The Pagan Path

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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Our Christian Identity

What does being a Christian mean to you? If going to church on Sunday & putting on a good face before a watching world is all that it entails, then you should rethink your Christianity! Add to that good works & you're starting to understand. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a Christian is 'one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ'; while this definition certainly fits the bill, it by no means fills the bill, or even adequately describes the true Christian. Other definitions assert, more to the point, that a Christian is a follower of Jesus ( who was the Christ ). You may have heard that, in the beginning, it was a term of derision aimed at His disciples; in other words, to call a disciple of Jesus a 'little Christ' was to remind them that theirs ( as the unbelievers saw it ) was a false Messiah, or Christ.

To call a Christian a 'little Christ', however, is the most apt & greatest compliment that you can give them! Jesus told His followers, 'You are the light of the world' ( Matthew 5:14a ); later, He proclaimed that He was the Light of the world ( John 8:12 ), so, using purely biblical reasoning, we may safely assert that we are, at the very least, His representatives on this earthly plane, whether we simply reflect that Light or are bearers of it ( John 14:23 ). It has been said that we are the Christ to the world; in other words, as He was to the Jews & Gentiles, so are we to a dark & dreary world!

A Christian, then, is not simply one who professes belief or faith in Jesus as the Son of God; a Christian is one who does, as Jesus Himself said, 'greater [ works ] than these' ( John 14:12 ), speaking of the works that He did. Those who simply profess belief, even faith in Jesus are simply fooling themselves if they do not the works that He did! This is by no means to say that, to be a true Christian, one must perform, in detail, the physical miracles that Jesus did, though we must, as James wrote later ( James 1:27 ), visit orphans and widows in their trouble' & 'keep oneself unspotted from the world'. 'To heal the sick & feed the poor' may be read several different ways, but when we do these things, we are continuing the work ( of redemption ) that Jesus inaugurated & in that sense at least, doing greater works than He Himself accomplished!

In this day & age, thanks in part to the advances of Science & Technology, the dead ARE being raised, the sick ARE being miraculously healed & the lame ARE being made to walk again! Those who have never before seen the light of day are seeing it for the first time & one only has to do a simple search on Youtube to watch the unspeakable joy on a baby's face as he or she hears their parent's voice for the first time.  We must be clear here that none of this occurs without our Almighty Father's Guiding Hand; only with the Wisdom that comes from Above ( James 1:17 ), even though some may not acknowledge it, can these doctors perform these miracles. Jesus told His first-century disciples, 'Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven' ( Matthew 7:21 ); though, in context, He was speaking of those false Jews that claimed to be God's people yet crucified their Messiah, it stands to reason yet, that many who claim the name 'Christian' are false brethren & have not entered the Kingdom of Heaven!

Our Christian Identity says that we, as Jesus was, are Messiah to the world; as Bearers of the Light, or, as I have fondly asserted of late, Aquarian Water-Bearers, we, including those doctors, are spreading the Life & Light of Jesus, both in this early realm & in the heavenly one! Our focus on this physical realm & our attachment to it has caused biology to define the life of the average man or woman, but it has become clear to this blogger that is our Life in the Spirit that defines us. A life lived without the Spirit of the Living God, our Heavenly Father, is no Life at all & is reflected in our earthly existence!

'Christians don't go to church, we are the Church!' Though we meet together with others of like faith, usually at least once a week, for the purposes of corporate worship & fellowship, this is not what defines us; what defines us is that we do what Jesus did, going out & gathering in those who were not a part of the established religion, those in fact, who would be shunned by the establishment & condemned as sinners. We are identified as Christians, not by water baptism, not by going to a certain house of worship on Sunday, not even by wearing 'Christian' t-shirts & such, but by the way we live our lives, according to the Spirit Within. We are all spirit-beings having a biological experience, but when we follow the Wisdom of the Spirit of the Creator, we are blessed; when we follow the wisdom of mere men, our existence in this biological realm will be cursed!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Great Depression

I almost religiously do NOT watch the news! For one thing, the way the media 'doctors' it, one can be pretty sure that we're hearing & seeing what 'they' want us to hear & see: related to that, what they DO  allow us to 'see' is so depressing that it's no surprise that our populace is in the shape it is: in fact, the surprise is that it's not worse!

For so long, we have been embroiled in wars on foreign soil & had our fingers in so many pies, nationally & metaphorically speaking, that it really should be no surprise, all the crap that's going on around the world, even in our own country! What news we DO get is no doubt 'doctored' or 'spun', to whatever extent, but we can only assume that there is some truth to it. The world is a dangerous place; one never knows what may happen when they step out there front door, but there is also a measure of excitement to be had; what might happen if we leave the safety & comfort of our own house can be somewhat frightening, but it also holds the potential for great joy!

Depression is real; focusing on what is wrong in this world is pretty easy, also very natural & too often we get so focused on what is wrong though, that we neglect the joy that is NOW! Yes, there is much to be afraid of, to worry about, not only in the world that we live in, but in our own country. When we look at all that is going on in the world today, the temptation is to get so caught up in that & forget that we so blessed to be living where & when we are. At this time & place, the world is actually, according to history, better off than it has been in the past! Thanks in part to Science & Technology, we know more about the world we live in, we are able to more comfortably live in our world ( not necessarily a good thing ), doctors are better equipped to handle diseases that 50-100 years ago, would have very likely ended in death & the Truth of the Gospel is more readily broadcast.

It is a great temptation among many, in particular, evangelical Christians, to read/watch the evening news & believe they are seeing the book of Revelation unfolding before their eyes!` The book of Revelation, as we have explored previously in these pages, was a fulfillment of the plethora of Hebrew prophets that foretold the coming adverse judgment of Jerusalem & the Temple; this happened in AD70 when it was destroyed by the Roman armies under the leadership of Almighty God. As the case may be, though, when most Christians witness all the death & destruction going on around the world, because of their mistaken theology & misplaced hope, they end up brooding over matters about which they shouldn't & worrying about things they should be rejoicing in!

The world is a dangerous place, there is no doubt, but there is beauty in the danger; what we often shun or are otherwise afraid of, usually holds the most beauty, if only we would let the scales from our eyes & see! The music group, 'The Eagles' once sang a song about 'Dirty Laundry', reminding us that 'bad news sells'; this is abundantly true & Americans today, many of them, are no better than the Roman spectators at the Coliseum who watched in glee as Christians were mauled by lions, or cheered on the winning gladiator as he mutilated his opponent. Boxing today is not too far removed, sometimes, from the early gladiator bouts & how often do many Americans enjoy a good race when there is a spectacular wreck? Though not all are so hell-bent on feeding their lust that they get a thrill out of death & destruction, too many seek this mindless entertainment rather than finding joy in the mundane everyday!

When depression sets in, knocking at the door of our mind & heart like an old, familiar enemy, the natural & easy thing to do is to open that door, welcoming in the specter that haunts our memories: yes, things look bad, not only around the world, but in our own country! However, the God we serve is the One who is over all; this is our Father's world & we are His. If/when these biological bodies perish, for they will, sooner or later, it will be only when our work on earth is done; it's not the end of the world, only of our biological existence. It has been said, 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst': good advice maybe, but too often, when preparing for the worst, we come to expect the worst & so our old enemy latches ahold of us & begins to sink its teeth in till we are nothing but a quivering blob of jelly; either that, or we start to take on its characteristics ourselves!

Joy often comes in the disguise of something that would scare the hell out of the average Joe or Jolene! What we must realize & hold onto is that we are better than average; we are the blessed children of our Heavenly Father, the King of the World, He lives in & through us, making us mini-creators. Very often, though, we forget this glorious fact & so end up creating our own depression. May we remember who we are & thus create a world in which we can live with Peace & Joy!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Culture of Victims

Relativity is in full swing in America! All the latest news headlines reek of 'it's not really my fault'! Cops are being killed, 'blacks' are being persecuted, Muslims are being profiled & 'whites' are being privileged. Not all cops, 'blacks', Muslims, or 'whites' enjoy the same status, though, some escape the stigma often attached to their genus, while the rest are lumped right in with the 'bad apples'. It hasn't quite come to this yet in America, though certain people are trying, but Muslims are in danger of becoming the new 'Japanese', or even 'Germans', when it comes to being stigmatized for your heritage or religion.

Persecution has been around for ages; there's nothing new about one group of people being accorded 'privilege' over another group, or certain people being 'down-trodden' because of sex, color or religion. One only has to look at recent history to see that the Negro has enjoyed a history of being labeled a second-class citizen at best & one step above a pure animal at worst. While it is true that many of the original 'blacks' over in Africa were animalistic in their behavior & lifestyle, Negroes in America are far removed from this situation, thanks in large part to those dastardly slave-traders who whisked them from their lives of comfort in Africa & brought them, in chains, to the New World!

Whatever the heritage & history, most people nowadays seem to have an excuse for why they live the way they live & act the way they act. Most of these excuses are not even very good! Those with a Japanese heritage may actually empathize with the Negro in America when it comes down to a matter of oppression & injustice. The history of the Chinese in the early Frontier Days & the Building of the West might inform the Negro of a few things about slavery as well. These are only a few examples, not to mention the American 'Indian', of those peoples who, just in this country, have suffered injustice at the hands of those who stood 'above' them!

For whatever reason, we live in the midst of a society that lives as if everybody else owes them something! Because of the way, or even where they were brought up, some people excuse or otherwise justify there actions by putting the blame elsewhere, anywhere but on their own shoulders, where it truly belongs. 'Because this happened to me, my parents or grandparents & because of what I have to deal with now, this is the way I act', you might hear one say. While this may be true enough, we must accept personal responsibility for our own actions: our choice may have depended largely on certain factors, but whatever the case may be, we still made the choice to act thusly!

Man was born with the free will to choose! Some choose wrongly & some choose rightly. Many, in fact, probably more than those who choose the good, have chosen evilly. This is not to say, however, that everyone who has chosen wrongly, or evilly, has done so because he or she is evil, or 'bad to the bone', just that, over the course of history, there have been many wrong, or bad, choices. Just like a lie, a bad choice often leads to yet another bad choice, sometimes worse than the first one. This is not always the case: usually, depending on the will-power of the victim & the Strength Within, the one who has made a bad choice because of their background, environment or whatever the case may be, can break the chain of events & tun their own life around, choosing, instead, to do what is right, no matter the extenuating circumstances!

Heritage & history are not easy to overcome; just ask any former 'junkie'! When one has grown up making certain choices & living a certain way, it is hard to 'go against the grain', so to speak, 'to kick against the goads', to use biblical language. It can be very difficult, painful even, when one is used to making bad decisions & has become accustomed to, even comfortable with them, to make the conscious decision to change their behavior, their lifestyle for the better. It can be done, however & often is, through the Strength of the Spirit of those others who have joined themselves with the Creator of Heaven & Earth, walking according to the example set forth by His Only Begotten Son!

Negroes are not the only group of people to have suffered enslavement, in fact some still suffer this tyranny & injustice! Probably more Caucasians, in fact, than Negroes, or 'blacks', have witnessed this travesty & for far longer. The history of slavery in these United States has focused primarily on the Negro, but these are, by far, not the only ones to labor under this cruel taskmaster: many Caucasians, or 'whites', primarily poor Europeans have been subjected to this ignominy as well. One could easily make the point that most Americans still wear these 'chains of oppression', to one degree or another!

'It is what it is'! Truth is absolute: right is right & wrong is wrong! Though extenuating circumstances may seem to make what is right for, one wrong for another, or what is wrong for one, right for the other, but when it comes down to it, truth does not depend on extenuating circumstances; it just is. Some may choose to split atoms here & talk about choosing white socks over black, or a bikini over a sundress, but when it come to living according to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God, there is one choice that leads to a blessed existence!

Whether one is 'black' or 'white', Muslim or Christian, from Azerbaijan or Zambia, we all are the children of One Father & we all have a choice; whether to live according to His Law, the Law of Love & be blessed, or to live contrary to it & be cursed: it's that simple! Depending on the choice that we make, we will either enjoy or deplore the life that we live in this biology. No matter our history or the chaos that we live in the midst of, may we choose wisely, to Love as He Loved, to Live as He Lived & Lives!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Afflictions of the Afflicted

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. 
In the world you will[d] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, He was preparing to make the Ultimate Sacrifice! Comforting His disciples with these words of warning, He reminded them, as He reminds us, even today that in Him, we have Peace, even in the midst of suffering..The 'world ' of which Jesus spoke was that present generation, that in which they would be persecuted by the apostate Jews & pursued, even to the death by those who thought they were serving God!

In today's 'world', things don't seem to be all that different, sometimes. When we hear of Christians being beheaded over in the Middle East & those who turn to Christ in Muslim countries being persecuted to the death, there is a tendency for many Christians to think that we are witnessing the end of times that the prophets spoke of. Most Christians, when faced with whatever manner of affliction, are likely to quote the verse above & remind each other that 'He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world' ( I John 4:4 ). This, again, is an eschatological statement, meant to bring comfort to Jesus' first-century disciples, as they were now in the midst of a great tribulation at the hands of the Judaizers.

Tribulation takes many forms; it might be health issues, it could be simply being persecuted, to whatever extent, just for standing your ground as a Christian! Whatever the issue, followers of Jesus the Christ, because of the Peace in their hearts, may sail through any storm, knowing that all things work together for their good! This is not to say, of course, that the Christian always has an easy time of it or that there is a big smile on his or her face; by no means! Pain, of any sort, usually causes distress & often tears. Through those tears, though, which are always wiped away, a greater purpose is served & like Job, we will see greater blessings unfold!

Blessings, too, come in many forms; it is often harder to see blessings than tribulation! Often, looking back, we may realize that what we thought was tribulation was actually a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, too, what we saw as a blessing, at the time, turns out to the worst tribulation we've ever encountered. Blessings only come from our Heavenly Father; He may try our faith, like He did Job's, but He does not send us tribulation; too often, we do that to ourselves! There are numerous different ways that we accomplish this, either by vainly & blindly adhering to the rule of reaping what we sow or simply refusing to receive the blessing from our particular trial.

When Peace, the peace that surpasses our understanding, rules our hearts & our lives,we are given the ability to see through our tears & smile at our blessing; we welcome our trials with open arms because we know that at the end of them are even greater blessings. Trials are never easy, that's why they call them trials, however, we may face our trials with Joy in our hearts & a spring in our step, so to speaking, knowing that they only serve to strengthen our faith, our resolve! This is not a new concept, I realize, for it's all been said & done before, even sung. This Peace, like the blessings that accompany it, only comes from our Heavenly Father, the Father of all Spirits!

Jesus speaks comfort through those same words today! In this world, in the 21st century, we do face trials & tribulation. In this life, this biology, we do & will suffer many things; emotional pains as well as physical discomfort awaits, at some point, all those who dare to enter here. Blessing, too, awaits us; blessings that far outweigh all the pain & suffering we can imagine! Much of what we suffer is in our perception; it's all in how we face our 'giants', so hurl that sling with a true aim & Peace in your heart, knowing that the stone will always find its mark!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Peace of Heaven in a World at War

For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:21b 

Let us first state this; we are not trying to make light of recent events in Paris, Nice, Dallas & other areas of interest all over the world, nor are we saying, 'I told you so'! However, these events & others like them show ample proof of 'you reap what you sow'. Again, we realize that innocent people got hurt, even died; we are not saying they got what they deserved, not by any means: the world we live in, though, one which operates by 'the law of the jungle' & exalts 'the empire of man', has the tendency to leave a swath of death & destruction in its wake!

Politics, put simply, is 'the decision of the people'. Thus, politics, in & of itself, is not a bad thing, nor necessarily corrupt; however, since it is 'the decision of the people', if the people are corrupted & evil, so are their politics & thus we see what we see today! If, however, the people behind the politics are good & just, so are the politics. The problem is that people are themselves corruptible; in other words, different people have different ideas of what is right & what is wrong. This is not to say that truth is relative, however, it is what it is & so we have what we have! 

This country was founded on the Biblical principles of Natural Law & Common Law. The Founding Fathers, who were predominantly Christian, crafted the documents by which we were to be governed, The Declaration of Independence & the United State's Constitution; although not perfect, these documents have provided us with a fairly solid foundation for government in this country. However, the problem is revealed, once again, when it comes to following its principles. Just like the Biblical Story of Israel concerning the Law, the people form the main body of the problem, not the Law itself. It is the people's failure to follow constitutional principles that has formed the difficulties we now face in America!

Some of these Foundational Principles may still be at work in this nation, but they are fading fast! This is because many Americans have lost any meaningful commitment to the Laws of Nature & the Creator's Revealed Law; hence, we witness the travesty of injustice today. Education in these important areas is of great necessity; what is needful in America today is a rediscovery of & a recommitment to the principles of Christ's Kingdom. Only through seeking first the Kingdom of God will the American peoples know any lasting peace! The principles of loving one's neighbor as oneself & doing unto others as you would want them to do to you are those Kingdom principles which are of foundational necessity to any nation faced with the corrupt politics & greed of their governing body!

The Peace of Heaven, which only right relationship with our Heavenly Father brings, is One that keeps us grounded through any difficulty! Politics is not necessarily evil. It depends solely on the corruption or incorruption of the people it represents. The problem is not politics, the problem is the people; if those in government in this nation were to exercise the principles outlined above, then we would begin to see more of the Peace promised in the Scriptures. If those in leadership continue building empires, whether their own personal one, or that of the United States of America, we can only expect more War, death & destruction!

Empire-building involves force, threat of force & strangely sanitizing concepts as 'Collateral Damage'. Our Heavenly Father does not wish for this death for any of His children. There are those who continually refuse Christ & accept His offered hand of fellowship & communion, for these, we can only shed a tear & offer a prayer of thanks that we are still here. The world is full of those who, whether out of ignorance or rebellion, refuse this blessed relationship. As we who have the Peace of this Blessed Relationship in our lives exercise the principles of our Perfect Liberty according to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God, we may see our Heavenly Father's Kingdom spread, leaving only a Path of Peace as it flows throughout this often chaotic world!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Identity Markers

In today's Culture, Western Culture especially & American Culture in particular, it has become popular, even 'common-place', to 'identify' as something which one is obviously not! Men are 'identifying' as women, boys are identifying as girls, although, interestingly enough, we're not hearing nearly as much, if at all, about women identifying as men. Some study will show that women identifying as men has actually been going on for some time, but under another name. 'Gender Identity' is a construct that has been under scrutiny, 'under fire', one might say, for some time now & some have gone so far as to endeavor to leave behind the classification altogether!

'I'm spiritual, not religious'; more & more people, even some who claim the name of Christ, are using this phrase when declaring their stance. When it comes down to it, this declaration is based, however loosely, on the fact that 'we are spirits, having a physical experience'. This is true, but what we do while inhabiting these biological bodies is, according to the apostle James, our true religion. Therefore, though one may claim no religion, they are in fact acting according to their religious beliefs, however they choose to live their lives! 'Everyone is religious!' I've said this before & I'll say it again; one's religion is simply what one believes: if it is good, right & just religion, then they will act accordingly & if it is evil, wrong & immoral, they will also act accordingly!

As spirits then, who is to say that we even have a gender? But then, if spirits don't have a gender, how do we decide, as human beings, what gender we are? Science has revealed to us that all human beings, up to a certain point before they're born, are female in gender! So, what happens that some babies are born as females & others as males? Whatever the scientific explanation, we know that it happened by Design! On the other hand, if spirits can be classified by gender, then are we not accusing the Creator of making a mistake? If He put a female spirit in a male body, then the joke's on us! It's said that He sits in the heavens & laughs, but isn't that going a bit far; I mean, seriously, how petty can one get?!

Male & female, man & woman; though there are indeed exceptions, it is normal for the male biology to exhibit certain sexual characteristics, while the female biology exhibits almost the exact opposite! As above, there are very rare exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, the differences between the sexes make it fairly simple to distinguish between the two. Now, as it happens & for whatever reason, some human beings are born with the identifying marks of both sexes. Again, Science has explained how & why this happens, to some extent. The male body has not built to carry a child; in other words, even those few examples born with the genitalia of the male & female biology do not have a womb. The female biology is the only gender, or sex, if you will, that comes equipped with the womb that is necessary to sustain life inside the mother's body for 9 months, though there are examples within the animal kingdom that are asexual, i.e., both sexes.

Having described before how the normal male & female sexual organs 'fit together like hand in glove', I will go no further here than to say that to fight against this arrangement is to fight against the Creator! In fact, a good question to those to those who choose to 'identify' as other than what they obviously are, is, 'if indeed you are a woman now, simply because you choose to 'identify' as such, then why don't you have a womb; why must you resort to surrogacy in order to foster a child?' Of course, the pert answer there would probably be something like, why would I want to bring a child into this world anyway?' As the case may be, though, one has to wonder why a man who wants to be a woman would exchange his male sexual organ, for the female's, except for the womb & breasts that secrete milk. They always want the breasts, but they're just useless 'boobs'!

Does the spirit of a human being determine the gender, or sex of that same human being? Even if one thinks they are the sole creator of their own existence, that one would have to say that it does, but obviously, some who identify as the opposite sex were born into the wrong generation, having been born with the sexual identity markers of the wrong sex. When a man, at whatever point in his miserable life, decides that he wants to be a woman, or female of the species, he then is simply showing his hatred of the Creator! Though a spirit inhabiting a biological form, he was assigned a certain form, one with the sexual characteristics of a specific gender.

One's religion, as we have noted, has everything to do with how that individual acts! Whether male or female, that one will act according to what they truly believe.Those who claim to be 'spiritual' but not religious' have a faulty view of what religion truly means, though; 'religion' does not refer to the institution that humans have erected, but rather, as noted above, it is what one believes. therefore, everyone is religious, because everyone believes something! When one commits, in their body, what is contrary to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God, while claiming, in the spirit, to honor that same God, then they are blatantly showing the disdain they have for the way the Creator engineered their body & asserting their individual autonomy!

Today's Culture then, especially that with no affinity to the Kingdom of Christ, is merely progressing, or digressing,  actually, according to the chaotic mess that is life lived against the Laws of Nature & Nature's God! Since not all acknowledge the Creator, not all are willing to live according to Design, but instead choose to live by their own private design & thus prove that human beings, when left to their own devices, are capable of all sorts of evil, almost to any length! The only way to prevent this evil from taking over the Culture & the Identity of Humanity, is to find our True Identity: look for more on this in the days to come!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Promise of Eternal Life

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, 
 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

As we've testified previously, this is one of the most famous, but misunderstood passages in Scripture!  Yes, this Promise has universal implications, but Jesus primarily meant to impact His first-century audience with these words of comfort! Read in context, especially with the next few statements, we can see that it was also a condemnation of those who refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God & would not accept
Him as their Messiah. This, however, is not the point in question today; today, we will explore '
everlasting life' itself!

We've also explored the meaning of the term; it means 'age-during', in other words, 'for the ages'! Whatever this phrase might imply, this too is not the issue we will consider today. The issue at hand is the Nature of the Resurrection that brought Eternal Life. Although this issue, the Nature of the Resurrection, has been explored previously in this blog, this post will reveal a slightly different 'take' on the subject. There are numerous statements in the Greek Scriptures, made by Jesus, that seem to indicate a slightly different nature than has been traditionally understood; statements like that which Jesus made to the sister of Lazarus. Jesus told Martha that 'whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die' ( John 11:26 ). As we've seen previously, the context of these words of comfort will show their intended first-century impact, although we may see this as a universal ( catholic ) truth, as well! 

The Institutional Church has traditionally understood the Nature of the Resurrection as exactly like that of Her Head! Today, we will further explore this 'Nature'. When Jesus comforted Martha with those words ( above-John 11:26, etc. ), He was not speaking of the biological body of her brother; in fact, He was not referring to biology at all! Now, according to His promise in the previous statement, Lazarus' biological body did come back to life, but it 'passed away' again; Christians today, those who believe in Jesus as the Messiah, continue to lose their physical presence: if Jesus had been referring to biological bodies, wouldn't you think that Lazarus would still be traversing the earth, although some 2,000 years old?

The Nature of the Resurrection, as we've noted previously, was spiritual & relational: it was the Restoration of the Israel of God, His Congregation, to the Blessing of Right Relationship with Him! It is a universal truth, because all who have accepted that Jesus is the Messiah & religiously keep that Right Relationship with the Creator enjoy the Blessings of His Presence forever, so we may rightly say that this Promise was ( is ) for us as well. However, we may also see, as this biology continues to perish & rise again in the Great Circle of Life, that the Nature of the Resurrection is somewhat different than the Institutional Church has led people to believe for centuries!

If those who believe in Jesus would 'never die', we might well ask why there are no reports of 2,000 year old men & women walking around; if there were, wouldn't you think that this would be newsworthy? I mean, just imagine the stories they could tell! But seriously, it takes more than a bit of 'wrangling' to make Jesus' words mean that 2,000+ years after He spoke them, long after He promised to return to that generation ( Matthew 24:34, et al ), that their biological bodies would come back to life after rotting in the ground for millenia & turning back to 'dust'. The Promise of Eternal Life, yes, is to ALL those who believe in Him, but it is not individual biological bodies that inherited this Promise; although in some sense, Eternal Life is experienced by & inhabited by biology, it was the spirits of just men & women made perfect ( Hebrew 12:23 ) who received & still receive this 'everlasting life'!

Jesus statement, recorded in John 3:16, is very plain! If He had meant that those who believed in Him would inherit eternal, everlasting life 2,000+ years later, don't you think He would have better indicated this to His first-century audience? They were expecting to receive the Kingdom that Jesus told them was 'at hand' & 'within you' or 'in your midst' ( Matthew 4:17, Luke 17:21, et al ): Daniel had promised & prophesied of this Kingdom as well, so think of their disappointment when they realized that 2,000+ years later, they STILL  have not inherited! But seriously, since their individual, biological bodies were NOT the referent here, but 'the spirits of just men made perfect', we may take great comfort in the glorious fact that, though this biology WILL perish, our spirits will never die!

The sad fact is that biology DOES go the way of the 8-track; the Hebrew Scriptures say that 'people are grass' ( Isaiah 40:7 ), in other words, in 'the morning' they flourish & grow, but in 'the evening', they are cut down & wither. This in itself was a metaphorical reference to the Resurrection, as the Messiah brought the Promise of Eternal Life. In the Great Circle of Life, we can see that biology does go on, it will persevere forever, because of the necessary cycle of life & death, death & life: we know that the spirits of just men & women made perfect, however, will never die, but will bless this biology forever!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, July 11, 2016

Culture War

What happened recently in Dallas, Texas was not surprising, nor is it an isolated incident; in fact, we're probably going to be hearing a lot about similar & related incidents, in the coming days! Much of the fault, maybe most of it, can be laid at the feet of ignorance, intolerance & hate, but there is also a hint of the same spirit that stirred our founding fathers, those many years ago, to stand up against oppression & tyranny. One might say they're going about it all wrong, but then, there were those same objectors in those former days & the same objection has been raised in our own day as well. Whatever the reasons, there is definitely something going on & headed to a theater near you: headlines to the effect of, 'we've had enough & we're not gonna take it anymore' may soon apear!

American Culture, cultures really, have been hurtling toward this morass like a veritable juggernaut for years! Really, what else should we have expected from a 'melting-pot' such as we live in? Sure, for the first little while, things may have gone more or less smoothly, but as different cultures began to find their way into the 'mix' & multiply, not unlike the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, they began to clash with the other cultures around them; the inevitable outcome is not a pretty picture! Add to the mixture, injustice, tyranny & oppression, then you have minor to major disturbances & finally, all-out war!

History itself shows us what happens when you try to combine two very different cultures, much less several; sooner or later those cultures will clash! When this happens, as history has borne manifold witness to, one side usually wins, unless, in some cases, an uneasy sort of truce is eked out. In the beginning, the different cultures that built this nation worked side by side, although fights often festered & broke out, in the West particularly, with the cowboys & ranchers, the Chinese & the farmers. Back East, much the same occurred, with the Irish & Germans, the American Indian & the Caucasian. Throw all the other different cultures, minor though they may have been, into the 'mess' & you had the ingredients for a potentially volatile cocktail!

Although American culture may claim its own brand of uniqueness, there is really nothing unique about it! As many Americans claim their ancestry from any number of different nations, however far removed, so America hosts as many different cultures itself. One may witness this in pretty much any larger city, even some smaller towns: there may be as many as a half-dozen different sections, like, the Chinese section ( a number of cities boast a 'Chinatown' ), there may be a separate area predominantly populated by those of the darker persuasion, a section that is claimed by the Mexicans, while the Asians, from Korea to Vietnam have overtaken other areas & these are all different cultures. Even going from the eastern United States to the West, one will notice a vast difference; then there's California!

The Civil War was, on this continent, a glaring example of the Clash of Cultures! The Northern regions, with their industry & machinery, clashed with the South & their agriculturally-based culture. Though slavery was touted as the major issue behind the War Between the States, it really began with the differences between the cultures: the southern culture was based more on an attitude of personal sovereignty & states rights, while the northern was one that was still reeling, in a sense, from the blood spilt during the Revolutionary War, or the War for Independence. The Northern States, prior to the great westward expansion was also peopled, to a greater extent, by European immigrants, while the South, though most of its inhabitants were European by descent, was peopled by those who had migrated less recently & had thus, with the help of African slaves, built a uniquely separate culture. The North had their own slaves, though probably they were predominantly white Europeans, Irish in particular.

Much of the issue of different cultures has been solved by a healthy application of the Gospel! Jesus did not teach His disciples to 'love one other' based on color, race, or creed; the only race with which He was concerned was the human race; though Jesus was a Jew & was the Jew's Messiah, or King, He ultimately came to save His people from their sin, no matter if they were a Jew or a Gentile, whether they came from within the borders of the Land, or whether they came from one of the islands of the Sea!

Here in America, with the multitude of different cultures that exist within her borders, we have enjoyed relative peace for the last one hundred years or so. There have been periods of unrest, particularly in the south, with the unnecessary distinction between the white & black peoples, but for the most part, the different cultures in this nation have learned to either get along or stay the hell away from each other! All-out war, ever since the War Between the States, has pretty much been relegated to foreign shores, but if matters in this nation continue to degrade, then incidents like the recent murders will not only escalate, they will become the harbinger of things to come!

Murder is murder; no matter who commits the crime, no matter how much the one murdered deserved what they got, it is still wrong! The recent events in Dallas, as well as others across this nation are no less despicable & pointless because they may or may not have been an example of reaping what has been sown. Police brutality, though it's gotten out of hand, is not without warrant in many cases. On the other hand, the aggressive behavior of 'the blacks' against those in authority has not served them well either. The 'bad apples' on both sides of the equation have served only to give the rest a bad name, so now we have nervous ( trigger-happy ) 'white' cops shooting 'blacks' who may or may not have been guilty of a crime, simply because of the pervasive perception!

The situation can be resolved! The Gospel transcends Culture; the principles of loving your neighbor as yourself & treating others as you would have them treat you, are universal, no matter what culture you live in. Whether you are black or white, brown, yellow or red, if the Kingdom of Heaven is in your heart & the Spirit of the Creator dwells in your inmost being, you will be filled with love for your God & your neighbor!

What happened in Dallas the other day, again, was regrettable, despicable beyond words, but it, as well as incidents like it, are merely a glaring example of reaping what one sows! Because some 'blacks', feeling oppressed, or whatever, take out their aggression ( frustrations ) by committing certain crimes, some 'cops', feeling unsafe around ANY 'black' who's acting 'suspiciously', especially if the 'cop' is white, tend to act more aggressively when faced with these 'suspicious' actions, or even mannerisms. The 'blacks', on the other side of the coin, because they realize the negative stigma attached to persons of their color by man 'cops' then tend to approach their supposed 'authority' with a querulous attitude. And so the vicious circle keeps repeating itself until someone ends up dead, then the cycle seeks its next hapless victim!

This nation has a choice before it; 'live by the Creator's perfect Law of Liberty, or die by the law of the jungle!' The Perfect Law of Liberty says, 'Love your God with all your heart mind, soul & strength' & 'love your neighbor as yourself'. The law of the jungle, on the other hand, is purely animalistic; it says, 'kill or be killed'! This 'dog eat dog' mentality is pretty pervasive in this country, especially concerning foreign wars ( 'strike them before they have a chance to strike us' ). Only the Gospel lived out can heal this gaping wound! We may hope & pray that this will occur before 'Dallas' is made to look like a Sunday School outing in the park, but more deaths like this are sure to happen while the Gospel continues to be caged & relegated to a 'heaven or hell' scenario'; if that's what the Gospel is, then we may as well give it up!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, July 08, 2016

I AM.................The Journey Continues

Okay, this is probably gonna hurt a bit, though it's likely no surprise to some of you, but I'm a bit of an attention-junkie! There, I said it. Some might even accuse me of narcissism: I find myself thinking along those lines myself sometimes & I wonder if they're not far wrong. When it comes to relationships, I want to be the focus of my beloved's attention. I, like most people, enjoy attention, especially when it's from the right person. My stated desire is to 'want to help', but even there, I wonder if it's not more about wanting to feel better about myself, because I AM happiest when helping others. Even in writing this blog-post, one might say that I'm just exhibiting another shining example of narcissism!

'I need help!' To what extent & of what sort might be another question, but I realize that my behavior of late has been somewhat self-destructive! Here too, one might note that the punishment fits the crime, that because of my being an attention-junkie, I more or less deserved what I got. The attention that I sought after so intently blinded me to the fact that it was not the sort of attention I needed. ( 'Have you noticed how much 'I' have appeared so far?' ) One question that has been reoccurring to me for the past several years is, 'how the hell do I think I'm gonna help others, when I need so much help myself?' I mean, really; 'what AM I thinking?!'

For the past five years or so, since my own separation & subsequent divorce, I have been on a Journey, of discovery, one might say. I'm 'discovering' things about myself that, although they've always been a part of me, are just now starting to come to the surface, often unbidden. After separating from my wife of 9 years, I moved 600 miles away & experienced a bit of a 'resurrection'. The stress of a 'marriage on the rocks' ( though I'm becoming less & less convinced it was a marriage ) had taken its toll on me & I was beginning to atrophy in more than one sense. Concerning our social contract, I cannot & will not lay ALL the blame at my ex-wife's feet; I must acknowledge that I played my part in the tragedy!

My first mistake, one might say, was marrying a Baptist & worse yet, an Independent Fundamental Baptist! She had been involved  in a social contract previously & had borne three daughters from it. Because of this, there were already several counts against me. Entering into yet another social contract, although my first, her second, was perhaps our biggest & greatest mistake; we were joined together in this contract by a Baptist minister, her pastor, under the authority of the State ( who has NO business in marriage )! The resulting union lasted longer than some & not as long as others, but ever since its inception, my own life has been changing, progressively revealing to me that things, especially concerning this biological experience, aren't so 'simple' as I once thought.

Helping others IS a noble endeavor! After all, isn't that why we're put here on this earth? There's everything right & nothing wrong about wanting to help, but there comes a point when helping others becomes an exercise in futility, especially when the one trying to help needs as much or more help. One thought that has been burning at the back of mind though, is 'what if by helping others, we're helping ourselves as well?' Doesn't Scripture tell us, in other words, that if we love ( help ) others as we are loved, that the Creator will provide our every need?

So, I'm an attention-junkie: who really doesn't covet the attentions of that certain someone, even thrive on the praise & encouragement of others? Is it really that wrong to seek after that which builds YOU  up? Now, sure; if one seeks to build him or herself up at the expense of others, then I would say that would be wrong: such a person is truly a narcissist! To stop helping, or trying to help others because I got burned, would truly be wrong. Unfortunately, there ARE people out there who are beyond help, at least, any help that we can give, but sometimes the ones that we help are actually worthy of that help ( love ) & thus we receive a double blessing!

There Are real narcissists out there: some people just aren't worthy of our help, love, or respect! After some time, sooner or later, we figure who is receptive of & grateful for our help. I will be the first to admit that I usually have ulterior motives for trying to help others, but deep down I try to do what I can just because it needs done. Call this self-aggrandizement if you want & you may be right in some sense! I guess this is just a plea for help, not really because I need it more than others, or because I'm an attention-junkie: sometimes I just get tired!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Primal Sea

Okay, right outta the gate, let's just get this one thing clear; 'everybody is religious'! EVERYBODY! Without exception, so let's just drop this secular versus religious distinction. One's religion being what one believes, everybody believes SOMETHING; it may be the wrong thing, it may be the right thing, they may act consistently with their belief, they may not, but everyone is religious, whether they want to admit it or not: EVERYTHING is sacred to SOMEONE!

According to the THEORY of Evolution, as taught in most Government Schools & advanced by some scientists, humankind has evolved, most recently, in the past hundred thousand years or so, from the common ape, but before that, a single-celled creature that crawled out of the primordial ooze. Whatever one believes about this 'theory', it takes just as much faith, or more, to believe that, than to believe that an Intelligent Being designed it all & set it in order.

The 'Sea', in Scripture anyway, evokes the image of great bodies of people, in particular, prehistoric denizens of the earth, those who walked back & forth on it before the Creator established His Covenant with the first Adam. As History shows, the 'Sea' is at the bottom, or base of Life itself! Not only does the sea provide the sustenance for many peoples around the world, it can be successfully be argued that there is much in the sea itself & under it, that provides the most basic of building-blocks of life itself, biologically speaking.

Jesus told His disciples, 'You are the salt of the earth' ( Matthew 5:13 ); He knew, as the Creator Himself ( John 1:1-3 ), that salt is maybe one of the most essential elements of biological creation! The phrase 'salt of the earth' is still in fairly common use today; it usually refers to someone ( or 'ones' ) that is honest, good & true. Those who merit this exalted moniker are commonly known to put the needs of others before their own & are loved as they themselves love, not by everyone, granted, but by most who feel the warmth of their friendship!

Jesus, when He used 'salt' as the basis of that most blessed of statements, made no mistake, nor did He randomly choose to name this element as the foundation of goodness! Not only does salt provide needed flavor where there is, simply put, blandness, salt is also a purifying agent. When applied to a wound ( there is also a popular phrase associated with this action ), yes, it hurts like hell, but it serves to cleanse the wound, to draw out the imperfections, in a sense, to cauterize the wound. Not only this nation, but our world, over the many millenia since its conception, has experienced many wounds & we, as the 'salt of the earth' are here to heal those wounds, though it may hurt like hell!

Salt, as anyone can tell, naturally comes from the sea; through the evaporation caused by the warmth of the sun, among other factors; deposits of salt, to whatever extent, can be found throughout the world, either where bodies of saltwater ( seas, oceans ) currently rest, or where they formerly did. Scripturally speaking, as mentioned above, though the Jewish people were chosen to be the progenitors of the human race, the Gentiles, who were denizens of the Great Deep, metaphorically speaking, through the Warmth of the Son & the Wind of the Spirit, became truly 'the salt of the earth'!

Speaking of religion, I am of the opinion/belief that some sort of evolution ( better called 'progression', maybe ) was employed by the Creator in forming the 'worlds'! Science has proven that many aspects of the natural Creation have adapted to their surrounding conditions or environments. Whether this should be called evolution or not is a matter of personal preference, but it is abundantly clear to this blogger that the Creator has ordered His Creation in such a way that it is able to adapt to the many & changing environs of this biology. In a sense, one might observe, our Scriptures are a record of the denizens of the 'sea' adapting to & learning to live on the 'land'!

Religion, in this day & age, is often confused with what is known as Organized Religion, usually the Institutional Church. As we have seen, though, religion is simply what one believes & especially ( more importantly ), according to the apostle James ( James 1:26 & 27 ), what one does with those beliefs. We have noted previously that there are wrong beliefs ( religions ) & right beliefs. The belief that humankind simply 'evolved' from monkeys is simply absurd, when one really ponders it ( honestly )! In a metaphorical sense, yes, we came from the 'sea', but not through chance; it was through the Design of the Creator God that we became 'the salt of the earth'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

'Remember, Remember, the Fifth of...................July!?'

No matter the extenuating circumstances, the beating of a severely disabled woman by TSA agents recently, will forever be emblazoned in the minds of the American people! 'What in the world is this country coming to?' is a question that the people of this nation should be asking themselves. Events like this, although reprehensible, are really a 'God-send', for they are causing many in this country to 'wake up & smell the coffee burning; 'Houston, we have a problem!', 'There's something rotten in Denmark!', are but a few cliche'ic phrases that come to mind when realizing the corruption of what we used to call 'the land of the free' & 'the home of the brave'!

Hannah Cohen is by no means the first to suffer injustice in the name of 'safety', nor will she be the last; TSA is not the only Agency that has been found guilty of violating American citizen's freedoms! It's hard to know where to begin, but the events of the 3rd week of August, 1992, also known as the Ruby Ridge Massacre will forever be etched in our minds as the day that the tyranny of this nation's LEOs began to show their true colors. The siege that was carried out on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in the early Spring of '93, barely six months later, bore the signs of yet another massacre by seemingly bloodthirsty LEOs.

Realizing that the guilt, to whatever extent, is not one-sided, it is clear that those in 'authority' in this nation have evolved beyond being 'peace officers', reputedly there 'to serve & protect', though it might be noted, as I have often stated, 'they DO serve & protect, the interests of the State ( government )'. It would seem then, that they are no longer our servants, but those of the Agency that writes their paychecks. This is not to say that all that serve thus are totally without ethics or morals, but many, whether through ignorance or avarice, continue to uphold these 'evils' against their own neighbors!

Through these 'evils' & other like them ( or worse ), many of the citizens of this nation have awakened to the travesty that has been foisted upon a mostly unsuspecting citizenry; some of these seem to have chosen to hit 'snooze', in a manner of speaking & go back to sleep, ignoring the cries of the 'innocent', but a select few have chosen to arm themselves with knowledge & are taking action on an ever-increasing level to right these wrongs, to progressively turn the tables on those who would tyrannize their own people. Again, this is not to say that this tyranny can be blamed on ignorance or avarice alone, because the citizens of this great nation have, in some ways, forced the 'peace officers' to become 'law-enforcement officers', instead!

With some of the horror stories that can no doubt be told by Agencies like TSA across the world, it is almost understandable, the lengths to which some have gone to ensure safety, but even considering the atrocities that others have committed does not absolve these Agents of their own guilt in carrying out their own particular style of terror! Like the saying goes, 'two wrongs don't make a right'; though some of the people have given the rest a bad name, the TSA & related Agencies have no right to treat everyone equally when it comes to terrorizing the populace. Our Founding Fathers understood that when the Agency of Government begins to tyrannize its own citizenry, then that citizenry has a right & a duty even, to stand up, register their complaints of wrong-doing & fight if necessary, to uphold their God-given rights!

The State of this Union, for those with eyes to see it, is rapidly deteriorating! Some believe the System can be fixed, through more & better politics; others believe that the System must come crashing down before most people are awakened to the realization that they themselves are the guilty party ( 'mea culpa, mea culpa' ). Nevertheless, even though we the people must bear the brunt of the burden, it is we too who must repair the breaches; it is we who must, with the help of the Spirit within, turn this nation to our True Leader, our True Lord & say, with the prophets of old, ' we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your Word and Your Way.'

'Can this nation be saved?' Some might say a better question would be, 'should this nation be saved?' Even with its founding documents, for all their worth, it has devolved to this point & don't get me wrong, it WILL get much worse if it continues on its current path of death & destruction! Many are the eyes that have envisioned a better way, but few are those who have pursued, to the death if necessary, the workings that lead to this better way. If those who have awoken would but pursue the things that make for peace, then we might, with that peace in our own hearts, begin to realize our own liberties & through that realization, with blood if necessary, help others to realize their own liberties, given to them by the Creator!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The Importance of Being Human

 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God,
 the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,  
to the general assembly and church of the firstborn [ who are ] registered in heaven,
 to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
  to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, 
and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than [ that of ] Abel.
Hebrews 12:23-24 

It is said that, in the beginning, on the sixth day actually, according to Genesis 1:27, 'God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them'. There is some question as to whether this 'creation' was the actual origin of the species, or just the forming, as the phrasing seems to indicate, of already existent human beings 'in the image' of the Creator. The Hebrew 'bara'', a transliteration which appears as 'created' here, actually means 'to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting', according to Gesenius' Lexicon. Covenantally speaking, this is very significant, especially when considering the fact that this Hebrew verb is also used to describe the fattening of a sacrifice ( I Samuel 2:29 )!

Arguing from the traditional assumption that Adam & Eve were indeed the first human beings on planet earth, orthodoxy takes this assumption into the New Covenant, insisting that since the Creator God fashioned them in His own image, then, because this biology is cursed & fated to perish, the self-same biology which we now incarnate will be resurrected from its corruption at the Last Day. This kind of reasoning forces them to wrangle Jesus' own words in Matthew 24, for instance & the apostle Paul's in I Corinthians 5:17, where he speaks of the 'new creation' as an already accomplished fact. If the 'new creation' to which the apostle refers is this biology, then he was obviously mistaken, because our biological clocks still run down & our individual bodies are subject to pain: biologically speaking, we still suffer, cry & die. Either that, or Paul, along with Jesus, wasn't referring to individual, biological bodies!

Human beings were created for One Purpose: well, many, maybe, but for one main purpose & that is to serve the Creator. The Creator God said, 'let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'; scripturally speaking, this is about as plain & yet ambiguous as you can get! 'What does it mean, to have 'dominion'?' Transliterated 'radah', the Hebrew verb here means 'to tread', which again carries great significance, covenantally speaking, especially considering the apostle Paul's words of promise to the disciples of Jesus in the first century, 'and the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly'( Romans 16:20 ); these words actually echo Jesus' own words, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven' ( Luke 10:18 )!

To 'have dominion', then, did not simply mean to crush underfoot & dominate or subjugate all of the above ( or below, as the case may be ), it carried a specific connotation, prophesying the crushing of the Satan under the heels of the first-century Church. Here again, traditional orthodoxy runs into a major problem; if indeed the 'Satan' that Jesus spoke of has not yet been crushed under the heel of the Church, even in an 'already, not yet' scenario, then both Jesus' & Paul's words must be wrangled to mean something other than they were meant to portray. In this scenario, Paul gave those first-century Christians false hope & Jesus was off by a couple millenia & counting!

Paul's 'new creation' obviously did not refer to individual, biological bodies, else it would not be a present reality, as the apostle strongly asserted! The writer to the Hebrews spoke of 'the spirits of just men made perfect'; using what is often referred to as 'Hebrew parallelism', the author considered that the Church, made up of individuals, yes, had been made 'perfect', in the spirit & by the Spirit. It is not that these men & women, in their biology, were perfect, it was that in their spirits & by the Spirit, as the Church, they had been 'perfected forever' ( Hebrews 10:14 ). In the same manner, when the apostle Paul spoke of a 'new creation', he obviously was not referring to individual, biological bodies, but rather to the spirits that by that same Spirit, as the Church, had been justified!

According to John 3:16, the Creator God 'gave His only begotten Son', making the Ultimate Sacrifice for His  Beloved Church. That Jesus was this Son is without question, that this Sacrifice was made 'in the flesh' is doubtless; His Sacrifice served to redeem His Church, that which had been formed from His side ( Genesis 2:21-23 ). The New Covenant, which Jesus embodied, brought forth the 'new creation' of which the apostle so wondrously wrote!

Charles Haddon Shank