-And the LORD answered me, and said,
             Write the vision,and make it plain upon tables,
                    that he may run that readeth it. 
                   - (Hab 2:2)


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.

The Power Of The Blood
The power of the blood of Christ to cleanse us from all sin.

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

Trials And Tribulations
A look at our trials as Christians, why we go through them and how to do so successfully.

God's Protection In Times Of Trial

Thinking The Unthinkable
A look at the possibility of Nuclear War

Pole Shift: A Brief Speculative Look

The Day Of The Lord

Prayer: Standing In The Gap

The Sufficiency Of Christ

Standing In The Gap

Discerning The Times

Truth Averse

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


Christ, Family and Persecution

Obadiah: Divine Geopolitics
- Is the Lord concerned about geopolitics?


Links I Like
From all over the Christian spectrum!

Last Days Of The Age
The Endtime Pilgrim
The First Trumpet
The Last Trumpet

Spirit Daily

(Catholic... great news links)

Orthodox Today
(A look at today from an Orthodox Perspective)
The Assyrian News Agency
(A look at events in Iraq)
The Barnabas Fund
China Aid
(A look at events inside China, from a Christian Perspective)
Gay Christian Movement Watch
(A hard-hitting blog talking about the growing sin of Homosexuality inside the Church)
Independent Catholic News

Jihad Watch
(Not Christian, but gets into important trends in the Islamic world)

Babylon Today

Morning Star News
Persecution News


Last Updated
19 Sept 2019


For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words,
of him shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he shall come in his own glory,
and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
(Luk 9:26)

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand,
I shall not be moved.
(Psa 16:8)


1Mark can be reached here.

19 Sept

Decadence Watch

Puberty Blockers For Kids As Young As 12?
The rise of Transgenderism has powerful proponents. Russia Today as well as other UK outlets are talking about new recommendation on allowing these drugs at an early age. Kids are now on the frontline of a major culture war, not just in the US, but throughout the western world.

Not Even Jezebel Did This, so says the story out of The Stream. They talk about killing babies with still beating hearts. The Washington Examiner talks about the hideous medical experiments going on with fetal tissue right here in the USA.

Then there are the other killings in America. CBS has a piece on murder. The Nation a piece on Suicide.

We are a deeply troubled nation. Particularly on the spiritual front. I could go on and and on recount many of the horrors going on inside the nation, the shootings, gruesome murders, mentally unstable behavior by Americans strung out on various narcotics. But not today....

Brothers, I am often struck by the fact that God took so long in warning Israel of her sins and waited for her to repent. She did not. The same with Babylon, which God used to spoil the sinful nation of Israel.

 So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil
that should come upon Babylon,
even all these words that are written against Babylon. 
And Jeremiah said to Seraiah,
When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see,
and shalt read all these words; 
Then shalt thou say, O LORD, thou hast
spoken against this place, to cut it off,
that none shall remain in it, neither man nor
beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. 
And it shall be, when thou hast made an
end of reading this book, that thou shalt
bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: 
And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink,
 and shall not rise from the evil that
I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary.
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. 
(Jeremiah 51:60-64 [KJVA])

Those old prophets warned for many long years, decades often. What did the people say? They usually mocked.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 
Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have
in the land of Israel, saying,
The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? 
Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will make this proverb to cease,
and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel;
but say unto them, The days are at hand,
and the effect of every vision.
(Ezekiel 12:21-23 [KJVA])

After many long years and many prophecies that people ceased to listen to. What happened to Israel?
Now in the fifth month,
in the tenth day of the month,
which was the nineteenth year of
Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,
came Nebuzar–adan, captain of the guard,
which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,
 And burned the house of the LORD,
and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem,
 and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:
 And all the army of the Chaldeans,
 that were with the captain of the guard,
brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. 
Then Nebuzar–adan the captain of the
 guard carried away captive certain
of the poor of the people, and the residue
 of the people that remained in the city,
and those that fell away, that fell to
the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude. 
But Nebuzar–adan the captain of the
guard left certain of the poor of the
land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.
(Jeremiah 52 12-16)


And the captain of the guard took
Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah
 the second priest, and the three keepers of the door: 
He took also out of the city an eunuch,
which had the charge of the men of war;
and seven men of them that were near the
king's person, which were found in the city;
and the principal scribe of the host,
who mustered the people of the land;
and threescore men of the people of the land,
that were found in the midst of the city. 
So Nebuzar–adan the captain of the guard took them,
and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.
  And the king of Babylon smote them,
and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath.
Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land. 
This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar
carried away captive: in the seventh year
 three thousand Jews and three and twenty:
 In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar
he carried away captive from Jerusalem
eight hundred thirty and two persons: 
In the three and twentieth year of
Nebuchadrezzar Nebuzar–adan the captain of the guard
 carried away captive of the Jews
seven hundred forty and five persons:
all the persons were four thousand and six hundred. 
(Jeremiah 52:12-30 [KJVA])

One lesson here was that God judged both Israel and Babylon. He used Babylon as a tool to judge Israel for its great wickedness, but he did not forget about the sins of Babylon either. The fall of that empire is described in the book of Daniel.

Brothers, God warns and warns. He is not unmerciful. But what you can be certain of is that God is not playing games with evil and wickedness. He is going to punish. If he did not, he would be guilty of the accusations that the lost and godless always say, that God is unjust. No, he is perfectly just, the problem is that men love evil and his mercy and forbearance is often mistaken for acceptance of our wicked ways.

God is just but he is also merciful. A truly penitent soul, will be heard by God. His forbearance is designed just for this purpose, to give us space to repent, not an excuse to add to our wickedness.  But those who use it as such an excuse will find that they have fallen for a trap of their own making.

Let us look around America and see what this evil is doing to America. But more importantly, that we never, ever partake in any of it and thus become defiled.
17 Sept

Nehemiah Part XL

And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem:
the rest of the people also cast lots,

to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city,
and nine parts to dwell in other cities.

And the people blessed all the men,
 that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

(Neh 11:1-2)
Chapter 11 begins with the word 'and'. However it does not appear to bear any strong connection with the previous passages.  Here is what the Cambridge bible says about it.

1. And] The copula has no connexion with the preceding chapter, and probably marks the compilatory character of the passage. - Cambridge Bible
While this may be one of those minor details that only scholars wrangle about, the casting of lots may not have taken place during the same time and ceremonies of the last chapter. But may have taken place at a later time and circumstance. But the passage is not clear.

The passage above shows that the people cast lots as to who would live in Jerusalem. One would think that people should hardly have to be induced in such a manner to live in the capital city, but there it is. Why was this so? I think the answer can be found in chapter 7.

Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein,
and the houses were not builded.
(Neh 7:4)

With that passage we understand why there may have been some reticence to move to Jerusalem. It was, in our modern vernacular, a 'ghost town'. There was no place to live. Those who went there would have to live in tents or makeshift dwellings until something more permanent could be built.

Moreover, moving is a troublesome business. Probably more so back in those days some 2500 years ago. Ask anyone who has done it a few times in our day and age! Not only that, but many had their livelihoods where they were located. Moving to a new city that was not built up yet and with a sparse population of people who were in similar economic circumstances was going to be hard. The casting of lots to decide things was nothing new. It was also done for the Priests in the previous chapter (10:34).

After having built the walls under such hostile circumstances, Nehemiah knew it was unwise to let the let the city remain sparsely populated and had to find a way to get people into the city. Who knows what mischief his enemies would conjure up?  While some commentators think that the people went up willingly, I think the fact that lots had to be cast shows the opposite. Some probably did not really want to go or had economic reasons wanting to stay where they were. The Geneva commentary basically points this out. If there was a great desire to live there, lots would not have had to be cast in the first place. So who was it who was subject to the cast lots? K &D gives us this bit of commentary.

The “rest of the people” does not mean the assembled people with the exception of the rulers, but the people with the exception of the few who dwelt at Jerusalem. These cast lots to bring (לְהָבִיא) one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem. The predicate, the holy city, occurs here and Neh 11:18 for the first time.

Jerusalem is so called, on the ground of the prophecies, Joe 3:17 and Isa 48:2, because the sanctuary of God, the temple, was there. בֶּעָרִים means, in the other cities of Judah and Benjamin. הַמִּתְנַדְּבִים, those who showed themselves willing to dwell in Jerusalem, is taken by most expositors in contrast to those who were bound to do this in consequence of the decision of the lot; and it is then further supposed that some first went to Jerusalem of their free choice, and that the lot was then cast with respect to the rest.

There are not, however, sufficient grounds for this conclusion, nor yet for the assumption that the decision of the lot was regarded as a constraint. The disposal of the lot was accepted as a divine decision, with which all had, whether willingly or unwillingly, to comply. All who willingly acquiesced in this decision might be designated as  מִתְנַדְּבִים; 
[to impel; hence to volunteer (as a soldier), to present spontaneously: - offer freely, be (give, make, offer self) willing (-ly) ].and these departed to Jerusalem accompanied by the blessings of the people. Individuals are not so much meant, as chiefly fathers of families, who went with their wives and children. - K & D

So the decision was made, out of ten - nine would dwell outside the city in other parts of Judea and one would dwell in Jerusalem. Verse two says that the people blessed the people who willingly offered to go.

Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem:
but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit,
Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants.
(Neh 11:3)

Now we come to one of those to me somewhat less interesting passages of scripture, the listings of peoples, families and tribes that only scholars like to study and debate about. But this time, we will spend a bit of time on them rather than just skipping over this section.

Here Nehemiah talks about the princes or chief (heads) of the province that actually dwelt in Jerusalem. Two things must be remembered here. The word province must be understood to be a province of Persia under Xerxes. Keep in mind that Judea, politically speaking, was a rather unimportant 'sideshow' of the greater Persian empire. I say this so that there is no misunderstanding that Israel was still under foreign domination and Nehemiah was acting under Persian authority.

Verse three I find a bit confusing. But the sense here appears to be to list out those who are leaders/chiefs/heads in Jerusalem and contrast out the fact that the rest lived in his own land/home. This 'every one' includes

Israel - which is the whole nation as it existed before the Kingdom split
The Levites - The priestly tribe.

The Nethinims - These were Temple Servants
The Children Of Solomon's Servants - Another class of servants
The class of the Nethinim is an interesting one. The word is first used 1Chronicles. But some commentators equate their functions with those first assigned to the Gibeonite's in the book of Joshua (Chapter 9). Who they were exactly is a matter of debate. But the best view seems to be that they were converted/naturalized foreigners (non-Israelite's) who did manual and menial labor in the Temple.

The Children of Solomon's Servants - This is another semi-unknown and interesting group. These appear to be like the Nethinim, descendants of foreign nations who either converted and/or were conquered. These may have been the progeny of the Canaanites who were used by Solomon for the Building of the Temple. Both The Davis Bible Dictionary and the Cambridge Bible agree on this. These may have continued to be bondservants (slaves) in the Kingdom for this is what they were in the days of Solomon (1Kings 9:20), but we cannot be sure.

We will continue Nehemiah next week, God willing!

12 Sep

Persecution Watch
Cuba: Christians In Jail For Homeschooling Kids
"Pastor Ramón Rigal was sentenced to two years in prison in April for homeschooling his two children, as well as for leading an unregistered church. His wife Ayda Expósito is serving an 18-month sentence in a women’s prison for refusing to educate their children in government-run schools, the only legal option in Cuba." - Morning Star News

Algerian Church Requests Prayer Over Pressure From Authorities
A News report says that regional authorities are directed to intensify their efforts in looking into the financial activities of Protestant leaders. ME Concern reports.

India: Village Church Set On Fire
Persecution Relief looks at another tragedy that Indian believers face. A new law could put pastors in jail for many years, according to this piece out of the ICC.
Eritrea: 'North Korea Of Africa' Closes Catholic Health Facilities.
The ICC reports.

The Dragon At the End Of The Silk Road
The Mission Box looks at China and how it is attempting a purge of Christians in the nation.

Pakistani Christian Who Died In Cop Custody Was Tortured - Autopsy
The Christian Post reports.
The persecution goes on and on. But brothers know this - if our religion were an empty one, no one would pay it any mind. But the gospel is real. The devil knows this and that is why in so many places there is such a spate of violent persecution of God's people. You can find some persecution against some faiths in a few places here and there, but with Christianity, it is hated just about everywhere, even increasingly here in the West.

Christ said 'love your brother' and the world says 'kill the Christians'.

Why is this? I think the book of Revelation gives us a major part of the reason.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman,
and went to make war with the remnant of her seed,
which keep the commandments of God,
and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
 (Rev 12:17 [KJVA])

So let us not be downhearted. This is evidence of both the importance of our faith and the lateness of the hour.

Let us not slumber, be be awake and watchful!!

10 Sep

Vaccine Efficacy: Hard Science?

There are plenty of investigations that the establishment has kept secret that demonstrates that there are some problems with vaccines. But once you start quoting those things and linking to them, they do what they can to silence you. There are billions of dollars in a hoped for revenue stream to consider in all of those jabs (which cost money per do$e).

The HHS? Well, are the officials there looking out for the kids or their own personal financial interests? You don't have to cite some obscure blogger to want to scratch your head while in a quandary trying to figure that one out. The Government itself looked into some of these issues and what they found was troubling

Source: US Congress

   Source: HHS-IG

More here.

Do you get the impression that this is a racket? One where insiders get their pet vaccine approved with or without rigorous testing so they can retire on a mountain of gold?

But anyone who questions the use of vaccines immediately gets silenced/censored and has all manner of negative names thrown at them. Those who call the effectiveness of them cite 'hard science' often don't really know what they are talking about. To me it looks like 'science' that only exits in the reports of those with serious financial conflicts of interests.

Some of these firms, who have been silencing those who question vaccines? One can only ask if they are working together to keep these big drug companies rolling in the dough.

From my perspective, this is one and only one key aspect of the whole American problem the nation faces, the real corruption in the US exists in the places that are supposed to be the covert 'check' on it in our political system. The secret agencies and government working groups whose job it is to protect the nation, secretly are not about to do it if it effects someones bottom line. Again, there is a great deal of money at stake.

Now let me make this clear. Given the kinds of things happening in our world and the rise of new kinds of bio-warfare that has and is already taking place, prudent measures do need to be put in place to forestall a serious pandemic that could kill millions in just a few weeks, should America's foes develop such a doomsday weapon and believe me, they are working on it. A cursory internet search using terms like 'doomsday bio-weapon' will yield all kinds of results, many from highly respected publications. So the governments concern about anti-vaxxers is not an abstract one. Such people could be unwittingly be used by a foreign adversary to stir up large number of people from taking a vaccine that protects against a bioweapon and kills many.

Those who deployed such a weapon would be the prime suspect in such a campaign. But the other threat that I don't think our policy makers can see, or rather are being paid not to see (think conflict of interests) is that many of the vaccines themselves may be part of a long term biological attack on America.

It's one of those things where you never want to kill people outright a day or so after they take a jab. No, you want to give them some progressive disease that develops over time, or a binary toxin that is only effective when the second half of the toxin is introduced by another method weeks, months or even years later. This would make detection very difficult and would assist in helping to evade accountability (a key aspect of any covert plan). Given the financial interests who have considerable sway in our nation who would want to hide such a plan (if it did exist) and the ties they have to our 'deep state' and by extension key parts America's 'narrative control' agencies and corporations? The concern is no idle one. Many of those interests appear to be under significant influence of foreign powers.

This is why the censorship crowd is out in force and why it is gaining such traction. Gun control, Vaccines and other issues? This is all done because there is a war going on and most Americans have no clue as to the real battle lines. They are stuck on the bi-partisan shadow boxing TV show also known as American politics. They still have not figured out that next to nothing is going to change no matter who wins in 2020. That is because entrenched interest run this country and most Americans lack the sophistication to see past partisan and foolish narratives and mindsets.

Do your best, I ask all of you to see past the partisan emotionalism, the inflammatory statements of all sides; the slanted stories in the major press and don't let propagandists play on your fears and emotions. Get the facts, think  and use that organ that so many people in the US seem intent on destroying with drugs...

...their brains.

5 Sept

Habakkuk Part IX

What profiteth the graven image
that the maker thereof hath graven it;
 the molten image, and a teacher of lies,
that the maker of his work trusteth therein,
to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood,
Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach!
Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver,
and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
But the LORD is in his holy temple:
let all the earth keep silence before him.

(Hab 2:18-20)

Here the prophet, who was speaking of Lebanon in the previous passages and the violence connected with the place, shifts from speaking of violence to idolatry. This seems to be a general observation and prophetic word rather than one just directed at Lebanon, as Israel was steeped in it at the time as well. He asks rhetorically what possible profit or good can a graven image have; an image that the maker himself has created? The question again is rhetorical because such an action borders on madness. Yet people in the ancient world were smitten with all manner of graven images and worshiped them as gods. Israel copied them, just like they copied the nations around them when they demanded a king.
Nevertheless the people
refused to obey the voice of Samuel;
and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
 That we also may be like all the nations;
and that our king may judge us,
and go out before us,
and fight our battles.
(I Sam 8:19-20 [KJVA])

The people wanted to copy the ways of others. It was little different with idols. Everyone else was doing it why should not they? This is the mentality of a great many of God's people, then and now. Idols have no profit - they cannot save, they cannot hear and they do nothing but gather dust and take up space while the man adores it. All the while the idol has all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of stone. How can a person - a thinking person put its trust in such a thing? Idolatry was a constant problem in Israel as the major and minor prophets spoke often about it. (Isa 44:9. Jer 2:8-11 and many more passages). Even today it is a problem and one day it is going to be a major global problem for in the last days, it is the mark and image of the beast that will command worship. The image of the last days will indeed be decidedly different for somehow they will be able to put life into an image/idol (see G1504 - see Rev 13:15).

In verse 19 the prophet goes from simply observing how foolish the worship of idols are to the fate of those that do it, he pronounces a woe upon them.

The person who puts his faith in such things and says it is going to teach or awaken; this is the kind of person the prophet warns. The Preachers Homelitical makes some important points that I am going to pass on. It says that idolatry is
1 - a system of lies.
2 - a system of impotence
3 - a system of vanity
And it is as the last stanza of verse 19 makes clear... it's not even alive!!

The section ends with a deep reverence for God, who see's these things and knows what the sons of men are up to. Unlike these works of stone and wood, God dwells on high in his Holy temple. The prophet then exhorts silence before him.

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
O LORD, I have heard thy speech,
and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work
 in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make known;
in wrath remember mercy.
(Hab 3:1-2)

Here the prophet begins a prayer to God. Verse one is a bit of a problem as the word Shigionoth is just a bit but not totally obscure. The word is this one in Strongs.

shig-gaw-yone' or shiggayonah {shig-gaw-yo-naw'};
from 7686; properly, aberration, i.e. (technically) a dithyramb or rambling poem:--Shiggaion, Shigionoth. see HEBREW for 07686

Most commentators see this as a kind of rambling prayer or speech by the prophet set down to music. The Cambridge Bible notes that it is a kind of wild ecstatic poem and may really mean to the music of 'Shigionoth'. It was probably a kind of poem and music that was not as orderly and predicable as many were used to. I hate to draw parallels with some of the vulgarities of our times, but perhaps we could look at it as a kind of 'rap' music of those days as he set down his prayer perhaps to music. Granted, this may be a very rough way to look at the way this was set down. It was probably not your typical 'church music' poem or song. However Adam Clarke thinks that verse one was added later. 

This may be off point, but some of you may find this of interest.

I suspect that the title here given is of a posterior date to the prophecy. It appears to interrupt the connection between this and the termination of the preceding verse. See them together: -

Hab 2:20 : “But the Lord is in his holy temple:
Be silent before him, all the earth.
Hab 3:1 : O Lord, I have heard thy speech:
I have feared, O Lord, thy work.
As the years approach thou hast shown;
As the years approach thou makest known.
In wrath thou rememberest mercy.”

The prophet may here refer to the speech which God had communicated to him, (Hab 1:1-11, 2:4-20), and the terror with which he was struck, because of the judgments denounced against Jerusalem. - Adam Clarke

In verse two the prophets deep reverence for God is shown. When the Lord spoke he was afraid. I know the feeling! The prophet then asks God to revive his work. That his word, long promised, be fulfilled. Barnes enlightens us on this passage as he notes that at times his word seems unfulfilled as time passes. But in reality, his word is all laid up in store. The prophet here seems to be asking God to 'get a move on' and to remember his words and works and revive them. Darby thinks that Habakkuk is looking for a revival and hearkens back to the olden days, perhaps during the exodus. Most importantly he asks God that though he may be angry with his people, that he remembers mercy.

We will continue our look at Habakkuk soon as God gives grace!

3 Sept

Asia, Food And Corporate Retailers

(Grain.org) We were concerned that corporate supermarkets were expanding faster in Asia than anywhere else in the world. Although traditional markets and street vendors are still very visible and important to the region's food supply, the entry and aggressive expansion of multinational food corporations, beverage companies and supermarket chains over the past decade has had major impacts on Asia's farmers, food workers, traders, and consumers.

This expansion is facilitated by a growing number of free trade and investment agreements, which allows these companies to develop their global procurement systems. The opening of 100% foreign direct investment in retail coupled with lower tariffs for agriculture products in many Asian countries and tax loopholes allow retail chains to undercut local production with foods sourced from the cheapest or most heavily subsidised areas.

This puts pressure on local producers and increases monoculture production in specific areas, like the banana and pineapple plantations in the Philippines, the oil palm plantations in Indonesia, the coffee and tea plantations in Vietnam or the industrial seafood and poultry operations in Thailand. - Story Continues At Grain.org

Staying on the subject of food (and famine) FEWS has released their latest on the situation in South Sudan  

You can find the report here at FEWS

In Yemen, the food aid blame game continues, this time with the Houthi's being blamed for destroying 'expired' food aid. The UN has warned of cuts if new aid is not forthcoming. It has already been forced to cease some programs in Yemen. You can read more about the shortfall at the WaPo.

We Americans... many of us just don't know what it is like to be without food. I mean really and truly to be without food.

29 aug

Why Cumbereth It The Ground?

He spake also this parable;
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard;
and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard,
Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree,
 and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also,
 till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit,
 well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
(Luk 13:6-10)

You know one of the key things that God is looking for from his people? It's fruit. The fig tree, representative of the people of Israel here and God being the owner of the vineyard is looking for some fruit. This is such an important passage, not just for the Jews back then but also for the Church today.

First of all let's take a look at a couple of things. The conclusion that the owner had of his field was not a hasty one. It was one born of years of patience and the evidence of this own eyes. He waited and watched in anticipation that his investment and work would yield some positive results.

The owner is completely practical. This is not an esoteric debate, he wants to know why the tree is taking up precious ground if it has no value to him.

These parables can be so telling. Let's take a look at what the Biblical Illustrator has to say about this.
Notice THE SITUATION OF THE TREE, the place where it stands. It is in God’s vineyard, and our Lord tells us how it came there. The vineyard was not its natural situation. It did not spring up there, nor was it brought there by accident. God Himself had it planted there. An emblem, brethren, of our situation at this hour, and of the way in which we came into it. - The Biblical Illustrator
So let's take a deeper look, the fig tree was planted in the vineyard. This is not a natural place for it. A vineyard is for growing grapes, not figs. Remember how Abraham came out of Ur and settled in Canaan? God was looking for fruit among his people that he had brought both into Canaan and later from out of the nations they were driven (exile). Remember how we the Church are a wild olive branch (Rom 11:17)?

The commentary goes on to eloquently describe that God watches. He watches over his people for fruit. He has made an investment in us in time and effort. He wants us to bear fruit. He had these expectations with Israel. What was the result? He kept looking for fruit, kept seeking some kind of sign that his investment would pay off and usually found none. What did he do to Israel? I will tell you, he cast them off the land. This is the end of the unprofitable servant (Matt 25:30) or in this case, the unfruitful tree. They are ultimately cast off. The Lord is sore displeased when he finds no fruit on the 'trees' he has planted. As one commentator put it, consistent unfruitfulness before God becomes a serious spiritual offense/crime.

This parable shows God's patience with his people. He waited and waited for some fruit, but then he became annoyed and somewhat perturbed by the lack of fruit. He was angry enough about the whole situation where cutting it down was the first solution he contemplated.

Yet the dresser made intercession for the tree and proposed an alternative. Let him take just a bit more care for it and see if that will work. The person or office here is clearly interpreted to be the intercessor. Someone who stands between both the tree and the owner and has day-to-day contact with both. This is a type of high priest or even Christ himself who mediates between God and man.

Fast Forward to the 21st Century

While this parable was clearly written as a parable about Israel, it bears direct application to the Church as well. Have you taken a real good look at American and Western Christendom? A real hard spiritual look at it? I know I have. I know many of you mature 'old-time gospel' believers have as well. The Church is in crisis and I am certainly not the only one who see's it. Pope's who try and make light of adultery, pastors who 'marry' homosexuals, every manner of sexual sin running rampant in the congregation and most importantly with little or no rebuke from the pastor or elders; politics rather than Bible being preached from the pulpits. The American yes, even western Church is in a pitiable state. Instead of the fruits of the spirit we have the stench of division, perversions, hate, greed, apostasy and more and more an overarching desire to be like the world, rather than be as God commanded us to be... in his order.

All of this coupled with trends as the rest of society - a seeming increasing divorcement from reality and diminishing mental stability. As 'crazy' takes over the West, it is also infecting what calls itself the Church.

Let me be straight and no nonsense about it. If the Church is in crisis and cannot keep people in the congregations it is because in so very many of them, there is no salvation in them. Just a form of religion, a 'philosophy' or a social club but no genuine born from above in a supernatural fashion in abiding in Christ Jesus.

Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
except it abide in the vine; no more can ye,
except ye abide in me. I am the vine,
ye are the branches: He that abideth in me,
 and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:
for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch,
and is withered; and men gather them,
and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,
ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit;
so shall ye be my disciples.
(Joh 15:4-8)

Here we see the same spiritual principle but this time not in a parable, but in a direct command of Christ to his disciples.

For many of these pastors, religion is a 'get rich quick scheme', a way to get a McMansion, a Lexus and a pretty wife and good health insurance by being a 'motivational speaker'; one that uses a smörgåsbord version of the bible - only preach the things they like and they think the congregation wants to hear.

Now brothers I say this not about all Churches. There are many who are doing their best to really do right by God. They are neither perfect and can and do make mistakes. This is not some broad criticism of all pastors and Churches. It is more about trends in modern Christendom and a new kind of 'religion' that seems to be rising up in America that can no more save a soul than can an incantation from a wizard. They have form of godliness but deny the power thereof. I am often reminded of a passage from the letters to the Seven Churches of Asia where our Lord says this to the Church at Sardis.

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write;
These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God,
and the seven stars; I know thy works,
that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain,
that are ready to die: for I have not
found thy works perfect
before God.
(Rev 3:1-2)

No brothers, as I head out to the major Christian internet sites and read the pieces in them, I am often appalled by what is passing itself off as Christianity.

When we should be a stunningly different kind of people from the world - a genuine counter culture, I see the Church as being more and more like the world God has told us to come out of. We cannot love this world - the greed, lust, idolatry (ie, in the form of pop-idol adoration, and materialism), hate, murder thefts; the materialism and the desire to be like everyone else.

Brothers loving this world is utterly forbidden.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh,
and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,
is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:
 but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
(1Jn 2:15-17)

One way you can see if someone is truly saved or at least one key aspect of that person is that they are very different from everyone else. They are not like the world around them. How so you might ask?

Looking for that blessed hope,
 and the glorious appearing of the great
God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto himself a peculiar people,
zealous of good works.
(Tit 2:13-14)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises
of him who hath called you
out of darkness into his marvellous light:
(1Pe 2:9)

We are to be different because we are special. We are to bear fruit in the Lord's vineyard. What kind of fruit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
 longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
(Gal 5:22-23)

(For the fruit of the Spirit
 is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
(Eph 5:9)

Not because I desire a gift:
but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
(Php 4:17)

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world;
 and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you,
since the day ye heard of it,
 and knew the grace of God in truth:
(Col 1:6)

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,
 but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth
the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which

are exercised thereby.
(Heb 12:11)

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of
praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of
our lips giving thanks to his name.
(Heb 13:15)

And the fruit of righteousness
is sown in peace of them that make peace.
(Jas 3:18)

Be patient therefore, brethren,
unto the coming of the Lord. Behold,
the husbandman waiteth for the precious
fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it,
until he receive the early and latter rain.
(Jas 5:7)

These are spots in your feasts of charity,
when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:
clouds they are without water, carried about of winds;
trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit,
twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
(Jud 1:12)

Above are just a few passages in our bibles on fruit. Let us all take counsel also from chapters two and three in the book of revelation on how the Lord looked upon parts of the early Church.

I think it meet that we consider these times and ask ourselves this most important question when looking at major parts of Modern Christendom. Have we come to a point where God has asked the vine dresser where is the fruit and says...

'Cut it down... why cumbereth it the ground?'

May God bless and keep all who put their full faith and hope in Christ Jesus.

Brother Mark

27 Aug

Social Security

Finally there is real effort to reform Social Security and fix a gaping shortfall in its budget. Gaping because without serious changes to the system, it's going to go broke before too long. That is not my opinion, it is the opinion of the funds Trustee's. Let us keep this in mind, the fund will be broke in just a few years unless there is reform. That year is 2035 by current estimates, but could move up a year or two depending on how many people start claiming benefits.
Social Security’s receipts and expenditures are accounted for through two federal trust funds: the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Under their intermediate assumptions and under current law, the Social Security trustees project that the DI trust fund will become depleted in 2052 and the OASI trust fund will become depleted in 2034. Although the two funds are legally separate, they are often considered in combination. The trustees project that the combined Social Security trust funds will become depleted in 2035. At that point, the combined trust funds would become insolvent, because incoming tax revenue would be sufficient to pay only about 80% of scheduled benefits.

If a trust fund became depleted and current receipts were insufficient to cover current expenditures, there would be a conflict between two federal laws. Under the Social Security Act, beneficiaries would still be legally entitled to their full scheduled benefits. However, the Antideficiency Act prohibits government spending in excess of available funds, so the Social Security Administration (SSA) would not have legal authority to pay full Social Security benefits on time. -
Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out? - CRS

This is what will happen, you would be legally entitled to benefits the government will be legally prevented from paying.

There are many reasons why the system is crumbling. One and only one is that people are living longer than they once did (RL44846). This has caused many to look at increasing the retirement age.

In response to rising life expectancy, some commonly discussed Social Security reform proposals involve increasing the retirement age. Yet these proposals would affect low earners disproportionately (i.e., reductions in their lifetime Social Security benefits would be considerably larger than for high earners). Congress may be interested in policy proposals that mitigate the uneven effects of increasing the retirement age and protect the interests of lower- earning, shorter-lived workers.

   Source: CRS

This is one reason why the fund is having trouble, Grandma's gonna live to be a hundred!! For those of you who want a primer on the Benefit Claiming age, one can be found here.

Just how far off they have been in the past in predicting when the fund would go 'broke' can be seen in the chart in the appendix of this report. So this is not some esoteric debate, Congress needs to get off its duff and stop looking for microscopic specs of dirt in the Mueller report and start crunching numbers and come up with some legislation to fix the problem.

The good news is that some in the House have indeed come up with a plan. John Larson has come up with a piece of legislation called The Social Security 2100 Act.

It would boost benefits for retirees (old and new) and protect against inflation and helps keep poorer workers from falling into poverty. The downside? It imposes new taxes on current wage earners. It particularly hits people who are very wealthy and makes them pay more. Here is how Mr. Larson put it on his site.

Have millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as everyone else
 – Presently, payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $132,900. This legislation would apply the payroll tax to wages above $400,000.  This provision would only affect the top 0.4% of wage earners. [Sec. 201, 202]


50 cents per week to keep the system solvent
– Gradually phase in an increase in the contribution rate beginning in 2020 so that by 2043, workers and employers would pay 7.4% instead of 6.2% today. For the average worker this would mean paying an additional 50 cents per week every year to keep the system solvent. [Sec. 203] - John Larson (House.gov)

Well, you can all read more about the proposal and the number of co-sponsors on numerous sites across the web. Some great sites have some interesting views on it. You may want to peruse the web using the keywords The Social Security 2100 Act. You will find a lot of material.

It remains to be seen how the President reacts to this. He hates taxes and tax increases and this may meet with some resistance. But it could be a major political issue for him. He is struggling politically and needs to be seen as a problem solver rather than a problem maker as many of his opponents and even some of his former supporters see him.

This bill as far as I can see is a very good place to start. We would not need even this kind of measures if Congress dealt with this just a few years ago. The longer they wait to fix things, the more painful the solutions will be.

21 Aug

Persecution News

In Somaliland a Woman was beaten and then divorced for having Bible. Morning Star News reports
“There and then he took our two daughters away from me and divorced me,” she told Morning Star News. “He gave me a stern warning that I should not come close to the children, and that if I do, he will take the Bible to the Islamic court and I will be killed by stoning for becoming an apostate.”
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims." - Story Continues At MorningStar News

In Turkey the ICC talks about the nation's disappearing Christian leadership. It is a story of a lack of leaders and the deportation of foreign pastors by the government. Gatestone Institute has a great story on the Extinction of Christians in the Middle East, a problem that seems to be of little real interest to a world more interested in wealth accumulation, interest rates, gay sex and hot button political issues than right and wrong.

Faithwire asks where is the media coverage on the horrible events in Nigeria. In Mexico, a Pastor was shot dead in his Pulpit, according to the Christian Post. While they are not sure of the motive, Christians have been under attack in this part of Mexico.

... then there are stories like this.

What did our Lord tell us?

These things have I spoken unto you,
that ye should not be offended.
They shall put you out of the synagogues:
 yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you
will think that he doeth God service.
And these things will they do unto you,
because they have not known the Father,
 nor me.
(Joh 16:1-3)

Let none of the things we see in this wicked world shock us brothers, we are going to be hated by all men for his names sake, but he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved.

How many were saved in Noah's day? Eight Souls.

20 Aug

Habakkuk Part VIII

Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts
that the people shall labour in the very fire,
and the people shall weary themselves
for very vanity?
(Hab 2:13)

This passage appears to refer to many of the great works that emperors and tyrants made. People worked and sweated to build those huge monuments to mankind's arrogance. Powerful men, overseers and slaves built them, but the Lord calls their work 'very vanity'; something empty and having no purpose. The reference to fire however, may mean that it is by fire that their work is destined (Barnes). Probably as a judgment on the bloody city (Gill). I think of the modern day skyscrapers and massive towers and even artificial islands that men often build as a monument to himself as a kind of modern day equivalent. Though back in the days of Habakkuk, a very harsh form of slavery was present.

The Preachers Homiletical makes this point in one of this chapter headings - that the city was being built with the wrong materials (blood) and was established in iniquity and would be dealt with by God. .

For the earth shall be filled with the
knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.
(Hab 2:14)

In contrast to the cities of blood and monuments to men, the prophet here contrasts that with a word that the whole earth shall one day be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Which is based, not bloodshed and gain or on the backs of slaves, but on holiness, righteousness, justice and peace. A total contrast from the afore mentioned city. This passage I think is referring to the final return of the Messiah in Glory.
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink,
that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also,
 that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also,
and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD'S
right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful
spewing shall be on thy glory.
(Hab 2:15-16)

Here the drunkards are lambasted. Not just for getting drunk, but getting their neighbors drunk as well, just so they can look upon their nakedness. Mathew Henry makes the observation that this was the sin of Belshazzar, who was drunken at a party. A party where he drank before a thousand people (Dan 5:1). The passage may also be allegorical - where a king who is drunken with power and lust for goods brings both his victim, his ally and himself to shame.

For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee,
 and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid,
because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land,
of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
(Hab 2:17)

This passage is not clear as to what is meant by violence of Lebanon, weather it be the actual violence of the people or the violence done to them by a conquering army. Also, what exactly is referred to as beasts is debated by many commentaries. I won't get into it here, but rather concentrate on the reasons for this judgment on the people. It was because of men's blood and because of violence in both the land and in the city and all that dwell there in.

God hates violence. The cities of those days were clearly marked out for a significant amount of it and this is what the prophet is speaking about. Let us remember his earlier complaints to the Lord.

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!
even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou
wilt not save!
(Hab 1:2)

Yes, violence is something that will surely win the ire of the Lord.

We will continue our look at Habakkuk as time and God permits!!

Brother Mark

15 Aug

KAZAKHSTAN: Officials try to force registration signature withdrawals

Forum18 - Officials harassing founders of religious communities, possibly trying to block applications to exist. In May 2019 police began harassing Oskemen's New Life Church founders as it sought re-registration. Officers visited several late at night, threatening one woman in her late 70s. Aktau's Hare Krishna community has faced similar harassment. - Story Continues at Forum18

Gabbard Takes 2 Weeks Off From Prez Campaign

Why? To report for active duty in a military exercise overseas. The Hill reports.

She is very much a pro-peace candidate but she understands that freedom is not free.

I too love peace for in my view there are only two kinds of Americans who love war - the mentally unstable and those who have never been in one and just don't have a clue what a war really means.

Not the Hollywood version of war, sitting in a comfortable chair with a mouthful of popcorn watching the pyrotechnics on a silver screen, but the 'I lost a leg, my kids and have to live in this refugee camp with barely enough to eat because of war' version of war.

It's why I listen to people like Gabbard (who is a veteran) and not to other politico's who never came close to military service or war but sure love to do their best to drive us into them, time and time again.

Saint News

US Christian Churches See Little Need To Repent Of Racist Past
Christian Post reports in the link above. Missing from the piece is how many Churches in the past were part and parcel of the racist problem, particularly in the South. If you did not know, the old KKK required its members to be white, male but also required them to be 'christian'. What did these so called Christians do? They went out and persecuted, lynched and killed Black folks and Jews.

No, some kind of real understanding and repentance of what went on back then needs to be dealt with because of the rising tide of hate and violent White Supremacy that is sweeping the land. In the minds of many who know not the history, both Christianity and White Nationalism are being linked in their minds.

Yes, the American Church needs to really come to terms on this and a whole range of issues in its past.

Nineveh Plains Report On Persecution
The report from Persecution.org looks at events, including the resurgence of ISIS in Mesopotamia.

In other persecution news, in Burma (Myanmar) christian villagers were released after six months of captivity. As tensions heat up in Kashmir, Christians are concerned that the political dynamics will bring in persecution, so reports one EU Christian news site.

In Algeria, authorities closed a Church during services. In China, Xi's anti-Christ agenda is picking up steam, he has removed all Christian references to Children's classics, there are many stories recently posted on the web outlining just what Chian is up to on this. Where is Xi taking China? The cult of personality coupled with labor camps, mass censorship and surveillance and rising militarism. His policies, like the aforementioned despots have the stench of death about them. Who else in the past had policies like that?

I say these things not to denigrate China, its people or even its government officials, many of whom are not wild about many of these new policies, but to outline that major fundamental shift now going on in China under this dangerous new leader. Yet, let us all pray for President Xi as we are enjoined to do in scripture, that he relents on these policies and shifts things in a way more acceptable to both Christians and the Chinese people.

In India, Modi may move to prevent any and all Religious Conversions in a new bill. While I don't spend much time outlining Muslim Persecution, this is one story that should cause us all concern. Reports are that Ethnic Uighurs being sent from Turkey to China via Tajikistan - perhaps after being drugged. Will this be in the future for many Christians as well?

In the US, a 41 year old Chaldean Catholic died in Iraq after having been deported by the US to that country, where his safety was clearly in serious question. His name was Jimmy Al-Daoud. Reports are that after his deportation, he was homeless.

In Nepal, it is still a crime to convert as this man found out.

On a much more positive note, Christianity in Iran is reportedly exploding. People are coming to Christ, according to this Canadian site.

Lots of things happening to the world's Christians. Let us always remember our brothers and sisters in Christ in our prayers.

12 Aug

Nehemiah XXXIX

And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes:
 and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God,
 to the chambers, into the treasure house. For the children of Israel and the children of
Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers,
 where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters,
and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.
(Neh 10:38-39)

We pick up here as the passage continues on with the duties of the Priesthood, this after the obligations of the people to support their religious worship were outlined. Today, we don't do that, not to the degree as we should. Now one of the things I have respected about Islam is that they put money into their religion and religious system as well as religious education. The rich men of Islam put millions of dollars into their religion. The ordinary Muslim does the same thing. But in this nation, with Christians too often Churches go under because the people don't give and support the Church and the minister who serves them. They have other priorities, a newer car when the one they have is only two years old, an expensive vacation, the third, $15k kitchen remodeling over the last 10 years. These are more important to far too many of the average American Christian than their religion and the Christ they claim (key word) to adore. Many of those will be among those who say "Lord, Lord...." (Luk 7:21ff)  or will be as the unwise steward (Matt 25:14). Each group were cast into the outer darkness.

The Temple was the center of their lives in Israel. Christ Jesus should be the center of ours. If he really is, it will show in how we treat those who minister for the Lord. The evangelist, the preacher, the teacher, the prophet and the layperson who does charity work for the Kingdom.

In the Old testament the principle of the tithe (10%) was fully in force. Verse 38 appears to show that the Levites had to give of their own tithes unto the work of God. So according to some, the Levites were not exempt from tithing. But the passage has caused many to comment a bit differently. K&D gives us some of that debate here.

These offerings of first-fruits were to be brought into the chambers of the house of God, where they were to be kept in store, and distributed to the priests for their support. “And the tithes of our ground (will we bring) to the Levites; and they, the Levites, receive the tithes in all our country towns. (Neh_10:39) And a priest, a son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites take tithes; and the Levites shall bring the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, into the chambers of the treasury.” The parenthetical sentences in these verses, הַֽמְעַשְׂרִים הַֽלְוִיִּם וְהֵם and הַֽלְוִיִּם בַּעְשֵׂר, have been variously understood. עָשַׂר in the Piel and Hiphil meaning elsewhere to pay tithe, comp. Deu_14:22; Deu_26:12; Gen_28:22, many expositors adhere to this meaning in these passages also, and translate Neh_10:38 : for they, the Levites, must give again the tenth (to the priests); and Neh_10:39 : when the Levites give the tenth; while the lxx, Vulgate, Syriac, Rashi, Aben Ezra, Clericus, Bertheau, and others, take עִשֵּׂר and הֶעֱשִׂיר in these sentences as signifying to collect tithe.

We prefer the latter view, as giving a more suitable sense. For the remark that the Levites must give back the tenth (Neh_10:38) does not present so appropriate a motive for the demand that the tithes should be paid, as that the tithes are due to the Levites. Still less does the addition, in our agricultural towns, suit the sentence: the Levites must give back the tithe to the priests. Again, the fact that it is not said till Neh_10:39 that the Levites have to give the tenth of the tenth to the priests, speaks still more against this view. A priest is to be present when the Levites take the tenth, so that the share of the priests may not be lessened. On “the tenth of the tenth,” comp. Num_18:26. Hezekiah had provided store-chambers in the temple, in which to deposit the tithes, 2Ch_31:11. - K & D Commentary

The passage as we see was not clear among scholars of the time of the writing of that commentary (both authors died in the late 1800's). The debate is an interesting one that probably has little real spiritual application, except for perhaps those who minister the gospel today.

But you now what? I find it of note here that Christ when he was here made it plain that his people had a duty both to Caesar and to God. Even Christ paid taxes but that did not absolve us of our godly obligations, which in Christ's time, was a tithe of all. I am often asked about my views on tithing. Many pastors demand it and say it is scriptural, making plain that the tithes should go to their Church. I cannot help but note a small but of self interest in that view. The fact is, the word tithe is not mentioned in relation to the Christian Church as a direct commandment. However, the clear implication is that a similar source of income for Christ's ministers is to come from the congregation.
Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach
the gospel should live of the gospel
(I Cor 9:13-14 [KJV])

God's gracious gift of salvation and his love for us should elicit in us that giving and generous spirit to the Lord's ministers, wherever they work. In the mission fields of Africa, to the refugee camps of Syria, to the Homeless shelters of Chicago, to the small country Church in Colorado. The passage above in Nehemiah (vs. 38) may imply for Christian ministers that they are not exempt from giving offerings, even though they earn their living from the gospel.

This may all seem like a bit of a digression, but I assure you it is not. Keep in mind the whole setting of the passage here in Nehemiah. They were coming back to the Lord and did not want to go astray again. These were all issues that the Priests knew had to be accomplished if they were to be acceptable to the Lord God, YHWH. In short, their obligations, or rather lack thereof to their religious duties to the priests and the Temple were part of the reason they fell away. Then they started showing respect to the gods of the nations around them and took after their ways and abominations.

As with most great sins, they get started with just a little thing, they stopped giving as much as they should to the the Lord. In our own lives this is how backsliding starts; little things. We don't give to ministers, we stop going to the Church's or fellowships that God has ordained we go to. Mind you many if not most of America's Churches are not teaching the whole counsel of God and many have gone after the ways of Sodom, Masonry and other forms of apostasy. Under no circumstances should we give to that. But for those of you fortunate enough to have found a pastor, preacher or teacher who is not ashamed of the whole word of God and teaches and gives good Godly counsel and teachings, honor the work he is  doing for the kingdom.

If you want to know what happens when people stop giving to the Church, take a look at Europe. Note that Muslims give to their religion, many Christians simply won't. Often it is not because of a lack of means, they just are not going to do it... other priorities. But after a while, if they really belong to Christ, he will send them leanness, financial and otherwise to remind them. A person with a high paying job may suddenly lose it. A good retirement check may suddenly stop as is happening all over the nation right now. A sudden illness that drains the bank account. God knows how to get a message to his wayward sheep who forget who the source of all their blessings is. Sometimes that reminder can be rather uncomfortable. The key is this - for Israel and to us - we must give to the kingdom and do so with a generous spirit. But my own personal word of advise to you all is this -  today, there is a lot of fraud and deception out there - pray earnestly first - there are no perfect ministers and ministries. but there are those who are doing their very best they can (within our fallen human capabilities) to serve the Lord honorably and to fulfill the task of their specific calling - give to those whom the Lord so directs and may God bless each of you with a seven-fold blessing who does this faithfully month after month.

This chapter ends with with a powerful word - We will not forsake the House of our God. This was one of the great stumbling blocks of the past. Forsaking the worship of God. The Temple was really to be the center of life in Israel. Before King David, remember, they had no King. The center of life in Israel was to be God. But the people in their lust to be like the nations around them did not want that any longer and wanted to be like the heathen around them. God, in his anger and disappointment gave them exactly what they wanted. What did they get? Exactly what they asked for. They became just like the the nations around them, so full of sin and iniquity that God threw them off the land that they had so thoroughly polluted (Eze 36:18).

Selah.. let us pause and consider

We will continue this study in Nehemiah next week, God willing!

Brother Mark

2 Aug

Summer Break!

Updates Will Return On The Week Of 12 Aug, God willing!

Yes, its summer break time and I'll be taking a much needed break from writing.

30 July

Habakkuk Part VII

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house,
 that he may set his nest on high,
that he may be delivered from
the power of evil!
(Hab 2:9)

If there is any passage in the prophets that describes the geopolitical disease of our times, that one is probably one of the best. But not just politics, the whole 'greed is good' tenor of our troubled times. Let us remember, the first part of Habakkuk's answer was directed at the Chaldeans, this second part does not mention them. A great wrong is being committed here. First, it is trusting in riches, wickedly obtained to protect a person or in this case nation, from the evil he fears.

The passage certainly applies to Nebuchadnezzar, but also to any future 'Beast' system, who uses its power to devour resources for itself and its 'security'. This is one way to look at any 'beast' system, a large, strong system (or empire) that devours others when it is hungry... and it is always hungry for more.

The idea of setting ones nest on high, seems to be a reference to such security. The idea high towers or even skyscrapers that we have today, comes to mind. The rich corporate executives sit on high, deciding the fate of others, looking down on people on the street like so many insects. They often get a 'godlike' complex, thinking that they cannot be touched. Those who sit up on high and rob others thinking they are impregnable have a false sense of security and one that God has marked for rebuke and judgment.

 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house
by cutting off many people,
and hast sinned against thy soul.
(Hab 2:10)

The prophet goes on to outline the national sin. They cut off many people. The word cut off also has the connotation of to destroy (H7096). Nations and powerful men don't think God see's their sins and wickedness. But these actions will not bring glory and honor to those who do such things, but shame and contempt. The word consult here could mean to advise or to resolve or to deliberate. The meaning here is not 100% clear. But I think the Biblical Illustrator has a very insightful comment.
He includes in the word “consult” all the industry, diligence, skill, care, and labour displayed by the avaricious. We indeed see how very sagacious they are; for if they smell any gain at a distance, they draw it to themselves, night and day they form new designs, that they may circumvent this person and plunder that person and accumulate into their heap whatever money they can find, and also that they may join fields to fields, build great palaces, and secure great revenues. This is the reason why the prophet says that they “consult shame. - Biblical Illustrator
You know, I get the impression of a king with all of these counselors and consultants around him trying to help him find the most successful way of plundering a people or nation. Or a even a very powerful corporate executive or controller of a major cartel - how he can take over this or that company or shred his competition in any way they can. In America today, such consultants are very, very wealthy.

What they don't know is that they are sinning against their own souls. What does this mean? Their own souls will be forfeit because of what they do. There is a time when all men must give full account of deeds done in the body. How was it put in the book of Daniel?

 And many of them that sleep
in the dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life,
and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
(Daniel 12:2)

So it is with such men and what it means to sin against one's own soul for there are two resurrections. One before the Millennium reign of Christ, another after - let the reader understand.
For the stone shall cry out of the wall,
and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
(Hab 2:11)

This is an interesting passage. What is the prophet saying here? He is saying that the testimony, the witness of their wickedness will be told by the very stones that were used to build their palaces on high. The wall shall cry out about his crimes and the beams in the ceilings will answer, bear witness and recall as well. The very monuments they built unto themselves will be a key witness against them and cry an accusation of bloodshed.

Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood,
and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
(Hab 2:12)

Here the Lord speaks against the way cities are built by this 'beast' system; any beast system, ancient or modern.

The Barnes commentary marks this verse with a comment on how Nebuchadnezzar built his city with enormous security arrangements along with works of beauty. But do we not see the same things today? Nations even now are creating new security programs, surveillance camera's and underground bunkers (that they don't tell the people about because they are only for the rich and powerful) and other things to secure their respective nations. What about outer space, a place on high (Obadiah 1:4)? Bloodshed and cities built on it? Have you ever considered the history of NYC and how America's commerce center came to be what it is today? Its Mafiosi, its gangs and tongs? These woe's we must remember in this section are not directed to any one in particular and apply to any city or people who engage in such things in general. The work of their hands, those things they thought would bring them fame and security will cry out in accusation against them.

When Cain slew Able, what did the Lord say about it?

And he said, What hast thou done?
the voice of thy brother's blood crieth
unto me from the ground.
(Gen 4:10)

There is a testimony or perhaps we would call it 'incontrovertible evidence' that the Lord will use against such men when they stand before the Great White Throne judgment and must give account when the victims, stones, beams, cement shoes, bullet ridden corpses, bombed out hospitals, Churches and schools all stand and make their case against them.

We will continue our look at Habakkuk soon, God willing!!

26 July

Iran: Court Hearing For Converts Postponed After Judge Refuses Lawyer

(MEConcern) Iranian Christians request prayer for nine Christian converts associated with the “Church of Iran” who attended an aborted court hearing on 24 July.

The men were arrested in raids on house churches earlier this year. Seven of them were released on bail, the two exceptions being Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and Shahrooz Eslamdous.

Iranian Christians request prayer that:

a. The Lord will strengthen the faith of those detained and comfort their families
b. The defendants will have wisdom in dealing with the Iranian authorities
c. At the hearing on Sunday, the judge will be merciful towards the defendants and pay careful attention to their defence on 28 July
d.  Adopting a new belief will not be seen as a threat to national security in Iran and that converts from Islam will no longer be persecuted on account of their religious beliefs


Middle East Concern

URL for this prayer request: https://meconcern.org/2019/07/25/iran-court-hearing-for-converts-postponed-after-judge-refuses-lawyer/

Pregnant Mother Among Slain Christians in Nigeria

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A pregnant mother of two children was among three Christians killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria the night of July 14 and morning of July 15, sources said.
Margaret Wakili, a 27-year-old member of the Baptist Church in Ancha village, Plateau state, was slain on her farm at about 10 a.m. on July 15, area residents told Morning Star News.

The herdsmen attacked the Christian communities of Ancha, Tafigana, Kperie, Hukke and Rikwechongu, killing the three Christians and burning down 75 houses and two church buildings, according to area residents Patience Moses, Zongo Lawrence and Chinge Dodo Ayuba. - Continues at MorningStar News Service

Cuba Prevented Pastors From Attending Religious Freedom Event In US

USCIRF Issues a statement about it.



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