick note before we move on here; 'fulfilled' does NOT mean 'ended': it means ( continually ) 'filled up' )  There is a Continuity in the Life of the People of God, a Loving & Lasting Relationship between Creature & Creator that has stood the Test of Time!

Time is a funny thing! Some respond to the Advances of their Creator in A Good & Timely Manner, while others never do. There is much speculation involved here concerning what happens to those who do not respond in this timely fashion; 'do they simply go 'poof' upon their biological expiration?' 'Is there any chance for salvation beyond the grave, or is there an eternal hell, as we have all been taught?'

Most or all Christians have been taught since they were able to grasp it, that when a person's biology ceases to function, that person's spirit ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ), or soul, goes to one of two places, 'Heaven' or 'Hell', 'Hell' being the domain of 'Satan', or the devil, and 'Heaven' being the domain of God! Several problems face us, though, with this theory, the most obvious being of course, that this aims to pit the Creator against the Created! 'Satan', if ever the fallen spiritual being that we have all come to know & love ( hate ), is a created being, and to vaunt his kingdom in direct opposition to that of his Creator, as if he is nearly on par with his Creator, is to grant him a power that does not exist!

Beyond this yet, is the fact that, according to Revelation 20, 'Satan', sin, death & 'hell' were all cast into the Lake of Fire; if ever he existed, he is no more! Most Christians would remind you at this point that, although 'Satan's head was crushed by the Cross ( sacrifice ) of Christ, 'Satan' is not yet in actuality defeated, or crushed; Jesus will come back A Second Time, apart from sin, and for salvation, to finish the job! Along with this comes The ( physical ) Resurrection, wherein we come glaringly back to the dichotomous doctrine of Heaven & Hell, wherein are the righteous & unrighteous dead of all Time: these dead are then raised to physical life, or reanimated, and the righteous return to Heaven in these glorified physical bodies while the unrighteous return to more torment in 'Hell', while their Creator sits in the heavens and laughs!

If, on the other hand, this saying is true, where Jesus claimed that both He and the Father would make their Home with His People ( John 14:23 ), then Christians must see that Heaven ( Creator ) has been married to Earth ( Creation ), for the Bride has been united with Her Groom, and He has come to Dwell, at last, with His Wife! His Will IS done on Earth as in Heaven & we now enjoy ALL the Blessings of His Presence!

So we, at last ( again? ) come to the question of The God Consciousness; if most Christians do not yet see God, in Jesus, ruling & reigning through His People & Dwelling with His Bride, then we must ask ourselves a very disturbing question; 'why is this?' & 'what is to be done about it?' We might ask as well, 'how important is it that we fully understand & accept this glorious fact? Does the disbelief of mere ( weak ) humanity really have that much of a bearing on the Kingdom of God?

You may ponder these questions, but in all your pondering, please don't forget to Live & Love, for this is man's chief end! May we who have realized and accepted This Glorious Truth ever render it in The Spirit of Love, for if we do not have Love, we only sow discord! Let us sow the Truth in Love, and Lord willing, these questions will be answered in Time!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Sacred & Secular Distinction

In today's society, in particular, American society, a typical marriage, even among most Christians, means going to your local courthouse and applying for a State Marriage License! This is not common knowledge, maybe, but a license makes something legal which would otherwise be illegal. In other words, according to the State, your marriage is illegal if you don't apply for and receive a license from them ( kinda like driving )!

Big news lately, is the fact that more and more states ( everyday it seems ) are granting these Marriage Licenses to homosexual, or same-sex couples! One might well reason, according to the legal definition of 'License' ( a right or permission granted by a competent authority (as of a government or a business) to engage in some business or occupation, do some act, or engage in some transaction which would be unlawful without such right or permission  ), if the State is acknowledging that such union is unlawful ( according to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God )! If marriage between heterosexuals is permissible with a license though, you might ( as well ) ask, 'why not homosexuals??

Part of the problem in most societies is the false distinction between what is sacred and what is secular! Life, for the Christian especially, is Sacred; there is no part that can be regulated to the merely secular! Put simply, the term 'secular' is meant to relate to the 'worldly', or temporal, things or activities of life. Sacred, of course, is based on the notion that certain things are 'set apart' for a certain purpose. For the Christian, this means that everything he or she does is Sacred, for the Christian Life is ( or should be ) 'set apart' for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God!

A certain denomination has recently defined Christian Marriage as, 'between two people', rather than 'between a man and a woman', which is the Scriptural definition! It is no doubt possible for two persons of the same sex to have & show love to each other, even to commit ( in covenant ) to each other ( look at David & Jonathan's relationship ), but can they actually fulfill the commitments of marriage towards each other? Malachi 2:15, among others, tells us the Purpose of Christian Marriage, 'He seeks godly offspring'!

This is not to say that the only reason for Christian Marriage is to produce ( children ), but this, we can ascertain by reading ( even cursorily ) Scripture, is the primary aim! Same-sex couples may be able to live together, and even to bring glory to God through their lives together, but can this union really be called a marriage? According to Scripture, it cannot!

Moving on, we must stress again that Christian Marriage is, for all intents & purposes, Sacred; it was set apart, in the beginning, by our Heavenly Father ( Genesis 2:21-25 ), and to this day, is observed, even by non-Christians, as a more-or-less Sacred Institution! As such, Christian Marriage, especially, should not be regulated at all by any Secular Government, State or otherwise! There is a growing trend, praise be to our Heavenly Father, in which Christians are ceasing to beg the State for permission to wed! ( Our website ( ) stats for the past year testify to this )

As Christians begin ( & continue ) to marry 'in the sight of God & these witnesses' alone, covenanting with each other before God rather than seeking permission from the State, True Christian Marriage will be revealed for what it is; a Sacred Bond, before God & God Alone, something in which the State has no lasting interest! Let us determine to break this Barrier down in our own lives, and as our influence spreads, the trend will continue; Christian Marriage will be revealed as a Holy Covenant, set apart from the Beginning by our Creator, and having nothing to do with any Secular State, or even those who deny their Heavenly Father!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, June 21, 2014

'You Can't Handle the Truth!'

This line, so well-articulated by the actor Jack Nicholson in the 1992 film, 'A Few Good Men', has become rather a catchphrase! In both today's political & theological landscapes, this phrase rings as true as it did in the context of the movie from which it's so often quoted! In both areas, which are not as far separated as one might think, the problem is that most 'can't handle the truth'!

Many Christians, when faced with the notion of a Fulfilled Eschatology, either discard it outright as a damnable heresy, or, after looking into it, and even going 'gung-ho' for awhile, later discard it as well for what they perceive as the same reason; it's damnable heresy! The Implications of a Totally Fulfilled Eschatology are usually too much for the average Christian to bear!

On the other hand, when it comes to politics, most Americans are so deeply immersed in the slavish culture that we've been brought up in for decades, even centuries, that even the mention of true freedom is almost immediately 'poo-pooed'! Like with theology & the principles of preterism, sometimes we find that when people are faced with the facts, they embrace them at first, but when they find out where true freedom leads, they seem to shout, 'PUT THE PRISON BARS BACK!'

Those who are firmly convinced of either or both ( they often go together ), are sometimes discouraged when those who seemed so 'on fire' at first, eventually have a change of heart, often turning on the very theology or political stance that they once tried to bolster! Though this is not at all common, neither should we be surprised when it happens! Often, when people find something new, it captures their imagination, and they become almost enamored by it, but, when they realize the creature comforts they might have to give up because of it, they turn away from it: SOME TURN ON IT!

Why does this happen, you might well wonder, and how do we change it? Well, for the most part, WE CAN'T CHANGE IT! People are so used to existing in this slavish & servile system that when something that even looks like true freedom comes along, the 'knee-jerk' reaction is to turn away from it, because they're Blinded by the Light! The notion that we are already free of The Chains of Slavery quite simply SCARES THE HELL out of most people!

To be fair, there is a growing number of people in both arenas that are actually sticking with it! These are so totally convinced of the Truth of these Principles, that they will fight to uphold them, if only in their own field of influence & responsibility! Even though most ( even their own brethren ) have rejected outright or abandoned these Principles, they will cling vociferously to these principles, if need be, 'TILL DEATH DO US PART'! To these People, we must grant many 'kudos', because, as many of us can attest to, 'IT AIN'T EASY'!

On the other hand, those who are so strongly convinced of this Truth must realize & acknowledge that many of these individuals, those who can't seem to 'stick with it', are often ( usually ) 'pulled' by other concerns, including anything from ostracization by certain family members & desertion by old friends to loss of income & position! These are very real concerns, and if we in turn, make little of them, we run the risk of losing friends ourselves, and even suffering setbacks to the Cause of Liberty!

In order for people to latch onto these Principles, they have to want it! If they make a conscious decision and commit themselves to possible hardship for the betterment of, if not their own, at least their progeny's position in life, then I believe we will see that these are the ones who will 'stick with it! However, if they are not totally convinced in their own minds of this Truth, then it will undoubtedly be as in the case that we read about in Matthew 13, and 'The Parable of the Sower'; 'when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away'; THEY ARE BLINDED BY THE LIGHT!

The only way that some of these people will be convinced of this Truth is by Divine Intervention, by the Holy Spirit of God! Others may be convinced through love; by lovingly & gently revealing this Truth to them, and taking into consideration any concerns they might have, we may eventually & effectively be able to win them over, really, to convince them to accept This Glorious Truth and to better their own lives!

As we strive, in our own conviction, to convince others of This Glorious Truth, let us keep in mind that 'most of these people are not ready to be unplugged'! Not everyone is ready to have their blinders removed; not everyone is at the same point in their life where they are so fed up with the 'status quo' that they are ready for that Change! Most people, in this day & age, 'CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH'!

For the time being, we must accept this Truth & implement it in our own lives, and realize that, along the way, many of those who are in prison are going to see our Glorious Freedom, and say, 'I WANT WHAT HE ( or she ) HAS!

May it be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Temple of the Holy Spirit

'But you're a sinner; how can YOU be the the Temple of the Holy Spirit?'

Yeah, how DOES that work? Does the Holy Spirit leave me momentarily whenever I fail to uphold His Law? Is that why we're supposed to confess our sins every Sunday ( I John 1:9 )? When the apostle Paul wrote 'Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?' ( I Corinthians 6:19 ), was he telling them that their individual, biological bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit of God?

We might ask ourselves these questions quite often, because this has to be a genuine concern, especially to those who have an unhealthy focus on the individual aspect of the Body of Christ! If we, personally, are temples, as we have been told from our youth ( after we were 'saved', of course ), then why do we still knowingly transgress the Law of God? Are we not truly Children of our Heavenly Father; are we not really 'saved', after all?

When these questions pop up in our minds, like they are wont to do, it's easy to get depressed and let them lead us down into the depths of despair! When we remember the Story, though, in both its covenant and corporate aspects, we should realize that the apostle was speaking in a most familiar way. He was not speaking here of individual, biological bodies, but of the corporate ( covenantal ) spiritual Body of Christ!

This Body is made up of individual, biological bodies, yes; the apostle also wrote, 'Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually'. ( I Corinthians 12:27 )! I'm not saying that individuals are not vessels of the Holy Spirit, just that those individuals, by themselves, are not the Temple of which Scripture speaks! This kind of individualistic thinking has caused much necessary pain ( in labor ) to the Body of Christ!

The Story of Israel is the Story of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! It is a History in Metaphor of how God chose a special People out of all His good Creation and ordained them to be His Priest to the Nations, or the rest of His good Creation! Because we are too often wont to separate the Hebrew Scriptures from the Greek Scriptures, even to the point of ignoring the Hebrew, sometimes, the Temple Imagery from Old is often forgotten and so, when we come to the New, the Reality is instead individualized & personalized!

The clearest passage from the Hebrew Scriptures on the Nature of the Resurrection is Ezekiel 37. I mention this passage quite often, but it, like most of the Hebrew Scriptures, has fallen victim to this individualization & personalization! This passage, if even taken more than a passing notice of, is so divorced from the Story that it has become just one of those stories from the Old Testament that, even though at least one song has been written about it,  just doesn't quite make sense, and certainly has no relevance to the Church today!

The Temple Imagery of Scripture begins in Genesis, winds its way throughout, and comes to fruition in the Revelation! The writer to the Hebrews put it this way; 'But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to
the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.' ( Hebrews 12:22-24 ) although not precisely stated here as in other places, maybe, it is clear enough with this complimentary passage that it is the People of God who constitute the Temple of God!

It is we, corporately, not individually, that make up the Body of Christ, or Temple! As individuals, it may be said truthfully that we partake of the Divine Nature, and bear somewhat of His Eternal Essence within us, but Scripturally speaking, it is the Corporate Body of Israel, that of the Son of God, which is the True Temple ( Revelation 21:22 )! Although the individual bears his or her part within the Body, it is as a whole that we are most effective! As we Commune together, we strengthen & build each other up, but as individuals, we have that 'lone wolf' tendency, as human beings, to try to make it on our own and to boast our self-sufficiency!

The fact that we, personally & individually are not The Temple of the Holy Spirit is not License to Sin; quite the contrary ( God Forbid! ), but since we, as a Corporate Body do constitute The Temple, our determination to act as the Priests of that Temple should be the stronger, and bolstered by His Strength, both within & without, we are enabled to shoulder the responsibility & to be the Leaves of the Tree that are for the Healing of the Nations!

By His Grace & through His Mercy,
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Final Judgment; A Better Covenant ( A Companion to 'The Inevitable Appointment' )

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things [ done ] in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
II Corinthians 5:10

Some controversy surrounds the doctrine of 'Final Judgment'; if, according to the Principles of Preterism, the judgment is in the past ( Lake of Fire, etc. ). does this mean that there is no more final judgment? When the writer to the Hebrews announced that 'as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment' ( Hebrews 9:27 ); was he giving an eternal, universal principle there, or was he referring to the Coming Judgment, which would be the Final Judgment for that Age? We in Christ have been judged & judged Righteous in Christ, but will those not in Christ face a Final Judgment 'according to what he has done, whether good or bad'?

If there is no more Final Judgment, we might well ask ourselves questions like, 'why, then, do some unbelievers seem to be much better off than some believers? ( why is my body racked with pain while his is not? ) If there is no more Final Judgment ( in other words, if men don't appear before the judgment seat of Christ when their biological clock runs down ), then what advantage do we have over the unbeliever? Why acknowledge your relationship with your Heavenly Father if He's just going to reward you with hardship while you live on this earth in this biology?

All of Scripture is eschatological in nature, and while some may accuse me of being a dispensationalist, or at least of employing dispensational principles, the writer to the Hebrews did say that the New Covenant was 'better' than the old, or 'first' ( Hebrews 9:1 )! 'But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises' ( Hebrews 8:6 ) Is this to say that our Heavenly Father is operating differently in the New Covenant than He did under the old? You could say that, and you well might say that He changed His modus operandi ( mode of operation ), because the 'Savior of all men' was not revealed as such until the fullness of time had appeared!

When The Fullness of Time had come, Jesus the Christ was revealed in order to make the Final Judgment & to consummate The Marriage of Heaven & Earth! He had warned those Pharisees ( and comforted His disciples ) with these words; 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth' ( Matthew 28:18 ( John 5:27 ) By this judgment, He cemented forever the principle of reaping what you sow! Because those false Jews had continually spurned Him & His Righteousness, Yahweh finally judged them for their sin; the rejection of the Holy Spirit!

Is the Lake of Fire, into which death & hell were thrown, still in operation? This is a subject which might warrant further discussion as well! If Yahweh Himself was/is the metaphorical Fire that burned in this metaphorical Lake, is He still in the business of 'consuming' ( Hebrews 12:29 )? He is no doubt still 'a consuming fire', for our Heavenly Father has said, 'I [ am ] the Lord, I do not change' ( Malachi 3:6 )! When a change is spoken of in the Greek Scriptures, it is most often referring to His People; they were the recipients of that change, they were the ones who received that 'better covenant', or, as I put it, the Fullness of the Covenant!

Is there yet, contrary to the Preterist Principle, a yet future ( individual/personal ) judgment upon physical death? If so, I have yet to read about it in any Scripture! 'There must be some sort of Final Judgment for the unbeliever, the one who remains in his denial of the Holy Spirit of God!', one might object, but the Judgment has been made, in finality! One only has to look at the lives of those who reject & spurn the Goodness of God to see that they ARE receiving their reward! The principle of 'reaping what you sow' is now, and always has been in operation; THAT has not changed! Wrong actions have a way, at one point or another, of coming back around to bite you in the ass, but right actions will always, again, at one point or another, bring the Blessings of our Almighty & Heavenly Father!

So what, if we all just 'reap what we sow', is the advantage, if any, in doing righteously, in cultivating our relationship with our Heavenly Father? For one thing, and most obviously, when we do right, we receive the blessed & just reward of righteousness! Yes, it is possible to do right for the wrong reason ( but then, can you really call it 'right'? ), but our Heavenly Father 'knows the heart' ( Acts 15:8 ( Psalm 44:21 ); He knows why a person does what he or she does, and rewards accordingly; IN HIS TIME!

Another reason to acknowledge our relationship with our Heavenly Father & to seek the blessings of Communion is that when we do, we enjoy not only Communion with Him, but with His Blessed Body as well, those who also enjoy that Blessed Communion! If we do wrong, it only goes to figure that only those doing wrong as well will fellowship & commune with us, but when we do right, sooner or later, we will enjoy the fellowship & communion of those who do right. When we live in such a Community of Righteousness, it only encourages us the more to do right!

 So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Hebrews 9:28

Is this a universal and timeless ( ageless ) principle, or did the writer to the Hebrews mean simply to give hope to his ( 1st century ) readers with these words? The context demands a first century fulfillment! Though in some sense Christ yet appears to ALL men for their salvation, these words refer, not to this or some other future event, but to the salvation that Yahweh brought when He appeared in Judgment ( the Parousia ) on the Ministration of Death ( AKA-Israel according to the flesh )! 

Though our Heavenly Father made an end of sin ( for His People-Daniel 9:24 ), there is no denying the fact that His people, believers & unbelievers alike, still transgress His Law! When they ( and we ) do, we, at some point or another, receive the just reward for that transgression! ( 'Be sure your sin will find you out'-Numbers 32:23-now THAT is a timeless principle! ) If, however, that one does right, he or she will, in kind, and at some point or another, receive a just reward for that righteousness!

'Righteous comes from the Lord alone!'


Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

To Stay or Depart ( Which is Much Better )

Does Scripture give any indication of an 'after-life'? Can we find any information at all in the sayings/parables of Jesus or in the writings of the apostle Paul or any of the other Gospel writers, that might give us any indication as to what the 'after-life' is like, or whether it even exists? To deny some sort of 'life after death', you might hear, is to deny the historic Christian hope, or faith!

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die [ is ] gain. But if [ I ] live on in the flesh, this [ will mean ] fruit from [ my ] labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For[c]I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, [ which is ] far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh [ is ] more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Philippians 1:19-26

Was the apostle expecting to pass from this biological existence soon when he penned ( or dictated ) these words? Did Paul believe that 'to be with the Lord' meant that one must first shed their transient 'husk'? As this epistle was written from prison ( Sheol ) in Rome, it no doubt had crossed his mind that he might possibly be 'on his last leg', so to speak, that he might die in prison!

Is it as simple as that, though? Paul was writing at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and as with all of Scripture, there is usually more to it than meets the eye! He probably did wonder if he was going to spend his last days in a Roman prison, but we must remember, first of all, to consume these words in the greater context of, not only his own writings, but the rest of Scripture!

Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Paul was, first & foremost, a Jew! Brought up under the teaching of Gamaliel ( Acts 22:3 ) Paul was 'a Hebrew of the Hebrews' and 'a Pharisee( Philippians 3:5 ). He knew, from the Hebrew Scriptures, that that was the way it worked; when our biological clock ran down, or the sand had run through our hourglass, the time was up, and our flesh returned to the dust from which it came, and our spirit returned to God who gave it! From his prison, he no doubt would be free, and if that meant that he would have to die first, which would mean 'to depart and be with Christ', it would involve leaving them behind to stew in their own mess; he didn't want to leave his brethren either!

The apostle Paul had inherited the Mind of Christ, which meant to serve others. He would rather be with his Lord, to leave his shackles & chains behind, and rest in the eternal comfort prepared for the People of God, but he realized that to remain in the flesh, though it meant the pain of prison, was more needful for them, in that they were under the persecution of both the Romans and the Judaizers! By remaining in the flesh, Paul would be able to minister more easily to those that faced this necessary persecution.

Another reason that Paul said what he said, when he said it, was that he & they, as Jesus Himself had, labored still under that old regime! Even though they were free of the shackles of that first ( covenant ) they had not yet entirely cast off the physical restrictions of their former wardens ( this is why Paul remained in the flesh )! There was still work for them ( and him ) to do before Jesus returned on the Clouds of Glory!

At the time of Paul's writing to the Philippians ( a Prison Epistle ), he did indeed expect ( and looked forward to the time ) that he would be with the Lord when he passed from this biological existence! As we have seen, this was the Jewish hope; this was also previous to the Parousia & the full implementation of the New Covenant in Christ! Because he had The Mind of Christ, then, Paul knew ( and was glad ) that he would be allowed to remain with them and ease their passage from the ministration of death, which still labored to breathe, to the ministration of Life!

Did the apostle Paul believe & teach an After-life? Most definitely! He expected, as Jesus had promised, that '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' ( John 14:23 ) He knew that that their generation would 'see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven' ( Matthew 26:64 )! He knew as well, that though they had already passed from 'death to life', they were not yet entirely free from their former prison!

As we ponder these things, our minds will try to lead us into useless wanderings & debates about whether or not we will be with the Lord when our biology perishes ( or whether we are with Him NOW ); whether or not the Scriptures speak of an 'after-life', and whether or not there is some 'place' called 'Heaven' where we will dwell with our Heavenly Father for Eternity ( once this transient life is over )! Such wanderings tend to make us so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use! If we are to be of much use, we must realize that we ARE the benefactors of 'Life after Death'; let us Live while we are alive, then, and not worry about some ( possible? ) 'life after death': WE ARE LIVING IT!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Old Law, New Law

The Mosaic Law is a term that has been bandied around quite a bit recently! We realize & recognize, for the most part, that what is meant by this terminology is the 600+ 'laws' ( including the Ten Commandments? ) that were given THROUGH Moses, but should we really use the term 'Mosaic' to describe it? Can we conscionably call it 'The Law of Moses', or must we realize & recognize that the WHOLE Law given TO Israel UNDER that first ( covenant ) was the Law of God ( Love ), intended to show Yahweh's Love for His Children?

Many people today, Christian & non-Christian alike, read about the God of the Old Testament and say, 'that can't be the same God of the New Testament!' ( in other words, even ), and some even suggest something as ridiculous as the Son of God ( Jesus ) toned His Father down a bit when He came onto the Scene!

Apparently the God of the New Testament is a kinder, gentler God than the God of the Old Testament was!

Okay, so the commands given to the Children of Israel concerning the Canaanites WERE pretty harsh; did Yahweh really command His People not to commit murder ( 7th commandment ), then command them to commit genocide on the inhabitants of the Land to which He led them?! It would certainly seem so! A closer and more sensible look, though, might help us to understand why our Gracious & Merciful God might command or even witness such a thing.

First off, we should ask ourselves, 'why would a just God order such genocide?' Well, the key here is the word 'just'. Scripture is full of references to how ungodly the nations were whom the Israelites were commanded to blot out from under heaven. Because Yahweh IS a just God, He was entirely in the right to order the extinction of these people!

At this juncture, you will likely hear arguments like 'how could a just God require obedience from a people to whom He had not given His Law?' I mean, the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians that 'where there is no law [ there is ] no transgression' ( Romans 4:15 ). So, if they had no Law, then how could their genocide be justified? The simple answer, of course, is that they DID have the Law! Quoting the apostle Paul again, in Romans 2:14, we see that 'when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves'. This is further cleared up when we back up a bit to the first part of Paul's statement, in verse 12; 'For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law'.

Obviously, the Law of Nature has been in existence since Nature itself has been in existence! By nature, without having to be told, people know when something 'just ain't right'. Now, granted, the nations around Israel were not expressly given Yahweh's Law, like Israel was, but they knew that certain things, bestiality & homosexuality, just weren't the way things work! It was because of the transgression of this Natural Law that the Caananites were to be exterminated, or banished from the Land!

Another reason that Yahweh ordered His Children so is that He wanted them to remain pure & holy to Him ( think of the modern wedding vow-'keep thee only unto him/her' ), and by ridding the Land of Caananite influence, the Israelites should have remained thus to their God! This obviously did not work out, on the whole, to that end, although it could well be argued that this was not the End promised in the first place!

 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Exodus 19:6a

Israel was meant to be a priest ( corporately ) to the nations around them; indeed, as God had told Abraham previously, 'In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed' ( Genesis 22:18a ( 12:3, 18:18 ). As with many of the commands of Yahweh, Israel misinterpreted His Law and acted like they were better than everyone else just because they had been chosen for this special purpose! ( Sound familiar? ) Was it God's purpose, then, for Israel to totally wipe out ( kill ) the Caananite population? No doubt there were certain Caananites that had practiced evil for so long that Yahweh had given them up to their evil passions and allowed them to fill up their cup of wrath before He exacted vengeance or punishment! 

Although Israel did not totally rid the Land of idols as they had been commanded, they did have a good effect, to some extent, on the Caananites whom they failed to exterminate, and on the nations around them!
Because these Caananites were allowed to persist in their evil, they corrupted God's Children ( all but a Remnant ), but as a result, the Children of Israel were led into Captivity numerous times and through that Captivity, fulfilled the desired & promised End!

The Law of God, which included the 600+ statutes to the Children of Israel, was embodied in the Ten Commandments! Jesus later reiterated these commands in two words, 'you shall love the Lord your God', and 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself'. The whole Law & the Prophets was later seen to have pointed the Way to Christ; as Paul also wrote in another place ( Galatians 3:24a ), 'the law was our tutor [ to bring us ] to Christ'. Not only was this Law designed to bring His Children to Himself, but the Law given to them was in type; they were given this Law in such a Way so that they would recognize their Messiah when He came for His Bride! Those who kept His Law in accordance with the Will of Yahweh did recognize their Messiah, but even though the rest kept the Law, at least according to their own wisdom, because they had not kept it according to the Wisdom from Above, they missed Him when He finally appeared!

According to the apostle Paul, again, 'you are not under law but under grace' ( Romans 6:14 ). Paul did not say, please note, that there is no more Law, but simply that we are not under it, or condemned ( Romans 8:1 ) by its curse! Because Jesus, the Son of God, perfectly fulfilled the Law, being the End of the Law, we are clothed with His Righteousness and are no longer under the condemnation of the Law! ( Now, before I get into trouble here, I am NOT saying that we can transgress His Law with impunity, just that when we do ( on a daily basis ), we are not condemned because of the Grace of God ).

One name given to this 'New' Law is the Law of Love; as Jesus said, 'love the Lord your God', and 'love your neighbor as yourself'! This is not a new Law, it is the same Law given on Sinai; but like Jesus, it was Revealed in its fullness at His Advent; remember when He said 'You have heard that it was said to those of old', then 'but I say to you'? Jesus, in this list ( Matthew 5:21-48 ) set the record straight, so to speak, when He told those Pharisaical Jews what was really meant by His commands. It was the Spirit, not the Letter which rendered Life through their obedience!

Should we then keep the Law, or can we discard it as some have done, to their own destruction? Because we are not under Law but under Grace, can we ignore the Law of our Heavenly Father without consequence? It goes without saying that we cannot malign His Law without consequence! Just as any member of an earthly household, there are natural consequences for disobedience to the 'House Rules'! Again, if we do not follow the 'Rules of the Road', there are usually consequences, and often a price to be paid!

As we have seen, maybe not as clearly as we'd like, Jesus, in the greatest sense, WAS the Embodiment of the Law; He is Grace itself, He is Love itself ( I John 4:8 ) The Law, although nailed to the cross ( Colossians 2:14 ), just as Jesus was, interestingly enough, was not abrogated; it was finally Revealed in its fullness, in Grace & Love! The Law, as Jesus, died when it was nailed to the cross, like Paul said 'the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us', but Gloriously, just like Jesus, was Resurrected and shone anew, as a made New Creation!

Charrles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 13, 2014

Are We Up For This?

This experience that we call 'Life' can be a struggle sometimes! With all the pain & heartache that it engenders, sometimes it would be easier just to not. To just give up on relationships, on living, even on Life itself! Death is a necessary part of life, and one with which life could not go on. If certain things did not die, then certain other things would not receive the necessary sustenance to continue, or even sometimes, to begin! Life is complicated & complex! There are so many factors involved ( often seemingly insignificant ones ) that we are often amazed that it goes on at all!

Life IS a struggle; it IS full of pain &; heartache, but it is also filled with Joy Unspeakable & Full of Glory! The way we approach Life defines our very existence! If we approach Life with no hope for, say, a better tomorrow, then our experience of Life, with all of its heartache & pain, will become dismal & dreary, a drudgery not worth living!

To approach Life, however, in the knowledge that we are living in the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father, makes the living much more blessed. Realizing through all the pain & heartache that all these things are for our good should give us pause to bow before our Heavenly Father & praise Him for His Graciousness, Mercy & Wisdom!

Separation is inevitable! Whether it is a relationship that is not as it should be, a disease or just old age that separates the biological life-force from the body, some sort of separation is bound to occur at some point in this existence. Poor choices often play a part, sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, in these occurrences, but it is not always our own choice; sometimes it comes as a result of generations of poor choices! Sometimes it may seem to happen 'out of the blue'! However separation occurs, though, we have full assurance, as the Children of our Heavenly Father, 'that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'!

When the apostle Paul wrote these words of comfort, he & his readers were living at a time when it often meant death just to claim the Name of Christ, and most definitely involved much pain & heartache!

In this day & age, we as Christians do not face anywhere near the danger that Paul & his comrades faced in that day, but we can still receive much comfort that though separation of some sort, and to whatever extent is inevitable in this biological existence, we will never experience separation from our Heavenly Father!

We might often ask ourselves the question, 'are we up to this?' I often, lately especially, as myself this question, usually selfishly! 'Am I up for this?, is a question that many of us have no doubt asked ourselves many times in the past, and will likely ask again in the future. We ARE up for this! No, it usually seems to us that we are not, that the burden we are blessed with is too heavy for us to bear, but when we realize that we do not bear it alone, it becomes a Joy to bear for several reasons. Two of these reasons are that it usually brings us into a close fellowship, not only with our Heavenly Father, through prayer & meditation, but with our fellows, our brethren in the struggle!

As we struggle through this biological existence that we call Kingdom Life, we might remember, first of all, that we are NOT alone! We are living in the Glorious Presence of our Heavenly Father, and we know that He will never leave us nor forsake us; He has taken up Permanent Residence in our Lives! Another reason we are not alone in this struggle is that we are part of a Body, the Body of His Son, and this Body knows our pain, for when Jesus the Son of God, suffered a 'normal' human existence for 30+ years, He learned what it meant to suffer ( and Joy ) in this biology! Now that this Body is made up of those whom He loves, it is as important that we realize & act as an integral member of this Body, for without the sustenance provided by the Body, we will no doubt suffer some sort of separation, at least for a time!

Let us therefore approach this Life that we have been granted with all of our 'gusto', counting it all joy when we fall into various trials & temptations, 'knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience'!

Anything that we face in this Life is nothing to be compared to what Jesus suffered, and when we look at it that way, realizing that we are not alone in our suffering, 'we ARE up to it'; we can do this!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Memory Lane

Over the past several months, I & several of my siblings have been busy compiling photographs, old &  ( relatively ) new for a slideshow presentation for our parents 50th anniversary celebration next month. It has been quite a chore ( still not done ), but it has been a real trip as well, down memory lane!

As we prepare for for this celebration, it is with tears in our eyes, and grief in our heart that we struggle on while our dear brother lays in a hospital bed, stricken with a very aggressive form of leukemia! His family, while reeling from this hardship, found out that they would have to abandon their home and most of their belongings ( even the clothes off their backs ). Health inspectors found that, because of bat guano in the eaves & attic, along with dangerous mold in the basement, the house had become so toxic to them that it must be condemned!

Aside from all this, preparing the photographs for the slideshow has been rather a joy! These photographs, most of which had to be first scanned into a computer, were then uploaded to a Picasa web-album, so that I on this end could download them ( and in many cases 'crop' them ). Going through all of these pictures was almost like visually recounting all the joys that we have experienced in our growing up as Shank Children!

Our father & mother ( may God bless them with a long life ) are by no means typical parents! Although they had their struggles like any normal couple, because of the Love & Faith of our Heavenly Father, they persevered and are ready to celebrate 5o years together in a few weeks!

On a happier note, our brother seems to be responding well to his treatment ( mostly because of his faithful attitude, I believe ), and is looking forward, after a month in the hospital, to rejoining his family in a new ( but temporary ) house!

Both he & his family have been receiving much support, both emotional & financial from all corners, and so it is with great joy that we rejoice with them as they prepare to enter into a new sort of life, hopefully with these events firmly behind them! No prognosis yet ( that we have heard ) on the continuing effects that this illness will have, but we can be pretty sure that it will take its toll, to whatever extent, on him & his family.

We have every confidence, however, since our Heavenly Father is still in the healing business, that he will overcome this and all difficulties to come, as he & they persevere in the enjoyment of His Kingdom!

As we continue our preparations in the midst of our sufferings, we are all looking forward to seeing ALL of our friends & family, when we come together in just a few short weeks to celebrate, not just Dad & Mom's glorious 5o years together, but Life itself, that Glorious Plane of existence in & through our Gracious & Merciful Heavenly Father, and His Son!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fear; the American Idol

In this time of turmoil, both politically & religiously, one might well say that there is much cause for concern, and yes, even for fear! Though Evil is a daily occurrence, and many people exercise their wickedness every day, we might note that, in many cases, there is 'Much Ado About Nothing'!

Fear is prevalent in our lives ( I can attest to this ); 'Will he/she still like me if I say or do this?' 'Will I be arrested if I do or say this?' Can I do or say this without someone taking me to task for it?' 'What will the neighbors think?!' These are all ( more or less ) legitimate concerns, but these fears should not be allowed to rule our lives! They should not keep us from pursuing our hopes & dreams, nor should they stop us from doing what's right. For example, we should not be able to witness a helpless women being gang-raped, when it is in our power to do something about it, for fear of getting hurt ourselves and making enemies ourselves; 'I just don't want to get involved', is a popular statement!

The wars that our Government has perpetrated over the past 100 years ( at least ) have been largely instigated by Fear! Their policy of the Preemptive Strike is based in Fear. 'If we can hit them first, then maybe they won't be able to hit us'! They seem to forget that, 'if we don't hit them, maybe they won't hit us'! Not to open old ( or is that 'recent' ) wounds, but if we hadn't been sticking our nose in where it didn't belong, maybe we wouldn't be so hated by certain people & nations, and our Twin Towers might still be standing!

If the fear of being jailed ( or worse ) had not kept most American Christians from speaking & acting out against the Murder of the Innocents, maybe there wouldn't be the blood of over 55 million unborn babies on our hands! Even though the courts in this great nation are largely presided over by non-Christians, if those of this nation who care had cared enough to stand and fight ( if necessary ), I have no doubt that the fateful 'Roe v Wade' decision would ever have seen the light of day! Because of Fear, though, and extenuating circumstances, we just 'celebrated' the 41st anniversary of legal child-murder!

Most recently, we have heard quite a bit in the Major News Media about homosexual marriage, and more and more states granting licenses to these 'perverts' to legally enter into union! We've heard about businesses ( 'churches' included ) being forced to close their doors for not enabling this! Either that, or having to hire them or else face any number of atrocities!

There certainly seems to be enough Fear to go around! Even the Christian Community, to a large extent, has been on the bandwagon for years ( Wait, we ARE the Bandwagon )! Most Christian congregations have deemed it necessary, for various reasons, to get in bed with the State, and get a 501(c)3 status! The Marriage License, as well, is a result of unfounded fear! If we would just realize that marriage is of God alone and not something for the State, in all its earthly ( demonic ) wisdom, to be involved with, a lot of problems would be solved. If we weren't afraid of the State taking away our right to be happy together, then maybe we would just live our lives in peace!

Fear is a strong Motivator! Because of Fear, much in this World is not quite as it should be, and there does seem to be a genuine Cause for Fear, on this account. As Children of the Most High, though, We have no cause for worry or for fear because of the Blessedness of the Presence We live in! Much cause for concern, yes, in the case of a family-member who has recently been diagnosed with a terrible ( and possibly life-threatening ) illness; as parents, we should be concerned about where our children are, and whether ( how ) we'll be able to provide a better future for them.

In this day and age, there is much cause for concern, both Politically & Religiously! Religiously, there is a growing trend of idolatry & harlotry, with the Institutional Church seeming to jump into bed with the State more and more every day, and Politically, with the loss of more and more of our freedoms every day, till it looks like Armed Rebellion & Revolution might seem to be the only real solution! We should be concerned with all these things, especially as Christians, but we should not find cause in them for worry or for fear!

Our God is with us in all these struggles & concerns ( been there, done that ); He feels our pain! This IS 'Our Father's World', and He Rules & Reigns according to His Will! Very often, though, our own will is not in accordance with His, and this is where Fear enters the picture! We must realize that our Heavenly Father very often acts in ways that defy our laws, or 'the way ( we think ) things outta be'! As His People, and with concern for His Amazing Creation, let us Live Without Fear, knowing that Our God Rules!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 09, 2014

Like Dogs to Vomit

'Is the Institutional Church dead?'

I know we've asked this question before, but it bears repeating! How much, or maybe we should say 'how good' of an effect is the modern evangelical church having on society as a whole? Sure, with some of the more 'seeker-friendly' corporate entities out there, one might observe droves of sheep herding into their over-priced auditoriums every Sunday! You might even witness some of this same herd 'getting saved' on any given Sunday; some of these may even hold ( as far as that goes ), and exhibit a genuine conversion ( for a while, anyway,  but when is the last time you saw one of these institutions really making a difference in the culture around them? Sad to say, these congregations believe & teach that Jesus will be returning 'post-haste' ( very soon ) and so most seem to be more concerned with saving souls for the after-life than with really affecting the culture around them, and with preparing for the Kingdom than building in the Kingdom!

In modern society, we have witnessed murder being redefined ( abortion ), we have heard about marriage being made a laughing-stock of ( same-sex unions ), and just the other week, I read about children being banned from church service because the pastor is a pedophile, and he 'just can't have that kind of temptation around'! We bear witness to Christianity itself being made a mockery of ( although Christians often ARE their own worst enemy ) because the only Christianity that makes it into the major news media is a false one at best, and an utter blasphemy at worst! Christianity in America, for the most part, is lost, with most cowering behind their state-sponsored pulpits ( 501(c)3 ) while the world goes to hell in a hand-basket, because 'Jesus is coming real soon'!

There is something almost admirable happening in evangelicalism today, with an outreach to save unbelievers from the eternal fires of hell ( at least they're consistent, right? ), but this form of outreach is as old as dirt! It's been going on, in one form or another, since the first or second century! The question might be asked; 'how's that working out for you?' For the innumerable amount of folks who have 'walked the aisle' since then, how many, do suppose, have actually had a positive impact on society at large with their message of 'get saved so you can go to 'Heaven' when you die'?

Peter quoted Proverbs 26:11 against the fools of his age when he said, in II Peter 2:22, 'A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire'. He was referring to those who held to the traditions of their fathers ( this is the way we've always done it' ), rather than accepting the Truth that was revealed in the Messiah. We see much of the same stagnation in the Institutional Church today, where congregations are trying to hold to, or return to the traditions of their fathers, and expecting different results! Not only is Christianity devouring itself, like the fabled Ouroboros, it is showing, like Peter noted, that the proverb of old is true, 'that a dog will return to his own vomit'!

What can be done, then, to stem this crimson tide, to remove this letter of shame & condemnation from the breast of the Church, She who is One with Her Husband? Can She yet again act the part of the leaves of the Tree, which are for the healing of the nations? Amen, She can & will, but first, She must realize several things! For one thing, She must repent of Her adulterous relations with the State ( 501(c)3 status and the State marriage license ), two, and even more importantly, She must repent of Her complacency & inactivity over the legal murder of the unborn! She must also acknowledge that Her Lord, Her Husband returned to judge His Covenant People when & how He said He would! We are at present living & prospering in His Kingdom as the Wife ( or at least, the Offspring ) of the Almighty, and the sooner the Church as a whole realizes & acknowledges that, the sooner She will again begin to have a good & lasting effect on the culture around Her!

May we realize & acknowledge this glorious fact with all our heart, mind & strength!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Beloved in Christ; the Anointed One

What does it mean that we are in Christ? Does it simply mean that we now have a new perspective on life? Does it mean that we now inhabit a special place in God's 'heart'? Because we, for whatever reason, and however we did it, maintain a blessed relationship with our Heavenly Father; are we now embroiled in an epic battle of 'us versus them'?

Are we to believe that since we have entered into Covenant with our Creator, and He has entered into His Creation that we now possess something which no one else has? Unless one enters in the way & manner which we prescribe ( or the Westminster Divines ) they cannot be in Christ, nor He in them! Can one be a member of the Body of Christ without being a member of the Institutional Church? ( It's pretty clear that one can be a member of the Institutional Church without being a member of the Body of Christ! )

Scripture tells us in several different places that God's Anointed is His People! King David was known as His Anointed, and in fact, several of the kings of Israel enjoyed this distinction. As we read in Isaiah 45:1, our Heavenly Father refers to His servant Cyrus as His Anointed! Throughout the Psalms, the Covenant People of God are most often referred to as His Anointed!

The Greek 'Christos', which is translated from the Hebrew 'Māšîaḥ', and means 'anointed', was always and only ever used of Jesus, but since the Special People of Yahweh were revealed as anointed throughout Scripture, it is safe to say that We are in that sense the Christ, or Anointed! No, we are not the Promised Savior of Deuteronomy 18:15-18, nor are we the Creator Himself, but with the Power of God, through the Presence of God, we have all Power & Authority in Heaven & Earth! We have been restored to a greater position than Adam & Israel, that of being Priests to the Nations, in order that we might fulfill the Ministry of Reconciliation which Jesus began! ( John 14:12 )

To say that we are beloved is in keeping with Scripture ( Deuteronomy 33:12, Nehemiah 13:26 ( the Psalms, again, are full of examples ), but when Jesus was revealed as the Only Beloved Son of God ( God Himself, in fact ), we find that it is in & through Him that we find our stature as the Beloved Son of God!

The apostle Paul wrote numerous times ( I Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:12, Colossians 1:24 ) that we are the Body of Christ! Here we go again with the questions! What does it mean that we are the Body of Christ? Is that merely a metaphorical statement? Did Paul simply mean that we should now live our lives in a way as to honor our Heavenly Father? Or are we in fact the Anointed, set to the task of carrying on the Established Kingdom of our Heavenly Father?

As the Body of Christ, there can be no doubt that we have been anointed to carry out and to fulfill this Work of God ( Opus Dei ), but is it right & good to claim the status of Christ? Can we even hope to attain to that Stature?! The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, seems to have thought so ( Philippians 3:10-16 )! If, as Jesus said ( John 14:12 ), 'Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater [ works ] than these he will do, because I go to My Father', then we must understand that being in Christ, we are not simply His followers; we ARE Christ!

To carry on, to fulfill ( fill up ) the Finished Work of Christ is to share the Joy that we have been given! Too many Christians, for centuries, have kept this Joy ( selfishly ) behind their eyes and between their ears, 'fought the good fight of faith' in that epic battle of 'us versus them' and forgotten that we are bringers of Light & Joy, not Darkness & Death! We are no longer the Chosen Few; we are the Son of God, and we are Many!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Tending God's Garden; Our Father's Wise Bestowment

Humanly speaking, politics is the answer! If enough people would just make the same right decision concerning their governance, this country, politically speaking, would be in a lot better shape! As the few centuries that our nation has been in existence have shown us, though, politics has failed us, time and again! Even the histories of the nations of the world attest to this!

'Why can't we all just get along?' Well, put simply, we can't just 'get along' because we're all human, selfish beings with our own individual set of like & dislikes, wants & needs! If we can't get or have what we like or want, without Divine Intervention, we're more likely to take what we want ( if we can ) than to just 'get along'! However, trusting to our Father's wise bestowment ( Divine Intervention ), we have that Inner Peace that says, 'God will provide'!

This does not mean that we just have a sort of blind, senseless ( dead-James 2:20 ) faith, without doing what we can ( within reason ) to obtain what we need! Indeed, we must have faith, but we must also take responsibility for our own lives and act according to that faith; this is where 'religion' comes in! Speaking of Politics & Religion, these both get a bad reputation because many of those who claim either or both say and do not; either that, or they are practiced wrongly! Such is the case in most of today's religious & political landscape!

A good friend of mine, in an email the other day, lamented that 'Washington is lost. There is no possible chance that it will ever be limited or pro-freedom'. I would agree ( wholeheartedly ), but go even further to say that 'politics ( as we know it ) is lost'! Though politics or simply, 'the decision of the people', is the answer, politics will never save this nation from the sinkhole of degradation & depravation that it has been sliding ( some might say 'hurtling' ) into for much of its existence!

The problem, as we've explored previously, is the 'sheeple'!

'We the People' have become so comfortable with this stagnation, and been 'dumbed down' so far by government schools and the major entertainment ( this includes the so-called 'news' ) media, that most Americans are as content as a 'pig in a sty'! with the status quo! When, and how in the hell, did the American Dream come to include servitude for most of your life, $50,000-$500,000 in debt, and a 15-30 year mortgage?!

Another wise statement that my friend made in his email was 'I am left with the sure pleasantness of tending my garden'. The world of men, with their corrupt politics & religion, may seem to be going to 'hell in a handbasket', but our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us a Kingdom, a Garden Restored, if you will, wherein we are free to live, according to His Law, the Law of Love, never to be slaves again, or to lead a servile existence, as most Americans, 'in debt up to their eyeballs'! That is no life suited for 'the Kings of the Earth'!

The question might be asked here, and should be clarified, 'what is God's Garden?' 'Why must we tend it, if it is His?' To answer the first question, we must go to Scripture, the Revelation of His Word! We read, in Genesis 2:15, that 'the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.' We can ascertain, through good & sound exegesis, that this 'garden' was typical of the Temple, or Dwelling of God on Earth. As the ( made ) New Temple, or Garden of God, resulting from the Marriage of Heaven & Earth ( as per the Lord's Prayer ), we have been placed ( planted-Isaiah 51:16 ) here, on this earth, to tend this Garden, to love & care for it, and to bring it to fruition!

We can only plant the seed and take care of our own, whatever God has seen fit to place under our stewardship! Much as we would like to, we cannot, through politics or religion, solve the problems of the world, but we can, with the Strength that dwells in us, tend our own little bit of Heaven, the Garden that God has placed us in!

Let's get 'dirty'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 02, 2014

Why 'Bad' Things Happen to Good People, Too!

'I don't know if I can take much more! Why do these kinds of things always happen to me?' 'What did I do wrong?' Besides the fact that these questions are all self-centered ( and therefore 'selfish' ), we have all most likely asked ourselves questions like these, at least once in our life! We are often so focused on our own pain & our own gain that we often forget, that though there is always a reason for everything, that reason is not always 'me'! Sometimes it seems that there is no rhyme or reason for whatever happens, but sometimes the reason is abundantly clear; sometimes we can chalk it up to sheer stupidity! We often forget that, in the grand scheme of things, we are not much more than a blip on the cosmic radar screen! ( Not that we are not much more to our Heavenly Father, but we'll get to that! )

When things go awry in our lives, it often is our own stupid fault! Most often, the choices that we make in our lives, especially the bad ones, come back to bite us in the ass! Sometimes, though, even though we make all the right choices, 'bad' things happen! It may be no one's fault; seemingly 'out of the blue', something occurs that is unexpected, and most definitely NOT to our liking! When such things occur, our natural tendency & temptation is to say, 'I must have done something wrong', or, when it happens to someone else, 'THEY must have done something wrong'! Very often though, we can see sooner or later, that it happened, not ( necessarily ) because someone did something wrong, but so that someone would do right!

There are a lot of good people out there who, while not ( necessarily ) doing good things all the time ( at least, not so you'd notice ), are just storing up their goodness for just such an occurrence! When something 'bad' happens, particularly to one of their own, these good people just seem to come out of the woodwork; it's almost like they were just waiting for a chance to exercise their goodness!

The Problem of Evil is one that has plagued the Church since its inception! This conundrum still bothers many in the Church today; 'if we serve a Good God, who is Almighty & Loving, then why does He allow evil to exist?' 'Again, 'why do bad things happen to good people?'

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, 'evil does not exist; it happens'. Whether it's as simple & selfish as something WE do not like, or whether some wicked person with evil intent practices his abominations on us or someone we love, this is an occurrence, not a tangible thing that must be blotted out of existence! One who does what is evil has made a choice. There is always the choice between right & wrong, and too often, people choose the wrong! When people make the wrong choice, which people often do, then is when it becomes evil! In biblical terms, 'evil' is something we do not like, for example, something may be an evil to one person, even though it is not necessarily wrong! On the other Hand, when God, the Maker & Definer of all things, does not like something, it truly is evil, in our modern sense! Not only is it wrong, but it is an abomination to Him, and so it is as He has said, an evil!

When 'evil' occurs, then, we might consider the bigger picture, and remember that it's not all about us, and that this may have happened ( to us ) just so that those aforementioned good people would have a chance to prove their goodness, to show their love! In our reflection, we also have the chance to look back at our own lives and remember all the choices that we made, some good, some bad. When we take time to pause & reflect, we cannot help but see how Gracious & Merciful our Heavenly Father is! We've all made certain choices in our lives, some worse than others, and some definitely good, but through them all, we see His Almighty Hand, guiding us carefully in spite of those choices, saving us from our own stupidity and using our good choices to bless others!

We often complain, and with good reason, you might say, when these things occur to us; no one likes when bad things happen! It's only natural, when evil things happen in our lives or the lives of those we care about, to begin playing 'the blame game'. Somebody has to pay, and pay dearly in most cases! If we can't find someone else to blame, then we usually turn inwardly, and ask questions like, 'what am I doing wrong', and think, 'I MUST be doing something wrong'!

We might ask, 'how is God glorified through our suffering?' One might be tempted to believe that if God glories in our suffering, as in the suffering of His Son, that He is a mean & vindictive God! However, God does not glory IN our suffering, but rather, is glorified through it! How, you may ask? He is glorified when good people do good! When 'bad' things happen to good people, then other good people, as they themselves are able, stand up & step in, showing the Goodness & Loving Mercy of our Heavenly Father!

'The Apple of His Eye'

Jesus told His disciples ( Matthew 10:31 ), 'do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows'. God's children, His Creation are all more precious to Him then we could ever imagine! As human fathers & mothers, we hold our children very near & dear to us, and we are but finite; He is infinite; His love for His children ( even when they make bad choices ) is beyond the scope of our understanding! We can only imagine how much He loves His own, when our love is so very often fleeting, at best!

As fathers, we often allow our children to suffer the experience of touching a hot stove, not because we enjoy hearing them scream in pain, but because we know that this pain is often the best teacher! So, our Heavenly Father will often allow bad things to happen to good people for the same reason. This is not always the case, as we saw earlier; sometimes these things happen, evil occurs, to show the Glory of God, which is the Love of His People, through them!

One of the most comforting passages in the Greek Scriptures is found in the apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans ( 8:28 ); 'we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His ] purpose'. We can take great comfort in knowing that whatever happens to us, if we love God, and are One of His Called Out Ones, He works all these things for our good!

He is gloried through these occurrences, be they good or evil, though like any good father, He enjoys the good & hates the evil! He does not like to witness these evil occurrences, I'm sure, but neither do they catch Him by surprise, as is often the case with our earthly fathers! As His children, we are infinitely nearer & dearer to Him than we could ever ( understandably ) be to any mere human father! We are His Creation, not merely biology ( flesh & blood )!

Since we are the apple of His eye, we count our sufferings all joy ( though we do not always enjoy them ), knowing that our sufferings reveal His Glory, not only by how we react to them, but by how others act because of them!

Charles Haddon Shank