With all the current hype around the approaching end of the current Mayan Age on 12/21/12, many people really wonder what tomorrow holds. I talk about this and what it really means to "live like there is no tomorrow" on tonight's podcast, which is available on the podcast page at: http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/ Or you can listen in on the player below.
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"I Choose to Praise You"
Used by permission from Mark Snyder
Written by Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective
Vocals by Helene Immel
Tree Hill Collective’s music may be purchased at:
Todd Staples, the Texas agriculture commissioner and a candidate for lieutenant
governor, argued that many leaders in Washington, D.C., continue to ignore the
violence along the border. In a recent article he wrote, "A Webb County rancher
checking his cattle is shot at and barely escapes with his life; the suspects
are linked to drug cartels. Workers in a Hidalgo County sugarcane field are told
by cartel members to stop harvesting the crop 'or else," because the sugarcane
provides coverage for cartel coyotes smuggling drugs."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45440385/ns/nightly_news/t/along-mexican-border-us-ranchers-say-they-live-fear/ Call it what it is! The government is not defending our borders. People are left to defend themselves. Imagine the result of the deadly combination of a government that refuses to defend its own people, yet wants to push gun control at the same time. Imagine where these farmers would be without their guns!
While there is much media coverage of the issue of illegal immigration, the media is negligent in ignoring the drug trade's rise. This means that the drug trade is more lucrative than ever. Keep in mind, the problem with the illegal immigration concept is the word "Illegal." I haven't heard anybody complain about immigration. Most people would like to see immigration done legally.
Personally, I think that legal immigration does a lot for the economy, like a boost of life. But, just the opposite happens in towns like Dalton, in North Georgia. People who grew up in Dalton, and don't speak a foreign language, are now the uneducated citizens. When you drive down the streets, many billboards are in Spanish only. Much of the population is in undocumented illegal immigrants. I have seen the houses myself where 10 families are hiding, coming out in the dark of night. The carpet mills hire the undocumented for almost nothing, an abuse in itself of human beings. Then, when the ICE raids them, they find human beings hidden in coolers by the bosses.
This is a major human problem on multiple levels that needs to be addressed in a sensitive, and yet compelling manner. We have American citizens who are in danger, insecure borders, drug trafficing escalation, and human beings being abused by American citizens. This is tantamount to human slavery existing here in our country. Don't think we are so progressive. I believe it is time for leadership to do something. As an American citizen, I demand to know that our borders are safe from drug traffickers and that no human beings, foreign or naturalized are being abused in our country! I thing ICE needs to deICE and get moving before our country succumbs to human trafficking on a grand scale and our neighborhood becomes a war zone of Middle Eastern proportions.
In college Economics classes, we learned about the laws of supply and demand: when demand increases, supply dwindles, and prices rise. Conversely, when demand drops, supply stockpiles, and prices are dropped to encourage sales. This makes sense on the surface, not requiring much thought. But, things can get sticky when you start trying to balance all the factors of the economy, ask any president.
I think I've mentioned the following example before, though I couldn't find it in my blogs. But, we were placed on this simulation computer game near the end of Economics, where we were newly elected President of the USA and were given fictitious figures for our "economy." Our job was to balance the different factors; such as inflation, unemployment, interest rates, deficit, etc. and get elected for a second term. Of course, if you did poorly, you could be assassinated before your first term ended.
Our teacher gave us a target figure for each factor, which was incredibly difficult, and we struggled over a couple of class sessions trying to get just the right utopian conditions in our game. But, one factor or another continually seemed to allude our efforts. I decided the little incremental changes I kept making, edging closer to the goal weren't working and suddenly chose to move in just the opposite direction with one of the factors than what I had been doing. The contradictory action defied my logic and thinking. It was a harsh risk, taken because all my prior logic wasn't working. Strangely enough, it did the trick. I reached the targets.
I don't remember a lot of the things I learned in Economics, (except that people buy more lemonade when it's hot and sunny.) But, I certainly remembered the results of doing just the opposite of what wasn't working, even when it defied logic. Philippians 1:19 Paul spoke these words from jail. He was in bonds...in Christ. He was at odds with the world system around him, but at one with God. He was without resources, without income, without physical liberty, but with supplies of the Spirit of Jesus. He had everything that he needed. God provided what Paul needed through His body, the Church, and through His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. Phillipians 4:18-19
The world is often at odds with the Bible. Public and social expectations often contradict Spiritual and moral expectations. You won't often get a thumbs-up from a hands-down world. Jesus said, don't let your left hand know what your right hand's doing. Matthew 6:3 Of course, this was in a specific context and not to be generalized too extremely. Jesus was referring specifically to giving offerings quietly and generally, to doing things to get God's attention and not the attention or reward of the public.
Sometimes, people will look at your top-down model of decision making and exclaim that your method seems mad. They operate from a bottom-up model; everything you do seems to defy the curve. Simply put, you appear irrational. But, their method is not really working for them, now is it? By top-down, I imply that I see the standards and morals in the Bible as coming from God to man. While the world's model of decision making is based on mores that come from the heart of man and confuse personal demand with ethics. This is called situational ethics, or the idea that ethics change based on the situation in which you find yourself. This is often articulated as, "everything's relative you know!"
Well, yes It is all relative. It relate to your goals in life. Where are you going? What are you seeking? Whose demands are you trying to meet? If you know whose payroll you're on, then you know where the supply comes from. Don't expect the competition to contribute supplies to do your job.
I lift my eyes unto the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and Earth.
-Song excerpt from: Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns
Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from which comes my
help. My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
The Great Lakes as seen from NASA's Earth Observatory
The Michigan area as seen from satellite, looks like a painting done in watercolors of pastel, with rich streaks of blue and green that color the Great Lakes. Though this may rival the striking orange of the Autumnal changing leaves around the lakes, the lake blues and greens are a contradiction of conditions.
The blue in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is sediment brought to the surface when strong winds churned the lakes. The winds stir the water, pulling quartz sand and silt from the lake bottom to the surface. The green in Lake Erie and in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay is algae, which builds on the surface when winds are calm.
The photo was taken on October 9, about a week after a cyclone was in the region. That was attributed to the blue sediment churning. Then the duckweed formed in the settling waters afterwards; a series of effects created in flip-flop weather conditions. I can only imagine the beauty that would present itself on the ground, since I've never been that far north.
But he is of one mind, and who can turn him? and what
his soul desires, even that he does. For he performs the thing that is appointed
for me: and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his
presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him. For God makes my heart soft, and
the Almighty troubles me: Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither
has he covered the darkness from my face. Job 23:13-17
This passage is also a contradiction in terms. You have Job's dark rumination that God has all power and can do as He pleases, yet He did not choose to rescue Job from the distress he had to face.
I am sure you have had situations where friends could have come to your rescue and didn't...Human beings. One such situation in my life was during the summer after High School when I didn't have the money for college, and I couldn't find a job. I've written about the experience in a piece on my page Arabian Dreams, and you can get the big picture there. But, when I first told friends in my hometown church I was going to Job Corps, one older friend in particular seemed to have a low opinion of me doing that, saying that I didn't need to do that. College was not a good choice either to the people in my church. He, like my Pastor suggested that I should go to Bible College, which wasn't an option since I had no money, and that would not get me a teaching license. I was called to teach. He owned a small business himself and I had asked him for a job. Of course, it was during the recession of 82, and I didn't understand at the time that the business was not surviving, and he went out of business shortly afterwards. But, in my pinhole view at that moment, he could have helped and didn't, yet he had a negative opinion of my plan to get job training. I just thanked him for his opinion, realizing that he was not a stakeholder in my future, therefore it would be foolish to heed his counsel.
Of course, everything worked out with the path God guided me down. But, I can see here how Job felt in this passage where he says that he is troubled by the knowledge that God did not take him on to heaven before this bad fortune befell him, and neither did God prevent the bad fortune. It seems that Job would have preferred one or the other, either choice would have been preferrable to going through the pain. Yet, the Almighty God allowed His child to suffer through great weakness and calamity.
None of this pondering on Job's part changed the fact that God indeed had a plan from the beginning of the story. The same is obvious through my life. I went to Job Corps for a reason. God led me down the path to His calling. Just as that has been demonstrated, likewise God has led me through this storm. He has the greater good in mind, and this is the road that will get me where I wanted to go. Afterall, look at the beauty of the blues and the greens on the Great Lakes. When you look at the "big picture" you see a mosaic of God's hands.
Twilight and sunrise are nature's heralds of a new day; harbingers of life anew, whether in the country or city, at home or away.
These pics are from a roadtrip I took a few years back with my friend Carol in Dalton. It was Christmas time, and Carol is from Kentucky. She was going to visit family for a few days and asked me to go with her. We had a great time, as road trips can be a lot of fun. The third picture here is me and Carol standing by a whipping post. That was so funny to me in a laughing kind of way. Actually I have another goofy shot of her acting like she was tied to the post but, I will save that shot to laugh at alone, since I was laughing hysterically.
I am glad we don't live in an age where people are flogged on Main Street for misadmeanors, jailhouses are burned, and major criminals are hanged in the square at noon. Actually, our lives are peaceful, with little threat from crime, at least in the region where I live. I lived in Atlanta and Augusta for so many years that I have always had the habit of locking all my car doors and my house even in the day time, until just the last five years since I've been back in North Georgia. It becomes normal routine. But, just as easily, a sense of security becomes a routine as well.
The two pictures above are from a roadtrip Travis and I took to Jamestown / Yorktown /Williamsburg Virginia Thanksgiving 2008. The people who settled the Americas had to leave behind security and face hardships and perils to live in a strange new world. As a matter of fact, the first colony at Jamestown had vanished completely, and historians have never been sure what happened to them, though theories abound. That's Travis standing on the deck of the full scale replica of the Susan Constant ship, one of the three that came to the New World at Jamestown in 1607. This trip was a business venture, not like the religious pilgrims that landed at Plymouth in 1620.
For whatever reasons, people chose to come to the New World in droves. The new country was quickly settled into 13 colonies, with its own government. Freedom was a dream and they knew it took work. I was surprised to learn on the Virginia trip that the jails were not very much put to use. Instead the stocks and the whipping post were used to deter crime, so the errant settler could be put back to work quickly. There were no free meals and every worker was needed on the job. They didn't want to feed someone sitting in jail. There were no food stamps. The general welfare was to be assured by hardwork. I don't know where that changed. Now, welfare means survival for those who are not working.
Hebrews 11:32-40 And what shall I say more? for the time would fail me to
tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and
Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked
righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the
violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made
strong, became valiant in war, turned to flight the armies of foreigners. Women
received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not
accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others
had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and
imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain
with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being
destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they
wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And
these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the
promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us
should not be made perfect.
The history of Christianity is likewise filled with recountings of suffering and hardship like we have never known in modern days. I see similarities here, with those who are seeking and the hardships they face to reach their goal. Whether settler, vagabond, or pilgrim, they weren't satisfied where they were, and set off in search of a city, a better place. Yes, Christians are adventurers.
I was born in 1964, in an era before desert warfare. Soldiers fought overseas in jungles to keep our people free. The Bible Belt was more than a geography lesson, it was a reminder that I had better obey my parents. Islam was a far away religion of people who hated our country, and not of the President of the United States. Communism was evil, and a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. The Cold War was behind the Iron Curtain, and not in Congress. Senator McNamara was a proponent of the MAD Doctrine, because we were a Super Power, and we wanted to stay that way; for truth, justice, and the American way were at stake. Now, The Senators are all mad, it is curtains for our economy, Sharia Law is the Super Power, truth is fallen in the street, and justice is far away.
Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice
standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot
Fairness, or equity can not enter across our borders, because like those huddled masses in Mary Emma Lazarus' poem on the base of the statue of Liberty, she is shouted away from our coasts, turned back in boat loads, and refused entry into the workforce. Instead, fairness and the immigrants and poor are given food stamps. Our own unemployed are given a cobra for health insurance, instead of the bread we asked from Uncle Sam.
Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will
he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Robin Hood was a storybook tale of a man who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. But, the President of the United States never offered or suggested that the rich man's money should be given to the poor. We knew that would be thievery. The President was a rich man. Everybody knew that. It would have seemed incongrous to us that he would make such a claim. Hard work was valued, not vilified. The American Dream was to own a home, land; not a government handout. Things were made in the USA. I haven't seen that phrase in a long time.
Presidents were always scrutinized, and not allowed to hide background information. Everything was in the papers, even the scandals. The media was unbiased reporting, instead of bi-partison. Now, you have to check out a variety of news sources to get the total picture...from all sides. Our borders were secure. We knew that the FBI and the CIA knew everything. Now, children know everything, and can find everything on the internet, but are unsure of where the President was born. Back then, the old lady next door told our Mamma everything we did. Now, if anybody said or did anything, you can find the video clip on YouTube.
If I got a paddling at school, I never told my parents, because I knew I would get another spanking at home. Now, in a few conservative systems, the Principal sends home approval letters that the parents can sign or refuse to allow the Administrator to paddle, after parent contact. Bad behavior is a special education classification, and restricts the amount and kinds of punishment a child can receive. Our teachers warned us about drugs. We had to listen to lessons about all kinds of drugs and how they erase your brain cells. Now, teachers suggest parents take a child to the doctor for medication. Teachers ask a child if he has taken his medication. And, teachers will call a parent and tell her that "Little Johnny seems to be having a problem, and he said he hasn't had his medication." If a child was making bad grades, back then he had a problem. Now, the teacher has a problem. And, his parents will tell her so.
Times, they have changed. The President, the People, Religion, Marriage, Children, the Internet, Media, nothing is the same. Now, as I go to bed at night, I wonder when I wake up if I will awake in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, or if I was only dreaming.
The New Colossus By Emma Lazarus 1849–1887 Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch,
whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning,
and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome;
her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I have the pitifulest collection of scrawny broken seashells, and one baby sanddollar, with a small bit of sand, from this 1st trip back to the beach, since all the surgeries. I couldn't stand up in the waves to catch any more than that one sanddollar, and had to settle for the bits of shells on the shoreline. That's what you have to do to catch a sanddollar: plant your feet in the sand as a wave hits you, brace yourself against it so you stay in place, then hopefully you have a sanddollar caught under your foot after the wave passes, which you can pull from the sand beneath your toes. If you can't hold still, or stay on your feet till the wave passes, then the sanddollar continues along with the tide in its wash around the ocean. But, oddly, I love this tiny collection more than the many that I caught in the past, for what it represents: my struggle. But, as William Faulkner said, man must not merely endure, but prevail.
This looks like a peaceful farm scene, doesn't it. Actually, this is a view of the Sherfy farm in Gettsyburg, one of the final battlefields of the Getsyburg Campaign in the Civil War. General Pickett (under Longstreet's command) began his assault on this day by a huge artillery bombardment that was meant to soften up the Union defense, but it didn't achieve the intended effect. Nearly 12,500 infantry men advanced over open fields for three-quarters of a mile under heavy Union artillery and rifle fire. Although some of Pickett's Confederates troups were able to breach the low stone wall that the Union soldiers were hid behind, they couldn't prevail, and lost the battle with major casualties. This defeat ended the three-day battle. Humorously, General Pickett later answered questions about why he failed at Gettsburg with the quip, "I've always thought the Yankees had something to do with it."
It's all now you see. Yesterday won't be over until tomorrow and
tomorrow began ten thousand years ago. For every Southern boy fourteen years
old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not
yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in
position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the
furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and
his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill
waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the
balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't
begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and
those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead
and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all
know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't
need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time
with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland,
the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and
unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago; or to
anyone who ever sailed a skiff under a quilt sail, the moment in 1492 when
somebody thought This is it: the absolute edge of no return, to turn
back now and make home or sail irrevocably on and either find land or plunge
over the world's roaring rim. Intruder in the Dust 1948, William Faulkner
Faulkner was referring to the moments before Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg here, of course, and to the days before the discovery of America. There are these moments in all our lives, much like the fourteen year old southern boys mentioned by Faulkner, when we realize we are on the brink of eternity. We can see that we hold the future in our hands, our destiny will be revealed any moment. These moments are our "points of no return" from which we know there may be no practical going back.
Og Mandino wrote a small book titled, The Greatest Salesman in the World. In this book, he taught the principle, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." I read this book as a teenager, and was impressed to realize I was choosing my path with each decision I made, much like the steps in a flow chart. When I look back at the scene of the empty field above, I imagine the soldiers with their guns fighting and dying on this field. They are gone; the blood has disappeared from the soil, but the memory remains even to us living a century past these brave moments.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them
that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
You know, Columbus was not seeking a new world. He was seeking gold. So, it is hard to say whether his mission was a success or not. But, suffice it to say, we won. The same goes for Pickett's Charge. When the bodies were stacked and buried, and the President spoke, and surrender was declared, a country walked away from the devastation to piece together her "manifest destiny." We all won. You never know in the heat of battle how the tide is going to turn... nor in those moments before. You just know that God has the outcome in His hands. You know that either way, you win.
I mentioned the sermon that drew me to the altar titled, Ragman in my blog titled, “The Gospel According to Me.” The sermon moved my heart, but it didn’t move my clenched hands from the back of the chair I grasped in front of me, at least not immediately. I made the decision in that altar call. It just took me 24 hours to let go of the chair. I decided that I would wait till the next night’s altar service, since this one was almost over. Or, at least that was my thinking. I knew I had a hard time moving mentally. It took so long, I knew people were ready to leave. Waiting did give me time to build my courage to walk down the aisle, and I did just as soon as the call was given the next night. I was afraid I wouldn’t have the guts to do it. But, when I began to pray, I saw Jesus and I heard Him speaking to me. He said, “I love you, Vicky… I love you, Vicky… I love you, Vicky…”
The fortune of the prominent early American Vanderbuilt family was made by an immigrant named Cornelius, in the railroad industry. Vanderbuilt’s fortune was inherited by sons and grandsons, some who invested his fortune in horse breeding and yacht racing. But, sadly, some wasted on drugs and alcohol addictions. Only forty-eight years after his death, one of his direct descendants died penniless. All ten of the mansions his descendants built were torn down within 70 years of his death.
America has seen both old money and new money fortunes. Whether the fortune is old or new, blood will buy the fortune. My natural father left me a legacy… he left me. When I was two. My mother was pregnant with my middle sister. He abandoned us. My blood is worthless and I have no ancestry to trace. I was born penniless and will die with empty pockets. My only heritage is my Father, the God of the Universe. Aye, but He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I am investing my fortune wisely, in the hearts of children who are my reversed heritage. I have accumulated close to 1,000 students over the years. In that, I have a rich heritage. I didn’t say they all valued me. I valued them. Or rather, I placed a value on my time with them. It has been said that time is money. Accordingly, I have spent all of mine. I don’t plan to have any time left over “in the bank” so to speak, when I die. You can’t “save” time. You can only waste it or spend it.
Alexander of Greek fame conquered much of the known world, in his time. He inherited the smaller empire of his Father Phillip…by blood rights as was assumed, by his Father. He purchased the submission of parts of three continents with the blood of the citizens of Thebes and Tyre. Much more blood was shed along the path of conquest, as far south as Egypt, where he was crowned pharaoh and called “the son of God.” (Referring to the Sun-god Ra.) He signed his name, “Lord of Asia.” He also called himself the King of Kings. He purchased these titles, and a claim to divinity and worship, with the blood of the conquered a few centuries before Christ.
In Alexander’s time, lived three great civilizations; the Greeks who gave us much of our culture, the Romans who gave us the base of our politics and government, and the Jews who gave us God. And, the Jewish race gave us the uniquely Hebrew phenomenon of prophets. Why was the Jewish race so strongly a religious race? The Jews were planning to bring salvation to the world. And, they produced a Messiah. Strange…the fact that they were looking for a Messiah like “Alexander the Great.”
What they got was Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of the whole earth. He bought his empire with blood, His own. Blood, after all, will buy. What did His blood buy? His blood bought back our eternal life, after the curse of death in the garden. The blood of Jesus bought healing from sicknesses and diseases. His blood bought our salvation. The blood Jesus shed on Calvary bought His rights as our Father.
Isaiah 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. Jesus, a Jew, had no children when He died. This was a tragedy in the mind of the Jew. Jesus considers us His children by blood inheritance. We are generated into his Kingdom from his blood, much like children are generated from their parent’s blood. We are the generation, or descendants of Jesus. That makes us His children. His blood bought our right to be near Jesus.
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.
One day Jesus will rule the earth as a conqueror of all. He will rule by conquering. He is already conquering through the work of His Kingdom that is being ushered in. He will be Lord of all. Blood after all, will buy. As His children, we are the sons and daughters of a King. I went, in the course of one altar service, from rags to riches. I gave my rags of sin to the Ragman. I took on eternal riches in Christ. My riches are the Glory and Grace of Jesus. Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
And, there are more.
Jeremiah, a Bible Preacher, complained that his country had been taken over by "a wolf of the evening." (5:6) He even uses the metaphor of a leopard watching over them. Scary analogy. But, he wasn't the only one who was slamming the government leadership of his day. A couple of other young men in Jeremiah's country had the audacity to use the words "evening wolves" in reference to the rulers, during Jeremiah's long ministry. Zephaniah (3:3) didn't like the wickedness he saw, and neither did Habakkuk, (1:8) who some think may have been a worship leader in his own church because of his psalm (chap 3.) Zephaniah claims the rulers have left the bones to chew the next day.
Wolves are naturally timid and shy animals by instinct. They live in the wild and hunt for their prey. Under good circumstances, they are not a danger to humans; when they are well fed, by virtue of successfully preying on abundant wild prey where they have either, very little contact with people, or where they are hunted and kept at bay. Their exploration of humans comes only in stages. Usually their prey becomes scarce in developing neighborhoods, where resources are siphoned off by humans, and the deer and other wildlife move out of the remaining wild, sleeping in neighborhoods near food to forage. Eventually the wolves have to follow, looking first for wild animals, then coming out in the daytime for dogs , which the humans can protect until the wolves get bolder and increase in packs. Then they get bold enough to check out the herds of cattle, preying on the weak. Then they become enboldened enough to follow people, usually children, and end up attacking and killing them in the evening when they are no longer hungry, just out of curiosity and a sense of exploring new options for prey in this new territory. So it is not unusual for a wolve to abandon a human or even a fox, when the attack was not motivated by hunger, but greedy exploration.
Jeremiah was a young man when he began to preach to Judah. He was not popular for his message either. His messages usually consisted of a denunciation of the rulers of his day, and coming overthrow of the government. He said they should just surrender to the enemy and God would let them live. He was jailed for this, after being slapped around. Later he was imprisoned in a dungeon, a hole in the ground where he stayed throughout the attack and siege by Babylon. Finally, when food became so scarce through the economic problems of the times and the siege they were under, that even free men had no food, and prisoners certainly could not be fed, a friend begged the king to allow Jeremiah yard privileges. He lowered cloth ropes into the hole and pulled the frail, half starved preacher out of the pit, where he fed him until the city fell into the hands of the Babylonians. They then treated Jeremiah kindly, because they had heard of his accusations of treason. They assumed Jeremiah was on their side, so he was carried to Babylon with the captives and treated very well until his death.
The key point here is that the government was failing to operate for the people. It was no longer serving but a disservice to their needs. Just like in the days of the judges, people were brutalized and the leaders looked on, doing nothing. Oddly, one of the biggest criticisms of the Bible comes from what is perceived as barbaric or inhumane from the Old Testament times like these. People can't believe God would condone such barbaric behavior. He did not condone, but it did occur, just like the wickedness of today. I wonder how the people who feel this way about the Bible will feel when they begin to see the same types of brutal killings in our day? I do know there is a division between old testament and new, and it is called grace. The grace line was drawn at the brutal execution on the cross, the execution of a man who once said, " ... all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Matthew 26:52) In a sad after statement to the fact that they assassinated Jesus, Jerusalem was destroyed and burned by Rome around 70 A.D. (less than 40 years after the cross.) Rome's decline and fall began about 100 years later.
I don't know where our country is headed today. I do know our beloved America has changed. If she is a superpower, she is no longer the valiant face of Superman, but has developed a dark side, like Batman. The America I grew up in did not order the assassination of corrupt despots and terrorists. Even Saddam was brought to trial recently. Last year, Matthew McCabe and 3 other Navy Seals were brought to trial after bravely capturing Ahmed Hashim Abed, the terrorist who burned and hung Americans from a bridge over the Euphrates Bridge in Iraq. He was tried because the terrorist claimed to have gotten a busted lip while in their custody. He claimed they punched him in the mouth. The President denounced this behavior and they were tried. A year later, we are killing and celebrating.
I am not against the execution of criminals after a trial, as has always been the case in America. But, I believe in the sanctity of human life and the procedures of a trial. I can not understand why this changed suddenly. And, I can not understand our Navy Seals being tried for following orders. I can not stare blankly while our leaders become terrorists, taking credit on tv for a "killing," just as Osama did after 9/11. Same/ same! No difference between the two; a pair of evening wolves.
Each country has its own money, or rather has had until the advent of the Euro in this century. I have in my collection some money from Amsterdam, from before the Euro, as well as some Kenyan bills and coins. My son collects all sorts, mostly of the American sort. All of it is actually quite worthless now, let alone if the economys the money is drawn on collapses. In your wallet, you have different denominations of bills, and some are labeled with higher values than others, but they are all just "fiat" money...worth something only because somebody says so. The paper that money is written on is actually worthless. It is the gold behind that money that backs the value.
Jesus' goal on Earth was to establish a people...a church of people called out for the Kingdom. That kingdom is already here, in the sense that we are the kingdom, and it is yet to come in the sense that it will be brought to completion on a day yet to come. We are of this heavenly kingdom, since we were born again into the kingdom. Jesus told peter, Matthew 16:18-19 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. So you can see the here and now, and the later to come of the thing. And, you can see that Jesus is establishing a church in heaven, to which Peter is to enlist from Earth's peoples. Very early on, even in the time of the 12 disciples, people began to split up and form different ideas about Christianity. There is even recorded instances of arguments between churches and ministries and ministers throughout the New Testament. Some issues were only resolved by spliting ways, as with Paul and Barnabas. But, we never read of one saying the other could not go to heaven. I can not picture Peter sticking his tongue out at Paul and shaking the keys in his face, insisting that the gospel is only for the Jews, though Paul did stand in Peter's face and call him a bigot or a hypocrit. Galatians 2:11-12 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
How sad the disciples were to see Jesus go when He ascended up into heaven. But, they soon learned that they were to be filled with the Holy Ghost...God's Spirit inside of them here on Earth. And, either way, we have "God with us." Not only does Emmanuel mean God with Us, but the compound name "Jehovah Shammah" used in the Old Testament in Exodus 48:35 means "the Lord is here." It may seem easy for us to see only one church when Jesus walked Earth. But, if you think about it, that's why the Jews had the Romans kill Jesus...the different denominational sects did not want Him to be the one church head. So, denominationalism goes all the way back into the Old Testament. But, that Heavenly kingdom is the "gold standard" all the denominations are built on here on earth. Just as denominations of money only refer to the gold behind them, church organizations are only representative of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The name Cephas, or Peter meant little rock, or pebble. As Jesus is building his church, he allows us to be a part of the bigger Rock. But, we are still just a piece of the rock...just a tiny pebble you see. It is rare for man to be able to look beyond the keys in his hands to see the majesty of the kingdom of heaven that he is entering with those keys. He sees power in the keys, but fails to recognize what lies beyond, and whose power He holds in his hands. We do not see the glory of God with us in our hands because of the denominational "dollar bills" in our churches. The buck stops here...on Earth...and so do the denominations. Jesus has the gold standard and the one true church of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let me invest myself into that Kingdom and see people won into that Kingdom.