The Pagan Path

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Division Bell

'Let Freedom Ring!' We know 'for whom the bell tolled'; it was those first-century apostate Jews! They're the ones who were separated like so many goats from the sheep! The question of the hour is, 'does or should this Division Bell yet ring?' To most Christians, the answer almost goes without saying; 'of course, there are obviously still the Children of God & children of the devil; these two families are dynamically opposed'. To others, because that division was healed in the first century, the two being made one, the answer is not so easy, or simple. First, we must answer the problem of evil; if all are now the Children/children of their Heavenly Father, then why do so many not acknowledge this & do what is evil in the sight of the Lord?

Sometimes, Freedom might sound more like a trumpet-call, a call to arms, than it does a bell! A great battle was fought for our freedom; yes, in the greatest sense, this was a spiritual battle, with Michael the Arch-angel leading the charge against the forces of wickedness in high places, but this war had its physical aspect as well; for instance, probably not many realize that though it was Rome's armies that made the Judean country-side desolate, it was actually the Jews themselves who laid a fire in the midst of the Temple! Though we understand that Jesus descended to Hades ( I Peter 3:18-20 ), we know that He first hung on the tree to pay the penalty for the sins of His People! 'Satan' was crushed under the feet of the Children of God ( Romans 16:20 ), but we know that, after the Christians had fled to the mountains, it was the Roman armies that stamped out their oppressors!

Such is the Freedom that the Christ brought, a dirty, dusty & bloody battle that ended with the Children of God standing as One! The bell ( which may have sounded more like a trumpet ) signaled  forever the division between the Children of God & the children of the devil. Those children of the devil, whose names were not found written in the Book of Life were cast into the Lake of Fire, the conflagration of Jerusalem & the Temple in 70AD. Those who escaped that desolation, those who were found written in the Book met their Lord in the air ( Greek metaphor ) & rest with their Lord forever. Today, we who have embraced our relationship with this same Lord have found rest from our labors!

In this Day & Age, what some are calling the Age of Aquarius, or 'The Water Bearer', one may rightly say that there is no such division anymore! Yes, undeniably, there are those who still do their best to oppose the Purpose of their Heavenly Father; these may act like children of the devil, but really, they are simply children, children that, like most children, like to see just how far they can push before they experience opposition! Are these wicked people, children who do evil? No doubt, but they, like we, are children of their Heavenly Father, though they may not acknowledge this relationship. We may not wish to treat them as such, or give them the same 'right hand' of fellowship that we offer to those who have become in Christ, but they are our brothers & sisters, we all having the same Heavenly Father, the Creator of Heaven & Earth!

We bear ready witness to the fact that 'freedom aint free'; not in the sense necessarily of the many foreign wars that this nation has been embroiled in for the past two centuries, but in that the struggles that our infant nation faced, as well as it's internal struggles that it still, to whatever extent suffers! It's messy & bloody ( it hurts like hell, sometimes! ), but when the dust clears & we find ourselves breathing that clean fresh mountain air ( again, metaphorically ), we find that all that struggle, all that heartache was worth it! In fact, most often we find that, maintaining this freedom can be quite costly; those who have not yet found this freedom & in fact shrink from it may likely even oppose those who have heard the bell ring. It's not easy; no one's promising that, but Freedom, True Freedom, when it comes, is so refrehing that you may feel that you've experienced a Resurrection of sorts!

Does this 'Bell' still ring today? In a sense it does, for we must still, to whatever extent, distinguish ourselves from those 'children' who still live in ignorance & disobedience, but no more is it 'The Division Bell'; it is the Bell of Freedom! We may not agree with our all our brothers & sisters, in fact we should vehemently disagree with their disobedience, but we should not treat them in such a way that they feel that there is no hope & that they are forever doomed to live in separation from their Heavenly Father & His rightful Children; Let Freedom Ring!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Right Kind of Girl; 'I Want You to Want Me'

Virgin? Check! Never kissed a boy? Check! Doesn't show her knees in public, much less her thighs ( 'Perish the thought!' )? Check! Doesn't drink, doesn't dance? Check! Not a party-girl? Check! This list could go on & on, longer for some, shorter for others, but first & foremost, she MUST be a good Christian & go to church every Sunday! Right; sound familiar? To some, this is just 'old-fashioned, even legalistic, but to others, it's the only way to be! This probably sounds all-to-familiar to many of my readers, while at the same time it would be almost unthinkable, even unconscionable to others. Like it or not, if you were brought up in any kind of conservative Christian household, this is the sort of scenario you will most likely face when looking for a help-meet, or mate ( that almost sounds dirty, huh? )!

In this day & age, the sort of girl that your parents taught you to wait for, even in many Christian circles, is simply not to be found! One can still find good Christian girls ( women ) that might closely fit the description above, but not only are they few & far between, their heads are usually filled with outlandish notions & very bad theology. For the most part, these are good girls, submissive & all that, but many of them have been brainwashed for so long with legalistic visions of false piety & modesty that, try as one might, it can never be fully wrung out of them.

On the other hand though, some of these girls ( women ), because of their tight-laced upbringing, are so eager to leave all that behind that with their first taste of freedom tend to go overboard & end up being cast out because of their new-found 'freedom'! The girls that have found this 'freedom' ( it may not be truly free, like they thought ) often up in bad situations, like the Woman at the Well in John 4, with multiple failed marriages, who after these failures have settled into a relationship ( or string of them ) that foment their own brand of trouble!

As one brought up, more or less, in this sort of paradigm, it is rather difficult for me still to even consider much less than the above! We have been taught that a Christian should not be married to a non-Christian, the primary purpose of marriage being to procreate & raise good little Christian boys & girls. The drinking & dancing thing may ( admittedly ) be a bit much, but since we all know what two sweaty bodies ( of the opposite sex ) in such close proximity leads to..........................wait............
But seriously, if a girl ( woman ) doesn't meet most of the requirements above , she probably ( according to this paradigm ) isn't worth your time & energy!

The search for 'The Right Kind of Girl' may leave you tired & hopeless! We are told, 'God has a mate out there just for you, just be patient & wait on His Timing. Well yes, to wait on His Timing is always a good idea, but like James said, 'faith without works is dead'; if a person were simply to wait on God's Timing, that person may have a long wait ahead of them & will very likely end up old & alone! This, in our Father's Providence, is not always the case, but too often, people find that if they wait too long, either no one wants them because they're too stuck in their ways or they simply don't want anyone because they're too stuck in their ways!

This, in itself, is not a valid reason to just go out & marry anyone, even if she is the wrong kind of girl! The wrong kind of girl being one that likes to party, drinks ( even on occasion? ), dances, wears immodest ( according to? ) clothing, has kissed multiple boys ( men ), probably isn't a virgin ( I mean, just look at her! ) & horror of horrors, smokes & has at least one tattoo! These 'bad' girls, just like the 'boys', are often some of the most loving, caring & kindest people you may care ( or not ) to meet! They may not go to Sunday services or even ever darken the steps of any church building, but you may find them to act more like Followers of Christ then many Christians that warm the pews every Sunday & Wednesday!

With all the choices out there, how are we to know which is the right one for us? Admittedly, the One who gave us Life & knows us better than we know ourselves, the One who will not let a sparrow fall to the ground without taking note & who has numbered the very hairs of our head has no doubt created another human being for us to mate with, to be our partner in this adventure we call life. However, sometimes one must not only have faith, but take a step ( or two ) in faith! If we simply have faith ( wait ) & do nothing, that's just what will happen; nothing! If we don't get out there but simply hunker in our bunker, we may never find the one that has been prepared for us.

Simply because she may not meet the criteria that we have been told to wait for, we might miss our chance, so to speak & end up old & alone or worse yet, in a worse-then bad situation! The modern Christian definition of 'The Right Kind of Girl', though it may ( more or less ) line up with the orthodox  rendering, may not necessarily be our Heavenly Father's. 

The Scriptures from which we have concocted these lists of requirements are a volume written to a different culture, in a different time, in a different style of literature. These laws, though still to some extent useful, are not for us; they were meant for those of a different age. In this New Age, it is not the one who doesn't do any of the above that is the right one, but the one who does right, even though she may not meet all the above requirements, is 'The Right Kind of Girl'!

Trustt me, when you find that One, he or she will want you as much as you want them!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, September 28, 2015

Faith to Move Mountains

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father".
John 4:21

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, 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 

There is a popular way, in this day & age, to speak of doing things that may seem impossible for the Average Joe, but that's not really what Jesus had in mind when He spoke in this way to His disciples in the first century! To His disciples in that generation, Jesus promised that if they held tight to Him, they would not be lost when the 'mountain' in question was cast into the sea. In some small sense, maybe, this enigmatic phrase may be borrowed for today's vernacular, in that, with Faith, we can do the impossible, but we must remember that though our Faith may be the same Firm Foundation as those first disciple's, we do not face the 'mountain' they did; their 'mountain' was one which led to a precipice & whose removal changed the face of Worship forever!

When Jesus spoke those fateful yet comforting words to His disciples, He told them, as He told the Woman at the Well that the 'mountain' that they had been brought up on, 'Mount Zion on the sides of the north' ( Psalm 48:2 ) was about to be removed as the place of worship; instead, they would now worship 'in spirit and truth'. The Faith that He spoke of, however, though they would employ it, was not theirs, per se', but was the Power of Eternal Life which resided in Him alone! Mere belief, or even trust & hope, would not do it; His Faithfulness alone, through their perseverance & sufferings would accomplish this salvation!

 Certain people will argue till the cows come home ( or they're blue in the face-whichever comes first ) about whether the Faith described in Scripture is ours or Christ's ( God's ); some say that the apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Ephesus meant to say that Faith is a Gift of God, others that he is simply saying Salvation is a Gift of God, but I say that it is both: actually, we can bypass both arguments because this letter was to those first-century saints at Ephesus, not to us & because the salvation referred to was salvation from the Death of Adam under that first covenant, we are free from that Law! However, we may truly say ( Scriptures like II Timothy 2:13 attest to this ) that it is the Faith of the Creator God, as embodied in the Messiah of Israel, that saved His People from that Death!

The old hymn goes, 'My faith has found a resting place'; this is true enough, as far as that goes & while we may truly say that our own belief, the trust which we have placed in the Creator of Heaven & Earth is necessary, it is ultimately His Faithfulness that shines through! James the brother of our Lord wrote, 'faith without works is dead' ( James 2:20 ): speaking to a brother the other day about the passage from Matthew's Gospel account & the popular interpretation of it, I reminded him of this passage; 'men can literally move mountains in this day & age; we have the tools & technology to actually uproot a mountain and move it to another spot, though it will take time & hard work!' Jesus', I'm pretty sure, wasn't ensuring His disciples that they would be able to actually move literal mountains, although I won't deny that's possible; He was telling them, in a metaphor, that the 'mountain' that had held sway over them for so long would finally come crashing down & be swallowed by the 'sea'!

We must exercise the Faith that we hold, but as the apostle told Timothy 'If we are faithless,
He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself
' ( II Timothy 2:13 ) it is HIS faith that stands strong, that moves mountains! Our personal belief/trust/faith/hope may waver & we will fail & fall, but the Faith of our Father God & Creator stands strong & will never fail. It is His Faithfulness that extends a mighty Hand & raises us up from the ash heap, as He rose Israel ( Jesus ) from the Grave & gives us New Life, New Purpose, Resurrection!

Jesus promised His disciples that 'they' would move mountains! Did they? Surely; by preaching the Good News & by persevering even to the Death of the Body, the disciples of Jesus turned the world upside down & caused the 'mountains' of that day to be engulfed by the waters of the sea! Was it their faith that removed that 'mountain' & cast it into the sea? It most assuredly was through their faith in action that the promises of God were fulfilled, but primarily, it was His Faithfulness, in the Person of Jesus the Christ that definitively won the battle! 

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


No argument here; Scripture plainly states, 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.' ( Leviticus 20:13a ). Right after this politically incorrect state, Scriptures goes further & states that 'They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them'. Some might make the argument, 'Well, that's the OLD Testament' & in a sense, they'd be right! In context, Scripture also says thing like, 'For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him' & 'If a man lies with a woman during her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has exposed her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from their people' ( there are many more such, but these will suffice here )!

We as Bible-believing Christians believe that our God, the Living One & Creator of Heaven & Earth is Eternal & Unchanging! Given that He is unchanging, we are faced with two different propositions; either what Scripture says about Him is a lie, or what our English Bibles say about Him is a lie! Now, to clarify, I differentiate between Scripture & the Bible; the Scriptures are those given through inspiration & are written in Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek. Our English Bible is simply other's mail; the laws & letters were written for another people in another land, long ago. The Scriptures are useful to us, yes, because they show us how our Creator dealt with the problem of sin long ago & they also give us certain principles to live by that are universal. To say that the law against homosexuality ( if that was the true intent ) is  still in force is to say that stoning of disobedient children is lawful & that a man who has sexual intercourse with a woman on her period must be removed from his standing in the congregation. I serioiusly doubt if many Christians today would argue thus!

We have discussed previously how it is against the created order, as we read in the Bible anyway, for a man to have sexual intercourse with another man, or a woman with a woman; although it is possible, especially in this modern age of technology, nothing good will ever come of it, it may bring instant relief/gratification, but that's about all it offers. A penis was made for a vagina, not an anus; on the other hand a vagina was not made to interact with another vagina! The Creator God instituted marriage when He brought Eve to Adam; He didn't bring Steve to Adam & so on & so forth!

In this modern day & age, although the homosexual lifestyle ( some call it a 'death-style' ) seems to be gaining ground, even many non-Christians have a natural aversion to that lifestyle! Most Christians have a very strong objection to it for biblical reasons, but even those who do not claim to follow the Bible realize that it is not what Nature intended, so to speak. Scientists may be closing in, but a man cannot become pregnant; he just doesn't have the necessary parts. On the other hand, neither can a woman, through natural means anyway, impregnate another woman, SHE does not have the necessary parts ( even if they attach a penis, she still bears no seed!

The traditional Christian God has been called by many ( even some Christians ) a mean, vindictive & petty God! Because of the way we have been made to understand the Old Testament, many Christians reject this reading of the Hebrew Scriptures because it seems to give a somewhat different picture of our Creator. Although this is not evidence in & of itself, whether because His Son tamed Him or what, the Living God that we see in the Greek Scriptures ( not so different from the Hebrew ), though He exacts judgement & justice, is a Loving God! Jesus did not ( in so many words anyway ) condemn the homosexual lifestyle. There are some ( Christians even ) who loudly & proudly proclaim that Jesus was Himself a homosexual. I am not here to say 'yay or nay'. but simply to say that though Jesus condemned sin, He did not list the 'sin' of homosexuality ( like the 'sin' of have sex with your menstruating wife? ) among them. Again, I am not here to say 'yay or nay' on that either, but if it be a sin for a man to lie with another man ( in a sexual way ), then must we not as well say that it is a 'sin' to have intercourse with ones own wife at certain times of the month?

Much has been said recently, what with the Supreme Court legalizing homosexual marriage LICENSES ( which is only the next logical step ) & the whole Kim Davis debacle, about whether homosexuality ( deemed a 'sin' by most Christians ) should be licensed/permitted by the State or Federal Government. It may be rightly said ( it's only logical, after all ) that if the Government can give license ( a permit for something otherwise illegal ) for heterosexual couples, then why can't it do the same for homosexuals? The real issue at hand is not whether homosexuality is a sin or even whether they can marry; the real issue at hand is whether or not the State or Federal Governments have the right to ( or even need to ) issue licenses for a marriage to take place!

Is homosexuality still to be considered an abomination? If so then we should be stoning those children who become a curse to their parents! We should also abstain from sexual intercourse with our wives until such time as the rag comes clean! Right?! That may be a matter of personal preference & many children who become a curse to their parents do get cut off, in essence becoming dead to them, so again, 'is homosexuality still an abomination in the eyes of the Creator God?' I leave you with that question, but as for me & my house, we will serve the Lord!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, September 21, 2015


'It's better to give than to receive'!

In my own life & I imagine, in the lives of many of my readers, not only is this so true, it had become almost an unspoken mantra for our lives! We would rather give our all for a cause we believe in than accept the help that certain others can see we need but we ourselvesves are clueless to. For whatever reason, we would much rather see others receive all the attention, to see other people be on the receiving end of all good things. It makes us happy; I guess we're just wired like that!

More often than not, those who seem the strongest turn out to have the most fragile hearts: those with the most to offer usually have the most need for the same gift in return! Sadly, in this too-oft cold cruel world, those who need this gift are deprived of it; they are expected to simply give until it hurts without the need for reciprocation, for just that one simple act of kindness in return!

When the givers do not receive like they should, the automatic response ( often necessary ) is to cease & desist, to simply stop giving altogether! Although it's difficult to imagine ourselves not giving anything at all; it often becomes necessary for us to switch gears, to focus inward for a time, to allow ourselves time to repair the breaches & stop the leaks!

When this happens, when givers seemingly give up on the world, the tendency for those who have been used to being on the receiving end is to look at their sometime benefactors & think, 'they just gave because they wanted to receive the same'; they might even accuse us of being cry-babies or even worse, of being fakes with ulterior motives! Though we must be careful who is privileged to be on the receiving end of our gifts, we must also remember how blessed we are to be able to give!

To give until it hurts, though seemingly a noble endeavor, cannot last forever; without the necessary reciprocation; there is only so much we can give before we can give no more! Once ( God forbid ) we reach this point, it often takes as long or longer to rebuild our own selves to the point where we can give again. In the process of rebuilding, or maybe even more to the point, rehabilitating ourselves, we have the opportunity to look at our former lives in review & note changes in our own behavior that need to be made: did we refuse proffered aid, for whatever reason, maybe we thought, 'I don't need anything' or 'they need this worse than I do'!

It is said, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'! Anyone that's been through hell or is currently making the journey can tell you, 'it's no fun'! Those give until it hurts but rarely if ever find themselves on the receiving end often find themselves wandering in this sort of hell, though their intentions were the best. Though we only intended to bless others with our particular gift or gifts, it sometimes turns out that our gift only encourages the receiver to laziness, to expect to always receive without ever having to give!

Both giving & receiving have their ( obvious ) benefits, but is it truly more blessed to give than to receive? In some sense yes, given certain situations, it most certainly gives one more of a sense of well-being to be able to offer ones gifts to the world with no promise or apparent need to receive the same in return. On the other hand, it is often more pleasant ( especially after a long drought ) to find oneself on the receiving end of goodness & kindness!

The Key to Happiness, we might surmise, is Reciprocity, to find that gentle balance of giving & receiving, giving, not until it hurts, but when it feels good & right, receiving, not because it is more or less blessed, but because we need the gifts of others as well! To give without ever receiving in turn can only last so long & it never turns out well for either party! In order for a person to give, they must  at some point receive; otherwise they become an empty shell. This empty shell may gradually be refilled in time, but those who have been used to being on the receiving end may have to get used to giving themselves for some time before that shell is filled to the point where it once again begins to overflow, blessing the lives of those around it!

May we who have been so used to giving & not receiving learn that gentle balance; may we learn to give with discernment, knowing the necessity of reciprocity, of receiving as well, in order that we might not wear ourselves out to the point of being tired of giving. There is great blessing in giving of ourselves, but if we find ourselves giving to the extent that it hurts, we should take that as a sign that we need to start receiving as well, not that we need to stop giving!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Power, Pleasure & Purpose of Pain

There are a surprisingly large amount of people who actually ( secretly, even ) enjoy pain, but for the most part, probably not many are willing to admit & fewer still who openly enjoy pain! Pain, like fear, is possibly one of the greatest motivators, either to deter one from following a certain course of action or to motivate another to do certain other things, things that might help to alleviate that pain. Pain lets us know that we are alive, that we're actually living! This applies to the majority of us, no doubt; if we woke up in the morning feeling no pain, we might be tempted to think either that we truly were still dreaming, or that we had crossed over & had woken to some sort of 'pie-in-the-sky' Heaven!

'No pain, no gain'! This phrase has been so over-used that I almost hesitate to use it here ( again ), but how true it is! Nothing good comes without some sort of sacrifice & sacrifice usually means pain. If not for one, then for another; somebody has to pay! Just like that other oft-quoted phrase, 'freedom ain't free', there is ALWAYS a cost involved; someone has to make the sacrifice, sometimes the Supreme Sacrifice, so that another, or others may enjoy that freedom. Pain not only helps us to realize that we're alive, it also drives us to persevere ( in spite of it ) in doing what we can to alleviate that pain, both in our own lives & in the lives of others.

On the dark side of the coin, you might say, are those who actually find pleasure in pain! Some merely find comfort in their own pain, like above, that they would almost think something was amiss if they woke up one morning without the presence of some sort of pain. Pain helps us to remain aware of our own weaknesses & disabilities, but it also helps us to be empathetic with those who also experience pain daily, or at least it should! Then there are those, often those same ones who have experienced greater or lesser pain, who enjoy sharing that pain; causing it in their own lives & spreading it like a virus into the lives of those around them; this is not acceptable! The Purpose of Pain is not to cause more pain ( though we are instructed to share our burdens ); the Purpose of Pain is not to take Pleasure in it, whether giving or receiving it ( though it often brings Pleasure ): the Purpose of Pain is to use the Power thereof to alleviate it, to squelch it in our own lives & the lives of those around us ( though it is a most welcome companion sometimes )!

Pain makes its presence known in different ways & at different times; we ( most often ) feel it emotionally, whether in our own experiences, or in empathizing with another who is being troubled by it! We also, for manifold reasons, experience physical pain, pain which usually tells us that we are doing something wrong when it comes to nutrition, certain physical activities, or such. In this sense, if not in all cases, pain is a good thing, because it indicates to us that something is wrong & the pain will continue until we change our course of action. For some, this sort of pain will have no ( good ) effect, because these find an unconscionable pleasure in their pain & in sharing it with all those with whom they come in contact. For others, this sort of pain, though unwelcome, provides some level of comfort that they are almost loathe to awake from. Still others ( this applies to a growing minority ) learn from this pain & use its Power for the Purpose of bringing Pleasure, Pleasure, not so much IN the pain ( though there ARE those ( you know who you are ), but in deriving it FROM the pain, using the pain to better our situation, as well as that of others!

Without pain of some sort, most people find it difficult to have a purpose because purpose is very often born out of pain! For instance, once one realizes that following a certain course of action, or just doing nothing, brings pain, that ones purpose is very often renewed to pursue a different course of action, one that may bring less or even no pain at all. Though usually an unwelcome guest, in hindsight particularly, pain is most often welcomed as that which alerts us to the fact that something is miss, or out of kilter!

Most often, those who are most caring, most empathetic, who feel most deeply, are filled with the most pain! Those who are filled with this pain are often those who live most sacrificially, whether they offer their own well-being for the sake of others or because they find some sort of comfort & indeed pleasure in that pain.  As long as one is alive, to whatever extent & of whatever sort, pain will be our constant companion; its simply a ( glorious ) fact of life! Both physically & emotionalism speaking, there will always be pain to some degree because we're all human, with differing personalities, likes & dislikes! In order for one to have 'this', the other may have to sacrifice 'that'. Sacrifice brings varying degrees of pain, but to whatever degree, it always causes pain to SOMEONE! Sacrifice often brings Pleasure to the one who offers it, but it even then, it usually involves pain of some sort, whether it is a selfish, emotional pain, or an actual physical pain!

Pain, in all its Power & Pleasure is united in one Purpose; that Purpose is change! If our pain, whatever its degree, symptoms or cause, does not bring change in our lives, then that pain has lost its purpose & will only further serve to numb us to its effects. Unfortunately, this is too often true: when those who experience such pain on a daily basis begin to fell numbed to it, there is a tendency, not only to revel in it, but to accept it as a way of life & even to cause others to embrace the same! However, when we use our pain to its intended purpose, that of alerting us to the need for change, we will discover the Pleasure that can only be truly found in realizing the Purpose & Power of Pain!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 11, 2015

Cleansing the Heavens

On this 14th anniversary of '9-11', I will refrain from yet another blogpost on that tragedy ( been there done that ); I had thought about writing a few lines on the latest travesty in the news concerning the homosexual issue, that of the County Clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to grant a marriage license to a homosexual couple. Now, don't get me wrong, Kim Davis is right about one thing, homosexuals, by biblical definition, cannot be married, but something she seems to have missed, as have the majority of evangelical Christians is that if heterosexual couples ( as Scripture clearly delineates ) must be joined with a license from the State ( god ), then what is to say that they ( the State ) can't do the same for homosexual couples?

The apostle Peter wrote ( yes, this may be a bit out of context ), 'For the time [ has come ] for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if [ it begins ] with us first, what will [ be ] the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?' ( I Peter 3:17 ) Some have almost exulted in the fact that Kim Davis, herself a former adulterer and multiple divorcee ( though all before she was 'saved' ) was recently jailed for refusing to follow through with her job requirements & issue a marriage license to a homosexual couple! Although this is nowhere near the beginning of signs, it is the latest in the past number of years that Almighty God, the Living God is stirring ( up ) His People. Something is not quite right in Christendom & many have begun to sit up & take notice!

As we've noted before, people are leaving the Institutional Church ( or otherwise giving up ) in droves & 'why'? Because of hypocrisy like this! We westerners want to take an Ancient Near Eastern text & apply it to life in our modern Western culture. This is not to say that those laws, laws handed down by an Infinite Creator have no application for us today, simply that they were given to a special people, at a certain time, in different circumstances; they were not made for a people living 4,000+ years later, in a different culture altogether! Besides that & more importantly, those laws simply pointed toward Jesus the Messiah & the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

Homosexual 'marriage' ( can it really be called that? ) is definitely against the pattern the Creator set in Scripture; 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh' ( Genesis 2:24 ) Now granted, nowhere does it specifically say that his wife cannot be a man ( although in context it very strongly implies it ), but as we have noted before, the Creator brought Eve, not Steve to Adam! Homosexual marriage, however, is not the important issue here; the issue is whether the State ( Federal Government ) has the authority to ( re ) define marriage. If 'they' can determine whether or not a heterosexual couple has the right to be joined together, why not homosexual couples who only want the same rights?

Evangelical Christianity is presently 'ready to meet its Maker'! The Institutional Church is crumbling & though, like certain other entities, it is bolstered to whatever extent by a false economy, it's really only a matter of time before Almighty God's just judgement either cures her or kills her! People, Christians in particular, need to learn that if they're willing to bow before idols in one instance, they must be prepared to take the consequences when they refuse in other circumstances! Right or wrong, Kim Davis, as a County Clerk in the State of Kentucky agreed to fulfill a certain job when she took her position; she refused ( again, right or wrong ) to do her job & was thus found to be in contempt. This was not religious persecution, this was the consequence of disobeying orders from headquarters!

The dastardly events of '9-11' might seem to be unrelated & in a sense they are, but at the base of both issues is, 'who are you going to serve?' Are you going to serve idols & so pay the consequences when they fall or you fail to serve their purpose, or will you serve the True & Living God, the Creator of Heaven & Earth! By refusing to grant license to that homosexual couple, Kim Davis thought she was serving Almighty God. Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't; you be the judge, but one thing is sure, she is justly paying the consequences for bowing to an idol!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Dark Matters; the God Particle, Gravity's Rainbow & the Fifth Dimension

Traditional Christian theology tells us that the Creator God exists & operates outside the boundaries & constraints of Time. Call this the Fifth Dimension, call it another plane of existence, call it what you will, it should be noted that the Source of all Life is not Himself subject to the Laws of Nature He set in order, being the Creator of that order & in effect, outside that order. Some theories, such as Rainbow Gravity, also known as Gravity's Rainbow, might actually lead one to relatively compare the Universe with the Creator Himself!

The universe, many scientists have postulated, is largely made up of 'dark matter'; this is a ( hypothetical ) substance which is invisible to any telescope, but which 'neither emits nor absorbs light or any other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level'. Dark Matter might then be called one of the main 'building blocks' of the universe, while theoretical particles like the Higg's boson, often called 'the God Particle', might explain the origins of the universe!

If these theories are in any way true & verifiable, that would explain a lot about the Forces of Nature, both visible & invisible! Whatever the case though, one must exhibit some measure of faith, as no one alive today was there in the beginning. The theory of evolution, while made almost plausible by scientific study & even verifiable witness, calls for a certain amount of faith, especially for those who have not themselves been witness to its effects, but have to take, or choose to take someone else word for it!

There is some amount of talk going around, mostly on the internet, that says we have entered that Fifth Dimension! You may have heard 'chatter' about an extraordinary amount of cosmic radiation making the long journey from the sun to the earth. Such radiation would explain what has been going on this year, what with the crazy weather patterns, cellular interruptions & such! One can do any number of searches on the internet & find all sorts of fascinating 'information' concerning these events & more to digest. All this should concern us, but what should concern us more is what we choose to do about it!

More & more people seem to be waking up to the fact that things have changed & are still changing! The status quo obviously isn't working anymore & many are beginning to explore new ways of operating across the board. We have begun to figure out that the past 2,000 years of history, although we have come a long way, really haven't had the effect one might have thought! The fact that we have been made a New Creation ( in Christ ) seems to have had, according to evangelical Christianity, simply the effect of ensuring that we'll go to Heaven when we die. There are many positive events that have occurred over the past two millenia ( there's no denying that ), but the glorious fact of the New Creation simply hasn't had the effect that one might expect!

Without going into endless research, it is being reported that we are now living in a New Earth ( geologically/geographically speaking? )! While this sort of research is certainly very interesting & would most likely explain a lot, it is about as useful to Kingdom Living as discovering the Higg's boson or exploring the Fifth Dimension ( maybe a little more useful than the former ). The glorious fact is, we ( in Christ ) have been made a New Creation; in fact, the New Creation has been in existence since the first century A..D.! So, it could be argued from a Scriptural viewpoint, has the New Earth! The apostle Peter's second epistle indicates that the former 'heavens & earth were to be destroyed ( again, in the first century ) & the promised new heavens & new earth 'in which  righteousness dwells' would be established!

Especially through the blessing of the internet & the World Wide Web, anyone may bear witness to the manifold physical & material effects ( both positive & negative ) that this change ( the New Creation ) has had in this world in which we live; in fact, we are still witnesses to everyday change & look forward to yet more & better things to come! However, as we all know, change does not come easily or gently; although some take change better than others, change usually involves pain of some sort! ( if there's no pain involved in change, it might not actually be 'change'! ) Bearing up under pain not only makes us a stronger & builds character, it also usually makes us a better person.

Exploring these growing pains often lead us into dark areas; this sort of exploration usually forces us into introspection & to the discovery that all is not quite as it should be! If we're honest with ourselves & others, such exploration leads us to examine our own lives & make the necessary & painful adjustments! The apostle Peter wrote to his readers in the first century, 'you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house' ( I Peer 2:5 ) Though that 'house' was completed in the first century & established forever as the Dwelling of God ( in the flesh ), in some sense, new stones are being added every day. Not only that, but the stones that are already present are being disturbed as we realize this change that came in the first century & reach for a fuller application of what it means to Kingdom Life!

The study & exploration of these Dark Matters can be very useful, not to mention mind-blowing; they may even cause those who participate to alter their own consciousness & positively affect the world in which we live! Those who engage in such studies must judge for themselves the worthiness or worthlessness of such endeavors. As we go foward, however, we must remember that though these studies can be very mind-altering, they themselves are quite useless unless accompanied by positive action. Let us embrace these Dark Matters therefore & use our experience, along with the supernatural wisdom supplied by the Holy Spirit to affect the change that this world so desperately needs!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, September 07, 2015

A Nation at War

Is Almighty God pleased with the efforts of the U.S.Inc. ( USA ) at empire-building? Right away, most Americans, including many Christians, would respond with a resounding 'YES'! 'Look at all the nations we have brought under our banner', they might say, 'America is without doubt the greatest nation in the world'. America has become great, in a manner of speaking, but at what cost? Is she not one of the most hated nations in the world? It would be hard to prove that there is even one nation on earth that does not harbour any number of enemies of America!

Throughout America's relatively short history, barely 50 years has gone by with some sort of police or military action, most usually on foreign soil! Most, if not all of these actions have been perpetrated under the clever guise of bringing aid to the persecuted & downtrodden, for the ostensible & noble purpose of battling the forces of evil; the problem is, many of the actions undertaken to battle this 'evil' were themselves evil & utterly reprehensible!

Not only is America now one of the most ( if not THE most ) hated & feared nations on earth, we are burdened with a false & failed economy. Since 1972's Supreme Court decision, Americans have legally murdered over 50 million unborn children ( talk about Molech-worship ) & they have turned over our most sacred institution ( marriage ) into the dirty & greedy hands of the enemies of Christ. A Christian minister may face persecution, to say nothing of what the married couple might face, if he dares to perform such a ceremony with the appropriate licensing. Even many Christians have bought into this farce, insisting for various reasons that the appropriate licensing must be sought & found before it is lawful in the eyes of their god ( God? )!

Some might say that in spite of her many faults, America is still one of the most blessed nations on earth! To be sure, at first & with just a casual glance, this would seem to be true. Even though much of what most Americans call 'freedom' is fast disappearing, we are arguably one of the freest nations in the world! Admittedly, the hatred & animosity directed toward America is due in part to pure jealously; there are still many areas in which an American has more liberty to act than a citizen of a lesser nation. Even though this may be true, there is much about even this 'liberty' that wreaks of slavery!

'War is hell'! Ask pretty much anybody that has been involved in one & when it comes down to it, most like everyone would be in agreement. In fact, especially in the last 50-75 years of our History of Violence, no one emerges unscathed. Some receive greater harm than others maybe, but the mental ( usually worse than the physical ) effects last for a lifetime! Oh sure, there are usually support groups & other kinds of therapy for such injuries, but no matter how much healing is wrought, the damage has been done!

Those who have bled & died in the name of freedom & for the U.S.Inc. have done so believing that they laid down their lives for a good cause! On the surface of things anyway, there cannot be much doubt they did & for this, their masters have showed their gratitude. Of late however, those returning from war have not received the welcome & thanks they deserve. Much of the reason for this, especially of late, is due to the above-mentioned false & failed economy.  Much of the blame for this travesty, though, must be laid squarely at the feet of the often questionable & top-secret manner in which the war was waged!

This kind of reprehensible action cannot be a pleasing odor in our Heavenly Father's 'nostrils'! Oh sure, most would argue that the evils confronted necessitated the evils undertaken ( if one can call what the U.S.Inc has done 'evil' ), but as we all know, 'two wrongs don't make a right'; evil is still evil, no matter who perpetrates it & however noble the reason given may seem!

The question 'how much more flag-waving must Americans do before God is pleased?' is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but really, if you ponder it, it's akin to the question before the prophets of Ba'al in 1 Kings 18:26-28. Flag-waving will never please our Heavenly Father; the only thing that pleases our Creator is right action & sadly, America seems to have fallen far short of the mark!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 04, 2015

A Political Kingdom ( Eschatology Matters )

'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness'
Matthew 6:33a 

When Pilate questioned Jesus concerning His Kingship, Jesus told him, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.' ( John 18:36 ) In context, we know that the world that Jesus referred to here was the 'world' of the Pharisees & Sadducees, but the 'world' He spoke of bore many similarities to the world in which we now live! In this 'world': most people, including many Christians, are seeking a political solution to all our problems! This is not to say that politics is totally useless & should be done away with, though it definitely needs a reboot, but politics is not the answer; the only answer to the problem of evil is blessed relationship & that with the Creator & Creation!

We ARE the Kingdom of God! Just as with an earthly king who rules over his people & only secondarily the land, so the Kingdom of our God & Father is primarily His People. In this nation, these United States of America, we are not ruled by a king ( although our history shows that we were formerly ); we suffer under a form of tyranny called democracy whereby the few ( elite ) rule over the many ( sheeple ). Most just seem to accept these chains in a matter-of-fact sort of way, while others actually try to better the situation ( 'if only we could find ( elect ) better rulers, maybe they would ease our burdens'- I Kings 12:10 ). Neither of the above scenarios, though, actually offers a real solution to our problem, like most such treatments today, particularly in the medical/pharmaceutical field, it only treats the symptoms & never gets to the heart of the issue!

Morality cannot be legislated! To Christians especially, those who follow the Story of Israel in the Scriptures, this is abundantly manifest. Oh sure, for a time one might bear witness to a type of surface morality reform brought about through the ministrations of one or other good king, but in the end, every man  & woman winds up doing what is right in their own eyes, regardless of what the law said! Most often, as in the case of the Pharisees & Sadducees, for instance, people find ways to circumvent or twist the law to their own advantage!

Legislation, or politics, can only tell us, under threat of punishment, what we must or must not do; it can never change the heart! Most people today, even if murder is in their hearts, will not actually go out & commit murder because it's against the law; if one actually commits murder, there is a good chance they will get caught & at best imprisoned, at the worst, executed for their particular crime. More & more, as politics & legislation fails, people are getting away with murder, because their hearts have not been changed; they still have murder in their hearts! For a time, one might argue, pollitical legislation offers a check on this issue & here is where we come to the heart of the issue, especially among, but not limited to, our Christian population!

The phrase 'Eschatology Matters', while not an unfamiliar one in this day & age, is bound to become more & more common as our present age progresses! The Eschatology of Scripture, although its effects were lasting & world-changing, did not concern us! Sure, to the extent that we have inherited the Blessings of that Eschatology, it should concern us that it is often treated with little to no respect, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the Eschatology of Scripture does not speak to our day & age. This is not to say that people cannot glean a lesson from the Story of Israel FOR this day & age, though; the Story of of Israel holds many lessons for us, not least of which are, 'politics cannot offer a real solution' & 'you can't legislate morality'!

Although more & more are beginning to realize how much Jesus really fulfilled through His Parousia, most Christians do not believe that the Eschatology of Scripture is Fulfilled. Some acknowledge that, as Scripture makes abundantly clear, much was fulfilled when the Son of God made His Presence known, but to varying degrees, most still look for His ( physical ) reappearance & the Advent of a Political Kingdom!Because these Christians believe that the Eschatology of Scripture is unfulfilled as of yet, they tend to cherry-pick certain passages from it & app;ly them to this day & age, for instance, using passages like Romans 13 to say that we need to obey the government, even when it becomes tyrannical!

If Eschatology has been Fulfilled, as is abundantly clear from Scripture, then why are most still seeking a political solution to all our problems? Have we not witnessed over & over how politics & legislation do not have a lasting effect? Can we not, as Christians especially, see that a Political Kingdom is not the answer? Christians, though many do not seem to acknowledge it, know how easy that Answer is; the Answer lies in Blessed Relationship with the Creator & His Creation! It is through seeking first His Kingdom that we find Peace; seeking the kingdom of men only brings War!

As Christians more & more begin to realize that the Eschatology of Scripture is Fulfilled & apply the lessons taught in the History of Israel, we may understand that politics & legislation is not the answer; we will get nowhere in a Political Kingdom! Only by the application of Scripture & the lessons learned from our past will we ever truly be able to live at peace! While it seems, in many respects, that we still live in the shadow of the Pharisees & Sadducees, it should be Clear as Day that we live in & as the Kingdom of our God & Father, the Kingdom that the prophet Daniel referred to as having no end, the Age which Jesus referred to as The Age to Come!

May we ever seek to live & thrive in the Kingdom of Heaven rather than seeking a political solution to our problems! As History attests to, political solutions have no lasting effect because they only treat symptoms, they can never reach to the heart of the issue. Israel sought a political kingdom like all the other nations ( I Samuel 8 ) & after much heart-break & misery, were finally destroyed. America needs to learn this lesson or she too will follow in the footsteps of Israel of Old!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Finding Heaven

We have established, I believe, that 'Heaven', AKA the dwelling of God, is not some 'place' out there; 'Heaven' is in our hearts! Like Jesus told His disciples ( John 14:23 ), 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.' This is not to claim that our Heavenly Father is caged within the hearts of His People, just that His Promise, to dwell with His People once again is as good today as it was yesterday, better in fact!

This being true, with the Holy Spirit, in toto, dwelling in His People, 'Heaven' in essence is in our hearts! Many Christians, futurists in particular, believe & teach that 'Heaven' is a place out there, anywhere from in a different realm to being an actual physical location within our own realm. Although the teaching that 'Heaven' exists as the realm, or dwelling of the Creator God is Scriptural, we understand as well that things have changed! No longer do we wait for the Blessed Presence of our God & Father; though, as of old, He dwells in the heavens ( literally 'sky' ), no longer does He live apart from His People. He is the Creator God & thus sovereign, omnipotent & omnipresent, but He has taken up permanent residence in His Living Temple!

'Finding Heaven', you might say, 'what a strange notion; isn't that kind of inconsistent with what we've just read?' If we must find 'Heaven', does that mean that it IS a place that can be pin-pointed? Is it, after all, a reward for those who do good? Well, it is a reward, though not in the sense that most Christians seem to think! 'Heaven' is not some place where good people go when they die; it is a State of Blessedness that the People of God experience when living in right relationship with Him & His Body!

Sometimes 'Heaven' IS something we can experience with the five senses! Speaking of relationship, with a good helpmeet ( spouse ) by ones side through the ups & downs of life, one may actually feel the glories of 'Heaven'! Without going into an extensive study here about where we go when our biological body perishes, whether there actually IS a 'final destination', a final resting place for the believer in Christ or not, we can suffice to say that the people of God ARE NOW forever with the Lord; what happens to the spirit when the physical perishes, beyond what Scripture plainly says ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ) is mere speculation!

The Joys of Marriage are manifold: sad but true, not everyone that is married finds this joy, some never will; in fact, many marriages end in divorce because the partners never found their joy, or even if they had some semblance of it for a time, the selfish cares of this world quickly choke it out! Those that persevere, though, find that joy above all joys, unspeakable, sometimes & full of Glory, this is the Joy of Heaven! Marriage is a picture of Christ & His Church, between Creator & Creation; a truly blessed marriage is one that, amidst the struggles & cares of life, yet finds these joys!

 'Heaven' IS in our hearts; when we realize that the Creator of Heaven & Earth bore the sins of His People in His own Body on the cruel cross of Calvary, thus establishing us as His New & Living Temple, it is impossible not to find the 'Heaven' that resides within us! There is a corporate sense to this as, 'love is not love unless it is shared', so 'joy is not joy unless it is shared' & 'Heaven is not Heaven unless it is shared'! When we share our love & our joy with that special someone, we experience a sort of 'Heaven' that only those married in the Lord may know!

Is there a 'Heaven' beyond 'Heaven'? I believe that as our consciousness is expanded & as the ages unfold, we will indeed enter further in & higher up, but the fact that we are in 'Heaven' the Blessed Presence of the Creator God NOW is irrefutable! The Joys of 'Heaven' are ours; all we need to do is find them: Love is the greatest of those Joys & when we Love, we have found 'Heaven'! Let us Love, not just in word but in truth & in deed!

Charles Haddon Shank