The Pagan Path

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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Spiced Chai, Lame Jokes & What People Think

'Only God can judge me!'

The 'funny' thing is, most often the people that use this line are doing something wrong, and they know it! It may be true that only God can pass sentence on them, in the sense of finality, but we can judge them & in fact, are called to! We are called, not only to judge for ourselves whether something is right or wrong ( as Christians 'we have the Mind of Christ' ), but we are called to 'judge those who are inside' ( I Corinthians 5:12 )! In context, this means, not those whose ( necessarily ) that belong to the IC ( Institutional Church ), but all those who claim to follow Christ, who would be called Christian, whether they call themselves religious or just 'spiritual'!

Being one that has always had a 'problem', caring what other people think, I have been used to 'walking on eggshells' for most of my life! To a point, we should care what others think, especially if we're not doing what is right, but if we are following in Jesus' footsteps & according to our cleansed conscience, then we should just do, no matter what others may think!

When it comes to living our own separate lives, no two people are going to live exactly the same way or enjoy the exact same things; some like it hot & some like it cold, some like Spiced  ( or Vanilla ) Chai, while the other may prefer a Nonfat Mocha LattÄ— with a shot of Caramel! Some may enjoy lame jokes & hilarity while others may prefer primarily serious & intellectual conversation! Although some might judge others according to these seemingly inconsequential matters, these are not really matters for our judgment, except for personal preference!

Our judgment of others, whatever form it may take & to whatever extent it may fall, should be based upon the Truth that has been revealed to us through the Word of God that is written on the Tablet of our Heart! We are called to render that judgment so that all might understand what is right & what is wrong! Many of those who receive that judgment are not going to be very appreciative, and so we ourselves may suffer from a form of judgment, even though it is unjust! Depending on how carefully we render judgment, we may or may not deserve to receive that return 'judgment'!

Often, as Christians, we are reminded by others within the Body of Christ, that according to the apostle Paul ( I Corinthians 5:12 ), we should not judge those 'outside', for as Paul wrote, 'those who are outside God will judge'. Does this mean that, even as Christians we should not pass judgment on those we see committing sin, even if they do not claim to follow Christ? Should we not judge for ourselves whether what they're doing is right or wrong, so that we can make a wise decision based on a righteous judgment?  In some sense, we may pass sentence on them as well, by the very fact that we may choose to follow along with them or not!

So, what does this have to do with lame jokes & spiced chai! Really, I just thought it sounded like a good idea at the time ; plus, I don't care what you think!!!!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The ( Rain ) Forest for the Trees; the Yellow Trees

Yesterday was a great day for me; I got to visit the west side of one of the most beautiful and awesome parks in America, Glacier National Park! Typical for a rainforest, it was..........raining! Beautiful it was though, even without the added benefit of seeing the surrounding grandeur of the white mountain peaks! With a little help from my friends, this old geezer trudged slowly & painstakingly along the Trail of Cedars where you might almost think you're in the Forest of Endor, expecting a small furry figure t jump out from behind one of those awesome cedars and start jabbering at you in the cutest &; most unintelligible way! ( either that, or jump out of the way as a Stormtrooper goes whizzing past on a Speeder )

Another thing that kinda jumped out at us was the yellowed evergreens! Whatever the case, whether it's because they're are certain kind of tree or whether it's their different ages, we thought it was quite a beautiful phenomenon! As with many things in life, however, it's so tempting to focus on that one particular phenomenon, whether it be a tree or a certain doctrine, and miss the forest for the trees!

So many Christians in this day & age like to tell & retell ( even reiterate ) the manifold stories that we can read in their Holy Bibles and focus so much on slicing & dicing them to get to the heart of the matter, that they tend to miss the Story of Scripture! The importance of this Story, the Story of Yahweh's enduring Love for His people Israel ( that's us ) cannot be ignored or downplayed ( bypassed )! The individual stories ARE important, don't get me wrong, but when we focus on them to the ignorance of the Greater Story, then we face the problem of who we really are, while we try to apply the lessons of the individual stories to our own lives!

As an amateur photographer ( mostly of inanimate objects ), I find myself often focusing on things such as yellow evergreens or 'cool' rock formations that I tend to miss The Beauty of the Ordinary! In this day & age, we have been so programmed to look for ( and be held by ) the unusual & the objects that stand out, that we usually look right past the mundane. We miss a lot when we do this!

What we see as mundane & uninteresting can be, at the same time, the most beautiful & truly interesting person, object or doctrine of all! Beauty surrounds us; we simply have to sit back, relax & take it in. It isn't something we have to search for; it's something we need to accept, just to trust that it is what it is because that's the way our Creator made it! There are many things in this 'work' that, for the life of us, we cannot find any beauty at all in, and in fact, in a lot of things & people, it's almost impossible to look past ( or through ) the ugliness and see the beauty that our Heavenly Father has placed in them!

Traveling through the park yesterday, as we often forget to do as we travel the road we call life, we took our time, not only noting the awesomeness & grandeur of The Beauty That Surrounds Us, but stopping & capturing the moment! Though we missed certain spectacular features, for various reasons, we were able to witness to as well as capture on 'film', much of this beauty!

Our Heavenly Father has said, 'be still, and know that I am God' ( Psalm 46:10 )! This is not to say that we may or just sit on our blessed assurance while life passes us by, or that we should just sit quietly by while life just happens to us! He means that we need to realize, in the hustle & bustle of everyday life, that He IS our Life, 'it is He that has made us, and not we ourselves' ( Psalm 100:3 ); to remain open, in the midst of our struggles & turmoil, to The Beauty That Surrounds Us! When we do this, we can see the forest for the trees & rest in the Glory of His Presence!

As we read the various individual stories within the Greater Story, let us remember that, while these stories may occupy a particular spot in the past history of God's People, they not only contain lessons for our individual lives & and give us insight into the Mind of our Heavenly Father; they help us to be still and know that He is God! It is through the stillness ( not inactivity, but humility ) of our minds that we are able to realize & recognize the Glory that His Presence has brought to His Creation!

Glacier National Park is full of awesome beauty & with the realization of The Marriage of Heaven & Earth, it is only more beautiful! Knowing that our Heavenly Father has chosen to reside within His Creation helps us to realize that, while certain parts of it may  catch our eyes more than others, it is ALL beautiful, because He made it so!

Glorying in the Beauty of His Presence,

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Unity of God ( the Essence of Divinity )

Yahweh our God, Yahweh is One!

That much is manifestly clear throughout Scripture! Even though, in the Fullness of Time, the Father was revealed through His Son & the Church in its infancy was comforted by the Holy Spirit of God ( Yahweh ), we confess One God! Trinitarian doctrine, while teaching the existence of three Persons within the God-head ( Colossians 2:9 ), confesses that these three Persons are yet One God.

We have previously, if the reader is at all familiar with the work within these pages, discussed the notion that it was for eschatological purpose that our Heavenly Father was thus revealed! This eschatological separation within the God-head was made, we might argue, that Yahweh might take upon Himself the form of humanity & suffer the ingloriousness of a fleshly existence. When Jesus returned to the Right Hand of the Father ( Matthew 22:44 ( Psalm 110:1 ) Matthew 25:34 ( 19:28 ), His Body, according to the apostle Paul ( Ephesians 1:23 ), remained on earth!

The argument presented in this small article is that we, the Body of Christ, or the Offspring of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth ( however you choose to look at it ), have become the Son of God! Although this may seem to be an incendiary statement to some, you can be assured that it is not without Scriptural support or precedent! When Yahweh spoke to Moses before send him to lead His congregation out of Egypt, He told him to relay this message to the Pharaoh, 'Israel is My son, My firstborn'. Using this same theme, Matthew, in his record of the Gospel, quoted from the prophet Hosea ( 11:1 ) when he spoke of the Christ, 'Out of Egypt I called My Son' ( Matthew 2:15 ) Luke, in his record of the Gospel, called Adam 'the son of God' ( Luke 3:38-the interesting thing here is that the rest of Luke's genealogy is speaking, not of spiritual, but of natural generation )!

Since we, as the Body of Christ, are the Son of God ( corporately ), does that mean that we now occupy the same office that Jesus occupied in the first century, that of, as some suppose & teach, the Second Person of the Trinity? Are we now part of the God-head? Are we ourselves gods ( deity )? In at least one place, the Scriptures say that we are 'elohiym' ( Psalm 82:6 ) This is not to say that we are the Creator ( of the universe ), but we ARE the Judges of the Earth; as David wrote ( Psalm 115:16 ), 'the earth He has given to the children of men'. Jesus told His disciples, '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 )!

What more need be said; what more can be said?!

To be truthful, there is no doubt much more that could be said, but as our purpose here is to get people to think for themselves, and not to lay it all out for them, we will conclude our argument with Jesus' words 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'. The Scriptures have made exceedingly & abundantly clear that we are ( corporately ) the Temple of the Holy Spirit ( Yahweh - I Corinthians 6:19 ( 3:16 ) Paul also told the congregation  ( In the wilderness-Ephesians 2:22 ), 'you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit'. As the Temple of God, which, incidentally is also what Jesus represented ( 'For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily'-Colossians 2:9 ), we are the Body through which His Will on earth is done ( Matthew 6:10 )!

Again; we are not 'elohiym' in the same sense as our Heavenly Father is, we did not create ( form ) all that exists, or even ourselves ( though, in a sense, by our own choices, we do 'shape' ourselves into what we become, physically speaking, anyway )! We are simply His Firstborn Son & 'the apple of His eye' ( Deuteronomy 32:10, Zechariah 2:8 ( Psalm 17:8, Song of Solomon 7:8 )!

What shall we do with this glorious fact; how should we then live?

Work, Rest & Recreate!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Politics, as Usual

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein

There is a lot of talk going around today that says, 'if we could just get politicians in there who'll follow the Constitution to the letter, then everything will be better!' 'If only we could get back to the Constitution', 'Maybe if we educate people about what is really going on......' It sounds like at least one of these could be the solution to our problem, but there is the problem in a nutshell, all these 'solutions' are old hat; they're partially what helped create the problem we face today!

To be fair, the U.S. Inc. has departed quite a ways from what the founding fathers intended, I'm sure! I doubt if they envisioned even half of the excrement that comes out of the District of Criminal today ( then, on the other hand, maybe they did )! The Constitution, when followed to the letter, may have prevented a lot of what we face today, and yes, reeducation of the populace may help ( to a point ), and 'yes', if we could get the right man ( or woman ) in office, that might at least stave the worst off for a little while!

The problem is people! We're seeing much the same situation that the judges of Israel faced in the olden days. They had the Law that Moses had delivered to them on Mt. Sinai! Being straight from the Mouth of God, too, it was infinitely better than any Constitution that man could ever write, but even though, look where THEY ended up! They had prophets that adhered strictly to the Law and even reeducated the people when necessary! Sure, things got better for a time, but eventually, that whole system of things came crashing down like Dagon!

'There outta be a law'! Well, that's actually part of the problem! When weak human beings try to follow a written code, we fail miserably much of the time. However, with the realization & acceptance of the fact that our Heavenly Father fulfilled His promise in Jeremiah 31:33, 'I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their heart', we no longer have to simply adhere to a code, because we have the Love of God in our 'hearts'!

We have Law & Punishment because the makers of that Law at least understood this, that the threat of punishment would at least be somewhat of a deterrent to most! However, this 'solution' only goes so far because if the person believes they can get away with breaking the Law, they usually will! If one does not fear a God that always sees, why would he fear, except out of reprisal, a government he can see?! Our Creator God faced much the same conundrum back in ancient times, during the days of the Judges & Kings! Fear of Punishment may have a great effect on potential law-breakers, but it will not hold them forever! Sooner or later, they will find that weak link ( loophole ), and break free, unleashing perhaps a worse evil on the intended victim ( s )!

Those who have entered into Covenant with their Heavenly Father have had His Law written on their hearts follow that Law, not because they fear the punishment due one who breaks a written code, but because they love that One who inscribed it on their hearts! When we fail to keep that Law, which we, even as Temples of the Holy Spirit still do, our conscience ( 'heart' ) burns within us and will not long allow us to stray from the True Path!

There are those ( many ) who have not acknowledged this relationship ( Covenant ) and so have grown hard, as many of the children of Israel did! They may obey the letter of the Law ( Constitution ), but at the moment that one of the Guardians turns his or her back, the Law may be irreparably mangled beyond recognition! Because the Law ( of God ) is not written on their 'heart', their conscience will not play 'Jiminy Cricket' with them to let them know they are straying & to guide them back to the Way!

How, if not through politics, can we solve this problem?! Well, politics may be the answer; if the people were all good & conscientious then we could almost safely rely on politics, but the sad fact of the matter is that most people in this great nation of ours have their own agenda! We have a melting pot, a hodge-podge, if you will, of different religions in this country, and while many of them are as law-abiding as the next, it is most often a fear-driven obedience, one that is motivated by a promise of punishment if one jot or tittle is broken!

Again, then, how do we fix this problem? Politics has failed us, having become almost unrecognizable & almost absolutely useless! Politics, and especially politics as usual has gotten us nowhere, except deeper in the hole that is almost as quickly being filled in on top of those who are digging the hole! The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind! It is the Wind of Change that is blowing through our Father's Congregation, a Wind that is waking His Sleeping Giant & reminding us that it must begin with us, with our own families!

If we can raise up a generation of young men & women with the Law of God written on their hearts, then maybe they can begin to have a goodly effect on this beast we call politics! It may not be too late! Many fear that it is, that this system of things, like Israel's of old, must come crashing down before she can rise like a phoenix from the ashes! It looks like they may be right, but looks, as anyone will tell you, can be deceiving! The most that we can do is the best we can with what we've been given, and it MUST begin with the family; if we get that wrong, all the politics in the world will do us no good!

Charles Haddon Shank

Harvesting for the Kingdom ( the Harvest of the Earth )

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 23:22

When Jesus instructed His disciples to 'pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.', we realize that, in the historical context of the fullness of times, He was referencing that coming Day, when He would separate the sheep from the goats ( Matthew 25:31-46 ). That Great Harvest, though controversial, clearly pointed to the harvest 'at the end of this age' ( Matthew 13:40 )! Jesus, speaking to His first century disciples, still living under the rigors of that first age, revealed to them that they would be partakers of the first-fruits of the Harvest ( Matthew 24:31 )!

This is the Appointed Harvest of which we read in the pages of Scripture, that much should be clear! However, we should also understand that there is an Ongoing Harvest, of sorts, that is occurring while we speak. This Harvest, because of the infinite nature of 'the Lord of the harvest', is itself infinite, as the population of His Kingdom is infinitely increasing!

We are, in that sense, International Harvesters! The Body of Christ, Catholic ( universal ) is Harvesting for the Kingdom every day, as more & more of our Heavenly Father's sentient creation is returning to right relationship with Him! As His Ministers of Reconciliation, we ( corporately ) have entered into, not only the blessedness of that first Harvest, but that Eternal Harvest which will never end!

No one can successfully argue that, since that Harvest 'at the end of this age', all have been reconciled with their heavenly Father. This is a sad but glorious fact of life! Though we now live in that Blessed inheritance, there are still those who have not yet seen that Truth, as well as many who do not enjoy that Blessed Inheritance! When we reveal to those around us the blessedness of our inheritance & the Glory of Communion with our Heavenly Father, we show ourselves His fellow-laborers in that Eternal Harvest!

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.
Psalm 24:1

As previously, neither can anyone successfully argue that this is not Our Father's World! As David prophesied ( Psalm 2 ), our Father told His Son, 'Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession'. Since we are the Body of His Son, we have, in that sense, inherited the earth, or His Kingdom! Though, as the apostle Paul wrote, 'I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase' ( I Corinthians 3:6 ), it was those first century disciples, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, who were the workers in that Harvest!

The Harvest of Israel, although in one sense successfully completed in the first century, is ongoing! The Israel of God today, just as Israel according to the flesh, has been assigned the task of 'discipling the nations' ( Matthew 28:19 ): this task is not yet complete, there are obviously those who, for whatever reason have not been discipled! This is not to say that Jesus was wrong when He said 'it is finished', but it was His mission, not ours, that had been completed! As long as life endures & the Kingdom of God continues to expand, there will always be a Harvest for the People of God!

We, as partakers in the First-fruits of that Great Harvest, have inherited an even Greater Harvest, that of the entire Creation! The Harvest of Israel was completed ( perfected-Hebrews 10:14 ) in the first century; the Harvest of the Earth has only begun! We know that as we Shine the Light of His Presence to the 'world' around us, the borders of His Kingdom will continue to expand!

David wrote, 'The earth is the Lord’s'; all are His, no one can get away from that glorious fact! Just because some do not acknowledge that Ownership or revel in the blessedness of it; it is His ( our ) inheritance and its harvest is ours! As we Harvest for the Kingdom, as we Glory in His Presence every day, let us remember that, while we rest in our Blessed Assurance, we should not sit on our 'blessed assurance' while the world goes to hell in a hand-basket!

The Kingdom is His & the Blessings of the Harvest are ours; let's get to work!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Adversary; Within & Without

Quite a few years ago, the radicals at Covenant Community Church posted this message on their signboard, 'Fatherless Homes; More Dangerous Than Foreign Armies'. The point of this statement should be fairly clear, for the consequence of children, especially male children, growing up without a stable father-figure in their lives is more than manifest!

We are facing one of the most irresponsible generations that the world has ever seen! More & more, women, if they even get married in the first place, are finding it easier to remain single after a usually nasty divorce. The husbands in these scenarios are usually more than happy to get rid of the evidence that they were ever married in the first place! ( We should note here, most emphatically, that this is not ALWAYS the case, nor is it the 'norm' )

There is a common joke going around, and has been, for the past few decades ( at least ), that a mother's oldest child  is her husband'! Unfortunately, in many cases, this is an all-to-true statement! You're no doubt familiar with the phrase 'big boy's toys' ( as in, 'the only difference between men & boys is the size of their toys' ); in many ways, this too is a true & verifiable statement! Men are no longer men ( and again, this is not the 'norm' ); so many adult males out there value their playtime ( 'workin' for the weekend' ) so much that much of their income, rather than being focused on their family, is focused on what is called 'fun'!

Very often, too, the woman becomes the spiritual leader as well, and this is likely because the husband either grew up without the stability of a father in the household, either that, or a weak example who allowed ( or 'forced' ) his wife to be the spiritual leader! This obviously could go back for generations, just like the idolatry of the kings of Israel did!

'What makes a man a man?' Maybe more to the point, 'how does a boy become a man?' Does a boy become a man simply by growing older, though not necessarily 'up'? Is a man a man simply because he is physically mature, and has fully developed the ability to be a sperm donor? Or does a boy become a man when he has spiritual matured to the point where he is able to father the child ( or children ) that he has, through his physical prowess helped to ( pro ) create? If someone has developed the ability to not only bring forth a child into this dangerous environment, but to nurture & protect that child until he/she develops his/her own maturity, do we not call him truly a man?

Women don't get off easy either! Maybe 'females' would be better terminology here! Women in this day & age have been just as affected by this travesty as the men, or males rather, have! Because more & more girls are growing up without the stability of a good, stable father ( figure ) in their lives, many of them, as they begin to mature physically, if not emotionally, seek for that spiritual leadership & physical companionship in whatever form they can get it! Usually they are seeking that protection that only a good husband can provide, as well, but too often, because of the travesty we've already discussed ( referring to the male species ), neither the spiritual leadership, the physical companionship or the protection turns out for their good!

Now, lest we lose all hope of ever correcting this problem & divesting society of this travesty; there is hope! We've sunk pretty far, for sure, as a society, but this difficulty is not insurmountable! There are plenty of good men in this world who leapt over the difficulties and persevered, showing themselves to be the truest examples of Godly spiritual leadership, offer excellent physical companionship, and offer their wives some of the best protection available! Such men are to be praised, but not only should we exult in their faithfulness, we should also be prepared to follow their example! It is only by following their example & the example set before us in Scripture by the Messiah of Israel that our society will begin, once again, to not a decline in the number of fatherless homes!

May we, as true men of God, lead this charge, and begin to affect such a change in our 'society as our 'world' has never seen! May we truly be the men that God has called us to be as we lead our families through this morass that we call everyday life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Looting of Egypt

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.
Luke 16:9

When Jesus told His disciples, one one hand, to 'make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon', and then on the other 'You cannot serve God and mammon'; it might have been a bit confusing to them, although maybe not as much as to those of us who read these words today! What did Jesus mean by giving them these instructions?

As always, with passages like this, we must first hearken back to the Ancient History of Israel, and read this parable in that context! When God was preparing to liberate His People from bondage in Egypt, He ordered them to plunder their neighbors that they might have the wherewithal to subsist on the long and arduous journey to the Promised Land! This 'making friends of unrighteous mammon' ( ill-gotten wealth? ) enabled the children to obey God's instructions, to whatever point they did, throughout their Exodus!

It is manifestly clear, through the knowledge & study of metaphor that this parable, like so many others that Jesus told, along with the stories that we read in the Gospel accounts, was not simply about money or material wealth. Just like the words of Jesus in the parabolic story that follow this one, this parable had reference to a greater spiritual truth, that being found in the fact that the religious leaders of Jesus day sought, not His Kingdom & His Righteousness, but their own!

Can we who read this parable today make application from it to our own situations? Well, yes & no! We can surely take a lesson from it, and realize that sometimes those who are not followers of Christ have a better head for business ( this is, by far, not always the case ); we can understand ( and take advantage of ) the fact that, even though this material wealth may seem like 'meat offered to idols'; in our Heavenly Father's good Plan, it has been placed there for our use ( or not )! We may not & should not make quite the same application that those first-century disciples did, nor can we, for we have been set free from that bondage & and have reached the Promised Land pictured in the original Exodus! Although unrighteous gain still serves God's Purpose for His People, we know that our 'stewardship', unlike that of the 'unjust steward' in the parable, will never be taken away!

Just as the physical bondage that the children of Israel cried under in Egypt was a metaphor for the bondage of sin that Adam's race was subject to until the Time of the Christ, so the 'riches' ( Matthew 13:22, Mark 10:23 ) that Jesus talks about in these parables, referred, not necessarily to just material wealth, although that was definitely a consideration, but to the greater spiritual truth of the battle for righteousness that was waged from the time of the first Adam till the Time of the Second, or Last Adam!

When we realize, viewing passages like these through the lenses of a covenantal understanding, that we are not in danger, like those in the first century, of losing our stewardship, our place within God's Covenant Family, we can live with the freedom & comfort of knowing that, because we seek His Kingdom first. all that we need has been & will be, added to us! Yes, our Heavenly Father still uses the material wealth of the unrighteous to meet our needs, sometimes & no, this material wealth no longer has reference to unrighteousness; Both the righteous & the unrighteous in this Kingdom of our Heavenly Father have the ability, to whatever extent, to amass material wealth! It is what is done with that material wealth that is right or wrong, not the material wealth itself!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Lost Sheep ( of the House of Israel )

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
Luke 15:4

When Jesus spoke this parable to those assembled there, He was no doubt referring to those 'lost sheep of the house of Israel', but what if He wasn't simply making this allusion, but was making a blanket statement of His entire creation?! Many Christians are afraid to go there, for whatever reason, first & foremost probably being that this kind of think could almost be construed as some sort of 'universalism', and at the very least, could lead to universalistic tendencies!

Although some might try, there really is no arguing with the fact that Jesus was relating His Father, our Heavenly Father, with the man who had the symbolic one hundred sheep! The representation might not be perfect, as we construe perfection today, for our Heavenly Father is infinite and we are finite, but are we not all His, since He created us?

The argument has been made, and will doubtless continue to be put forth, that just because we are all His creatures, His creation, if you will, all are not His children! This may well be debated for eternity, for Scripture does make abundantly clear that, within the context of the Story of Israel anyway, there were 'children of the devil' & 'children of God'; these were always opposed o each other as bitter adversaries!

If the Scriptures were simply a History of Israel according to the flesh, as some seem to purport, now that all is fulfilled, then that would mean, especially if this 'devil' ( adversary ) was symbolic of those Jews who selfishly opposed Yahweh's Plan, that there are no more 'children of the devil' as opposed to 'the children of God', right?!

Well, yes & no! The Scriptures ARE a History of Israel, but they are NOT simply about Israel according to the flesh ( natural generation ); they all pointed to the Spiritual ( Re ) Generation of Israel, both Jew & Gentile that came through the Messiah of Israel, through God Himself! Those Jews who rejected Christ were most definitely the adversaries ( devil/Satan ) of God's Covenant People back then, but do the People of God today still have those who oppose them, do we not still have our adversaries?

The Israel of God is doubtless, according to Scripture, those who accepted Jesus as their Messiah, and without doubt, those who, even today, continue to accept this saving fact! His entire creation, all His children, so to speak, do not belong then to this Israel of God, not having become members of the Body of Christ, but can we not deduce, from this parable, as well as the greater context of the Covenantal Nature of Scripture, that our Heavenly Father seeks to be reconciled with all His children?

Why then, do not & have not all His creatures, Pol Pot & Hitler, for example, reconcile & return to His Open Arms? This is a question that has plagued the Church for centuries & may do so for centuries more! The conundrum is false! Neither do we have a weak & helpless Creator, wringing His hands, nor do we have a Cruel & merciless God who creates just to destroy! We have a gracious & merciful Heavenly Father who justly punishes those children of His who choose to disobey His Word, but gladly accepts into His family those who repent of their unrighteous deeds & return with all their strength, to His Way!

May we all remember that, as the Israel of God, it is our Purpose to be the Fulfillment of His Word & Way, and to bring all His children back into His Loving & Open Arms!

Charles Haddon Shank

Free-Will Versus the Sovereignty of God; By Grace, through Faith

Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.
Luke 7:50

We have been here before, and the battle continues to be wage in the boardrooms of countless seminaries across God's good Creation! 'Are you a Calvinist or an Arminian; do you believe in the Sovereignty of God, or the free will of man? Just like the political landscape today, especially with its two-party system, it's often hard to tell the difference between these two systems of thought! There are so many varying degrees to both of these 'schools' that in some cases, they seem almost to have merged, as in 'Calvinian', or 'Arminianist'!

The fact of the matter is, that both views have their good & bad points! The Scriptures ARE very clear on the Sovereignty of God, but they are also pretty blatant about man's free-will choice! For one thing, if Adam didn't have free will, how did he decide to disobey God rather than protect his wife from the serpent? How did Judas decide to betray Jesus? We have certain Calvinists who come to the extreme conclusion that God causes us to sin that His Grace may abound, and thus we have the heretical notion that God is the Author of sin; there is a good ( right ) heresy, and there is a bad ( wrong ) heresy: that is simply a wrong heresy!

Many Arminians, on the other hand, with their focus on the free will of man, perceive an almost forced paradox, one which seems to debilitate that Sovereignty.  Thus, from the traditional Arminian point of view, rather than the Almighty & Jealous God of the Old Testament, we now have the more gentlemanly Holy Spirit who would never force anyone to do anything! Either that, or a weak & helpless One, who can do nothing to save His own People unless they allow Him to!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8

Jesus told numerous people, after they were healed through His ministrations, that they had been healed, or saved, by their faith! Whether you want to be a Calvinist or Arminian about it, and say either that the apostle, in the passage above, was saying that the grace he mentioned was a gift of God, or that the faith he mentioned is the gift of God ( really, both are the gift of God, however you look at it! ); it is clear from Jesus' words to ( some of ) those He healed, that it was their ( own? ) faith in His ability to heal them that their salvation rested!

Really, when you read these words in the context of the History of Israel, wherein they ( corporately ) had become an unclean thing, a dead body; you begin to understood how these physical healings & resurrections pointed to the Healing & Resurrection of Israel! It was Israel's ( the Remnant's ) faith in Jesus as their Messiah that healed them, that saved them & brought about their resurrection, the standing again!

We can argue till we are blue in the face, or the cows come home to roost, whichever comes first, about whether it is grace that saves us, or whether we are saved by faith, whether the Calvinists or the Arminians are right, but the apostle clearly tells us in his letter to the Church at Ephesus that it is both! ''For by grace you have been saved through faith'; like James later wrote, 'faith without works is dead' ( James 2:26 ); the Grace of God, working through their own actions, or faith, is what saved Israel! Consequently, it is what identifies us as the Body of Christ; if we say that we a member of the Body ( the Church ) yet do not do according to what Jesus did, loving God & our neighbor as ourselves, it is manifest that we are not part of that Body!

Let us always remember that the salvation of God's People was never an 'either or' proposition; it was always a 'both and'; the Grace of our Heavenly Father working together with their Active Faith that saved the People of God: it always, as they say, 'takes two to tango'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Fair Tax ( Levy )

In the spirit of fair-play, it has been decided that since our government schools are funded largely if not wholly by unfair mill levies on all citizens, regardless of race, color or creed, it would be just and good to do the same for those who choose to educate their own children at home. Because these 'home-schoolers' have chosen, for various odd reasons, to educate their own children, but are, through their taxes and various mill levies, forced to support the government schools, with which they obviously disagree, again, for various odd reasons, a mill is being levied upon the citizenry of this fair state, in order to fund, through a fair tax, those who wish to educate their own progeny.

For years, despite differences in race, color or creed, the Federal Government has been forcing the citizenry of these United States to pay into the National Treasury tax monies which are then used however the hell this Auspicious Governing Body ( AGB ) sees fit! Even though we, the aforementioned, acknowledge the fact that certain of our fair citizenry have been forced to pay these taxes and support these unworthy causes against their will, or else be penalized with extreme prejudice, we stand firmly behind this resolution, and will continue to uphold these unjust practices. However, being the unjust stewards that we are, we have decided, in our munificent beneficence, to levy a tax in deference to those ( idiots ) who choose to school their own children!

While there may be certain benefits to educating your children at home, such as no parent-teacher conferences, the children are not chained to a desk for 6-8 hours a day and so on and so forth, we must warn those parents who would dare to even think of taking on this daunting task ( of educating their own children, these children may not develop the necessary social skills, like many government school grads, to function in the real world! Because of the sheltered life that many of these 'home-schooled' children lead, these children, now young adults, may feel shy and backwards when it comes to joining in the common debauchery of these government school grads!

For the most part, these parents who choose to educate their own children do so for their own selfish reasons, though they usually blame it on religion! They claim to believe that their God has commanded them to teach their children His ways, 'when they lie down and when they rise up', but they have chosen to educate their own children simply for the reason that they have certain 'religious objection' to the way their children are being brainwashed by state government agents. They have simply and selfishly chosen to deprive their children of the joys of social interaction with other drones ( this includes 'bullying' ), and to ensure that their own children will follow in their footsteps, rather than being allowed to choose for themselves who they will serve, whether the God of their fathers, or the god of their own choosing ( or making )!

As we have previously stated, even though we disagree wholeheartedly with those parents who choose to attempt educating their own children, we have chosen, in our graciousness, to levy this mill ( unfair tax ) upon our fair citizenry, in order that our unfair practice of mill levy-funded government schools might be balanced, in the eyes of these 'home-schoolers' with an unfair tax of their own!


Monday, October 13, 2014

A Saving Faith

Quite a few times, when Jesus healed someone, He then told them, 'your faith has made you well' (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, Mark 10:52, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42 )! Was Jesus telling them that they had made themselves well?! Even given that faith itself is a gift of God ( Ephesians 2:8 & 9 ); is it possible that we can heal ourselves?!

As usual, in Scripture, we know that context is often what determines the intended meaning! The context, of course, of Jesus words above, was the first century. In most, if not all cases, those who were healed were native Israelites! Our modern translations do us a bit of a disservice here; rather than Jesus saying something like 'your faith has made you well' ( or 'whole' ), it might more correctly read, 'your faith has saved you'! Many times, in order to heal a person, before Jesus made that person whole again, He uttered the words, 'your sins are forgiven'. Jesus came to save His People from their sins, and by performing these miracles of healing & resurrection, Jesus was symbolically healing the diseases of Israel whereby they had corporately died the death of Adam and must be saved from the effects of the sin ( Romans 6:23 ) of Adam, before She could be raised to New Life!

Of course, we trust that Jesus did heal the physical ailments of these people, there's really no denying that! But even these healings were symbolic of the healing of the disease that Israel after the flesh had incurred with her rampant idolatry, harlotry & witchcraft! The Hebrew Scriptures are rife with examples of this, and even the seemingly meaningless ( to us today ) cleanliness laws codified in Leviticus & Numbers prophecy of the time when Israel herself would be removed from the Blessed Presence of God because of her ritual uncleanness! Israel, in the Time of Jesus, had become an unclean thing, and must be cleansed in order to prepare for the return of Her Lord & Master!

In today's day & age, we might often hear, from well intentioned ( but almost totally ignorant ) Christians, 'you just don't have enough faith'! Well, it is true that Jesus told His disciples that 'if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done'  ( Matthew 21:21-the apostle Paul reiterated this statement in I Corinthians 13:2 ), but here again, we must take into account the historical context of Jesus words! This might require more in-depth study & probably another whole article, but do you think maybe the Faith to Move Mountains was not simply to jump whatever hurdles we might face in life, but was given specifically to those first-century disciples so that they might overcome the false 'mountain of the Lord's house' ( Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1 ) that Israel according to the flesh had become?! The Time had come to cast Her into the Sea!

Our Heavenly Father has graciously provided many means today by which we may heal our own body, some more or less costly than others! Most often, the cures for whatever disease wracks our humanity can be found in nature, but with the rise of technology, doctors have been plying their trade, to varying degrees of success, with man-made drugs & placebos! For the most part, with these man-made drugs & placebos, doctors, rather than working toward curing, or healing, the actual disease, have been treating symptoms! But I digress....................

The conclusion that we should reach here, is that the Saving Faith of Israel and Israel's God had it's intended effect; it did provide for the salvation of His People! No more do the sin & the death of Adam reign! As we read in Revelation 20:14, 'Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire'! The death that Adam brought on his progeny is no more; death was defeated, first at the cross, by the one & final sacrifice of Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God, and the decisively in AD70, with the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple, symbols of the ministration of death itself!

It was the faithfulness of the Son of God that saved them then & and it is the faithfulness of the Son of God that heals us now, both spiritually & physically!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tested of the Lord

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
I Corinthians 10:13

Okay, that's it; I can't do this anymore!

You have have heard it said, based on the proof-text above, that our Heavenly Father won't give you more than you can handle, or, depending on who you're talking to, won't allow more to happen to you than you can handle! There are many Christians out there who would beg to differ! To most of us, whether we are a 'strong' Christian or not, when we go through certain trials and temptations, it seems like more than we can do to come through them, much less with flying colors!

This is not to say that our Heavenly Father WILL allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, although it sure might seem like it at the time, for He HAS given us a way through which we might be able to bear the burden! His People, the Family of God, are there to help us through each and every difficulty that we might face!

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

Often, when we feel that we do not have the strength for the trial or temptation that has been placed in our path, it is because we do not ask for help! James told his readers, 'you do not have because you do not ask' ( James 4:2 ) Jesus told His disciples 'ask, and it will be given to you' ( Matthew 7:7 ). Often, we don't receive the help we want or need because we fail to share our burdens with the Community, or Body of Christ around us! Now, going back to the statement from James, a bit further on, we often do not have our lust satisfied even when we ask, because either the request is deemed unworthy of us, or the thing asked is beyond the capability of the one presented with the request!

Sometimes, maybe usually, our Heavenly Father, like any good father will do, does test us, not as in tempting us to wrong actions, but to try us, to see whether or not we will stand up for what we believe, or even to prove to us that we can endure, using the human resources that He has placed at our disposal! It is in these trials, or testings, that we prove what we are made of and so prove Jesus words true; 'Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.' ( Mark 11:23 )

Let us remember to share our burdens with each other, for it is when we do not share these burdens, that most often we fail to see our prayers answered! ( Now, don't get me wrong here; I'm not saying that our Heavenly Father does not answer some prayers in a super-natural way, but most often, I believe, uses natural means to accomplish His purposes! ) This doesn't always guarantee either, that our needs or wants will be met the moment we ask, either; sometimes our patience is being tested!

We can be assured though, that if we lean upon our Heavenly Father's might right arm, whether it be through some super-natural help, or through our Communion with the Body of His Son, we will not be disappointed, and the desire of our heart WILL be met! With a little patience and 'a little help from our friends', our Heavenly Father WILL succor us; He has not left us alone!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blessed are the Poor

At the time when Jesus gave what we call the Sermon on Mount, which you can read in Matthew 5-7, He might well have meant exactly what He said when He said these words! If you know anything about the historical context of the times in which Jesus lived, you might have a better understanding of why Jesus said what He did. While it is almost universally understood that Jesus was speaking parabolically here, it should be clear from this context that Jesus was not simply using 'poor' as a metaphor for the meek & humble ones that followed the Messiah!

'Poor', particular in this day & age most often, probably, has reference to those have monetary troubles, although these often think of themselves as being the truly 'rich' ones! Although someone that barely brings in enough money to cover the necessities may be thought of as being 'poor', this adjective might also be used in a derogatory, almost metaphorical sense, as in, 'what a poor excuse for a human being'! On a side note, these 'poor' ones are often some of the richest, in monetary terms, at least, people you'd ever meet!

'Poor' can also be a qualitative statement as well, as, 'that's a poor example' ( or specimen ), meaning that particular model.  There may be a defect in the entire 'batch', and so you might say that it was 'poorly made', and in the case of those who have to sort out products on an assembly line, certain examples might be so defective or lacking that you might say they were 'too poor to make the grade'!

In the Scriptures, though, the term is often used, both metaphorically & plainly, to describe those who were meek & humble, as well as those who were monetarily destitute, as opposed to those who had plenty of money! Often, as we observe in today's society, as well, it is often, though not always, the case that those who have plenty of money are rather 'poor' while those who may have to struggle to put food on the table are truly 'richer' than most!

While we most often see the term 'poor' in Scripture used of those who are monetarily lacking, even this usage is often parabolic or metaphorical! We are told, in various places, that we are not to prejudiced to the rich over the poor, or the poor over the rich. Is is a well-known fact, among most anyway, when Jesus uses the opposite moniker ( 'rich' ), as in, 'it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven' ( Matthew 19:23 ),  that He was speaking metaphorically against the Pharisees, who trusted in their own righteousness rather than seeking after that which Jesus symbolized!

From the above, we may ascertain that many of the 'poor' that we read about in Scripture, particularly in Jesus' day, were those who were meek & humble enough to accept Jesus as their Messiah! As mentioned, and could no doubt be ascertained from even a cursory study of the Life & Times of Jesus, those who did accept Jesus as the Messiah were put out of the synagogues, and being Jews themselves, for the most part, were shunned by the majority, both in fellowship & business!

Therefore, although we may traditionally understand this saying of Jesus in the Battitudes as referring to those with a meek & humble spirit, we may well interpret Jesus' words in the plainest sense! The poor man in Jesus' day was very often the common man, who eked out whatever living he could, while the rich ones were usually the scribes, Pharisees or Saducees, the religious leaders of the day. Those who collected the taxes for the Empire were rich or poor, according to how well they did their job!

The 'poor in spirit', then, though they were often truly lacking in material wealth, were those humble ones who were able to see that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel! When these 'poor in spirit' did accept Jesus as their Messiah, despite knowing they would be despised & rejected of men, they received an extreme blessing, ome that was eternal in the heavens!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Focus on the Physical, Reversed

As human beings, it's hard to hear about all the wars & rumors of wars going on around us, to face the trials & tribulations that we all must overcome on a daily basis, and to see the almost rampant & seemingly unchecked spread of evil that seems to engulf the world, and not despair, at least, for a time! Sometimes it seems that the only real answer to the world's problems IS to 'kill'em all and let God sort'em out'! War almost becomes a valid equation when it comes to solving the problem of the evil that men do!

As Christians, though. and especially as believers in a Fulfilled ( Realized ) Eschatology, we understand that our Heavenly Father has solved our problem! The evil that men do must be countered by us, His people, not through force of arms ( though sometimes, that seems to be the only real answer ), but by spreading the Good News of His justice, mercy & forgiveness! When they hate & harm, we must love & heal, when they do unjustly, we must continue to do justly, even if it means losing our biological life! The justice of God & man often requires that a man die for his particular sin, so sometimes we must be bringers of death, especially when it comes to defending what our Heavenly Father has blessed us personally with!

In this life, with all of its ups & downs, and the hardships that we face every second, every minute, every hour of a seemingly endless day, week, month & year, we tend to focus on those physical ( biological ) aspects of the Life we have been given, and to forget, even to neglect the blessedness of our spiritual Life! We are not gnostically saying that this biological husk is something to be abhorred, nor are we saying that it is something to seek escape from; we are spirits having a biological experience ( you may have heard the saying before ), but it is with those biological bodies that we are enabled to taste, touch & feel, to live out, in this biological plane of existence, the Love of God Outpoured, to be the ( biological ) Leaves of the Tree of Life, which ARE for the healing of the nations!

The Curse HAS been reversed, the Sin & the Death of Adam WERE defeated, our Heavenly Father IS ruling over all ( though us, His Congregation ), and we have been invested with this biology in order that we might be His Hands & Feet! When we fail to act, as we often do, according to His Word, it is not because we do not belong to Him! We fail to act according to His Word ( Jesus ) when we take our eyes off of Him ( remember Peter? - Matthew 14:29 ) and focus overmuch on our own physical ailments, on the evil that men do, and on the wars & rumors of wars that we hear of on a daily basis!

Are we to ignore ( not that we could even if we tried ) all that goes on around us, even our own biological hurdles? That's not it at all! More often than not, we must ensure that our biological needs are met so that we are able to do what must be done! Another way of saying this is, 'if we don't take care of ourselves, how will we take care of others?' We must have a care for our biological needs so that we may meet the needs of others, but if we focus overmuch on our own physical ailments, we tend to lose our focus on the outside world, that which truly needs our healing touch!

Because, through our Heavenly investing Himself through the Person of Jesus the Messiah, into this world, the Curse has been reversed, we must fulfill ( fill up ) this reversal! We must show those around us, in Love, how to live on the other side of the Curse, how to Heal & not Harm, how to Love & not Hate, how to truly Live & not Die! We exist, in this Blessed Biology ( though sometimes it seems cursed ) to serve others, not to the ignorance of our own needs, but to the Advancement & Growth of the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father!

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 
Philippians 2:5-7

Let us, as we have been made in the Image of our Heavenly Father, and invested with His Spirit, determine to bear the Mind of Christ & in this biology, to serve Him & His Kingdom to the best of the ability which He has bequeathed to us! As we serve others, let us also remember that we cannot share our Blessed Biology if we do not not have it, so lets take care of each other so that we may take care of the world that our Heavenly Father has bequeathed to us ( Psalm 2 )!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Removal of Idols From the Temple

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 
So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:22-24

When Adam & Eve were driven from the Garden, it was not just, as God stated, 'lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever', although it was most definitely that; it was because, as He also said, 'the man has become like one of Us'. Like the serpent had promised, Adam & Eve had become 'like God', gods to themselves, knowing ( judging ) for themselves what was good ( the forbidden fruit ) and what was evil ( obeying God )! In the Temple, which the Garden of Eden symbolized, there was no room for a multiplicity of Gods. In fact, there was only One God ( Deuteronomy 6:4 & 5 )!

The many captivities and resulting exiles of Israel that we see chronicled throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, with their removal, for a time, from the Land of Promise, which also symbolized the Temple of Yahweh, were also significant of this removal of idols from His Temple! The Land & the Promises had themselves become idols, and thus had to be removed from the Temple of Yahweh!

In today's day & age, we who have been revealed as the true Temple of our Heavenly Father, when we experience hardships & loss in our lives, often fail to realize that the reason for this is most often because we ourselves have set up idols in our own hearts, idols which must be removed!

As followers of Jesus Christ & the True Temple of Yahweh, we still tend to set up idols in our hearts! We place too much importance on certain things, whether it be a nicer vehicle, bigger house, or more money & riches! These things may have their place, and there is nothing wrong with having any of these things, in and of themselves, but when we place overmuch importance on these things, as we tend to do, being human, they have become Idols in the Temple, and must be removed, so that in this
Temple, their is One God who is worshiped & adored, and none other besides Him!

Every time that Israel was ransomed from the Captivity & Exile, they seemed, for awhile, to return to the worship of the One True God with all their heart, mind & strength, but as time passed, they began to rebuild these idols once more, and finally, in AD70, when the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem & the Temple, God removed the last remaining idol from His Temple!

This may seem to contradict what was previously stated, but realizing the corporate nature of the Temple of God, the individuality of stones within that Temple is not precluded! This helps us to see that the Temple of God, as Jesus Himself said ( John 2:19 ), being His Body, and made up of individual stones, or people, is not simply constructed as of many different bodies, as we are, but is of a corporate nature, as that of our Lord Himself!

Many today suppose that, as the descendants of Adam & Eve, we too, are thus subject to removal from the Presence of God in His Holy Temple! We can be assured, though, that as descendants of & heirs with the last Adam, rather than the first, we are partakes, through His Body, of the Divine Nature, and thus, that with this Temple are no idols, but only the One True God! As individuals, we need to take great care against the setting up of idols within our own hearts ( lives ), but as the Body of Christ, as the apostle Paul wrote, 'for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Seed of the Serpent & Covenant Creation

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
Genesis 3:15

Having just read a particularly graphic interpretation of what went on in the Garden of Eden, as chronicled in Genesis 3, I can say, that while the writer is obviously focusing overmuch on the physical aspect of the account, his theory did make a lot of sense! While it may not be wise to base a theology upon the 'Serpent's Seed' concept, one cannot deny that this concept exists in Scripture! The inherent problem with 'serpent seed theology' is that its main thesis is based upon the notion, true or false, that Adam & Eve were the first human beings to inhabit planet earth!

One cannot simply throw out the concept of the serpent's seed! Passages like that above, 'You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do' ( from John 8:44 ) & 'not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother' ( I John 3:12 ) are pretty clear that there were those who were descended, in a spiritual sense, from this 'serpent', 'devil' or 'wicked one'! The question before us, barely even a consideration, it seems preposterous, is whether there was actually a third person, a spirit being called 'Satan', who took the form of a 'serpent' in the Story in question!

The website of which I speak ( found HERE-EAYOR ), and like I say, there are some good points made by the author, is based upon the same presupposition that 'the sons of God' of Genesis 6 & Job 1 were angelic, or spirit beings, and not simply human messengers. The whole notion of spirit beings impregnating human beings, you might well say, is so preposterous that it is hardly even worth treating! The traditional belief,, though, among Christians, we understand, is that the Holy Spirit impregnated the Virgin Mary! If this occurred as & how we traditionally posit, why is it so hard for us to believe that 'the sons of God' were who most Christians say they were? ( I'm not saying that they were )

If 'the serpent' was actually this 'Satan' ( a spirit being ) in some other form, then we might well posit that the promises of God WERE according to physical ( or some hybrid thereof ) descent! If, however, 'the serpent' was simply another man who introduced doubt into the mind of his bestial lover that God was a force to be reckoned with, we can easily understand how his resulting seed might be at enmity with Adam's spiritual lineage in continuity!

The Covenant Creation model, or understanding not only makes sense of some of the questions that have arisen from the traditional understanding of the creation accounts in Genesis 1 & 2, it also makes sense out of the Story related in Genesis 3! As Adam was not the first human being on planet earth, so the 'sons of God' were not literally begotten of God, but spiritually, just as Timothy was the apostle Paul's 'son' ( I Corinthians 4:17 ); we are 'sons of God', not through physical, but spiritual generation! Only if we look at this Story through Covenant Creation Eyes does it make sense, and not call for dangerous speculation as some have become embroiled in through the traditional & futurist understanding!

To understand the 'serpent's seed' as by spiritual generation, as to understand 'the sons of God' by spiritual generation is really the only way to understand this concept; any other way involves vain speculation & useless wrangling! To try to bring the focus to bear simply on the physical aspect of generation is to say that it is our physical descent that determines our spiritual standing. If such is the Truth, then we today truly have no hope at all, and we are of all men most miserable!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

'Like Butter Over Too Much Toast'; the Confessions of Jeremiah ( 'Saint' ) Bereano

A year had passed since I had heard from my friend, so I was pleasantly surprised when a familiar name appeared on my Caller ID; 'Jeremiah Bereano', it read! ( 'Well, hello, Doc ( I like to kid him about his Ph D. ); I was about ready to write you off as dead ( either that, or he didn't like me anymore )!'

'Maybe you should', he said, for a while there; I almost felt like it!'

Knowing I might regret it, I asked him, 'What's up?' He began to tell me about his life over the past year. Kinda like mine, it had been marked by change, change so extreme that he didn't know sometimes, what he was going to do! He felt, he told me, like 'butter spread over too much toast' ( a reference to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings ), like he was stretching himself to thin, trying to help others so much that he had let his own needs fall by the wayside! 'I know the feeling', I assured him, 'I've kinda been feeling that way myself!'

'Have you now', he said, gratingly ( God, how I resented that man sometimes ), 'have you ever thought that maybe you just want to punish yourself, and therefore you use the excuse of helping others!'

'Preposterous', I almost shouted into the phone, 'I just want to help people wherever and whenever I can'. And furthermore, why would I want to punish myself?' 'Nevermind; don't answer that: and you called me, not the other way around!' 'YOU obviously had something you needed to get off your chest!'

'I did', he said, 'I told you how I'd been feeling, and YOU shut ME down!'

(Sheesh ) 'I didn't mean to shut you down, bro, I was just commiserating with you!!' ( How can a guy get so..............nevermind ) When he had calmed down, he proceeded to tell me that when he had stopped trying to help others so much, 'spreading himself too thin', so to speak, things only seemed to get worse!

'It's almost like I'm being punished', he complained!

I asked him what he though he was being punished for. He replied that when he was helping others wherever and whenever he could, things had been going great, though he as tired most of the time, he had felt pretty good, but since he had started trying to take better care of himself and stopped trying to take care of everyone else, it seemed that everything had started to go to 'pot'!

'Maybe you have a point there, bro' I said thoughtfully, ' maybe your 'going & going' just finally caught up with you because you slowed up enough for it to catch up!' 'I don't think you're being punished for thinking about you; every once in awhile, we have to slow ourselves down and take care of ourselves, because if we neglect ourselves, how can we care for the rest of the Body?!'

'You have a valid point, there, Chuck', he replied matter-of-factly, 'but if we continue doing Kingdom Work all the time, won't God take care of all our needs?'

Well, he had a point there too, but I didn't tell HIM that! I just stated that, yes, if we seek first His Kingdom, that all these things will be added to us, but that God gave us a brain as well, to know when we needed to slow down and replenish our own resources! 'Sometimes', I reminded him, 'we just need to learn 'when to say when', and even to say 'NO'! 'There is a fine point between helping the helpless and helping the hopeless, I told him! 'Sometimes, people are just lazy, and all they do is drag you down with them!'

'You have a point there, Chuck', he said, seeming to cheer a bit, but how do we tell who's helpless, and who's hopeless?'

'There's the 'rub', I said, it's not easy, sometimes, to distinguish between the two. but it must be done so that we don't destroy ourselves in the process!' Trying to help people is virtuous ( I feel that way myself ), but we can only help those who are hopeless so long before they begin to drag us down to their level, before we begin to miss the light at the end of the tunnel, or 'God forbid', even stop caring!

'So, what should I do?, he almost plaintively asked, 'I need help, bro!'

'Well', I told him, 'you've made the first step; you admitted that you need help, and the sooner you get yourself rested up and replenished the better; even those who help others need help sometimes, in fact, they need more!' First of all, I told him, he should not necessarily stop helping others, but that he should 'pace' himself; don't get so busy helping others to the neglect of your own body! And, again, to be careful who you try to help; some people are just beyond your capacity to help!

'Well', he sighed, 'I should probably get off here and get some things done around here!'

'You do what you need to do, bro; it's good to hear from you, Jeremiah!'

'You too, Charles!

Take care now!'

( God help that man! )