The Pagan Path

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marriage, It's All There in Black & White

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Genesis 2:21 & 22
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.[e] This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5: 31 & 32 

'Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam.'-The Impressive Clergyman

At its core, marriage can be defined as a joining ( together ), a ( blessed ) union. Scripturally & traditionally speaking, we have defined it as the union between a man & a woman. The Creator God brought Eve, not Steve, to Adam! Throughout Scripture, we see one after another example of marriages based on this model & in many cases in the Hebrew Scriptures, what we would call polygamy, though even these cases involved multiple wives, not multiple husbands; this should give us a clue that it was never about the physicality of the union, but as always, pointed to a deeper spiritual truth; that our Creator God could be Husband to His People, but that His People could only have One Husband, lest they slip into idolatry!

There can be no doubt that the marriage of a man to a woman is meant to model the Blessed Union between the Christ ( Jesus ) & His Church! Just as the Creator God brought Eve to Adam, so He prepared the Church as a Bride for His Son. Now, if we get too technical about things here, we might run into problems, problems like 'if Jesus is the Creator God, then is He married to the Church & Israel at the same time, or is He a divorcee who will at some point let the Church go & take Israel back? Either that or He is a polygamist Himself! Or, 'since the Church is made up of both male & female, does that make can probably see where we're headed with that one! Traditionally, though, the Church is called the Bride of Christ & the Body of Christ; She, corporately speaking, is united with the Creator God Himself!

Have you ever heard of a marriage of ideas? Put simply, such a case would be where two ideas, however seemingly similar or far apart just happen to mesh perfectly, to the enhancement of both ideas! In a similar way, two parts of say, a combustion engine are joined together to make a whole, moving part. Neither part, by itself, would be able to perform the required operation, but together, the whole produces the desired effect! Such, one might say, is the way of a man with a woman; neither, by itself, is able to bring forth, physically speaking, the desired fruit of marriage, but fit together in the manner in which the Creator God made them, they might bring forth abundant fruit!

A hot topic in today's news headlines is the SCOTUS ruling legalizing the issuing of licenses to same-sex or homosexual coupes in every state in the union, regardless of that state's particular laws. We must note that this is simply the granting of license to these couples, not the legalization of these types of unions. The granting of license ( permission ) is in fact, or should be anyway, a reminder that these types of unions are illegal! For a man to marry ( legally ) another man, or a woman another woman, permission must first be granted by the Ruling Authority. Thus, by extension, if the Federal Government can or must grant permission for two people of opposite sexes to be joined in holy matrimony, then by rights, they should be able to grant the same license to homosexual couples!

A man & a woman just fit together, as we have witnessed to in the past: the male species was given a certain sexual organ which merges perfectly with the female sexual organ! This operation, if allowed to take its most natural course & with certain considerations, mot often will result in the conception of a brand new human being. Such is not always the case & with the great leaps in technology that science has made of late, these methods are not even necessarily essential. It is possible now, through artificial insemination, for a woman to bring forth life without a man's sexual organ ever penetrating her's! According to some Science, a man may even become pregnant & bear fruit of his own loins!

'Can two people of the same sex be united together, then & bring forth fruit?' This is the question that we should ask ourselves before condemning homosexual marriage! When the Creator God said, in Leviticus 18:22, 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It [ is ] an abomination', was He essentially voicing His condemnation of homosexuality, or was He speaking of a deeper spiritual truth, that of idolatry, the taking of another husband besides ( or in stead of ) Him? If a man were to rely on another man for that which the Creator God has made provision, could this not be called idolatry? In the same manner, a woman's reliance on another woman to provide for her rather than seeking the Creator God's own provision is idolatry as well!

The answer to the above question, to most Christians especially is obvious! The Creator God made them thus from the beginning ( male & female ). He established this union ( marriage ) in order that, as Scripture says ( Malachi 2:15 ), He might receive 'Godly offspring'. In the context of passages such as Matthew 21:33-44 & Mark 12:1-11, we understand that the fruit He looked for was not so much that of a physical nature, for Pharisaic Judaism had produced that well; the fruit that our Heavenly Father sought was the Fruits of the Spirit ( Galatians 5:22 & 23 ): He found no such fruit in Pharisaic Judaism!

Can two men or two women be united in the bonds of holy matrimony & show forth the Fruits of the Spirit? The answer to that question will be left up to the reader, but to this blogger, it is fairly obvious! Can a same sex couple model the Love of Christ for His Church? Yes! Do all homosexual couples exhibit the Fruit ( s ) of the Spirit? Pretty obviously not, but on the other hand, neither do most heterosexual couples, even many who call themselves Christian ( I was one )! In this day & age, the number of homosexual couples who do exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit that the apostle wrote about is probably not too far behind that of heterosexual couples!

With the Advent of concepts like Covenant Creation, we understand that the Creator God ( although He IS the Creator of all that we see & all that we don't see ) made them male & female, not so much for physical procreation, but for spiritual procreation!  He wanted His Physical Creation to exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit so that His Kingdom might expand, eventually encompassing His entire Creation. Because His People were so encumbered by physicality, by adultery & idolatry, our Heavenly Father Himself invested His own Creation by penetrating the veil & investing His own Seed in the Virgin of Israel!

Lest we lose sight of the Vision given us by the Creator of Heaven & Earth, the One who instituted their Marriage, let us concern ourselves with exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit! Physically speaking, the fruit of the womb is the Lord's reward for faithfulness, but it is not the only fruit that we may bear.Marriage, according to most Christians, is black & white; it is ONLY the union of a man & a woman! Then again, on the other hand, or side of the coin, we are just emerging from the shadow of the puritannical idea that sexual intercourse was only for the purpose of procreation & never for pleasure!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Children of God, Children of the Devil

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭12-13‬

In the Beginning, the Creator revealed Himself to His Creation in a form they did not expect! They looked for a Political Messiah, One who would save them from the ravages of Rome, but instead, they got a Spiritual Saviour, One who saved them from the ravages of Sin & Death, bringing the Creation back into Blessed Communion with their Creator. These then rejected their Messiah, handing Him over to those they wished to be saved from & watched while Rome crucified Him! There was a Remnant, however, a minority who believe in the Messiah & mourned His death; these were named The Children of God!

Those who stood idly by & scornfully watched Jesus die, those who sought for political salvation, were called by Jesus Himself, 'children of the devil': according to John ( 8:44 ), He told them 'You are of [ your ] father the devil'. Like the serpent of old, they were instigators in leading Israel to seek their own righteousness, an earthly, sensual & demonic wisdom. Rather than seeking first the Kingdom of their God & Father, they sought a political kingdom, one like the nations around them, one with a human king that they could see with their eyes & touch with their hands!

To rightly differentiate between the Children of God & the children of the devil, we must first understand what is meant, Scripturally speaking, when this phrase is used. Are we to understand it physically, in the sense that not all are children who are the creatures of God, or should we understand it spiritually, or metaphorically, like when Jesus told Nicodemus, 'you ( all-plural ) must be born again' ( John 3:7 )? Then again, we must understand that those 'children of the devil' were those who rejected Jesus, their Creator in the Flesh, as the Messiah & instead sought after their own righteousness ( through the Law ) & their own sort of wisdom!

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[b] the beast and the false prophet [ are ]. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:10 

The language that Jesus used here is clearly metaphorical! In his penning of the Revelation, John relied pretty heavily on this literary tool to describe the downfall of these 'children of the devil', apostate Judaism. The question before us today is, 'if the devil was destroyed, cast into the lake of fire, then are there still 'children of the devil ( as opposed to Children of God ) among us?' To most Christians, even some of those who believe the devil was cast into the lake of fire, the answer is obvious; of course there are! Anyone who has not received His Son, Jesus the Christ, is not a Child of God, but rather a child of the devil!

We seem to run into a bit of a problem here, though; if the generation is counted in a physical sense, as in Jesus was speaking of their father Adam as the devil, then we cannot have any children of the devil still existent, because the first man Adam was done away with, replaced by Jesus, the Last  ( Man ) Adam. If, however, we are dealing with spiritual generation, those apostate Jews were 'children of the devil' because they were murderers like their father, Cain, the son of Adam! Spiritually speaking, they were descendants of Adam who had fallen into sin in the Garden & passed on his spiritual legacy of rebelliousness to his children. This would seem to be the most plausible explanation, except for the fact that we know that these Jews were descended physically from Adam, through Abraham! 

Now what?!

Well, one could say that, not only were the Jews descended physically from Adam, those who rejected the Wisdom of God, the Righteousness of Christ, also carried on the spiritual rebellion of Adam! Although, by virtue of birth, they were known as Children of God or Israel, by their fruits they were recognized as children of the devil because they carried on the spiritual heritage passed down by the first ( man ) Adam! 

In some sense, the answer is clear; children of the devil still exist today, not necessarily because their spiritual father is Adam, but because they have that spirit of rebellion! They are not, as some might suppose, driven by the devil that John saw cast into the lake of fire. It is pretty obvious, on the hand, that the same ( sort of ) spirit that worked in 'the sons of disobedience' ( Ephesians 2:2 ) is at work in many people today! When that spirit is overcome by the Spirit of Christ, then that one becomes a Child of God spiritually, as well as by physical generation!

In the Eschatology of Scripture, there was a Beginning & there was an End! That End ( Goal ) of course was Jesus the Christ, God in the Flesh, the Creator come down from Heaven to Earth to invest Himself in the midst of His Creation! He did this in several phases, the first of which was the Creation of Covenant, then in the fullness of time, He appeared in the Flesh to atone for the sins of His People & to defeat death. After His atoning Sacrifice, He returned to His Glory & left His Holy Spirit to comfort His People during the final death throes of the serpent. The Father sent His Son & Comforted His People by His Holy Spirit till the Eschaton had reached it's Goal!

Every human being who has ever lived has been, from a merely physical standpoint, a child of their Heavenly Father! Some may take exception to this, explaining that just because one is God's Creation doesn’t make that one a Child of God; fair enough, we may argue semantics all day, but really all we're going to get is a blue face & a dead horse! The undeniable fact is, though, as a justifiable Creation, they are in that sense a Child of God, not a child of the devil!

With the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, the End ( Goal ) of Eschatology, something changed, Death was Defeated! No more was there a separating curtain, a veil to hide the Creator from His Creation, no more was there a separation between Jew & Gentile for the Creation was all One in Christ, in the Creator Himself! 

As believers in Fulfilled, or Covenant Eschatology, should we continue this distinction between the Children of God & the children of the devil? Can we not see that the Creator of all is not willing that any of His Creation should perish? All are His children & though some of them, as we all were, are driven by a selfish spirit of rebellion, that spirit of rebellion may be driven from them by our witness & conversation. May we, as the spiritual Children of God, encourage those who have distanced themselves from their Heavenly Father to return to Him as the Prodigal Son in Luke's Gospel account ( Luke 15:1-31 )!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 22, 2015

A New Millenium: Transitions

The fact that we have been, since the first century, ushered into a new age, into the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father ( Colossians 1:13 )! This is more clear to some than to others, while to others it's just as clear that we are not there! The millenium that most Christians immediately think of when this term is mentioned is 'the thousand years' of Revelation; this metaphorical statement, which is simply a period of transition, is most often translated as a literal period of 1,000 years ( what we call a millenium, or ten periods of 100 years each ) However, this 'thousand years', which again is clear to some, but not clear to others, is simply a period of transition. Yet again, it is just as clear to others that it is meant to be understand as a literal period of ten centuries in which Jesus & His saints will reign on the earth!

The 'millenium' spoken of in the Revelation was a period of transition, a time in which the Kingdom of Heaven was transferred from Israel according to the Flesh to the Israel of God! The Renewal of the Covenant actually expanded the Covenant to include the entire good Creation, not just Israel according to the Flesh. The 'thousand years' is a metaphorical term found either directly or indirectly throughout Scripture that speaks of a time of transition or growth, from immaturity to maturity. So, in some sense, we today find ourselves in A New Millenium, a new period of transition! As we have seen & bear witness to, we have, since the first century, been transferred from the kingdom of man ( Adam ) into the Kingdom of God & Heaven ( Jesus ), from Death to Life!

The period of transition in which we find ourselves is one of shifting paradigms! This New Millenium is one in which we are beginning to realize the gravity of our situation, that in which we are truly & really a New Creation, we do not have to wait for our biological bodies to die before we can enjoy the Presence of God! We live in a Glorious Time of Transition in which the Kingdom of God & Heaven is being fully revealed ( fulfilled ) through us, through the lives of His People as we labor together with Him for the expansion of our borders!

The Church is in the midst of a theological tsunami! What has been taught for the millenia since the Son of God walked the earth is experiencing such a transition as has not been seen since the Reformation & possibly not since Jesus walked the earth, back in the first century! The Dynamic Duo of Covenant Theology & Covenant Creation ( Covenant Protology & Covenant Eschatology ) is currently blowing the roof off of theology as we have known it! The transition from a belief that the world is still waiting for redemption to realizing that we, the Body of Christ, the Church ARE the redemption it's been waiting for is not an easy one. In fact, to most Christians, that statement would probably be considered blasphemous!

The implications, to say nothing of the applications, of Covenant Theology are astounding! Beginning with Covenant Protology ( Covenant Creation ) & ending with Covenant Eschatology, the realization that the End ( Goal ) of Creation was the Investiture of the Presence of the Creator into His Creation is of infinite importance! There is no doubt in my mind that we will weather this storm, but the transition period in which we currently find ourselves will doubtless be a trial by fire for many! Theologically speaking, we have invested far too much for far to long in an ancient paradigm, so for many of us, the shift, however gradual, will not be a pleasant one!

This New Millenium, though unlike the one described in Scripture, is one of the Mind, in which beliefs are being challenged, doctrines threatened & paradigms are shifting, if not collapsing altogether! The next 'thousand years' is a period of transition, not from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light, but one in which the minds of those who still cling to the gods of this world are being opened to see the Revealed Light that is the Sons of God! We ARE the Sons of God, we ARE the Body of Christ & as Jesus said, we ARE the Light of the World!

As we labor in the midst of this Glorious Transition; as we witness the Baptism of Creation through the Spirit, let us remember that the world is always in transition; everyone is not at the same place in their journey! We live in the Kingdom of Light & while not all are willing to open their eyes to this glorious fact, through our witness, our conversation, so to speak, those around us may see this Light & bask in the Presence of Him who created it!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Greater Good: Self Defense in the Age of Aquarius

Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take [ it, ] and likewise a knapsack and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."
Luke 22:36

 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, 
for all who take the sword will perish[a] by the sword."
Matthew 26:52

On both sides of the equation, there have been those who have employed these texts & others like them to bolster their argument either for or against the use of deadly force in defense of oneself or others. The right to self-defense is one that is & has been pretty much without question since the beginning of time! To defend one's own life & the lives of others, especially loved ones is a responsibility that has been given to every human being for centuries, or so has been an unwritten rule for ages past! The question might well be asked though, 'while we have been taught that we have the right to defend our lives against any & all who threaten our existence; in this new age, the one that Jesus named 'the age to come' ( Luke 18:30, 20:35 ), can our existence truly be threatened by those who, as Jesus again said, 'those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul'?'

At present, we are human beings, one might well say, although really, it could also be stated that we are spiritual beings have a human experience! For the time being, however, we are house in this biology, whatever shape or form that might take. We have been given hands & feet that we might use them for the Glory of the Creator & for the advancement of His Kingdom! While it is only natural to want to physically defend, with deadly force if necessary, our own biological lives & the lives with whom we are concerned, or entrusted, is it truly defensible by Scripture? Is it really necessary to take the biological life of another in order to preserve our own or those entrusted to our care?

Lest some get the wrong idea here & wonder if I'm advocating some kind of pacifist ideology, or saying that it's wrong to defend biological life; let me just say that our Life is not biological, it's revealed in the Life of the Messiah of Israel & yes, in a sense I AM advocating pacifism! This is not to say that we SHOULDN'T defend our biological lives or those of others, but Jesus did tell His disciples 'whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also' ( Matthew 5:39 ). Now granted, Jesus was addressing a very specific situation here, that of Israel in Exile, but do we not face, physically speaking, a very similar situation today? Most importantly, yes, we are in that Age of which Jesus spoke in the Gospel according to Luke ( 20:27-38 ), but since we ARE the Hands & Feet of our Heavenly Father, depending on the situation of course, we may be called to exchange our ( biological ) life for that of another, or vice-versa!

With our History of Violence as human beings, it's really no wonder that everybody wants to just annihilate their enemies ( I mean, really, where does the violence stop? )! Even if someone lawfully ( legally ) kills another, the friends & loved ones of the one that's killed are not normally going to take it sitting down, so to speak! Though it is doubtless a justifiable homicide ( isn't that what war is? ), certain others probably won't see it that way & so will seek revenge ( retaliation ), usually with more violence & so the vicious cycle continues; violence only begets more violence! Now sometimes, yes, it would seem that violence is the only real answer, especially to violence. However, what if Christians, knowing that their True Life is IN Christ, when faced with violence of any sort, were to offer no resistance to it, but simply Resting in their Blessed Assurance, suffered violence on their biological person or persons in order that the one who offered the violence might be encouraged to seek a more peaceable way of resolving their conflicts!

Again, I'm not saying hat we should all just go out & randomly offer our biology to whoever is willing to snuff out its existence, but I AM saying that violence is not the answer when it comes to preserving Life! Violence DID preserve, not only ours, but untold millions ( infinity ) of Lives, but that Life, although revealed in & through humanity, was True Life, Spiritual & Eternal ( Endless ). Jesus' death on the Cross brought that Life to the Ages & though many were saved from physical annihilation, many more, though their biological existence was snuffed out, inherited Eternity through the violence done to Him!

The Defense of Self & those our Heavenly Father has entrusted to our care IS a Scripturally defensible doctrine! We have the right, I believe, given by the Creator, to defend ourselves ( et al ) against those who threaten us with violence. However, just because we have that right, is it always the wisest course of action? Is it truly necessary? Sometimes, as we have seen, it seems that the best & only answer to violence is more violence, in fact, worldly wisdom tells us that violence IS the only way to answer certain kinds of violence! However, if we were to 'turn the other cheek', so to speak, when faced with violence, what do you think that would tell our attacker? Even if our attacker continued the violence against our person or persons ( 9 times out of 10? ), it would at least show them that, while we may value human life, the value of Spiritual Life is much greater!

Because of our History of Violence, even if we as Christians were to stop, on our part, all violence, we would probably not even notice a decline in violence at all; in fact, we would probably witness an immediate escalation! There is nothing wrong with Self Defense; in fact, as I said, I believe we're called to it by very virtue of our Stewardship, but though our biological bodies will perish, we as spiritual beings will never die; our Life, whatever that looks like outside biology, will persevere! Again, it's only natural to want to preserve biological life, at least for most of us, but we must remember that it is our Life in Christ that matters most & that needs no defense!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Subversive Redemption

Society in general & American society in particular is on the decline! On the other hand, it could be argued, it's in better shape than it's ever been! A middle position might be that, in some sense, both of these are true! Society, it is true, has degraded from what it was years ago. With the advances in technology we have seen over the last century or less ( the internet, for instance ) & the ease of broadcasting & marketing, we are witness to the depths of degradation that humanity will fall to in order to satisfy their lusts! On the other hand, we bear witness as well, because of this same advancement in technology, to how far & how fast the Good News of the Creator's enduring Love for His Creation can spread from Sea to Shining Sea!

The Redemption Accomplished by the Messiah of Israel ( Jesus the Christ ) in the first century AD was complete; Jesus did everything that was necessary to bring the Creation back into Communion with the Creator! Though many Christians would differ ( in opinion ) as to the nature & scope of this Redemption, most would agree that it was finished ( like Jesus said ) at the Cross. One might say, in this regard, that redemption is akin to reconciliation; though all were reconciled, not all have reconciled themselves to that fact. In much the same sense, though humanity was redeemed from the sin &  death of Adam, not all have accepted that redemption or returned ( repented )!

Can it really be as simple as that, though; can one simply accept the Accomplished Redemption & claim it for their own? Did Jesus, as the Messiah of Israel, actually remove the restraints of sin & death for ALL His Creation, or just a certain portion? To repent & return is necessary, yes, to accept what the Creator has done, but it is fulfilled in & through His People, His Creation! As the Children of our Heavenly Father, having been Perfected in Love, we have been blessed with the enormous responsAbility of fulfilling that Accomplished Redemption! This is not to say that it's all up to us, though this may not be far from the mark; the Holy Spirit of the Living God, our Heavenly Father, works together with our spirit to work out this Redemption in the world around us!

How do we go about fulfilling this Redemption; can we ever hope to change the hearts & minds of those who, thus far, have not been willing to accept it? Well, honestly, the answer is 'YES'! Jesus Himself told His disciples , '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.' To put it bluntly, 'WE HAVE THE POWER!' Like we saw above, as the Spirit ( of our Heavenly Father ) works together with our ( renewed ) spirit, we CAN fulfill this Accomplished Redemption & make it REAL, not only in our own lives, but the lives of those around us!

So, with that Fact established, why haven't WE accomplished this redemption; why aren't WE seeing its fulfillment in society around us?! Well, in the greatest sense, WE are! Just because WE see much of society that shows no sign of being redeemed ( much the opposite, in fact ), WE can be assured that great leaps are being made as we speak! The Spirit of the Living God, our Heavenly Father, IS at work in & through His People, accomplishing in actuality, the Redemption of Society. It is through the Spirit Within that we have the Strength to accomplish this Subversive Redemption.

As we labor together with our Heavenly Father then, let our Gospel be in Living out the Truth of the Gospel in our own lives, rather than just teaching & preaching the doctrines of men! This is not to say that ALL doctrines formulated by men are doctrines of demons, for many are Scripturally sound, but too often, when the focus is on teaching & preaching these set doctrines, the lives of those teaching & preaching don't measure up & so we have the mess that we now see in society at large!

We must be careful to teach & preach correct doctrine, but even more importantly, we must be careful to live out our doctrinal beliefs! We must teach & preach the Good News through our Living; that is True Religion! Much of the reason for the glorious mess we see all around us is a failure to practice this True Religion; oh, sure, it's easy to teach it & preach it, but when it comes to Living it, that ain't so easy; in fact, it's pretty damn hard!

However, let's just do it & Live Gloriously!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Search for Happiness

'What does happiness mean to you?'

Ask this question of a dozen different people & you'll likely get a 'baker's dozen' of different answers! The term can mean so many things to so many people, but the fact of the matter is, it's based on feelings & thus is a choice. Just like the artist formerly known as Cat Stephens once wrote, 'if you wanna be free, be free'. Bobby McFerrin is famous for his lyric, 'don't worry, be happy'. No matter what Life throws at us, we always have the choice of how to respond; we can respond in kind ( as the case may be ) or we can decide that, rather than simply respond to what 'happens' around us, we are going to let Life respond to us, to simply do what we will & leave it up to others to respond to us!

Many times in this glorious adventure we call Life, things just seem to 'happen' ( there ARE things beyond our control )! Whether it's to us personally, or to a friend or relative, certain things sometimes occur that make us question our Heavenly Father's promises! Whatever happens, we always have the choice as to how we're going to face each circumstance; if adverse, we can happily accept it as a chance to grow, to use it as a learning experience. When we are faced with a favorable circumstance, in other words, something we like, it is much easier to exhibit happiness about it!

In today's society, it seems that the way to be happy is to have, whether it's money or things! Most people think that a lover will make them happy ( opposite sex or same sex ). 'If I can just find the right person ( to complete me ), then I'll be happy'! How many times have you heard that or something similar? Often, when one finds that lover that they think is their 'soul-mate', they ARE happy for a time ( 'ecstasy' might be closer to the point ), but when either party's feelings change & one or the other ceases to perform their function, happiness seems to fly out the window; as quickly as it came, it disappears ( usually when this happens, the end is worse than the beginning )!

One of the lines in a movie I watched with friends the other day went something like this, 'it's not about the pursuit of happiness, it's about finding happiness in the pursuit'! To me, it sounded kind of like, 'life is a journey, not a destination'. Happiness is not something to be found, a goal to be pursued; happiness is a choice we make when faced with either adversity or advantage, with evil or good, hardship or ease. It is hard, yes, to be happy when a loved one dies or even when your only vehicle breaks down! It's difficult to enjoy certain things when you're missing a certain someone, or just don't have a certain someone to cling to!

However, as so many people are figuring out, if you can't BE happy on your own, if you can't decide to make lemonade with the metaphorical lemons Life throws at you, then you'll never BE happy, even though you acquire all that your little heart desires! Happiness, like life, is not a destination that we just automatically arrive at; it is the pursuit, or search for that which we desire, that which we long for! Happiness is that feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment that we get in the midst of doing. To most people, we can safely say, I believe, it is in doing for the benefit of other that we find happiness! There are those who seem to base their happiness on what others do for their benefit, but needless to say, if we base our happiness on what others do for us, we're probably facing a long & unhappy existence!

When our happiness depends on what we do, however, if our search leads us to do good to others, then happiness is within our grasp, so to speak! Although it is good to have money ( somebody's gotta pay the bills ), enough to keep a roof over our heads & food on the table or things ( electronics, automobiles or a bigger house ), when there is a lack of any of this, then our happiness tends to evaporate! When we base our happiness on having a lover, whether it's a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, when that is gone ( trust me on this ) so is the 'happiness' Like any other feeling, happiness can change almost instantaneously!

Because our happiness is based on our feelings, only we can  make ourselves happy; like Bobby said, 'don't worry, be happy'! If we worry about how others treat us or about what Life throws our way, then we will find ourselves depending on the feelings of others or on circumstances to make us happy & when their feelings change or the circumstances hit a pothole, there goes our happiness! The only way to BE happy is to choose to be content, whatever your situation!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Evolution of the Common Law

When the Magna Carta was first introduced back in 1215, it was nothing new! Even prior to 1066, when the English Common Law was finally codified, the principles of freedom which shaped these documents were in circulation. The Magna Carta, or Great Charter, was first brought to King John of England as a list of complaints/demands from certain of his nobles in a bid to ease their 'suffering' at the hands of the Angevinian monarchy. Though such was the original case, the Magna Carta opened the sluice, so to speak, allowing for further interpretation & along with the preexistent Common Law, eventually formed the basis for the Constitution's Bill of Rights!

The Common Law as codified first in England was based, not upon monarchical decision or statute law, but upon the decision of the courts, what is often referred to as case law, that which was established by representatives of the common people! In opposition to common law, though somewhat its basis, statutory law is one set, not by precedent, but by legislation. The Law of the Land, though by its nature based on statutes established beforehand, in English society anyway, is ruled more by the Common Law, or precedential law established by the courts.

In this country, though we are still governed more or less by the principles of common law, thanks to the corruptive influence of its politics, statutory law has taken its place! The courts, in particular the Supreme Court, still establish precedent according to the common law, but, as their decisions are most often influenced by corrupt politics, their decisions most often favor the elite or those who can best line the pockets of the court! The Common Law, though still beneficial to the common man or woman, has become less & less precedential over the years, Rather, it has become more & more statutory in nature!

Along similar lines, when the Ten Commandments were handed down on Mount Sinai, they were in essence statutory law! Under the ordained system of judges, though, the decisions handed down in individual cases became the Law of the Land. Rather than being etched in stone, this became A Living Document, one that would evolve & expand according to individual needs & understandings! In much the same way, through our system of common law, what was originally determined by statute is now made more conformable to the common law & the needs of individual cases!

As we have noted, due to corruption in politics, what was once A Living Document ( the Constitution ) has become barely recognizable as such! What was based upon English Common Law has become mostly statutory, at best based on the individual cases of an elite, or whoever can afford their form of justice! Although we still are governed by a form of the Common Law in this nation, no longer is it based upon the English Common Law it once was! The statutes, though handed down by the Supreme Court, no longer benefit the common man & woman as they were designed to do; they are arranged ( politically ) for the benefit of those elite who can afford its 'justice'!

All is not lost; there is hope for the Common People! The One who laid down the Law in the Beginning has given us such A Living Document; not one etched in stone, so to speak, but one irrevocably etched into our hearts, minds & consciousness. The Creator of the Universe has set His Law in each of our hearts so that it can grow & expand with each of us on an individual or case level. It is only by returning to His Law that we can ever hope to again engage His Creation in a Common Law!

Because every individual is different ( thank God! ), we MUST have a Common Law to govern them by; we have seen previously how a Law etched in stone ( statutory ) worked! Due to the intricacies of human nature & our easy corruptibility, that sort of Law does not work very well for very long. With a Common Law, though, one based on individual case-matter, even with human corruptibility factored in, the Law is established on an individual basis, rather than an immovable statute which can only bring death!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Covenant Family of God

Scripturally speaking, there is no doubt that we who have entered into Covenant with the Body of Christ ( both the Creator Himself & the Body of His Son ) are 'sons of God' ( Matthew 5:9, Romans 8:14, Galatians 3:26 )! There are those who have not, whether through ignorance or stubborness ( rebelliousness ) entered this Covenant & so cannot & should not be called 'sons of God'. The question before us today is, 'can they or should they be considered children of God, or part of His family?'

Most if not all Christians would immediately protest against calling an unbeliever 'brother' or 'sister' ( interesting note; many of those we would call 'unbelievers' call each other 'brother' or 'sister & some act more Christlike than some Christians )! Another question we might ask here ( I have personally struggled with this for much of my adult life ); 'is it obligatory for one to become part of what we call the Visible Church in order to be a Christian?' Realizing that one must aquiese with the Creator that he or she needs His Blessing & Communion in order to have Life ( eternal & everlasting ), we could well ask ourselves if one must accept the Covenant in order to be Blessed by it, or Him!

We have explored some of the differences, previously, between the Institutional Church & the Body of Christ; obviously, not all all who belong to one belong to the other! Jesus said, 'by their fruits you will know them' ( Matthew 7:16 ).  These words He spoke in reference to the Phariseees, but they still hold true today, both of those within & those without the Institutional Church; the Body of Christ, on the other hand, is solely comprised of those who not only profess belief in the Messiah of Israel as the Creator Himself & Savior of the World, but who act according to His Law of Love!

In reference to my life-long struggle & to reiterate the question above, 'must one willfully & purposely enter into the Covenant in order to be in Covenant with the Creator?' Is this not how we enjoy life ( the human experience )? To enjoy the Full Blessings of Covenant Life ( AKA, Eternal Life ), Communion with the Creator & the Body of His Son is a necessity, but in order to simply enjoy this human existence, we must simply exist! We, whether we accept it or not, are in Covenant with our Creator; without this Neccessity, even biological existence would not be possible!

The Scriptures have much to say about belief; for instance 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved' ( Acts 16:31, et al )! These words & others like them, were in context spoken to a certain people, at a certain time & for a certain purpose. This is not to say that they have no application for us today, but the 'salvation' spoken of here was the breaking down of the wall or division between Jew & Gentile; in essence, believe that Jesus is the Messiah, not only of the Jews, but of the Gentiles as well & you will enjoy the benefits of the salvation provided them!

Communion, whether Blessed or Cursed, is not only Necessary to our human experience, it is a Choice we must all make! If we choose to live rebelliously & not according to the Law of Love, then we will doubtless experience a sort of cursed existence. When we refuse to love our neighbor as ourselves ( to say nothing of our God & Father ) & disdain to treat others as we would be treated ourselves, then we most likely will receive the same disdain in return; if we simply treat others as they treat us, if we only react to the actions of others, then doubtless we will find ourselves on the receiving end of much that we abhor! On the other hand, when we simply act according to the Law of Love, in most, though probably not all cases, we will find that Blessings in Abundance will be ours!

The Covenant Family of God, though traditionally viewed as exclusive to those who enter into Covenant, who agree with their Creator that they need the Salvation He brought to His Creation, is, as some have witnessed under the New Covenant, inclusive of all who enjoy biological existence! The Wall of Division has been torn down, having been ripped in half from the bottom up with the Revelation & Ascension of the Son of God! As the Children of God, then, we have been given a choice; will we serve our Father's Purpose & be Ministers of Reconciliation or will we simply exist as Beasts of the Earth, loving only those who love us & treating our neighbors as they treat us?!

Has more importance been placed, in this day & age, on doctrine, on profession & confession, than on the actual application of that doctrine? Belief, in particular right, or orthodox belief is important, but if not practiced, is about as useful as a screendoor on a submarine! The apostle James indeed says that such a religion is dead ( useless - James 2:14-26 )!

It is definitely important that one believes the correct doctrines, for if that one is religious about it ( James 1: 26 & 27 ), his or her beliefs will be revealed through their works, or fruits! Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, what one does, the way in which he or she chooses to act is the main thing; there are too many who claim to believe a certain thing, but then turn around & do almost the exact opposite & then there are those as well who claim no specific doctrine or religion who nevertheless act according to the Law of Love, simply because it is in their Nature to do so!

In conclusion, as a wise man once wrote, 'Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.' ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 ). Along these same lines, another Prophet wrote 'He has shown you, O man, what [ is ] good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God' Micah 6:8 ) Belief & agreement is necessary ( 'everybody's gotta believe something' ), but these two benedictions seem to show what is most important to our Heavenly Father; it is what we do, more than what we say, that matters most!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Importance of Being ( Honest )

'The Truth Hurts'!

'No Pain, No Gain!'

'Honesty is the Best Policy'!

I'm pretty sure there are more applicable cliche's like these out there, but for my purposes here, these'll do just fine! Most of us are fairly comfortable employing the first two & the second in particular when used in the context of say, 'working out' ( exercising ). We Christians, especially those with more open minds, like to use the first when debating certain points with brethren who aren't quite as open-minded as they should be ( when it comes to truth versus tradition ). When it comes to the last statement, 'honesty is the best policy', we like to say it, it sounds good rolling of the tongue, so to speak, but how many of us, when it comes right down to it, actually employ this principle?

I can't help but remember here a story from my childhood; it went something like this, a young acquaintance of mine ( no names here to protect the simply honest ), when asked how he liked a certain ( older ) lady's dress, remarked that it was the ugliest dress he'd ever seen! Okay, so maybe I embellish a little, but honestly, he was just being honest. Now, if he'd been a bit older & 'wiser', he might have known that one doesn't say such things to a lady, but being the young innocent he was, he didn't realize this & so was cut some slack; in other words, he felt no repercussions from his brazen statement!

Another example of how honesty may not always seem to be the best policy might be a case ( totally fictitious, of course ) where someone is either dying in your arms or closer to death than they realize! The natural instinct in such a case, especially if they're a loved one, would be to say something like, 'everything's going to be fine', or 'it's really not that bad''. Telling someone 'it's just a flesh wound' or it's just a scratch', when they're in danger of bleeding to death', may seem like the merciful thing to say at such a time & it may even seem to be 'wisdom' to cajole them like this in order to keep them calm, but in all cases, honesty is the best policy! Say you tell them 'it's just a scratch' & so they stop fighting & sink into oblivion?!

The Truth DOES hurt; without pain of some sort, three usually is no gain or growth! In order to move ahead, we must be honest, first with ourselves, then with others, no matter the hurt, regardless of the painful memories that the Truth might stir up! Yes, it is possible & to many of us operate in this manner; we TRY to move forward without dealing with the problem. Sometimes we are able, through whatever Grace bestowed on us, to forget the hurt, numb ourselves to the pain & actually move forward, past all the memories, forgetting the pain & suffering, whether imagined or real! More often than not though, as the case may be, we use drugs of whatever sort to numb ourselves, put on a strong face to cover our weak & broken heart & simply move PAST those memories to a place where we can almost forget the harm that's been done! When this occurs, which is usually more often than not, the pain, though forgotten ( almost ) is not really gone; it just sits there hidden, festering like an internal sore & ready at any moment to burst open, unleashing an even greater flood of painful memories!

There is only one way to avoid this & that is ( you guessed it ) to be honest! Honesty is always the best policy; in any relationship, if the parties involved cannot be totally honest with one another, where do you suppose the trust level stands? Scripture tells us to 'be sure your sin will find you out'  ( Numbers 32:23 ) Though the context here may be a bit different, since our God, the Creator of all is unchanging & all-knowing, this principle still stands; when we either cause or allow harm to persist, though we sweep it under the rug, it will surely come back to bite us in the ass, sooner or later ( some say, 'karma's a bitch' )!

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that we should tell each other every dirty little secret we can think of; some things really are better left unsaid, but when harm has been done, real or imagined, the longer we allow it to stagnate, the worse it will be when it finally, sooner or later comes out! It's not just going to blow over! It may seem to, but where then is the trust; where is the fellowship?

We as the Body of Christ have been given the Ministry of Reconciliation; if we can't reconcile among ourselves, then what good are we? Why are we here but to reconcile through example? We are the Body of Christ, not the Creator Himself, the only way we can lead someone to repentance is to lead by example; we cannot affect the heart ( ? ) like the Creator! Even through our weakness & maybe especially through our weakness, we can only hope to effect reconciliation in the lives of others, but only if we ourselves are reconciled.

There is a world of hurt out there, not only metaphorically, but mentally & physically! We, even the Body of Christ, weak & susceptible as we are through our humanity, have been the cause of much of this pain & suffering! We cannot blame this on anyone but ourselves, not even our Creator, for He gives us choices & we don't always, even the most upright of us, make the right ones! We have a tendency, as weak humanity, to try to 'smooth things over', hoping against hope that everything will work out in the end. We want to be 'nice' to others so that they will play with us & often things seem to be going along swimmingly when all of the sudden, BAM, something happens & our true feelings/nature emerges; the hurt that follows most often has a worse effect than if the parties involved had adopted a policy of total honesty from the beginning!

As the Body of Christ, then & even as those who don't claim any certain religion, let us determine to adopt such a policy ( of total honesty ), not necessarily to let everything hang out ( flappin' in the breeze' ) so to speak, but to move forward in our Kingdom Expansion! It is the Kingdom of our Creator, our Father God & He will grow His Own, but God forbid we should miss the boat because of our own stubbornness & refusal to reconcile. May we prove, first, among ourselves & then in the world around us, our Reconciliation, our honesty!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 05, 2015

Family Matters: the Solution to the Problem of Evil

According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, 'evil' ( adjective ) is something morally reprehensible, as in sinful or wicked & archaically speaking, something that is inferior or just disagreeable! While there are many things in our world today that can & should be considered 'evil' ( sinful/wicked ), much of what is considered 'evil' is simply a matter of personal preference. One might appreciate the beauty of some thing or idea that is presented, but to another, it is 'evil', in the sense that it is disagreeable, even abominable to him or her!

There is such a thing as Absolute Evil! Certain things are just wrong, not only morally reprehensible, sinful & disagreeable or abominable as a matter of personal preference; in the sight of our Heavenly Father & according to the Written Revelation of His Word, certain things ARE sinful, wicked & abominable! So, while in a certain sense as we've explored previously, the term 'evil' may be applied to a personal dislike ( in fact, Scripture sometimes uses it this way, particular in the Proverbs of Solomon ), for most intents & purposes, 'evil' refers to something that is morally ( according to Scripture ) reprehensible, wicked or sinful ( abominable )!

'What do we do about it; how can we combat it?' The Solution to this Problem has been argued & fought about for thousands of years! There is much talk of late about simply nuking ( bombing ) our enemies ( 'that'll show'em!' )! While this may seem to be the easiest & definitely a most justifiable solution, it, as History has shown, is no real solution at all! Eradicate one terrorist, or even a whole tribe & ten more pop up in their place! 'Evil' cannot be eradicated by practicing evil! How then should we approach this Problem; what is the Solution?

Well, as we've noted previously, the Solution to the Problem of Evil is not more evil, more killing ( even if it seems justifiable & necessary ); the Solution to the Problem of Evil is simply the Reverse, to Live! To Live as the Creator Purposed, in Peace & Harmony with all of His Good Creation, to Love our neighbor as we Love ourselves, to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated & to Commune with Him through Communion with His Family, those who have entered into Covenant with Him!

The Covenant Family of God is the Solution to the Problem of Evil! As 'evil' lies within & not without, it is only by changing ( for good ) that which is within, the heart of the matter, that 'evil' will ever be successfully dealt with! The Spirit Within has taken care of & is taking care of this problem within the Covenant Family of God; now this Spirit works through us ( painstakingly ) to produce the Desired Fruit: the Fruit of Life has become within us, the Body of Christ, a Tree of Life whose healing flow waters the nations around us, providing a lasting solution to the Problem of Evil!

To eradicate 'evil' by simply bombing the hell out of those whose actions ARE 'evil', would be akin to what the atheist creator of the 'new' Noah film decided. His solution was to simply eradicate all human life; no more humanity, just a bunch of 'dumb' animals in the Great Circle ( cycle ) of Life! Mere animals do not sin; idolatry & adultery are foreign to them! It is Humanity with their Laws & Religions that ushers in the Problem, right?! Wrong; it is the choices that we make! We decide within ourselves whether or not to follow our Creator's Law, whether to tred the Path He has laid before us or whether to rebelliously assert our free-will & trespass His Law by committing what is 'evil' in His sight!

'Evil' can be eradicated, but violence is not the answer! Sure, violence ( war ) or just the threat of violence may curb it for a time, but it can NEVER provide a lasting Solution! It is ONLY through Living, truly Living, that we will EVER eradicate 'evil'! Take away the lives of those who, in our eyes, ARE evil will only cause the evil to spread & multiply. If we kill one terrorist, we might as well kill the whole tribe, for without doubt, there will be at least one more in that tribe ready to fill that terrorist's shoes!

The only way to have ANY lasting effect on the Problem of Evil ( for Good ) is to follow the Path of Life through the Spirit Within! We cannot, by committing morally reprehensible or wicked & sinful acts ourselves combat evil! Though there is such a thing as Justifiable Homicide, it itself is not a Solution to the problem of Evil, but merely a Self Defense Mechanism ( this would include all that the Creator has entrusted to our care )! 'Evil' is an action, just like Loving & Living! One chooses to Live & Love according to the Creator's Will, or else he or she chooses to commit 'Evil' by rebelling against the Creator's Will!

'Who & How are we to judge evil?' I leave you with that question!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Transformation of a Society

What a glorious Time to be alive!

We are presently living in a day & age where the transformation of a formerly male athlete into a 'female engenders more social prominence than the transformation of our police force into a military-style gang of legal thugs! In this day & age, it seems that the societially accepted 'norm' is to 'come out', whether it's as a homosexual ( male or female ) or as a 'transgender'. 'What is a 'transgender'?', one might ask; according to the Wikipedia article on the subject, 'Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex'. Notwithstanding the genetics involved & the unavoidable depth to which feelings register in this whole debacle, what it all comes down to is feelings, the feeling that one doesn't belong where the Creator has placed them, the feeling that the Creator made a mistake when they were formed in the womb!

Admittedly, the differences between male & female, in certain instances, anyway, have become blurred over the years! They are apparently examples out there ( of both sexes? ) where certain sexual organs are present. Without going too far into the subject ( it may be uncomfortable for most ), hermaphroditism has been found in certain ( rare ) human beings; according to the Wikipedia article on this subject, 'Aside from having an ambiguous-looking external genitalia, true hermaphroditism in humans differs from pseudohermaphroditism in that the person's karyotype has both XX and XY chromosome pairs'. For whatever reason, the Creator of all has structured our human biology in such a way as to allow for a form of evolution, that is to say, that to a point, our biology allows us to become what we eat: as the 80s rock group Petra wrote, 'Garbage in, garbage out'!

It is easy for most of us, Christians especially to disregard these anomalies out of hand, one might say & 'chalk it up to the fallen or sin nature of man; this would be akin to saying, 'he ( or she ) is just acting out; it's just a phase'! The plain, or not so plain, fact of the matter is, whether these anomalies stem from rebellious feelings or not, as the case may be, the anomalies ARE present; we MUST deal with them & yes, we must LOVE them, not what we would call the abnormalities, maybe, but definitely the human beings ( for they ARE still fellow humans, formed in the Creators Divine Image )!

Homosexuals, on the other hand, are made so by choice, their own ( individual ) choice! Now, some, most even, will say that they are more attracted to members of their own sex through no choice of their own; ' that's just the way it is'! My personal theory, on both sides of the equation, is that they have been so mistreated by members of the opposite sex that they have turned for comfort & healing to those of the same sex! Another theory is that this has gone on for so long that the biology ( micro ) of certain individuals has evolved/mutated on genetic levels so that there actualy is a genetic explanation for these anomalies!

The point is, being transgender is a choice, a choice to give in to one's feelings of inadequacy! Bruce ( AKA, Caitlyn ) Jenner has always wanted to be a women! Well, maybe not always; his treatment of the women in his life & their subsequent treatment of him most likely had a lot to do with his choice, but I'm sure there were other factors involved as well. Though there are always certain factors involved & options to be considered, it all comes down to personal choice! Were you made thus & thus? Okay; deal with it! We always have a choice in how we react to the circumstances of life; whether it's homosexuality or transgenderism, hermaphroditism or some form of disability!

Will you give in to your basest feelings, as so many others have done, or will you choose to triumph over those feelings & be the best of what your Creator has made you to be? Will you choose to live according to the feelings that are subsequent to change, or will you live according to the Law of Love & in Blessed Communion with the Creator of All? We were given our individual biology for one purpose; to glorify our Creator & to use our weak humanity to serve Him; any other use is abuse!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Christian Jihadist; Us Versus Them

Is there a big difference between the Christian & the Muslim when it comes to defending their way of life? Most Christians would, of course, say yes, but when Christians declare war on Muslims because they believe differently, isn't it kinda the same as Muslims declaring war on Christians because THEY believe differently?! Many would object to this reasoning, saying that they aren't declaring war on Islam but on terrorists, many of who just happen to be Islamic, or Muslim! 'We are after terrorists', they might say, 'not Muslims'! 'It's not our fault that most terrorists come from Muslim nations'! Well, if that were true, then maybe we'd be more or less justified in killing Muslims, but I believe we can put that idea to rest; if most Muslims were terrorists, don't you think there would be a world-wide problem? Sure, things seem to be escalating all over the world, but for the most part, it's not terrorism but simply reactions to those who try to destroy or otherwise change their way of life!

'But', some object, 'there is evil out there; what you call warmongering is only ridding the world of that which is unnecessarily evil'! There is no question; there is evil out there & it must be dealt with before we can truly go forward, but war is not the answer! 'What, then, is the answer?', is a perfectly just question! 'Can we love them to death?' There are some people out there that it seems the only just & merciful thing to do is to totally eradicate them! The reason that many of these same people need eradication is that they seem to us to have lost all reason. They hate Christians because Christians have become more American than Christian. They hate Americans because Americans began persecuting them for mainly religious reasons, in essence, the whole paradigm of Christian versus Muslim, us versus them!

Islam, from what I've seen, is not a peaceful religion, but on the other hand, the argument could easily be made, neither is Christianity! Religion, by its scriptural definition, is peaceable, but over the millenia, through misinterpretation of the scriptural texts, man has turned religion into something that is far removed from the apostle Paul's admonishment, 'If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.' ( Romans 12:18 ) Now,with the acknowledgement that it is not possible, or so it would seem, to live at peace with those who threaten your bodily existence, there is a time when we must raise our arms & say 'enough is enough; this far you may go, but no further'! Self-defense is scripturally warranted, or so we have been taught, but to go to foreign nations & commit acts of war is not & is totally against the principles of True Christianity!

Yahweh did indeed command the Israelites to root out all the evil from the Land & though this was a command to them under that first ( covenant ), many Christians today take this as license to eradicate whatever they see as evil, though it be in a foreign land! The command to root out all the evil was a specific command to Israel of old & pointed to the fact that only the Messiah could bring Peace & Purity trough the Shedding of Blood! By her failure to follow Yahweh's command, Israel according to the flesh showed that mere men did not possess the fortitude to eradicate evil, mostly because they were themselves evil!

Evil exists, therefore, in the hearts of men & women! We cannot eradicate evil by ridding the world of the Scourge of Islam & neither can we stop the flow by decimating or completely destroying terrorist factions like ISIS. The only way we will ever win the War on Terror is by acknowledging the Prince of Peace!

However, untold damage has been done! Though the empire fail & fall, though we as a nation acknowledge the principles of Freedom in Christ & begin to follow Him in Spirit & Truth, America has laid such a foundation of us versus them & built such a wall of hatred that we will not likely see this Peace in our day! The foundation is being undermined & the wall is crumbling ( on its own ), but that only heralds the end of an empire, not what will replace it! What will replace it depends largely on us, as the Body of Christ, for if we strive, as before, to build a city to our own name, instead of to the Name & Glory of our Heavenly Father, we too will find that we are going in circles & biting our own tail, devouring ourselves!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Rebel Jesus

To the ( self )  righteous Jew or Pharisee such as the apostle Paul, it was unthinkable! This son of a carpenter from Nazareth, one who came from a highly questionable parentage, was not acting according to their traditions & what is more, He was even teaching His disciples to be rebels! Jesus, even though His mother, who had become pregnant out of wedlock, was daring to defy the traditions handed down by their saintly fathers & instead telling people what the commands truly meant! He even claimed to be YHWH Himself ( His Son )!

To those contemporaries of Jesus, in particular, the religious elite, His actions must have seemed like the highest form of treason; not only was He teaching a Change in the Law, He was advocating a denial of the Kingship of Rome & then claiming it for Himself! To make matters worse, He refused to be the kind of King they had wished for, one to throw off the yoke of Rome & lead them on another Exodus, just like the one Moses had led them on! Jesus did lead His People on a New Exodus, but it was A Spiritual Exodus, out of The Bondage of Sin rather than out of physical slavery! Just like their Egyptian taskmasters, the Pharisees had enslaved the True Israelites in a spiritual sort of bondage, a bondage to the Law!

Jesus taught His disciples, as One with Authority, that the traditions of their fathers were 'all wet'! There man-made traditions merely served to deepen their guilt, especially because they taught that, if one kept these traditions, that one was free of the commandments of YHWH! Because of these Teachings, plus the fact that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah & YHWH Himself, though the majority accepted Him as Messiah for a time, the religious elite saw Him as a Rebel & One who needed to be dealt with before He raised the ire of Rome! For a time, the Pharisees left Him alone, except for the occasional questioning, perhaps because they had hoped that He was the Promised Messiah & would lead them to freedom from the Roman yoke; when they figured out, however, that He cam to deliver His People from THEIR bondage, they endeavored to kill Him & finally succeeded in getting the Romans to crucify Him!

The Crucifixion of Jesus, of course, only served His Purpose, His Purpose being to offer His own Body & Blood ( as the Passover Lamb had only signified ) in order to reconcile Man on the Land ( Adam ) with His Creator! The disciples of Jesus, even though they did not fully ( at first, especially ) grasp His Plan, eventually understood it well enough to carry on His work of reconciliation. These disciples received much the same treatment as Jesus had, not just because they themselves were rebels, but because they had dared to accept Jesus as the Messiah & had followed Him in His rebellion! Those who followed Jesus in His rebellion were eventually martyred in much the same manner as He was killed!

Jesus was NOT a Rebel! Jesus, as the Son of YHWH, had the Authority to teach the religious elite & all true Jews what the commands really meant! The Pharisees rejected His claim because He, as a Man claimed equality with YHWH! Besides this, He Himself rejected many of the traditions of their fathers & taught others to do the same! From their point of view, Jesus WAS a rebel, not only because of who He was, but because of what He did! As Followers of Jesus, we too are to be rebels; rebels against the System of Man, to Rage Against the Machine, so to speak!

We are here, as the Body of Christ, to implement His Reconciliation & Rule on this Earth as it is in Heaven! To do this, we must act in rebellion against any system that man forms in opposition to the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father! In our rebellion, though, we need to be careful to remember that we are commanded to love our enemies & to pray for those who spitefully use us! Not only are we Rebels of the Highest Degree, as was Jesus, we are also Ministers of Reconciliation; we were set free from the Bondage of Sin & Death so that we could continue His Ministry of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, that is, not only to believe with the heart & mind, but to act with our hands & feet!

Charles Haddon Shank