And Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it.
(Habakkuk 2:2 [ASV])



Eight Souls
In the age when men lived to be nearly a thousand years old, wickedness became so great that God only saved eight people.

Power Of Prayer
A look at prayer and and its great importance to a genuine Christian.

Prayer: Standing In The Gap

An Open Letter To Black Lives Matter:
How to avoid being ensnared in the ongoing Federal operation 'Ni∓∓er Catcher' and 'Black Snare', run out of the US intelligence community and certain sections of Law Enforcement. These operations do exist, though naturally not with those pejorative titles. They are not legal, nor are they officially recognized but key people in high positions run these operations that specifically target Black Americans and certain White Americans who seek justice, truth and use their rights to bring these things back to our once great nation. The impetus comes from the US Intelligence community - LE does the footwork. This is what they did to so many civil rights leaders back in the 60's and 70's. They have honed their skills for the technology of the 21st century.

An Open Letter To Senator Mikulski And The Senate Select Committee On Intelligence


Last Updated
16 Jan 2020
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words,
of him shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in his own glory,
and the glory of the Father,
and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:26 [ASV])

I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I
 shall not be moved.
(Psalms 16:8 [ASV])


Mark can be reached

16 Jan

Three Christian Teachers Murdered In Kenya

The ICC reports on what looks to be another Islamic Military attack (al Shabbab) on Christians.

Today’s attack comes against the backdrop of a series of attacks from the terrorist group in the last five weeks, leading to the loss of 25 people total in Wajir, Lamu, Mandera, and Garissa. On December 6, 2019, four teachers were among the 11 non-local Christian passengers killed en route to Mandera from Nairobi when al-Shabaab flagged down the bus they were traveling in. The militants separated the passengers and killed those on the spot who failed to recite the Islamic Shahada. - Continues at the ICC

Fulani Herdsman Kill 13 Christians

There has been so much going on in the Sahel.
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria on Wednesday (Jan. 8), the same day four students were kidnapped from a Catholic seminary in Kaduna state.

About 20 herdsmen attacked the predominantly Christian village of Kulben, in Plateau state’s Mangu County, at about 8 p.m., area residents told Morning Star News. The 13 dead were all members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), as were three people wounded in the assault, they said.

“They were shooting with guns in all directions, forcing the villagers to scamper into surrounding bushes,” area resident Michael Mutding, 40, told Morning Star News in a text message. “Corpses of those killed have been evacuated by soldiers and police to the mortuary of Mangu Cottage Hospital; and all the victims are members of COCIN.” - Continues at Morning Star News

Boko Haram Kidnaps Pastor

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A leader of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) pleaded for help on a video released on Sunday (Jan. 5) after Islamic extremists with Boko Haram kidnapped him last week.
The Rev. Lawan Andimi was abducted by terrorists of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP, known as Boko Haram before affiliating with the Islamic State) on Thursday (Jan. 2) in attacks on Michika County and a nearby area in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, sources said. - Continues at Morning Star News

China Persecution in 2019
The Federalist looks at the uptick in Xi's China. Also within the document is a link to China Aid's Annual report. You may want to check it out.

HotSpots! Church Under Attack (ICC) has their monthly newsletter with lots of stories from around the world. Sign up and get it!

Brothers, let us continue to lift up our brothers and sisters who are under the gun. They need and deserve our prayers!

The Church In America

And the Church here? It's a mess. Yes, there are many fine Christians out there and many decent pastors and Christian leaders. But there are also many who are fakes - Judas' in the pulpit and crooks in pastoral robes. They have turned many away from hearing the truth. But one of the bigger and I think undefined problems in American Christianity is something I touched on recently. That problem being the adoration of Christian celebrities - or rather idols. It's great to see many top stars and famous people get religion (if it is genuine) and begin to bear witness to Christ and the gospel of love and faith. But the big problem I see is that every little statement these new believers (who are spiritual infants) makes is carried far and wide in Christian media and often what they are saying sounds good to the flesh and pop culture, but is not based on scriptures.

We have developed this Christian counter culture that like the world, puts far too much stock in the rich, famous and beautiful. Today's 'Christians' are looking at the the outer man and not the fruit and maturity of those whom they have come to adore and trust for guidance on social, political and spiritual matters. I personally think this is a big problem with American Christianity, particularly with newer believers who are all hooked into their technology and social networking sites. They are used to getting their 'guidance' from such sources, not some old dude in a pulpit on Sunday morning. So this is where they tend to gravitate in order to get understanding on the issues of today.

It's not a good thing because we may have many young people in Church but they are not being properly brought up spiritually and the result is what we are seeing today, apostasy. Often the kind that has no remedy... forever. This is an issue I see, the Church has gone about the whole process of dealing with new members the wrong way. Christianity is not a social movement, it is not a way to change society, it is the way to salvation in Christ and the only way into the God's kingdom. That we are to forsake this world, its ambitions, lusts, and enticements and turn our hears and lives wholly over to God. Is this being taught today? This is the idea of discipleship and it is just not being taught much in Churches. They are preaching an easy believe-ism in too many instances and this has led to many of the problems we have seen in what calls itself the Church.

The real gospel is simply not being taught, not the whole of it. This is one of the critical issues I think facing American Christianity. It's not gay marriage, it's not about the politics of the day or even the racial and economic divides that separate many so-called Churches from one another. No, it's the lack of sound, Bible based (rather than social media based or whoever pays the Church the most money based) doctrine in American Christendom. People are going to the wrong sources for spiritual guidance. Having forsaken the biblical based Church and God's order as clearly outlined in scriptures, the so called Church has forsaken God's order and substituted it with something that it finds more to its liking.... with a new app with a sexy face on it.  

This is why I have said that there is no spiritual power in much of today's Christianity in the west. In order to get the power of God working in your favor one must line up their lives with the will of God and his will is clearly laid out in scripture. But today, no one really wants to get down the basics of Christianity, the taking up of the cross daily (Luke 9:3), the sacrifices (Matt 16:25), the denial of self (Mark 8:34). These things are hard and for young people, even harder. So often these things are skipped over or not taught at all in order to keep them in Church.

You see, I think American Christianity is in crisis today because much of it really isn't Christianity. It's religion, but it's not what Christ or his apostles taught. They call it Christianity, but it bears little resemblance to the faith that was taught by Christ and his holy apostles.

Now I am loath to criticize people by name like this, but many Catholics are shocked at what is going on in parts of the Vatican. To me, it is shocking what is being passed off to the world as Christianity and it's why so much of the world has little respect for Christianity. Yes, you see, I think the devil has actually subverted large parts of the institutional Church - he's got control of it and he is using it to turn people off 'Christ' by implanting a consistent stream of negative social imagery of the gospel message as well as bad doctrine.

Look, the devil is very good at what he does. We make a fatal mistake when we don't give the devil at least a little bit of his due... he knows how to deceive and he is very, very good at it. It behooves we who know our God not to be ignorant of his devices. Those devices are many and are highly effective against those who do not know them or do not believe they can be successful on them.

I say these things today brothers and sisters and have left off the news just for today because I see Apostasy and a departure from the faith getting worse and not better in 2020 and beyond. I see institutional Christianity going deeper into crisis as more people leave the Church and seek after other religions or just go into atheism. I say these things so that none of you stumble or become shocked at what we are sure to witness in the future, the death of much of the administrative and financial structure that has called itself Christianity in the west.

But I think a vibrant smaller group of real, born again believers will be a powerful witness in those days. Small Churches, home studies, prayer groups will move to fill in the gaps that will be needed in those times. God, I think will give such men and women and yes, even children a double portion of his spirit to carry on the work of the Gospel in those perilous times. I see an underground Church being formed and I see it being necessary as Satan gets more and more control over the government. I see Christians needing to be extra careful in those times.

Yes, I see many things in the future for we believers in Christ who have not forsaken our God nor his commandments, but have held fast to our faith and not denied the name of Christ Jesus.

So let us all consider the things I have said and know that our God told us and warned us what the times would be like just before his arrival, that there would be upheavals and apostasy. We must not be overly concerned about it. These things have to happen first. Like labor before a birth, you don't get the birth without the labor first. So it is for we who live in the last days.

14 Jan

Nehemiah XLVI

 And at the dedication of the wall of
Jerusalem they sought the Levites
out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem,
to keep the dedication with gladness,
both with thanksgivings, and with singing,
with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. 
And the sons of the singers gathered
themselves together, both out of the
plain round about Jerusalem, and from
the villages of the Netophathites; 
also from Beth-gilgal, and out of the
 fields of Geba and Azmaveth:
for the singers had builded them villages
round about Jerusalem.
(Nehemiah 12:27-29 [ASV])

After we get a kind of 'census' as to which prominent Levitical families were in the two major waves of exilic returnee's, the author of the book then talks about the dedication of the wall and with it the city (according to some commentators), which leaders were hoping would again be the center of Jewish life after the captivity. This passage is the logical progression, first Nehemiah lists the priestly families then he talks about the rededication of the wall.
The timing however of this dedication has been a matter of considerable dispute. Some think this took place shortly after the rebuilding of the Temple Walls, others think this took place about 13 years later. The walls were finished on the 25th day of Elul (Neh 6:15). The Book of Maccabees (a valuable historical reference for the period) says that on the 25th of Chislev they celebrated the dedication of the altar (See Apocryphal book 2Mac 1:18).
So we have a date for the ending of the building of the wall and the date for the celebration of altar.
The Cambridge Bible sums it up part of the controversy quite well I won't get into it here but some think that a 12 lapse occurred.
I am not sure which is the correct view, but I think a 12 year lapse would probably have been noted somewhere. But the political difficulties with the Persian emperor that such a rededication could have had and the ramifications of it, may indeed have caused such a delay. FYI, The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge dates this in the year 445BC.

Such dedications are known throughout scripture and were very common in the ancient world.

But enough with scholarly dating and argument!
This is a passage of joy! This was a very happy occasion, The Jewish people were finally regathered in their homeland, they had rebuilt the walls and they were going to celebrate their return and God's remembrance of the covenant he had made with their forefathers. Moreover, we must not forget that this was all done with considerable problems that came as a result of their enemies. But they did it, with God's help they did it and now it was time to celebrate and give thanks. The passage in verse 27 specifically mentions that this celebration was kept with
Music with Instruments
While the passage merely speaks of the dedication of the wall, Some older commentators (Matthew Henry) see this as more being a rededication of the entire city to God and not just the wall. This rededication, therefore was to place the whole city under divine protection.

A Song of Ascents; of Solomon.
Except Jehovah build the house,
They labor in vain that build it:
Except Jehovah keep the city,
The watchman waketh
but in vain.
(Psalms 127:1 [ASV])

This being the case we understand why there was such joy.

The passage shows that people came from round about and flowed in to enjoy the celebrations. The villages of Netophathi is apparently a place where Levites had traditionally dwelt (Chr 9:14-16). Gilgal is a well known city that was associated with Israel's history since the time of Joshua.  The KJV translates it 'house of Gilgal' but it may be more correctly translated 'Beth-Gilgal'. Geba and Azmaveth both appear to be cities that were associated with the tribe of Benjamin. These singers moved into the area around Jerusalem apparently to be more readily available for Temple Services. The idea of a village does imply a fixed dwelling and not something temporary. So it looks like they were moving into the area and it was not just for this particular event.

We will continue the commentary in Nehemiah soon God willing!

Brother Mark

10 Jan

Keeping Faith In Troubled Times

Today, lets look at some news items of importance while I was on my hiatus.

As you all probably know there are some devastating fires now underway in Australia. Bush fires like this Down Under are very common, but these are much worse than normal. Excessive heat and drought are being blamed for their intensity. It's summer down there and it has only just begun. But some fires seem to be somewhat unusual. Such as those that started in a tropical rain forest and caused considerable destruction. Stay tuned on these fires and let's see what if anything fire investigators find. Though many are quick to blame Climate Change for these fires, there are reports that several have recently been arrested for starting fires down there.

In Europe, Anti-Christian violence is growing. The Gatestone Institute has a piece on the subject called "Europe: Anti-Christian Attacks Reach All-Time High in 2019" that discusses the problem with some detail. We hear about problems in China, Iran, North Korea but little about what is happening in the west where religious bigotry and hate are a growing problem that often takes the form of property destruction or violence. Take a minute or two and check out the article, it is pretty detailed.

I wish I could tell you things will get better. I don't think they will. In fact, the more I look at what is happening to the world and yes, the western world, I just think our Lord's prophecy on this should give us all pause.

...yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth
you shall think that he offereth service unto God.
(John 16:2b [ASV])

Thus we should not be shocked. But perhaps this is just a continuation of much of the religious intolerance that was epidemic in Europe in the Middle Ages, where one group of often heretics branded another group 'heretical', excommunicated them, seized their churches and monasteries or burned them alive at the stake. Often attacks against genuine Christians came from within what was called the Church. Today, it is others who are attacking the Church; secularists, socialists, satanists, hard line Islamists and others are all ganging up on the Church to wreck havoc on it.

I am neither shocked nor surprised by any of this. Before the 42 month system of antichrist can arise, Christianity has to be undermined, discredited and destroyed. This is one stratagem I think the devil has been working on from within the Church with false ministers who openly proclaim doctrines contrary to biblical authority or pastors who have always been under the control of the enemy suddenly making loud, boisterous and highly public announcements of their apostasy - thus shaking the faith of many. It's is all probably part of a demonic strategy to destroy the faith in preparation of what the devil has in store for planet earth. It should neither surprise nor shock us that he has got some serious tricks up his sleeve as he prepares the children of darkness for the reign of the man of sin. I see no let up in the harsh persecution of Christians in the days ahead.

My deep concern in the US is that when the Democrats get power again, they will come after Christians and blame us for wrongs real and imagined that this administration did. Thus, we may see a serious backlash here in the US. The good news is that Trump has been able to appoint a whole new slew of Federal Judges who are conservative in their outlook. Consequently though the radical left may get control of the executive and legislative branch, the judicial branch is unlikely to let them go too far when it comes to religious liberty. But all in all, with the rise of the radical left, calls for socialism and the rise of the militant homosexual agenda, the rise of satanism in the country, we who truly place our faith in Jesus Christ are in for a rough ride in the years ahead.

{Several paragraph's dealing with North Korea, the National Security Council, Israel and Obama were removed for the posting here on the public site]

I will close today's update with one observation. I think that going forward we are going to see much more social and political unrest. Masses around the world are simply dissatisfied with what they have and want more. Governments are often predisposed to give less, sometimes out of greed, but more often out of pure fiscal necessity. I was shocked to read a day or so ago that South Korea has a very high rate of youth dissatisfaction - about 75% of them want to leave. Take the numbers with a grain of salt, but in my view they show something. That relative affluence and freedom seem to engender, not gratitude and contentment, but the opposite; discontent and anger.

We believers in Christ must not let that spirit of discontent rankle our spirits. Paul told us that if we have food and raiment we should be content... and he is right. Moreover we should always count our blessings, knowing that the days are evil.

When you are tempted to complain, think about how your brothers are facing hell in foreign nations, placed in jail and otherwise hounded for their faith. This will cure you.

So as we enter the third decade of the century, keep in mind that our world is in a serious state of flux -  problems with debt, unequal wealth distribution, mass demographic shifts political and environmental issues that are going to exacerbate various kinds of popular uprisings in the days ahead. I don't think there is any way to stop it. The world will look for solutions and I don't think they will find them. Christ described the last days as being those of perplexity (
Luke 21:25). So don't look for our leaders to know what to do. Rather I see leaders beginning to fight with one another as each tries to impose their solutions and vision on others, thus adding to the social and political chaos.

But buck up brothers and sisters!! God is still on the throne and prayer still changes things. We who know our God can have confidence that no matter what happens in this crazy ball of confusion we call earth, we can know that God was aware of it long before we were born. He has not been caught off guard.

Thank you all for your gifts, love and prayers.... especially your prayers in 2019. They are so much appreciated and I am looking forward to serving the Lord and each of you in 2020 and beyond.

Some of you are disappointed that so much material has been taken down from the public page and much of the commentary just does not appear there. While I have explained that to all of you, you also need to keep this in mind....

Every ministry needs a strategy. I read a bit of pamphlet by the late Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (Voice of the Martyrs) over my holiday break and he lays this out to the persecuted and underground church - get a strategy... you will need one. Well, that is true out here in cyberspace as well where they will come after you but not from directions you would ordinarily think or expect. I developed a strategy to keep my site online in the year say.... 2023. That was to do strategic retreat before the election of 2020. To lay low, get into a kind of digital foxhole and wait until the political battle is over. When the political 'shells and missiles' fall silent I will once again, begin to put a little more material on the public site... slowly, bit by bit.

So don't be angry... blogging is tough and many are doing it not knowing how dangerous it can be. How dangerous? Think about swatting a blogger a powerful person does not like. Some of the killings we have seen even in the news were about just that, though that part of was carefully omitted from mainline news reporting. Think about suing them just to harass them. Think about accusing them of a horrible crime just to discredit them. These things do happen, but are done with exceptional skill by people trained in such things to evade detection and accountability.

I exhort all of you Christian bloggers out there to develop a strategy. Don't be a deer in the headlights. You know what happens to them.

Having had first hand experience with these malevolent forces, I know that I am at war with the devil and his imps here on the net. But like any warrior he knows when to advance, when to hold fast and when to retreat.

So don't be angry. I am not going anywhere until the Lord releases me and he has not.

I exhort you all to keep a positive attitude this year, stay strong in the Lord and remember always what God has already done for you.

Blessings to you all in Christ.

Brother Mark

7 Jan


(Note: This was written last last month, just soon the court order was issued)

Perhaps you did not hear about it or read it, but the FISA court has issued blistering letter to the FBI on the whole FISA warrant on the President. You can find a copy of the letter here at the FISA Court site (12-17 order). Clearly the court is most unhappy with the way things are going. But this is just as I have been saying since the get-go; this whole thing looked more like a political set up that a legitimate counterintelligence investigation. Clearly the court takes this matter with the utmost seriousness and isn't going to let the mater fall between the cracks as some on the left, I am sure would love to have happen. 

I'll lift a bit of it from the online pdf

FISA Order
FISA order

   Source: FISA Court
Now for those of you on the left who think it is OK to do this to Trump, let me ask you this. Would you like the FBI to do this to you? You don't know what it is like to be put under federal investigation and surveillance. I do - they did it to me more than once in my life. You don't do anything wrong, but someone with a grudge or a hate on for Black folks starts making statements against you and investigators are all too eager to come after you. Do you want your phone tapped, your home broken into covertly while you are out at the movies? Your neighbors, employer, co-workers asked questions about you by Feds that will surely denigrate you in their eyes? They do this - they did it to me many times in the military and out of it. So I know how this goes. But it took this - a sitting President getting hounded to death by these unelected and often simply unaccountable bureaucrats to get some of these abuses out into the open. Those who willfully abuse the system need to be dealt with and not lightly.

So I say to you on the left who are all too willing to burn down the house of law and state to 'get Trump' - be careful what you wish for, the next list of those they want to harass may have your name at the top of it. What are you going to do when they start asking you questions about things you know nothing about in an interrogation cell? Hounding you about 'evidence' they (say they) have that you are utterly clueless about?

Putting you in jail or in a secret facility reserved for such people and accusing you of being 'uncooperative' because you have no clue about the charges they have leveled at you? You don't have to be guilty of a thing, just have some enemies who know how to work the system to get you - some of them will try and manufacture evidence against you. Look, 99% of folks simply are not sophisticated enough to understand how this National Security system works and they go down... hard. Not even most lawyers can help you if they are not familiar with this system and not many are not unless they have or have had a high level clearance and very, very few have. Some of these cases are tried in courts where the Judge has reached a verdict before the defendant even reaches the courtroom as he is part of the whole National Security mafia system as well.

I will do what I can to get our leaders to fix what is broken in this system so innocent people are not caught up in this web of legal and political malfeasance. 

However, I do not want to gut the legitimate powers they do really need to root out traitors and spies, but to make sure that that system is not abused to go after Blacks, Whites, Christians, Muslims, Bloggers, Democrats, Republicans or guys like Donald Trump simply because those inside the system have a personal dislike for any one of the aforementioned groups or people.

The good news is that more and more those in Congress do seem concerned about things going on over there at FBI. I think they want to know what other kinds of abuses are going on.

Since we are looking at open and public letters today, here is a screenshot of the one the President just sent to the House Speaker

    Source: White House

Well, most people have made up their minds along partisan lines - or rather the propaganda they are fed by left or right leaning sites and media organizations.

I am swayed by neither. If I thought the President were guilty of a crime, I would say, yes - get him out of there... yesterday! But I see much more questionable activity by those who want to get the President than I do with him.

The whole country needs to take a breather and consider carefully what it is the House is doing. If Investigating what many think could be serious political corruption and possible large scale money laundering has become a crime, then something is far more wrong with the Democrats in the House than the President who tried to look into these things and got impeached for his efforts, whatever his motivation.

This is not said to defend the President, but to get people to step back and think carefully about the precedent the House is setting with their impeachment. Has it become a crime to investigate crime? If that is the case, who is really running this country? Here is the other question that I think may come to the crux of the matter. Billions of dollars have been sent to Ukraine... who got the money? Where did it go after having been sent to one of the most corrupt countries on earth?

Wiser heads can start to ask better questions and seek the correct answers to this and many other questions. Those inflamed by propaganda cannot, their unsophisticated minds are too afraid of what they might find. Many are like a drug addict, they are just too addicted to political hate to see and think clearly.

Our nation is in a very serious crisis and impeachment is just the latest symptom of a much deeper disease within the American system of government.

Let us all pray for our leaders on both sides of the aisle.

3 Jan

Job Conclusion Part II

We will finish up the study in Job today with a final look at suffering.

Some commentators have stated that one thing that Job seemed to have been lacking in his character was that until the Lord spoke to him face to face, he simply had not fully submitted to the will of the Almighty, whatever that will may be. But I think we must not be too hard on Job as the religious thought and theology of those days was very rudimentary, as we saw in the lengthy debate in the text. They all thought that if you did right, good came your way, without exception. The whole idea that God would allow such evil to befall Job not because he was evil, but in essence because he was righteous and good was beyond their theological understanding. Nor could they comprehend a key principle that we in the New Testament era probably take somewhat for granted.

And we know that to them that love God
all things work together for good,
even to them that are called
according to his purpose.
 (Romans 8:28 [ASV])

Yes, all things including sufferings; they work together for our good. But as with all promises like this, there is a condition. In order for such things, even the troubles we endure to work for our good we have to love God, and be called according to God's purpose. So this does not hold true to the lost and those who know not God. In short, God allows these things into our lives to test us, mold us, guide us, help us and teach us.

But Job was deeply beloved of God so this trial taught him some important lessons. Not least of which according to some commentators, the character trait of submission to God's will, even if we don't like the situation we are in or must suffer. If we belong to him, God is in it. He was involved in Job's ordeal and allowed it. Job thought God had forsaken him and without any cause was punishing him. He could not have been more wrong.

This is the fallacy of looking at things the way they appear to the natural mind and our human eyes. As we saw in Job there is a spiritual world which our natural mind cannot see or comprehend but deeply effects our lives. It was Satan's accusation that brought on Job's troubles and Job was utterly unaware of the controversy that took place in Heaven. This is often how things go for us down here but we must remember that we as Saints are involved in a spiritual battle with the Lord's enemies and like any warrior, he is going to have to fight and take a few 'hits' from time to time. There is no way around it if you are in the thick of battle.

Paul lays this theme out again and again in his letters. Paul was no stranger to sufferings. He talks about some of them in
II Corinthians 1:3-11.

Paul knew what it was to suffer and face death. He faced it many times. He also knew despair. But Paul knew his God and the path he had set him on and he was by no means ever going back. He pressed forward in full confidence in the God who raised Christ from the dead.

Yes, this is all New Testament, Job and his friends did not understand these things. But we do.

But suffering is hard. But as hard as it is, God wants us to as much as we can, be joyful in difficult times.

Count it all joy, my brethren,
when ye fall into manifold temptations; 
Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. 
And let patience have its perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.
 But if any of you lacketh wisdom,
let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally
 and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him.
(James 1:2-5 [ASV])

The word translated temptations is Strong's G3986 and it can mean a trial or adversity or temptation. James is telling us to count it joy. How did the early Church look at persecution? They were doing God's work, but had to stand trial for their actions and were beaten for it.

 And to him they agreed:
and when they had called the apostles unto them,
they beat them and charged them
not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
They therefore departed from
the presence of the council, rejoicing
that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor
 for the Name. And every day,
in the temple and at home,
they ceased not to teach and
to preach Jesus as the Christ.
(Acts 5:40-42 [ASV])

Yes, it can be hard to rejoice in such circumstances, particularly when your back is covered in bruises and welts, but this is what the early Church did when facing persecution and hardship.

Job's story is one of faith, endurance but also one of human failings and God's ultimate mercy to those who keep faith with him. Job was not ever, ever going to forsake his God. No matter how confused and hurt he was during his trial, he was going to maintain his confidence in God.

This to me is the key message of Job. We don't understand why things are the way they are. Why am I writing on the internet like this? I don't particularly like it, but it is what I have been commanded to do. God has had my back through many trials. There are times when God just wants us to wait on him in very difficult circumstances. This is what Job had to do and thus we have the phrase 'patience of Job'. Waiting like this can be very difficult and in and of itself can be a serious trial of our faith.

Some of you have lost Jobs, incomes, been dissed by your families, hated, mistreated at work, mocked by your Church buddies, have to deal with health issues, family issues, financial issues. Sometimes these things last a long time, longer than we want or expected. Remember Job.

Sometimes all God really wants to do is to get us to be totally dependent on him. It's a lesson that was and is hardest for me for I love independence and freedom. Having to rely totally on anyone for anything is contrary to this part of my nature. But God has had to teach me humility in this and to depend totally on him. I can tell you this - sooner or later, he will one day teach it to you as well, if you are to be of any use to him.

So let us remember Job and how he suffered but also remember why he suffered (the devil) and that God allowed it and that God, after having taught Job a thing or two (like submission and humility), blessed him twice as much again. Why? Because he loved and respected his servant Job.

I exhort you all to aspire to be that kind of servant, one that God loves and respects. A person who can honestly be called in the corridors of Heaven, the Friend of God.

Friends will go the second mile for one another. This is what Job's faith demonstrated during a trial for which he was utterly confounded as to the reason for it. He stood by his God.

Can you do that? Will you?

Time will tell, though I think you all of my regular readers (insiders) will pass with flying colors and stand before God with great shouts of joy and thanksgiving on the day of our Salvation and look at the trouble we had to endure as very light compared to what God has in store for all who love him.

Here ends my commentary on Job.

1 Jan

Nehemiah Part LXV

 As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib,
Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua,
there were recorded the heads of fathers’ houses ;
also the priests, in the reign of Darius the Persian.
  The sons of Levi, heads of fathers’ houses ,
were written in the book of the chronicles,
even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.
  And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah,
Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel,
with their brethren over against them, to praise
and give thanks, according to the commandment
of David the man of God, watch next to watch.
 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam,
 Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the watch
at the store-houses of the gates. 
These were in the days of Joiakim the
son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the
days of Nehemiah the governor,
and of Ezra the priest the scribe.
(Nehemiah 12:22-26 [ASV])

The Darius in question some think was Darius II (Darius Nothus), though the Cambridge Bible and others thinks it refers to Darius III (Codomannus). FYI, this was the Darius that Alexander the Great Defeated though he was actually killed by one of his own Satraps to whom he was blood-related. This was well dramatized in the early film called Alexander with Richard Burton in the 1950's.

The references to the Priests have also caused some argument and confusion in that the same names were used by them at different times.

Eliashib was noteworthy in Nehemiah's time as he took part in the building of the Eastern Wall (Neh 3:1). But he did get Nehemiah rather angry as he for a while seemed to be sympathetic to Tobaiah (we will come to that later). The location of verse 22 and 23 have caused some to think that they were added later by scribes at the time of Alexander. Here Barnes' commentary has some interesting comments about those two verses.

Verse 23 shows us that the 'sons of the Levi' and the heads of families were apparently not part of the official record and were written in a separate work, the Chronicles. So what the writer here apparently is doing is showing where he gets his information from, public records, official and semi-official - none of which are infallible. One needs to keep this in mind when dealing with genealogies, the writer and scribe has to use what resources he has at hand. All this taking place long before the computer, fax machines. the printing press or even paper as we know it today.

The rulers of the Levites were mentioned here as well as their brothers. Their job was to praise God and give thanks to him. As usual, the names of one generation is often the same as the following and thus there is often confusion as to whom is specifically referred to. The next verse shows that they had watches. The next passage seems to amplify this idea as many were actually working as security guards at the gates. They all appeared to have two jobs, both to sing and serve the Lord and to stand watch at the gate.

The KJV uses the word 'Threshold' (of the temple). The word may be rendered Storehouse or Treasury. The American Standard Version uses that word rather than threshold. The word is this one in Strongs.
Passive participle of H622; collected (only in the plural), i.e, a collection (of offerings): - threshold, Asuppim. see HEBREW for 0622

Given this definition, setting a watch over it makes considerable sense!

Verse 26 attempts to show to which generation the writer was referring to and many believe this verse and a couple of others were inserted later by scribes. There appears to be a couple of different time periods referred to, the Period of Joakim which was around 500BC and then the time of Nehemiah, around 460BC.

The Pulpit Commentary has some great notes on this passage. Their comment on this can be found in that excellent commentary here (scroll down to the homiletic section). It gives a real good overview of TRUE ministry. As that commentary notes, ministry work is often mundane and if you are looking for fame and notoriety you are working from the wrong motives.
We will continue Nehemiah next week, God willing!!

Brother Mark

23 Dec

Money And Marriage In America

A few pieces have come out over the past couple of months that deal with marriage and how for many women there are fewer marriageable men out there for up and coming (economically speaking) women.

Money and marriage? In the west the two are linked in important ways. But let us be fair, it has always pretty much been this way. Even in the Middle Ages, those with property always married 'up' the economic-socio-political ladder to try and gain esteem, wealth and power. Today it is no less true certainly more so as trends in marriage show. 

Back then it was land and titles. Today, it's a Lexus and a McMansion

As I look back on my life I can honestly say that while part of me wanted to marry, I am overall most pleased that I did not. I wanted a wife who loved me...

...not my wallet.

I am very, very old school and don't believe in divorce, except for the cause of adultery.

And while I may be a bit overly cynical on this issue, I think far too many women are too obsessed with a man's bank account rather than his character.

But women need to be aware as well, 'fortune hunters' can these days be male as well as female.

If I was a young person of either sex and contemplating marriage, I would do a few things before I got hitched. In our money obsessed society, one these days just has to be careful about what kind of person you are getting married to.

It is sad thing to say but for some people, love is a lie that is used to wiggle into a 5-6 figure bank transfer when the divorce decree is finalized.

What would I do first?

  • A Background Check
  • A Credit Check
  • And do a Pre-nup - make it fair and amicable for both sides so that if things get ugly, trying to mess each other over in a heat of anger is not a legal possibility.
  • Now I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice, but if you feel like I do about adultery - I would seriously consider an adultery/infidelity clause in your prenup. Make that tumble he had with his secretary a very expensive affair that will keep you and your kids in food and clothes for years to come. Fear of financial ruin will give any sane person serious pause before adultery.

Those are the things I would do. You of course must suit yourself.

A smart man or woman with a lot of money will never flash it. He or she will drive an old car, wear comfortable non-expensive clothes and shoes, live moderately and let no one know they've got money. If I were rich (I am not nor ever have been), that is what I would do. No one would know I had money. Why?

Money attracts the wrong kinds of people. Like dung left out in the sun, you can fully expect a swarm of flies to lite around it before long. That is what I think about those who love money and seek a spouse based on it.

My mother, bless her heart, lived like a poor woman, which is how she grew up. But when she died she was worth quite a bit. She never flashed, was always MOST generous, shopped at thrift stores and second hand shops and preferred the company of ordinary folks to others.

Brothers and sisters. Marriage is a serious affair with God. Very serious. God will deal with those who defile their marriages and the marriage bed.

If you are seeking a spouse, find that right person first. Don't be in a hurry. Get before the Lord and remember the wise words of Solomon on the right kind of mate in Proverbs 31:10ff. Get a woman who fears the Lord, has excellent character, is industrious, honest and charitable. The same goes for you women out there looking for the right man. Don't focus in on that new BMW he's driving and that big check he gets every month. That could all go in the next recession and you'll stuck with all the negative traits you chose to overlook while you focused on his money.

Be wise in your choice of a mate.

20 Dec

A Couple of Tidbits

In Christian news, a Black worship leader has struck back at critics who were troubled by his visit to the White House to pray for the President. Christian Post carries the story. There is a lot of hate out there and a great deal of it is coming from the Church or so-called Church I should say. I know nothing about this man or of the meeting, but to go and pray with and for the President... Is this not what we are commanded to do - pray for our leaders? Yet political hate (that is what it is) won't let many do that. That shows a spiritually sick mindset in parts of the Church. Instead of a sweet aroma of love to God, he gets the stink off the turd of hate... coming right from those who claim to know him!!

This is why I exhort each and everyone of you to turn off that hate. It is not going to win you any points with God, just the back of his hand in rebuke if you don't repent of it. So in this impeachment season, whatever your political persuasion, pray for President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer and Chief Justice Roberts who will preside over the trial in the Senate. Pray also for Mr. Schiff, and those who are leading the effort to remove the President. Yes, pray for, not against them. Let God do the judging... you just do the praying.

One thing I can tell you all. None of us have all the facts on this. The backstory, the real deal, who is paying who to do what or say what or push this or push back on that. What we see in the news is just one tenth of what is really going on. Don't let anyone manipulate you into 'hate mode'. The only thing you are doing is letting someone control your mental filter - what you hear and what you will accept. Once those powerful emotions set it, the reasoning part of your brain gets side tracked.

Pray for our leaders... they all need it - even and particularly those you may not like much.

18 Dec

Christmas: Indonesia Tightens Security

(ICC) The chief of the National Police Traffic Corps said military personnel and “members of government agencies” will guard churches and tourism sites during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

Jakarta Metro Police also announced on December 13 that it will deploy 10,000 agents to ensure that Christmas and New Year celebrations go smoothly with dozens of guard posts set up around the capital.
Senior Commander Yusri Yunus noted that police will work with the Armed Forces and city authorities to improve security. A meeting will be held on 23 December to select the key points to protect.

Indonesia has seen a rise of Islam radicalism in recent years. The IS-linked local terrorist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) has initiated suicide attacks against churches in Indonesia, with the latest being May 2018 in Surabaya, where more than 10 victims from three different churches were killed. Continues at International Christian Concern.

In other news on the persecution front, Morning Star news has their story on the attack last week in Kenya here. Pakistan is getting some heat over issues of religious freedom, according a report out of HRW.

One thing I have noticed in the past year - that in most places in the world with the exclusion of SCO nations, persecution seems to be ebbing just a little. Why I do not know, but perhaps with Trump in the WH and Pompeo at State, quiet but firm diplomatic pressure has been brought to bear on some states that had a problem.

This does not appear to be happening in China.

But one issue we should keep an eye on that does not directly effect Christians but is based on religion, law and protests is this one in India.

(International Christian Concern) – On December 12, India’s national government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed one of the most religiously divisive laws in the country’s recent history. The Citizenship Amendment Bill, informally called the CAB, was signed into law by India’s president after it was passed by both legislative branches of the national government. Since its passage, protests against the law have raged across India.

The now enacted CAB will make it easier for “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to obtain citizenship in India if they can prove they have lived in the country since 2015. The law specifically provides this path to citizenship for Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis. Intentionally omitted, however, are Muslims.

Protestors claim that this divisive law is intended by the BJP to polarize religious communities in India and continue to promote the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda. Since coming to power in 2014, the BJP-led government has enacted many pro-Hindu policies that have left India’s religious minority communities uneasy about their future in India.
In 2019 alone, new states have proposed anti-conversion laws, India’s only Muslim-majority state was stripped of its statehood, and a Hindu temple was allowed to be built on the site of a Muslim mosque that was torn down by Hindu radicals in the 1990’s. Added to these religiously divisive policies, BJP leaders continued to perpetuate national narratives that paint India’s religious minorities as outsiders and anti-nationals. - International Christian Concern

There are reports that the internet is blocked in some places where there are protests going on. 

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Justin Kientega (from Burkna Faso) talks about the persecution Christians are getting in Burkina Faso, sometimes being deliberately targeted by militants.

Looking for other stories on the suffering Church? Click here.

17 Dec

Job Conclusion - Part I

Preface: Once a week, I have been going through the book of Job for insiders. It was a very detailed, verse by verse exposition and something I have wanted to do for a very, very long time.

I wrote some closing thoughts on the book that I have decided to share on the public site.

It had been many years since I studied that book with any depth. I discovered many nuances about the book that I had either not known or had long forgotten, while doing this study.

One thing I will never forget. When going though the most difficult trial of my life years and years ago,
Job 13:15 was the verse that kept me going. It is the passage that any saint who is facing serious trial and even death should never forget. That even if the Lord should require our lives, we must continue to put our trust in him. In the New Testament, this thinking is laid out for us by our Lord. But in the times of the Old Testament and before, which is when this book was almost certainly written, such a sentiment was not well known. As we moved through the book we saw the simplistic theology of Job's friends and their refusal to face facts on suffering, prosperity and want that stared them in the face - No, the wicked are not always punished in this life and no, the righteous are not always rewarded. Job knew he was innocent of any crime that could have caused him to deserve his fate, but could not convince his friends who were convinced Job had some great sin he was hiding. Job only had his confidence in God to sustain him.

There may come a time in our lives when we are faced with similar circumstances. How do you think the Chinese pastor feels when he is given a heavy sentence for preaching the gospel? When these things happen, sometimes the sheep scatter and the shepherd is left all alone. How does one deal with this? Or with those who are in the Church who begin to mutter harsh things against such a pastor and begin to malign and slander him for being a 'criminal' while he sits in chains for serving the Lord? Like Job, such a pastor is being punished by the devils ministers for doing right. For Job, he too was being punished by the devil and his ministers for doing right - serving God and pleasing him. This is the way the devil operates. He will reward those who do great wickedness and punish those who do right. Look at the satanic rewards that the drug cartels have. The money, the mansions, yachts, sexy women and other toys the devil lays out for his children. Herein lies a major fallacy in to days western religiosity and prosperity teachings.

We tend to measure the success of a pastor by the size of his Church, the amount of money in the Church coffers and the number of attractive, wealthy people he can get into his pews on Sundays. We measure things materially - not spiritually. We can all be somewhat guilty of this. "He doesn't have a big new car and a new Church, he must be 'off' in his doctrine". We make a horrible mistake when we look at the material goods as a measure of a man's godliness. It is the same basic mistake that Job's friends made. They saw Job's circumstances and immediately assumed he had committed some horrible sin.

Let us keep in mind that the Lord gave Satan a free hand to deal with Job to see if he would curse God. All the horrors that Satan could conjure up were thrown at Job and even in this most horrible affliction, he maintained his faith and kept his walk with God. What Job endured and the way he came through it, shows a remarkable man of God. God was correct when he praised Job so in the court of heaven in the opening chapters of the book.

I think one thing we can also take away from Job is this. When we suffer, we often have to do it alone. Those around us can be hindrances. Job's wife who exhorted him to curse God and die and his friends whose accusatory tongue he had to deal with for the weeks or months of his ordeal - they were no help to him "...miserable comforters are ye all."
(Job 16:2b)

We have all heard the saying 'Grace under pressure'. That is what Job displayed and something we must all strive for as well. That when trials come we must be ready to endure sufferings as Job did, patiently, in faith and a determination to stand with God, no matter what. Can you do that? This is going to be a lesson that we may all have to ask ourselves as the system of Antichrist rises and persecution becomes more significant in our world. Many in far off nations understand this. We Americans, most of us do not. Perhaps in a book level understanding, but not in a 'fires of trial' level of understanding. As this new system continues to rise before our eyes, however we may all have a healthy dose of both levels of understanding.

One thing I have learned to do when under trial is to detach myself as much as I can from my temporal circumstances. I try and move my mind into positive things, peaceful things and hopeful things. Here I find Paul's advice to be most telling.

 And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding,
shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honorable,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
 think on these things.
(Philippians 4:7-8 [ASV])

This helps. Be positive, even in midst of your trials. I try hard not to dwell on my problems, no matter how hard they are. Try and keep your mind free from the worries of your particular trial. Now this is much harder to do if one is in Prison or in serious pain. But for many of us, the other trials we must deal with, these things can be done and often help refocus the mind back on God, the source of our strength, rather than the trials we must face. One 'trick' I learned long ago? Just start praising God, giving thanks to him for the things he has done for you in the past, like David often did in the Psalms. Praise can be a powerful weapon if used correctly. Satan wants us to get mad at God when trouble comes. When you praise God and thank him instead, you win a powerful victory over his accusations.

I find that we must often make our face like flint and despite all the 'slings and arrows or outrageous fortune' that we must endure (as Shakespeare put it), we must push forward toward our goal in Christ. Yes, our inheritance in God. What did God say to his friend, Abram (for his name was not yet changed)?

After these things
the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision,
saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield,
and thy exceeding great reward.
 (Genesis 15:1 [ASV])

It is God himself who is our reward, to be welcomed into his family as one of his sons - that should be our primary goal and what we need to focus on when we are going through the fires. What we have to endure down here in this present age is not worthy of comparison for what God has in store for us.

For I reckon that the sufferings
of this present time are not worthy
 to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed to us-ward.
(Romans 8:18 [ASV])

But let none of us ever forget that our Lord showed us the path to life is not strewn with roses and flower petals, but that it is marked with sacrifice and yes, sufferings.

 But we behold him
who hath been made a little lower than the angels,
even Jesus, because of the suffering of death
crowned with glory and honor,
that by the grace of God he should
taste of death for every man .
  For it became him, for whom are all things,
and through whom are all things,
in bringing many sons unto glory,
to make the author of their salvation
perfect through sufferings.
(Hebrews 2:9-10 [ASV])

Yes, brothers, the book of Job is certainly for us today. While it is one of the oldest, if not the oldest book known to man, it is still very relevant for us today. Particularly for us Christians who live in this age, where more and more of us must suffer for our faith.

12 Dec

Nehemiah XLIV

 Now these are the priests and the Levites
that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel,
 and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 
Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,  Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,  Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,  Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 
Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah. 
Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the
 priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua. 
Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel,
Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who was
over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren. 
Also Bakbukiah and Unno, their brethren,
were over against them according to their offices.
 And Jeshua begat Joiakim, and Joiakim begat Eliashib,
 and Eliashib begat Joiada,  and Joiada begat
Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua. 
And in the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers’ houses : of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 
of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 
of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 
of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
 and of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 
of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.
(Nehemiah 12:1-21 [ASV])
This chapter most again would skip over as lists of names as well as genealogies are not particularly interesting. Today we are going to take a brief look at it. When commenting on this passage, Matthew Henry wonders why this list is even included by Nehemiah. It is a good question and one I think Mr. Henry gets right when he says it is done in remembrance of men who did good and right by the Lord.
He says it is a record for our remembrance and that is exactly what it was meant to be for the Jewish nation and now for us who are called of God to be partakers of the heavenly promise in Christ. In these passages we see God's constancy to his people who he had to severely chastise because of generations of unrepentant sin. He accepted the Priesthood and being intermediaries with himself and his people even after their many sins and abominations. God chastised, but he did not forget mercy and restoration.

The list is a who's who of the priests of the returning exiles and as such is rather important. Many of the names are very familiar, others not. The first ones should be. They are Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Joshua). The Joshua moniker is given to this same Priest in the book of Zechariah and his other works can be found in the book of Ezra. Zerubbabel as well is also mentioned those same passages in Zechariah in conjunction with Joshua (Zechariah chapter three and four).

What is important to note is that these are not listed with the other Priests. They are listed honorably but separately from those in chapter 11. These, it is clearly stated went up with Zerubbabel.
K&D commentary then gives us the different lists of priests in a very good table that I will repost here.

But the real reason for the separation of the names in this passage were separated for the simple fact that they got there long before Nehemiah was even given his royal charge.
So here we discover why this list is separated. Nehemiah wanted to be thorough so he probably went to the records of civil administration kept either by the Priests or by Shesbazzar (Zerubabbel) who was appointed head of the returning exiles at time of the initial return.
Another name of note is Iddo. This name is listed in Zechariah's lineage as his grandfather. The name was common.

As I am not big into Geneologies and others are so I will have to refer you to other scholars who understand these things better than I can as I possess no education in Hebrew and or in ancient Jewish history.

10 Dec

Mexico, Trump and Terrorism

....Today however I want to touch on a subject I have not talked on much. I bring it up because the President has expressed the desire to designate Mexican Cartels as Terrorist Organizations. Whatever his motivations and I think they are good ones, I just don't think such an idea is going to help. It will probably make matters much, much worse. Instead of the 'cat and mouse' game that the cartels play with the US and its officials now, it will be full frontal machine gun and car bomb directed right at America and her LE and security people if that card is played.

Do we have any examples where Terrorism and Narcotics play a key role in a conflict that involves the US? As a matter of fact, we do. A big one - Afghanistan.

SIGAR, the very existence of which was a major feat in DOD investigatory powers, which many fought tooth and nail to both bring about and kill gives us some great facts from those who have access to documents, reports, personnel and more to tell us just what is going on. Their most recent report talks about the Drug situation. When one thinks of Afghanistan, one thinks of Opium/Poppies. Well, that seems to be changing...
Afghan law enforcement also faces a growing methamphetamine production problem. Afghan drug producers likely learned how to manufacture methamphetamine from Iran, where methamphetamine production has been a problem for law enforcement and health professionals since the mid-2000s.

According to Afghan government officials, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MOI) will review and prepare the country’s new counternarcotics plan now that the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) is being dissolved. As of September 30, 2019, total U.S. appropriations for counternarcotics activities in Afghanistan were $8.94 billion. - SIGAR
The problems that come with building, maintaining, and managing major forces engaged in these kinds of undertakings can be daunting, on numerous levels.

For example...
The Special Mission Wing (SMW) is a rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft force that supports NIU missions as well as counterterrorism missions conducted by Afghan special security forces. The SMW is the only Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) organization with night-vision, rotary-wing air assault, and fixed-wing intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities. The SMW structure consists of assault squadrons in Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-e Sharif. Since its establishment in 2012, the SMW has been used to conduct counterterrorism and counternarcotics missions. In recent years, counterterrorism missions have dominated.

This quarter, DOD reported that due to political pressure ahead of the presidential election, high-level Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials frequently circumvented the tasking process set up for the SMW and misused SMW assets for tasks unrelated to their core mission of fighting terrorism and narcotics production. The SMW received many taskings better suited to the Afghan Air Force. DOD said that penalties assessed to the MOD had minimal effect on curbing the problem and the misuse of these assets undermined the SMW’s ability to conduct counternarcotics missions. The misuse of the SMW is an ongoing problem, as SIGAR has reported in previous quarterly reports. - SIGAR
How successful are they at interdiction?
Interdiction Results

Between June 27 and September 18, 2019, DOD reported 27 operations resulting in 160 detentions and seizures of 877 kilograms (kg) (1,929 lbs) of opium, 565 kg (1,243 lbs) of heroin, 500 kg of hashish (1,100 lbs), 31,419 kg (69,122 lbs) of chemicals, and 318 kg (700 lbs) of methamphetamine by Afghan security forces. Table 3.29 contains interdiction results provided by DOD.

DOD said security remains poor, hindering the access of government forces in areas where the drug trade is concentrated, particularly in southern regions of the country where the majority of opium is grown, and where drug products are transported, processed, and sold.

Text and Chart from - SIGAR
But let's not blame the Afghans too much. Clearly they are doing a pretty good job as many are indeed dedicated to the work. But this is no easy task.
Despite the strong performance of Afghan specialized units and their improved capabilities over the years, the number of seizures and arrests they have conducted have had minimal impact on the country’s opium- poppy cultivation and production. For example, cumulative opium seizures since the start of the reconstruction effort in 2002 are equivalent to approximately 8% of the country’s 6,400 metric tons of opium production for the single year of 2018, as reported by UNODC.

Afghan law-enforcement forces also face a growing methamphetamine production problem. Afghan workers who apparently learned how to produce methamphetamine in Iran have now brought the process home. Unlike Iran, however, Afghan producers have been able to lower their costs... - SIGAR
Perhaps one gets a better view of what fighting a war where terrorism and drugs converge.

I think that making that designation on Mexican Cartels will open up Pandora's box that will never be put back in once opened. We could be facing a major military campaign along our southern border for years to come.

Consider this. Once such a designation is made, these cartels will be targeted in various fashions by the USG. That sounds good on the surface - tough and no nonsense. But what will be the likely result as time passes? I will tell you what is certain to happen eventually. Those cartels will link up with groups like Hezbollah and ISIS and other extremist groups who are also marked for destruction by the USG as 'terrorists' and also have a serious bone to pick with the US and they will share intelligence, resources and 'how to' methodologies on everything from drug trafficking, money laundering to successful terror operations, right here in the Continental US.

Just this week, the WaPo did a major expose on the war in Afghanistan with documents and interviews with those involved. I say, before those of you from the 'lock and load' crowd decide to egg the President on in to this designation, perhaps a look at that report and some of the SIGAR reporting will give you some much needed pause.

America is just not very good at some things. Counter-terror is one thing we have not been great at - not terrible, just not great. Counter narcotics as well. This is not a slam, truly. The problems these kinds of operations create are myriad and many problems simply cannot be foreseen until they appear - not least of which is internal corruption. Yes, US military members, Law Enforcement and others can easily be co-opted by these cartels. We have seen this already in many news stories. Now multiply that by a thousand as these cartels fight, not just for markets and profits, but also for their survival. America would be taking on a bull by the horns and would certainly be gored in the process, these cartels being so close to home and having access to a porous US border.

No, dealing with the drug crisis down there is going to take a other approaches than merely 'lock and load'. One way to deal with it is with the demand side of the equation. These cartels would not be making money like they are if there was no demand for their product here in the US. There is. Why do people take drugs? What motivates them to escape reality via the use of these dangerous chemicals? I say this only to point out that there are other approaches to dealing with cartels than a military one. I just believe there is something fundamentally wrong with a society that has such a voracious appetite for drugs.

I say, do a re-think on this Mr. President. Sit down and listen... really listen to your people in the DOD, FBI, DHS, CIA and elsewhere. Let them break down to you in plain simple English what we are all likely to see in 5-10 years if you make that designation.

5 Dec

Falling Away....

I read some stories recently about some prominent christian leaders and musicians who appear to be losing or have have lost their faith.

So let's talk a bit about Christian 'celebrities'.

There is some great Christian music out there, but it is in my view, essentially a business. It runs on money, contracts, ticket and record sales, etc. As Christians have done their best to emulate how the world does things, it is hardly surprising that the way the world does things runs directly into the lives of Christians and their celebrities. They get media attention, get the best seats in Church, are fawned over just like the world. In short, in mainstream Christianity there is little really to fundamentally distinguish what calls itself Christianity today from the world, other than a few sermons preached on Sunday and a few political slogans and stances.

Why is this? I can tell you that it was in those early days of my walk that I got a bad... no nasty taste of American Christianity. I had negative experience after negative experience. I went to a Christian College and saw little of Christ in it. It really set my faith back - almost to the point of no return. But you know what? Later when I came back to the Lord do you know what I discovered from the Lord? That only a few of those whom I met or came in contact with were actually born again. Had actually been born of the Spirit and had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. They had an emotional experience, but not a genuine regeneration that can only come from above.

Brothers, that struck me like a bolt of lightning that these Christians were 'social Christians', but were not really part of the body of Christ. Remember I was kind of young and really was on fire for the Lord and just did not understand how these so called Christians behaved the way they did. It really mystified me. They spoke like Christians and had their own Christian jargon, but the reality was that (in retrospect) many of them just were not saved.

I say these things not because many of you don't know this. But because I see this as going to be a growing problem in the Church. People 'falling away' from the faith, having a crisis of faith and others just out and out apostatizing. Get ready because I am here to tell you that in the west, I think it is going to be par for the course. But in other nations in the third and developing world as well as in places where there is severe persecution, I think Christianity will spread like a wildfire on field of dry leaves. Here in the west there are too many distractions, too much materialism, too many people who are preaching the gospel for the income it generates... and for some they are doing, very, very well financially. Meanwhile the meatier things of Christ get lost in the translation because they are not 'monetizable'.

You see a disciple that lasts is one that first of all has been truly born again. He knows God. God has made his home inside the believer and at some point in time, Christ has revealed himself to him (John 14:21-23; Luke 10:22). He knows his God. My problem was that I just figured everyone around me particularly at my so called Christian college had the same experience. They hadn't and their lives as time passed showed it clearly.

It is kind of funny because decades later, some of my extended family attended the same college I did and what they had to say about that school probably should not be repeated in public where youngster may read it. What I will say is that they came away with an even nastier taste than I did. I left disillusioned, they left more than a little angry. Mind you I cannot and will not blame the School or its administration for this state of affairs. For the most part, I think they tried to provide the right environment. No, I think the blame rather lies on the whole social/financial structure of much of mainstream American Christianity.

My point this morning is an important one. Churchianity and its fruit is not likely to last long. Genuine Christianity and its fruit has a much, much better chance. But genuine Christianity may be rarer in the west than many may imagine.

The emotionalism of Churchianity will fade, but the light, nudgings, and guidance of the Holy Spirit do not fade, provided one has the Spirit. If one does not, when things get hot, they will fall away, apostatize and otherwise forsake the gospel.

Now I say these things so that all you are prepared for the things that are to come. There is going to be a mass apostasy and this is something our Lord and the Apostles warned us of. We must not be shocked. Saddened, yes, shocked no.

It is a key signpost for the return of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

 let no man beguile you in any wise:
for it will not be, except the falling away come first,
and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,
 he that opposeth and exalteth himself
against all that is called God or that is worshipped;
so that he sitteth in the temple of God,
setting himself forth as God.
(II Thess 2:3-4 [ASV])

Be blessed, all of you in Christ.

3 Dec

Spiritual Battle Lines: Separation

In these times, it is my hope that I can provide not just information and godly perspective on the events of the day, but also some firm spiritual encouragement and from time to time, admonitions for these difficult and strange times. One of the more important admonitions I think that will be key to spiritual victory in the years ahead is to do as the Apostle commanded and to come out from among the lost and be separate. This was not one of those 'optional' things that were commanded of the saints.

 Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers:
for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity?
or what communion hath light with darkness? 
And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
 or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?
  And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols?
for we are a temple of the living God;
even as God said, I will dwell in them,
and walk in them; and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye
out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
And touch no unclean thing;
And I will receive you,
(II Cor6:14-17 [ASV])

For we who are older, I think we all understand this. But as the days pass, we may find that we may begin to feel a bit isolated from the world around us while they party, get drunk, take dope, fornicate, sodomize and yes, worship devils as though nothing were wrong with these things. As you all have noticed, the moral compass of this nation and the world in general is shifting and not for the better. We must do as the Lord bids us and remember that we are holy unto our God and we just have to be separate from the world as well.

The sin and evil in our world - its like a spiritual Ebola virus. We are most unwise to spend time in or even around an infected village, we could easily catch what they have. This is how we must look at sin and evil. It is a disease, a spiritual disease that those who have it almost never know they have. Their own consciences should tell them, but they often don't as many don't seem to have one. As Paul put it, they have seared it with a hot iron (1Tim 4:2). I think what Paul is trying to say is that there are some who are past the point of no return, they really do not understand right and wrong any longer and probably never will.

We have to look at this like a spiritual battle. What kind of soldier spends time in the enemy camp, laughing it up with the enemy? Could you imagine US soldiers just before the Battle of the Bulge hanging out with the Nazi's in a campfire sing-a-long, just before hostilities? A good General would take those soldiers and have them locked up in the brig... at best or taken out and shot at worst. There is too much at stake on the eve of a critical battle.  For we who put our trust in Jesus Christ, the stakes are eternal.

In a spiritual sense we are in a battle against the forces of darkness, against principalities and strongholds of Satan and his fallen host of spirits. Brothers, it is key that we understand this aspect of our walk with Christ. Satan is busy converting masses of humanity into his cause and people have no clue as to who or what they are serving. This is because Satan is a master deceiver. He will deceive the WHOLE WORLD (Rev 12:9) and could take down the very elect as well, if it were possible (Matt 24:24).

We as Christians must remain true to our God stand firm with our brethren, our real brethren and come away from the lost, apostates and those who preach false and misleading doctrines. This was one of Paul's points in 2 Timothy, chapter three when he went on talking about false teachers and noted Jannes and Jambres. These two men are not specifically named in the Old Testament as it was passed down to us, but who are accepted to be the magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh.

Paul is clearly referring to men who oppose God's ministers and in the case of the aforementioned personages, were servants rather of Pharaoh than of God. But false prophets and false ministers exist everywhere in our world - they serve the state or other masters, not the Lord. They are certainly a serious problem here in the US, where a kind of churchianity rather than Christianity is preached.

If Christianity today has little real power and appeal today, it's because much of Church leadership has ceased to obey the God they claim to adore.

The distinctions are often subtle and not easy to determine, particularly with new believers. But various 'new teachings' have permeated much of American Christianity, We have pastors in some denominations performing all manner of unbiblical acts.  We have pastors living like kings in multi-million dollar mansions and others preaching hate or close to it from the Pulpit. We as Christians must be discerning and not let ourselves be deceived by many of the deceiving spirits that have permeated mainstream churchianity. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled by these kinds of religious institutions or leaders. These are difficult times and as Christ and the apostles warned us, deceivers are out there in force for these are the last days.

Let us all keep in mind our heritage in Christ and our place in God's kingdom and what he expects of us all. One is holiness. The Strongs Greek word for it is Hagiamos.
hagiasmos hag-ee-as-mos'
from 37; properly, purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier:--holiness, sanctification. see GREEK for 37

It is a state of purity and sanctification and it is a requirement for the saints. It is not an option. Was it not the Lord who said, be ye holy, for I am holy (1Pet 1:16)? This looks very much like a command to me.

What we must never, ever do is adopt a 'holier than thou' attitude, to put ourselves on some kind of spiritual pedestal, looking down on all of the 'sinners' around us as the Pharisee's were known for doing and Christ firmly rebuked them for it. True holiness recognizes that we are sinners and we are forgiven and must reject our sinful life of the past and embrace righteousness, holiness, humility, truth and peace in Christ. We must separate ourselves from those influences that defile us.

Well, I wanted to post something along these lines and felt led to do so this morning as our world slowly slips into madness and former pastors how openly proclaim their apostasy and rejection of Christianity to the world.

We must not catch the spiritual infection that is running rampant in the world today. This infection is hitting the Church as well and confusion rather than sound, biblically based doctrine these days reigns supreme in the 'pop culture' of the American Church.

Let us all take heed to ourselves. Deceit is everywhere and only a foolish man thinks he cannot fall victim to it.

Grace and peace to you all in Christ!

Brother Mark

27 Nov

The Day Before Thanksgiving

This time of year is special for many of you as you get a chance to see family. I do hope you all get to spend quality time with family and friends. Many of you will be traveling on Wednesday and will be away from your computers this weekend.

I may have some intermittent updates this weekend, but honestly... I spend far too much time on computers and really need to get away from them for a while.

But what I do want to leave you this long weekend is just some verses, some passages of scripture with very little comment.

We all have much to be thankful for. We have homes, food, clothing and much more. This is much more than many have. Why then do we all have a tendency to be dissatisfied? In my 60 years of life, one of the biggest and most important lessons I learned is this - to be happy, one must be content and thankful to God. Contentment - real contentment gives a man a lot of peace. Men are often pricked and pained by the lust for more; for money or driven by ambition and the lust for wordy praise. But if we learn to remain where God wants us to be and be content in that place - truly content in God, we will find peace and contentment in him.

So on this Thanksgiving let us thank the Lord for what he has done. The protection he has given to all of us. Many in California lost their homes this year due to fire. In Albania today there was a big quake that took many lives. You could be one of the many refugee's trying to get into Europe or the US because you are fleeing horrible circumstances in your own country. Brothers, let us cese with murmuring and grumbling. The Lord really hates that. Rather, let's look around us and give thanks for what he has given us and for many of us, even if we are having some trouble, if we look around at how many are forced to live in this world... we have very, very much to be thankful for!!

 Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, t
herein to be content.  I know how to be abased,
and I know also how to abound: in everything
and in all things have I learned the secret
both to be filled and to be hungry, both to
abound and to be in want.
 I can do all things in him that
 strengtheneth me.
(Phil 4:11-13 [ASV])

So dear brothers and sisters. The news these days may not be very encouraging and I know I do report on a lot of things that don't necessarily make the heart leap with joy. But the truth be told I am not discouraged in the least. God is with me and with each and everyone of you as well, as you walk with him and do his will.

So let us not be downcast but be thankful for what he has done for all of us!!

26 Nov

Habakkuk Part XIII

 For though the fig-tree shall not flourish,
Neither shall fruit be in the vines;
The labor of the olive shall fail,
And the fields shall yield no food;
The flock shall be cut off from the fold,
And there shall be no herd in the stalls: 
Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 [ASV])

Habakkuk closes his prophecy with a prayer of thanksgiving and rejoicing. He is going to rejoice in God even in hard times, which the passages clearly envision. This is clearly a day of future trouble that he anticipates and does so rejoicing in his God. Yes, things will be dark, there will be famine as food is clearly seen as being scarce. But he will rejoice in God, not just God, but the God of his salvation. Yes, even amidst the terrible judgments that God has pronounced on his people and this dread king's advance, the Prophet rejoices and by extension exhorts God's people to do the same when such things come to pass on a people.

I cannot help but pass on these words out of the Preachers Homiletical.
The prophet contemplates famine, failure, and desolating death. Though God usually provides abundance and variety, he can reverse this action and suspend the course of nature (Psa 107:31-43). Health may fail, friends be removed, plans be frustrated, and privation be felt. Dependent are we from first to last.

Resumption of his gifts establishes God’s claim to ownership. (Illus. Abraham’s offering of Isaac.) The fig-tree without blossom, the vine without fruit, the olive destitute of oil; the barren fields, the smitten flocks, and the empty stalls; impressively tell us that the Lord God Almighty is the Absolute Proprietor.
- The Preachers Homilitical
Now the Cambridge Bible makes an interesting comment that these last three verses of Habakkuk could be a later addition and that the book and his Poem actually end at verse 16. I do not think this is so, this is a special kind of poem-song that was probably known by its rambling nature (Sigionoth see verse 3:1) and this probably explains the change in tone as well as any other explanation. The prophet probably wanted to end this work on a positive note rather than a negative one and these three verses do that very well - despite it all, I will rejoice in the Lord!!
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet,
set to Shigionoth.
(Habakkuk 3:1 [ASV])

Here he acknowledges who gives him his strength. It's God! He will make him swift like a gazelle and he can move to the mountains, where there is safety.  This is probably what is meant by mine high places. He will be able to get up there fast. The swiftness and moving in these places can also denote a kind of freedom. The reference to 'mine' high places could denote a look forward to the time of Israel's return after judgment and having fled from the enemy. My view is the passage is more of a generalization, than any specific prophecy of the future. The last stanza in the last verse clearly marks this as some kind of song, though again we can only guess at the musical style.


Habakkuk is a prophet of note. His prayer shows us his inner feelings and personal frustration over the way things in Israel were going and God's seeming inaction. He cried out the Lord of sin and even violence and the Lord did not seem to hear him. Then begins an exchange between the prophet and the Lord. I think that what we can take away from this book is very practical and probably a bit less 'end time prophetic'. The big lesson I think? That being frustrated is natural. God's greatest men often felt it as well as depression. The key is always to never succumb to it, never let it steer us away from our purpose. Habakkuk even in his frustration determines never to leave his post.

I will stand upon my watch,
and set me upon the tower,
and will look forth to see what he will speak with me,
and what I shall answer concerning my complaint.
(Habakkuk 2:1 [ASV])

Yes, the prophet continued to stand watch despite his deep frustrations. This is how we need to be. No matter what we may be seeing, how dark things many look, we must be ready to continue on with our God appointed tasks and not shirk our duty, not throw in the towel in anger or frustration.

The Biblical authority of the book is not in question, but there remains much controversy as to who Habakkuk was, when he died and where he was buried. I would however be remiss in not pointing out that he is mentioned in one Apocryphal book, Bel And the Dragon. You may make of the passage what you wish, I will pass on the relevant verses in that book purely for your information. (Bel and the Dragon 1:33-42 [KJVA])
Again, you must make of this story what you will. While I think the apocryphal books are great for shedding light on history in some places, and can be a source of encouragement in others, some of them are more like fables and so great care needs to be used when reading them. I only pass this along as this is another reference that has survived where the prophet is mentioned.

Brothers, let us keep this wonderful little book in mind when God begins to levy his recompense on fallen men, particularly here in the western world that has enjoyed God's bounty for so long and have so often shown God not a spirit of thanksgiving but open contempt for him.

Whatever befalls the nation or our world, we who love our God should always give thanks and rejoice on the Lord who is the source of all good things.

21 Nov

Persecution Watch

In Iran, where protests are ongoing, a Christian has begun his sentence for evangelizing. They sent him to a place known as a hotbed for Islamic militancy.

As part of a larger prison sentence delivered in 2013, Ebrahim Firoozi, 33, was sentenced to two years in exile in Sarbaz, a frontier town on the Iranian-Pakistani border known for its isolation and prevalence of Islamic militant groups.

The sentence, which will expose the convert from Islam to extended periods of danger and isolation, was meant to keep him “from having a positive influence on people and to stop him from fellowshipping with the people in the Tehran area,” a source at advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) told Morning Star News. - Morning Star News

For those of you interest Middle East Concern also has a report on this.

For many of us, we will be badly mistreated by our families for our walk with Christ. Here is one such story out of the ICC.

Mumbedde Sula is one of many Christians facing persecution in Uganda. Unlike other East African countries where the main perpetrator is the Somali-based terror group, al-Shabaab, families are the leading persecutors in Uganda. They often use physical violence, poisoning, rejection, and false accusations in an attempt to turn new converts back to Islam.

Despite all that Sula has suffered at the hands of his family, though, he is part of a much larger heavenly family. The faithfulness of Robert Muhando and his church as they supported our brother in his time of need was a true demonstration of Christ’s love for Sula. It is what we are called to do for our Christian family in the midst of their suffering. We are thankful to Robert Muhando and his church for intervening and granting Sula’s release. Please continue praying for Mumbedde Sula as he goes through this trying time. Pray that his faith would remain strong and that he knows he is not alone. - ICC

In another interesting development on the persecution front and from the same Organization, the ICC is reporting that the Trump administration is considering conditioning foreign aid on the state of religious freedom in the potential recipients country.

Religious freedom? It means freedom to believe or not believe without the state coming in and forcing or pressuring you one way or another. We Americans take it for granted. I think many atheists do as well because in some countries Atheism is a crime and in still others, is punishable by death. So for those of you who think religious freedom is not an issue that is important to you. You probably don't know it, but it is. This is an issue that we should all fully support.

I have no interest in seeing anyone threatened with a gun to their head, a threat of economic deprivation, prison or the loss of their children because of their religious beliefs -  whatever those  beliefs may be. We had many centuries of so called 'Christian government' in Europe and torture chambers and burnings at the stake were too often the result. The sad part is those things were used on other Christians!! The founders of this country were wise when they allowed for the freedom of religion, but inserted the establishment clause - no state sponsored religion. We don't need the state telling us what to believe. Too many Americans take this for granted and don't realize that in many places in the world, this is not the case. You can literally wind up with a rope around your neck for not believing 'properly'.

In Mexico, a pastor was gunned down in the State of Chihuahua. His name was Salvador Atilano Galaviz Morales and according to news reports.

A European Non-profit has an annual report on Christian discrimination. The organization is called The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians In Europe.

Christians in Canada are called upon to pray for persecuted Christians.  In Turkey a pastor was murdered.

Brothers, The way I see it. The Church in the west is indeed in crisis, but the Church - the part of it that is under fire, being persecuted and otherwise suffering, is growing and strengthening. There are a lot of people in nations that are under the gun so to speak that have kept the faith and know the cost of salvation.

Many bear the marks of persecution on their bodies and hearts.  We in the west too often give Christ our scraps, not all of ourselves. Our residual money, time and efforts. This is the witness we are leaving the world - Jesus is only worthy of our leavings. Not so with those in many places in Africa and Asia. It's all not nothing with them. In many places, you proclaim Christ and you are literally taking your life into your own hands. Your own brother may stab you, your wife poison you or the cops may come and burn down your home.

So we in the western 'Laodicean' Church should learn from our brothers in these far off places. We must strive to enter into the strait gate, not just seek (Luke 13:24). Let us lay aside all of those weights and encumbrances, those bad relationships and unholy jobs and sources of revenue and set our faces firmly towards Jesus Christ and turn our backs fully on this wicked world system with its treachery, greed, hate and the growing spirits of murder and insanity.

But seek ye first his kingdom,
 and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be
added unto you. (
Matthew 6:33 [ASV])

Brothers, let us all continue to pray without ceasing.

19 Nov

I Have Chosen You...

Ye did not choose me, but I chose you,
 and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit,
 and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever
ye shall ask of the Father in my name,
he may give it you.
(John 15:16 [ASV])
Today, let's leave behind the news of the day... and there has been some interesting developments and talk about the really important things - our souls.

Early this AM I was thinking about the state of the Church and how messed up so much of it. I was concerned about what is happening to Christianity and how those who don't know Christ but want to know God could find him and not get sidetracked with some of the follies and false doctrines that fill so many sermons and Church gatherings today. I say this by way of just humble concern for the Church, not to slam those ministers who are doing the best they can with what they have in sometimes impossible administrative constraints placed upon them. This is often so. Priests and pastors often want to shout out what needs to be said, but if they do, they could lose their jobs, be removed from their position in the Church, etc. The church boards, regional committee's and archbishoprics will indeed, force them out.

Then the Lord just said those words to me above 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you'. It is God that does the choosing, not you and I and he has chosen us out of this world.

If ye were of the world, the world would love its own:
 but because ye are not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hateth you.
(John 15:19 [ASV])

Did you know that you were really chosen? Yes, God chose you, you did not choose him. He is sovereign and has chosen a precious few to fellowship with him as sons. God's power and wisdom and even most of his purposes are far, far beyond what we mortals can understand. But before the world was made, he chose us and while we are here, he wants to mold us into something that reflects himself, like any father would a son before we come into our spiritual inheritance.

For his own purposes the Lord allows 'devils' into the fold. Yes, he does. Don't believe me?

Jesus answered them,
Did not I choose you the twelve,

and one of you is a devil?
(John 6:70 [ASV])
Yes, at times the Lord allows devils in our midst for his own purposes. Sometimes they are revealed to us before, sometimes afterwards sometimes never. He knows what he is doing. Yes, the devil is allowed to do many things, remember Job.

Yet God knows all. He knew us from the beginning and this is a fact that we should never lose sight of. We should always weigh the eternal over the temporal. Nothing down here will last forever, nothing. It is very temporary; people fighting and killing one another so they can 'own' something that they cannot carry with them to their tomb, but willing to slaughter whole families, cities even countries in order to enrich themselves for the fleeting moments they live on earth.

All God is doing is allowing men to men choose the evil they often are so enraptured with. The effect of the evil in the natural order is only temporary, but the spiritual damage they do to themselves is eternal. For one day, a new heaven and a new earth will be created. Ownership of things down here? I look at it more like rent or a lease because I have yet to see a U-Haul van roll up to the cemetery with the earthly goods of those who departed. Even if it did, what good would it do them while they are laying in a box stiff, cold and decomposing?
But what God wanted to impress upon me was that the Lord knows those that are his.
Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth,
having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his:
and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord
depart from unrighteousness.
 (II Timothy 2:19 [ASV])
He knows how to guide his sheep where they need to go, like a good Shepherd. God uses human institutions to bring about his good will, but he is not wholly dependent on them. God, not the Church is sovereign. God is perfect, the Church is quite imperfect and often greatly errs. If God has to work around the administrative structures of the Church he can and will. God will never be constrained by the errors of men.
Yes, my concern is for the Church. I am concerned about how dark forces use the Church and Christian leaders to lead or give support to social movements that have nothing to do with the gospel. Yes, it concerns me because the Church as I see it, is too often being used by and in bed with the world and consequently makes itself more and more useless to God.

We are to come out of this world, not be its instrument. This is one reason there is such spiritual hostility to the genuine Christian. This is what is meant above in John 15:19, Christ has called us out of this world, the devil is the prince of this world. He wants what he thinks is 'his' back, that would be the truly born again believer. We are no longer under the curse of sin and death, but are now part of the brotherhood of light and love in Christ Jesus.

So let us all be certain that God knows how to get a message to those whom he (not we) has chosen. And while the Church can often be a hindrance to a person coming to truly know the risen Christ (as opposed to the many false ones), such a thing is hardly impossible with God. Even now we see how God is moving in the Arab world, giving people dreams of visions of Jesus.

I suppose my problem when I showed such concern for souls was that I was not thinking clearly and I was actually selling God short! In this work of salvation he does not really need any of us, but will certainly use us if we choose to yield ourselves to him and his will.

Well, I felt led to share that with you all this AM.

May God richly bless all of you in Christ and remember, God has indeed CHOSEN YOU!


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