The Pagan Path

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Der Hersteller Continues

The Man chosen by the Creator, from the Beginning, persists to this day & according to the Sacred Word ( the Divine Essence ), will exist for Eternity! Since the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, though much has changed & the End has Come, it seems that the Creation continues to be ravaged by the annals of Time. It would seem that the Man chosen by the Creator, oh, so long ago, had fallen asleep on the job & made a complete & utter mess of things; although Time marches on & the Creator's Purpose is doubtless being fulfilled, things seem to be about as crooked as ever they were!

The End in question was three-fold; the End of an epoch ( era ), the End of the Betrothal & the End ( Goal ) to which that Betrothal looked! The Time of the End occurred to the People of God, both real & imagined, when the man of sin was revealed, that sin was taken away & everlasting Righteousness was established on top of the Creator's holy hill of Zion. From the Beginning, those ministers of the Good News from the Creator had prophesied of this Time to Come when the Creation would become One with her Creator, through the ministry of this Man that He had chosen.

The Man of which we speak here is like, yet unlike, other men; He is the Only Begotten Son of the Creator, the Father, yet He is not confined to biology, like mere men are! He inhabits a Body which is made up of many bodies. In fact, one of these latter-day prophets records Him as speaking thus, 'In My Father’s house are many mansions'; as He is, so are we in this world! In a world, created by Him, yet that does not yet fully understand or accept the Relationship between Creator & Creation, this Chosen One still labors to make known this Good News to all Creation!

When this Chosen One was finally revealed, in the Fullness of Time, lo & behold, He wore the body of a mere man! Although He wore the body of a mere man, like, yet unlike His brethren, His Creation, this Man came to inhabit a yet Greater Body. As we have seen, this Body is made up of many individual bodies & is growing all the Time; in fact it will continue to expand for Eternity, till the Knowledge of the Creator covers the Earth as the waters cover the Sea!

The Marriage of Heaven & Earth revealed One important Truth; the Creator, now totally invested in His Creation & not willing that any should perish, has so bound Himself to His Creation that He has Covenanted to live with Her forever, in the Bonds of Holy Matrimony! Creator & Creation live & breathe as One & while neither ( individually ) is the other, they function as One, having the same Purpose. He ( Together ) Purposes the Reconciliation of Creation to Himself & as the Son of His Love, the Man Chosen before the foundation of the world is charged with this ministry!

The End, or Goal, of Creation was that both Creator & Creation might enjoy the Bonds of Fellowship in Relationship! It is in the Body of the Chosen One, the Man of the Creator's own choosing, the Man after His own Heart, that this Goal is fully & irrevocably met. The Creator had chosen this Man for such a Time as this, a Time when Reconciliation, though accomplished, must be continually groomed & renewed every day, like any good marriage!

While the Creation has indeed been Reconciled to the Creator, sadly, much of it has yet to be reconciled with Him! This is where the Man comes in: though He has been made One with the Creator, neither is He the Creator, nor is the Creator Him. As in the marriage between a mere man & woman, they remain separate individuals, yet with one purpose, so with the Marriage of Heaven & Earth; Creator & Creation remain distinct individuals, yet with One Purpose, the Reconciliation of Creation.

In some sense & for the purpose of further clarification, one might say that we speak of two different, yet inextricably linked Creations, one the natural Creation, that of mere humanity & another Creation, that by Covenant through which it has become One with the Creator! The Creation which has entered into a Covenant of Marriage with the Creator has become the Man/Woman through whom the Divine Purpose is daily being fulfilled!

As the Chosen One awakens to His & Her true Purpose & Relationship with the Creator, the Creation itself will awaken from the bondage of corruptible things, to the Glorious Liberty of That which is Incorruptible!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Made Whole; 'That I may be Healed'

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
I Timothy 4:8

 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
Galatians 6:15

Why are we here? This is a question to which the answer should be simple, but it seems that some people just have no clue! Clearly, we are here to make a difference, but to what extent & how to define that difference is often where we come face to face with a brick wall. Should we be doing more to impact, to transform the culture around us, or should we instead focus on our own lives in preparation for our final destination & separate ourselves from the wicked world around us that seems to be headed for hell in a handbasket? If we ARE here to make a difference, should we not be ready to give up our physical existence to further the Kingdom of Heaven?

It has been said before that, 'we are spiritual beings having a human ( physical ) experience', but wouldn't you think that this 'experience' could be so much better if we didn't have certain physical ailments & disabilities to deal with?! Some, particularly those with said ailments & disabilities, might wonder if they would be better suited to serve in the Kingdom if they were 'whole'! The wisdom of man would certainly tell us that, 'yes, if we had our full capacity, we would be able to accomplish more for the Kingdom'!

Looking at the verses quoted above in their necessary context, we should note that, while they ARE fulfilled in the sense that 'the life.......which is to come' & 'the new creation' of which the apostle Paul wrote are the Life which we now Live through Jesus the Christ & the Spirit of our Heavenly Father, they still speak to us today. They should serve as reminders that, though the way we treat our biological bodies has a necessary effect on our living in the human realm, it is how we live in the spiritual realm that has the most effect! When we live according to our Heavenly Father's Word, in the Spirit, we have the most & best impact on the culture around us.

'Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise': this quotation from Benjamin Franklin has stood the test of time! In a culture where the norm for many people seems to be quite the opposite, we have what you now see; a lack of responsibility in many areas, reliance on a false messiah ( government-federal rather than self ),  a false sense of security & idolatry. The majority of people, if they even think about it at all, live only to die & escape the rigors of this life to spend an eternity in Heaven or Hell. 'If we only we were free of this mess, things would be so much easier' seems to be the common dream of most, but many fail to realize that this 'mess' is one of our own making!

'If you wanna be free, be free'! The apostle Paul once wrote, 'if anyone [ is ] in Christ, [ he is ] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new'. The apostle obviously wasn't referring to our biological bodies here, he was referring instead to the Body of Christ & our spiritual state. It's no wonder that so many people seem to think that Paul was looking forward to some day in the distant future when his words would come true! However, his words were true in that day; he was speaking of a new ( spiritual ) creation, one that, beginning with the inward man ( woman ) would have such an effect on the outward man ( woman ) that it would affect the culture around him ( her )!

Physically speaking, we can all attest to the fact that most of us are far from 'whole', though the question might be asked, 'what IS 'whole?' We HAVE been made whole! We ARE a New Creation ( I know; it doesn't feel like it, right? ) It is not about what we do to or with these biological bodies that makes us a New Creation, though what we do to & with these biological bodies greatly affects our personal impact! The glorious fact of the New Creation IS, however, proven BY what we do in the physical realm. When we take care of these 'shells', whether through 'bodily exercise' & better nutrition or whatever, it WILL have an effect on how we live our lives in this realm, but it has NO effect on our spiritual standing with our Heavenly Father!

Having been made whole then, through the glorious fact of the New Creation, let us so live in the Spirit that we have the greatest effect in the physical realm! Not neglecting the biological bodies that we have been given in the physical realm, let us rather use them to affect the transformation that this society, this culture so sadly needs. We HAVE the Power, through the Spirit, to effect this transformation, whether our biological bodies are 'whole' or not! Do our physical 'disabilities' hinder the Kingdom of Heaven? The wisdom of man would seem to say 'yes', but the Wisdom From Above says 'NO'! Whatever our individual abilities ( or disabilities ), it is the New Creation that enables us to DO for His Glory & the furtherance of the Kingdom!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Liberality of Love

A young friend of mine has recently published a short article about the difference between going to a liberal arts college & being a 'liberal': being rather much of a self-professed liberal myself, I enjoyed the article, but I'm going to take it a step further! 'Liberal' is simply put, another one of those words in the English language that seems to have lost its true meaning. Merriam/Webster's Online Dictionary seems to prove my point, with the simple definition of a 'liberal' being 'one who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change : relating to or supporting political liberalism'. Only secondarily do they give its true meaning, which is 'marked by generosity'!

When Facebook asked my religious preference those many years ago, I replied that I was 'liberally preteristic'; I have not changed it ( not likely to, either ) over the past 5-10 years. Though one might read that 'preference' & have different thoughts on the matter, really, all I meant by that is that I tend to be liberal with my application of the fulfilled principles in preterism. In reality, if were were ALL liberal, the world might be a much better place! Conservatism, however, has determined that one must be conservative with what one has, in order to become wealthy, etc. ( Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with this idea )

Conservatism seems to have had its effect on love as well; we must be careful to whom we show our love or we might get burned right? The old saying, 'better to have loved & lost, then never to have loved at all' sounds about right, but even here, the 'love' referred to is, I believe, a bit different then the original! While its true that we must be careful who we share our love with, especially in this day & age, sometimes I believe we are too conservative with our love, both our love for life & our love for each other!

What is love, then? Well, put simply, in an explanation which I often use, 'it is a decision to do what is right ( by another person )'; not necessarily what that other person wants, or believes is right, but what the Word of God says is right. Love IS an action, but more than just any action, the 'thrust' of the word, the true meaning is right action! Being Liberal in Love does not meaning showing what is often called 'romantic love' with anyone & everyone ( or just those you choose to ); being Liberal in Love means making the same decision towards ALL those you meet, to act toward them in the same way, doing right by them, even if/when they d you wrong! ( We're all human; this probably won't consistently happen for most of us! )

Liberality WILL have its effect; it's what one is liberal WITH that makes the difference! If, for instance, one was to liberally show their bad or negative feelings, depending on the context, that person might find him or herself in danger of a good old-fashioned ass-kicking! In the same vein, the liberality of say, a shooting spree is probably not a good idea either ( depending on who's being shot, I guess & why ). On the other hand, if you have a lot of extra food on hand ( by extra, I mean food you don't need ), the liberal distribution of this could well make you some lasting friends. Money, the same thing, although most would argue that it's best to be more conservative with your wealth.

Being labeled a 'liberal' in this day & age unfortunately DOES carry with it the connotation of being almost what is now being termed 'progressive' ( AKA socialist/communist ). The 'liberal' denominations are the ones, for the most part, who are allowing women to preach, ordaining homosexual ( of both sexes ) & even recognizing 'gay marriages. Yes, in this day & age, being A liberal is definitely NOT looked upon kindly! Maybe it should be though, huh: not the homosexual thing maybe, but maybe if we were more generous with our love, we wouldn't be witnesses to a lot of the pain & suffering that we see all around us, on a daily basis!

Charles Haddon Shank

The Tolerable Christian: 'Friendship With the World'

Adulterers and[b] adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 
James 4:4

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

 Many Christians today read the passage above, from James, understanding that, quite literally, one cannot be friends with any who do not believe as we do ( AKA, 'the world' ); however, read in context with Jesus' statement from the Gospel according to Luke, it seems that we SHOULD make friends with 'the world', even unrighteous ones! What are we to make of this seeming contradiction? Can we or should we be friends with those who war against the Gospel of Peace? Of course not, but if we simply tolerate them, are we acquiescing to their violence, or simply living at peace ( loving ) our neighbor?

Both James & Jesus made the above statements in a slightly different context, both culturally & historically from our present situation. 'The world' of their day was that, yes, of the enemies of the Gospel, but we must understand first of all that both Jesus & his brother were referring to the apostate Jews, 'the world' ( system ) of their day. Second, both were speaking to those who labored under that first ( AKA, the Old ) covenant. As Christians under the New Covenant, while we should not tolerate evil, neither should we turn our backs on those who do not have a right relationship with their Creator!

The Gospel, as we have noted previously, is not about Heaven & Hell, but rather about life in this world! The Good News is that our Heavenly Father brought Peace on Earth & Goodwill to All Men. He did this that men might live in peace & perpetuate His Kingdom all over the world. We have borne witness to this Gospel of Peace in the midst of Turmoil, as Christians have peaceably resisted those enemies of the Gospel, but we have also borne witness to those who claim the Name of Christ & yet have done the exact opposite: they seem to have adopted the way of those enemies of the Gospel & rather than transforming their world through this Gospel of Peace, have conformed to it by making enemies of those who should be friends!

G.K. Chesterton once said that, 'tolerance is the virtue of the man without conviction'. It has been said that if one doesn't believe something, they'll fall for anything. Christians, to a large extent, have misunderstood the Nature & Character of our Heavenly Father! Because they have these errant convictions about Him, they have tolerated many things which they shouldn't & have refused to tolerate many things which they should have embraced. Too many Christians have embraced the notion that the Gospel IS about going to Heaven when you die & avoiding Hell; they seem to have forgotten that this IS our Father's world & that we ARE here, not to tolerate evil, but to transform our culture into one of Peace. 

Both Jesus & His brother lived in a peculiar time; they were facing an enemy who was surely & finally being brought to his knees! That enemy was Death & now with the death of Death, the Gospel of Peace, not tolerance of evil, is transforming the culture as we speak. It may seem that we live in such a time as Jesus did & in some sense, we may bear witness to that fact, but with one glaring difference, the Presence of our Heavenly Father now dwells in our midst; we do not labor under the Law of that first ( Old ) covenant, but rather in the Grace of the New!

The question of whether we can tolerate those who do not believe as we do is not a simple one! We should not tolerate evil or wickedness, but neither should we turn our backs on a world that so desperately needs us! Christians should embrace, not the ways of the world, by tolerating the evils thereof, but the world itself, by realizing that it is our Father's Creation & transforming it through the Gospel of Peace!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, February 18, 2016

In My Father's House Are Many Rooms

You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with;[e] but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give,
 but [ it is for those ] for whom it is prepared by My Father.
Matthew 20:23

 Jesus told his disciples ( John 14:3 ), 'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, [ there ] you may be also'. This statement seems to be pretty clearly saying that Jesus was going to be returning to those selfsame disciples one day & taking them back with Him ( to 'Heaven' ). It is pretty clear, from a very literalistic reading of these words, that Jesus had gone back to 'Heaven' & that one day, we would live there with Him ( forever ). One important truth that we must understand though is that these words were spoken a long time okay by a Hebrew, to a mixed Hebrew & Greek ( Syrian? ) audience; when we try to understand these words outside of that context, the context of the Ancient Near East, with their unique style of literature, we do ourselves & Scripture a disservice!

Another area in which we often err is when we 'proof-text'; this is when we tend to rip verses out of their context, especially surrounding ( textual )! Jesus clearly said, 'I go and prepare a place for you', but at the end of His statement, He said, 'that where I am, [ there ] you may be also'. At this point, the question should be asked, 'where IS He?' The obvious Scriptural answer, of course, is 'Heaven'; the Hebrew Scriptures, what is most often called the Old Testament ( especially the Psalms ) are full of statements attesting to this fact; 'Heaven' is where the Creator God dwells & so it follows from a cursory reading of the earlier part of John 14 that we will too!

However, when we read this passage in the context of verse 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' ), as well as the last statement of I Thessalonians 4:17, where the apostle Paul promises those first-century disciples, 'And thus we shall always be with the Lord', we should understand that it's not as simple as Him preparing a place' FOR us, but more to the effect of preparing US as that 'place! The latter reference is most often understood, from our Western view-point, as stating that Jesus will return one fine day ( soon ) & wisk us away to our mansion in 'Heaven', but it has been made fairly clear, with further textual investigation that this passage is not referring to what we know as 'the Rapture', although I'm sure it WAS pretty 'rapturous' to those in the first century who witnessed the events in view!

Okay, so the Creator God has made His Home with those who keep His Word; that's easily explainable just by the Glorious Fact of the indwelling Holy Spirit, right? Well yes, that IS what Jesus meant by those Words, but they hold so much more & deeper meaning! Jesus said 'We will come to him and make Our home with him'. If we can take Him at His Word, does this not mean that HE ( personally? ) has also made HIS Home with us, along with the Father Himself ( the Creator ); does not the entirety of what we know as the Godhead now dwell with ( in ) us? If THEY have made THEIR Home with us, does the Creator God still dwell in 'Heaven', like the Psalms say? Are we merely His 'summer' home?

Ancient Near Eastern literature ( of which the Scriptures are but one example ) is quite different from our Western mindset; it is full of hyperbole & idioms which we are only beginning to understand! When the apostle said, in I Thessalonians 4;16 that 'the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout', because these Words of Promise were to His first-century disciples, we should understand that He was simply talking about the Roman armies descending on Jerusalem. We should also keep in mind passages from the Hebrew Scriptures that speak of the Creator God coming down from 'heaven' to visit His judgment & justice on the nations. Remember too, when Jesus infuriated the high priest when He simply stated, 'Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven' ( Matthew 26:64 ) Only the Creator God Himself rode 'the clouds of heaven'. 

In conclusion & most importantly, we must understand that, as the New Temple of the Creator God, that 'dwelling' which He promised to inhabit in John 14:23, we ( corporately ) ARE the House that Jesus spoke of earlier in John 14. In fact, to go into more detail, the 'house' that Jesus spoke of ( His Father's ) is the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21! Again, this is us, the ( corporate ) Body of Christ; as we saw earlier, it was the Church that He was preparing AS a Dwelling-place For Himself, His New Temple. Now, we ( individually ) are 'the temple of the Holy Spirit', but as Jesus said, 'in My Father’s house are many mansions;[a]'. Speaking of the New Jerusalem, WE ( individually ) are the 'rooms' or 'places' to which He referred!

Charles Haddon Shank


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Beatiful Dystopia

Imagine, if you will, a society without the encumbrances of memories ( good & bad ), without the inherent messiness of things like emotions & ( GASP! ) free-will! You may say I'm a dreamer, but obviously, I'm not the only one. There is a growing plethora of movies out there, based, however loosely, on this utopian dream.Could such a society exist? On the surface, one might almost accept the propagandized notion, that without these unnecessary evils, we wouldn't have wars & other conflicts of this nature. However, as these movies are painstakingly pointing out, with the bad go the good as well, with the messy go the necessary & so on & so forth!

Emotions, as we've witnessed, can go both ways; they can induce us to do good or evil, they can rule us or we can rule them! There is always a choice involved & as these utopian dreamers point out so wee ( it would seem ), more often than not, when humans are faced with two choice, we make the wrong one & walk through the door that brings pain, suffering & conflict, all because of those nasty emotions! Though this may often be the case, emotions themselves are not a bad thing; they were programmed into us by the Giver of All Life & not everything that seems to be bad or evil is so!

Communities, like kingdoms, are a messy business! Yes, for the same reason, both of these constructs can be a frightening prospect, mainly because it involves bring together a bunch of humans with differing characters, emotions & physical make-up. Uniformity, we can probably all agree, tends to lessen the cause for conflict, but it also lessens the possibility of individual achievement: if everyone was the same, or at least acted the same, there would be no need for the corporate faction, for people to live together in community, because everyone could do everything; every man & woman COULD be an island because they wouldn't need anyone to do anything for them!

To live together in community is a sometimes frightening, but blessed proposal! Just like Marriage, it brings together individuals who have free-will; though there may be a basic agreement on the fundamentals of life, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, those nasty minor disagreements ( the color of the carpet, etc. ) threaten to bring the whole house crumbling down! However, any certain group, when deciding to live together in community is faced with the choice of whether to let their differences divide them or define them! It is our differences that make us unique & how we choose to celebrate our differences determines how we will live. If we choose to employ our differences, we will become an integral part of the community, but if we stifle those differences, then we will have no opportunity to shine!

Our feelings too often determine our actions; although it is not necessarily wrong to follow our heart, the heart IS the seat of emotions & when we let those emotions rule us, we often end up with unnecessary pain, pain which, if we had used our common sense, our head, instead of following our heart, could have been avoided. Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of All, has set certain boundaries ( like any good father ), rules which, if followed, bring certain blessings, but if disdained, or thrown aside, bring nothing but pain, suffering & almost certain disaster! Disobedience to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God, while offering a momentary relief & ( dare I say it? ) satisfaction, will end in divorce & dissatisfaction!

There IS a society that brings together & celebrates individual uniqueness; this society is one that lives together in conformity to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God! The utopian dream proposed by such movies as 'The Giver' more often than not end up being a dystopian nightmare for the very reasons that we see outlined above. Instead of celebrating our differences & using them for the mutual advantage of the community, the uniformity that is seen as necessary for a 'perfect' society ends up bringing, whether through dissatisfaction or design, the ultimate end of that 'perfect' society!

The Society of Righteousness is ruled by a Law which says, 'this is right & that is wrong'! If each individual within any given society is a law unto themselves, in other words, decides for themselves what is right & what is wrong, that society cannot last, but will eventually devour itself from the inside out. However, a Society which is founded upon certain absolutes & celebrates the differences of its members & fosters conformity without uniformity, THAT Society will last because its members will be happy in their uniqueness while unselfishly serving the good of the community, not through force, but through their own free-will!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Deeper Meaning ( of Love )

'What's Love Got To Do With It?'

Valentine's Day is two days away: some people are looking forward to it, some are not! The history of this lover's holiday is quite interesting to say the least & I encourage you to look it up ( google it ), but our focus today is the love behind it all; is it REALLY Love, or is it just a passing fancy, a lustful feeling? Much of what passes for love in this day & age is based on feelings, which, as we have noted, can change like the weather! This is not to say, however, that a love which IS based primarily on feelings cannot be a lasting one, but this, I believe, would be the exception, not the rule.

Many words seem to have lost their true meaning, or intent in this modern age of technology & convenience. Among others, 'love' is one of those words! As originally conceived, Love was simply an action, a conscious decision, a self-imposed duty, if you will, to follow a certain set of rules, or Law, concerning another, or any number of people. In today's vernacular, which probably most everybody can say mea culpa to, including this blogger, 'I love you' can mean anything from 'I have warm feelings for you' to 'I want to make babies with you ( or at least go through the motions )'!

When words lose their meaning, that meaning is, for all intents & purposes lost! This is not to say that the original meaning & intent no longer apply, for it is a universal & absolute truth, only that it is hidden to those who have chosen to accept the false conception. Love, therefore, is not based upon warm or lustful feelings, but upon a conscious decision to do what is right with concern to another or others. 'Romantic love', as we know it too familiarly today, while not necessarily based on feelings, is most often thus & is concerned largely with the physical aspects of the intimacy, the 'ins & outs', 'ups & downs', so to speak, of this over-sexualized society!

Sex, or the act of sexual intercourse, is not in itself wrong, shameful, or inherently sinful, but when it is wrongly applied, or explored in a wrong or unnatural context, it becomes corrupted & a root of all kinds of evil! Many of those who are familiar with the latter scenario can attest to the fact that this wrong context, or abuse of the sex act can lead to all sorts of nasty repercussions & cause all sorts of interesting dilemmas. The act of sexual intercourse is very natural; we were made for it! As we've explored previously, a certain part of the male anatomy melds quite nicely & interacts quite pleasingly ( if I may say so myself ) with a certain part of the female anatomy, and while certain dogma & stigma has made & continues to make this act shameful, there is nothing to be ashamed about, IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT!

The Context, of course, is Love! Not the fuzzy, warm feeling that we get when we see, think of, or are around a certain person, although that IS often involved, but the Love from Above, that which comes from a Knowledge of the Creator & the understanding that Love does not originate with our feelings but rather in our mind, our 'heart', if you will. Feelings are most certainly involved, but first & foremost, it is a choice we all must make; will we do what is right, or will we allow our feelings to dictate our course of action? Too often, I believe, people choose the latter & erroneously call it 'love', not understanding the deeper meaning of the word!

The intimacy of the act of sexual intercourse, though not necessarily involved in the deeper meaning of love, certainly brings a sort of stability to the table! A 'love' based on that act is no love at all, but the act of sexual intercourse between a male & female, in the right context, is nothing but Love. This is a Love that will last, not because the 'sex is good', but because the intimacy is there; a connection deeper than anything like mere biology has occurred & that, my friends is Love!

When we celebrate Love this Valentine's Day, while everybody else is wondering who they're going to wine & dine or just planning to woo into bed after the festivities, let's remember that it's not about the biological attraction ( although chemistry has a lot to do with it); it's about that intimate connection we make with another soul, whether or not the physical act of sexual intercourse is involved! Feelings come & go, but Love, True Love, is forever; when we focus on what is right & not just what feels right ( at the moment, or for the moment ), then we will begin to experience for ourselves the Deeper Meaning of Love, for we have found A Love That Stands the Test of Time!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Reins of Power

In this day & age, especially as Election Season has almost hit us 'full-tilt' ( sound strangely like 'bull-shit' ), political prowess is being flaunted in all its inglorious aspects! We currently have a president who claims to be Christian, yet has ties with the Muslim Brotherhood & has traveled around the world basically apologizing for America's greatness. Whether you agree or not that America has done many things around the world that warrant this kind of behavior, it is abundantly clear that politics rule the day!

As we have noted previously, politics is basically 'the decision of the people'; the people decide, through majority vote ( although this is very questionable, at the least ), who they want to 'lead' the country, so, like it or not, whoever the 'powers that be' are that run this great nation, 'they' decide who will govern & that 'choice' governs basically at will; no longer must the Executive Branch go through the Judicial Branch anymore, if the president wants to do something, all he or she needs to do is sign an Executive Order & there you have it!

'Power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutely'! Lately, within the past 50 years or so anyway, this coinage has seen more use than a pair of old gym socks. Politicians, for the most part, have become so power-hungry that they will do almost anything within their power to win an election. The corruption we have seen from their use or abuse of power has borne manifold witness to the veracity of the statement in question & although only One truly wields Absolute Power, as far as mere human beings can wield power over others, there is the inherent potential to corrupt the one who holds it!

The question, ever since the Birth of Nations, has never been whether one should bear rule over another, but how to best exercise that power! While it has been widely accepted for many years that human beings need a governor, or ruler, the tendency for most human beings, which we have all borne witness to, is to give up their responsibility if someone else is willing to take it, in many areas anyway; we are, most of us, naturally lazy & if the government is willing to do something which we are not, we will often roll over & let them take the responsibility for our inaction. Usually this means a loss of freedom as well & oddly enough, it's not till people begin to realize that along with their responsibility goes their freedom, that they begin to take responsibility for their actions, but by then, it's often too late!

'With freedom comes responsibility'; never has that statement been more true than today! If one wants to be truly free, one must take the responsibility for his or her own actions & if we are willing to let the federal government, that corporate entity known as the U.S.Inc., absolve us of our responsibilities, then we shouldn't complain when our freedoms begin to fall into their far-reaching hands as well. Self-governance seems to be almost a foreign concept to some people anymore; no longer do they do what's right simply because it's right; they do what they do, right or wrong, either because it is or isn't the law! Now, I realize that this might be the exception, but as a general rule, it seems that most people have given their power over ( gladly ) to an entity that changes its face every 4-8 years.

Although, for the past 50-100 years, these United States of America have been A Nation of Sheeple, as more & more wake up & smell the coffee burning, we are witnessing a growth in the number of those ( too late, in some cases ) who ARE waking up & realizing the mistakes of the past. Although too many are going about it the wrong way, these are doing the best they know how to rectify the situation & are beginning to practice a sort of self government!

The Reins of Power, as the Founding Fathers knew, rest squarely in the hands of the people! Politics is truly 'of the people, for the people, by the people', but the powers that were granted to the federal government, our representatives, have corrupted them to the point that many or most politicians see themselves, not as servants but as rulers! From the beginning, this was not so; representatives were chosen from among the people, by the people & for the best interests of the people. Today, Politics has become so corrupt that, not only do they no longer truly represent us as they're supposed to, it's nothing more than the old 'bait & switch', a very dangerous stage show!

'How can we retrieve these reins', you might ask, 'how can we take back the freedoms that have been wrested from our cold, dead ( lifeless ) fingers?' In some cases, it may be too late for anything but blood-shed ( drastic ) to retrieve what's ours by right, but the simplest way at our disposal is to live as free men & women. When we begin to take responsibility for our own actions & live rightly just because it IS right, not because some law says we have to, we will again begin to experience the freedom that only comes with responsibility; we will have once again taken up The Reins of Power!

Can you imagine if all the people around us saw our freedom ( with responsibility ) & decided they want it too? Why, it might become a movement & folks, that's what it is, the Self Governing Kingdom of Heaven Movement & to join it, all you have to do is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar....................

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Greatest Good; Live & Let Live

When faced with violence, it is difficult, in the least, to remember that 'violence is NOT the answer'! Though it may seem that violence is the best answer to violence, we know from experience that violence usually begets more violence; the history of violence in this nation alone, not to mention Europe, the Middle East & the rest of the known world bears manifold witness to this deplorable fact. Nation retaliates against nation, group against group & so on & so forth; 'where it will stop, no one knows'. Then there's the preemptive strike, a pre-retaliation of sorts; 'lets bomb them first, because we're pretty sure they plan to bomb us'...........................

There can be no doubt that evil is an everyday occurrence; the violence that goes almost unchecked in many parts of the world IS most definitely deplorable, but it is an Ancient Evil! The History of Violence around the world has its beginnings from the very genesis of the nations. Those who founded the particular nations did so, for the most part, on the blood, sweat & tears of those involved. Those who bled & died were often the victims of some type of some type of genocide, particularly on the Dark Continent lately, but in Europe as well & even here in the good ole U.S. of A.!

Violence seems unavoidable; if our own life, liberty or property ( or that of loved ones ) is threatened it is natural to immediately react with more violence. Not only is it a natural reaction, it often seems like the only sane & logical course of action! When faced with such a situation though, there are a number of facts we need to consider; are we doing right in meeting violence with violence? Though violence is not the answer, neither is it necessarily a bad thing. In some cases, violence must be employed in order to get the job done & while it is NOT true that 'a little violence never hurt anyone', it IS true that some people need to be hurt ( a little ) for their own good. A case in point here would be if someone were headed straight for a cliff & someone else tackled him, maybe breaking an arm or leg, but saving him from almost certain death at the bottom of the precipice!

Although violence is not the answer, sometimes it's a good thing, not in a reactive sense, but in an active sense! For the greater good, sometimes it's necessary to violate the rules, right? Sounds almost like 'two wrongs make a right', huh? Well, no, that's not right; it's never right to do wrong in order to do right! In order to make the necessary changes in one's life, though, one must suffer violence. Not ALL violence, then, is wrong or bad. Though it usually hurts for the moment, especially to the one undergoing the change, the violence suffered, whether it's a broken arm or a bloody nose, will usually have the desired effect. This is not always the case, however, some people never learn, it seems, but for the most part, when a person realizes the pain they might have suffered, he or she takes the lesson & makes the necessary adjustments!

Facing evil is a frightening proposition! If we face it with, not merely the greater, but the greatest good in mind, it doesn't seem so insurmountable & reacting with more violence seems less & less of an option. As we have all borne witness to, 'violence begets more violence'; it's a vicious circle! Once someone employs violence ( in a wrong way ), it's hard to stop it unless & until someone comes along who is willing to live & let live, someone who has taken note of where it will lead if they respond with more violence!

'Live & let live'; now there's a concept! Imagine what the world would look like now if more people employed this mantra! I can only imagine how difficult it would be, in the face of a Hitler or a Pol Pot, to 'turn the other cheek', so to speak, but if we had elected ( I say 'we' in a corporate sense, as the Apostle Paul used 'I' in Romans 5-7 ) to do things differently in the beginning, how much better would this world be to live in? Would people still suffer violence? To be sure; there will always be the Hitlers & the Pol Pots, but even then, when faced with the correct actions, they might turn out to be not so bad after all!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Time on Our Hands

What if we could travel, not only back but forward in time & fix our mistakes both past & future? Time Travel has always, for the past number of years especially, held an almost immoral fascination for some people ( it's a growing number ). When you really think about it, which fairly recent movies like 'Looper' & 'Interstellar' have made us do ( even more ), how awesome would it be to be able to go back in time & fix the mistakes of the past? On the other hand, what if we could travel into the future & change our present, which would be a natural deduction; if we could travel back in time, why not forward, right?

Time Travel, while having much attraction at first glance ( who doesn't wanna fix their mistakes? ), also has some side-effects that aren't so pretty; what if we were able to travel anytime we wanted to, past or future & change our circumstances in either time, earlier or later: wouldn't there be a danger of losing the good ( memories ) too? We might travel back in time to change one aspect of our future & like 'Back to the Future' showed us, we could end up changing our whole future, including what we DIDN'T want to change!

The best way to ensure that we have a good future, obviously, is to do our damnedest to live well in the present! Sure, there'll be hiccups along the way; there'll be opportunities lost along the way, bad decisions that we regret & thing that occur that, looking back on them, we're pretty sure if they hadn't happened, things would have turned out differently, but we must also factor in the good things that come about because of certain 'bad' things. A 'for instance' scenario might be where, if we hadn't been hospitalized from a bad car wreck, we may never have met the love of our life who 'nursed' us back to health!

Living the good life in the present is no guarantee that your future will be all roses, but it certainly helps! What we do in the present DOES have an effect on our future, THAT is guaranteed; though there IS such a thing as forgiveness ( thank our Father ), the way you treat a certain person in the present WILL affect that person for their immediate future. The way we treat our bodies in the present will have much the same detrimental effect for our immediate future. Both scenarios are somewhat reversible, although some 'scars' may remain!

One aspect of the movie 'Loopers' that almost brought me to tears was that the mother of a particular child pleads with the one who would kill her child to selfishly secure his own future ( the killer's ) to spare his life so that she might raise him to be good; a second chance, so to speak. Isn't that what it's all about; don't we ALL want a second chance? Well, the Creator God IS the God of second chances; He has ordered the universe ( or multiverse ) in such a way that when we screw up, there is always the free choice given us to 'do better next time'!

This again is no guarantee that our second chance, even our third or fourth. will have the desired effect; we may just be that stubborn & ignorant! However, we DO have that choice before us, as to how we will act or react, whether to learn from our mistakes & do better, or if we will continue to make the same mistakes over & over, guaranteeing that our future will if anything be sadder than our present. Our future, in the greatest sense, is NOW & it's in OUR hands; what will happen is never guaranteed, although it is more open to the Eyes of Him who sees all, but what our future looks like WILL in many ways be determined by what we do NOW!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Redeeming Culture

Since 1972, these United States have been an almost silent witness to around 55 million murders! Most recently in the news are homosexual marriage licenses. For the past 40-50 years, society ( culture ) in this great nation have taken a decidedly down-hill turn. This is barely to mention even the wars & rumors of war that the U.S. Inc. has embroiled its subjects in!

Society in these United States & Western Culture in general has become so corrupt that I'm sure our Founding Fathers are rolling over in their metaphorical graves ( 'You've fallen a long way, baby!' )! 'If only we could restore the Constitution', you hear some people say. Well, we had/have the Constitution & look where we are in spite/because of it! One of our most famous Founding Fathers, John Adams, said, 'Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other'; sounds something like the apostle Paul when he wrote 'we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully' ( I Timothy 1:8 ).

It's really no wonder that the majority of Christians out there are looking for the soon return of Jesus; one, they hope for Him to rescue us from the corruption that surrounds us & threatens to overwhelm us & two, they believe, to varying degrees, that He will literally burn up/destroy all sin & wickedness, turning this earth/world into a veritable utopia! It's almost difficult to blame them for holding on to this hope & it's impossible to deny that the situation calls for something that drastic. As believers in a Fulfilled Eschatology, we here at Covenant Community Church know that Jesus returned, as He promised, 'in the clouds' of judgment in the first century, with the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple, thus bringing an end to the apostate Jews reign of terror & ushering in the Parousia, or lasting Presence of the Almighty Creator God!

Since then, the Parousia has been realized & is realized every day, what hope do we have? If Jesus has already come, then why is the culture in such a mess, why is society around us so corrupt? Is there any hope left if Jesus has already made His Presence known?!

'Covenant Community Church; a Redemptive Society'! That's the first thing you will see when you visit our website, Truth In Living. Many Christians seem to have forgotten or have failed to realize why we are here on this earth; we are not here to decide among ourselves who will be making the up-ward trip to Heaven & who will descend to a burning Hell ( in fact, the traditional Heaven & Hell barely even register in the equation- Heaven is the Blessed Presence of God & Hell, well, Hell was the grave in the days of Israel under that first covenant, or 'Israel in Exile' ) The Creator God brought His People, much like Israel of old, into Covenant with Him in order that they might be a nation of priests to all those ( the culture/society ) around them in order that we might transform them into the People of the Presence, rather than we conforming to the corrupt culture around us!

Jesus promised that 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him' ( John 14:23 ): we have the Power! We have the Strength that we need & more, so why does the culture around us look & act the way it does? We can really only blame ourselves! If more than a handful of Christians had stood their ground back in 1972, over 55 million babies might be 'over the hill' right now! If those same Christians & more had done more than protest & martyr themselves for those poor helpless unborn, the abortion industry may have faded from view long ago! Abortion is just one fateful aspect of the Corruption we witness on a daily basis in society at large; I leave you, the reader, to discern the rest!

What then are we to do? The task seems all but insurmountable! Well, many have tried the way of politics; we can simply pass more legislation, legislation that would make it illegal to murder the unborn, legislation that would put the brakes on the porn industry, etc., etc. That solution no doubt has some merit; it has worked in the past, enjoying various degrees of success, but as John Adams foresaw, that only goes so far, it only works well for 'a moral and religious people'!

The Solution then, is to redeem society! 'How do we do that?' you might ask; well, first of all, we transform ( to the best of our several abilities ) the society/culture around us, rather than conforming to it, becoming in the process as corrupt as they. Secondly & maybe most importantly, we should be a 'culture within a culture'; we should be, as so many Christians are fond of saying, 'in the world but not of the world'. This is our home, don't get me wrong, this is our Father's world, but we have been saved from the corruption that plagues those around us who do not know the Creator God! In order to form a more perfect society ( culture ), We, the People of the Creator God & Kings & Priests ourselves, MUST, to the best of our ability, live at peace with ALL men & women, bringing them to the knowledge ( not just acquaintance ) of our God & Father!

In years past, Christianity has witnessed, to varying degrees of success, the conversion of whole cultures through the means of preaching & even at the point of a sword ( or spear ); we cannot deny that the Kingdom of Heaven has experienced expansion through these means! Even today, here in America, we may bear witness to the power of these influences & the effect they still present; however, the fact remains that society or the culture in general has been corrupted. There remains one sure way to cure these evils & that is 'Truth In Living'!

Charles Haddon Shank