And– While We Are Drowning– Grab Onto the Shirttails of a Politician


(I chose to use the disaster of Hurricane Katrina as my example, because it highlights the flood victims’ unusual request, but I could have chosen any other cataclysmic event to prove that the coordinated efforts of both political parties, even though the end goal is to work together for the benefit of society, is most often a total disaster. Any attempt by any political faction to keep America from the floods of disaster is, at best, a patching of the dam with a Band-Aid.  America the Beautiful is in a no-fix kind of mood.)

I am reminded of a not-too-distant cataclysmic event. On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States and at least 1,245 people died as a result. Many of the survivors were housed in the Louisiana Superdome, a last resort for those who couldn’t be evacuated. What I found particularly amazing concerning the vast majority of the Katrina flood victims is that they were not dumbstruck by their abysmal circumstances, but they were actually awestruck. Many may remember — though some may not — what their demand was. Surrounded by the stench of the filthy, waterlogged flotsam of their former lives, and with little help from politicians and government agencies, they requested hundreds of Bibles. Yes, hundreds of Bibles! These flood victims managed to look far beyond their immediate needs — even a cool drink of water, far beyond the tangible, even a comfortable chair to relax in, and far beyond the reach of mankind’s ability to supply them with the accoutrements of a cozy, stable life. They placed their hope and trust in God. They were defeated temporally — but not hopeless eternally. Their vision was one of faith.

Not all the flood victims were inclined to seek a higher source or higher ethical ground. Some stole booty from the local business establishments, which proved to be their last morsel of comfort — items like big-screen TVs, DVD players and all kinds of other techno-gadgets. The bird-in-the-hand syndrome made for a warm cushion even while the waters of Katrina rose to the necks of the guilty-as-charged. This group of people in the flood-ravaged states were the hopeless and the pitiful; they sought only temporal relief as a safeguard. They were literally a people without a home, without faith and without a vision.  And “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18.

When Donald J. Trump’s republican presidential campaign used the slogan “Make America Great Again,” it wasn’t just sloganeering for the sake of sloganeering. It was, in fact, predicated on truths that have been proven — America is on the decline, whether people will admit this or not. As some may remember, this same slogan was used by Ronald Reagan, which only proves that America’s decline was in progress for many decades even prior to the Reagan years. Many of us believe, as Reagan did, that the Constitution’s original intent was protection from any attempt to usurp power from America’s people. Throughout our history, great men of faith and concerned politicians have tried to preserve the intent of this time-honored document, and today we face even greater challenges.

The current political scene, with strong condemnations by Trump, has brought about a thoughtful dialogue and examination of the cavernous abyss of American justice. He has managed to prove such a thing, as originally conceived, no longer exists. However, he failed to point out that ours is no longer a viable, savable form of government — of the people, for the people and by the people. That ship has long sailed. The United States of America is facing a “flood” of monumental and biblical proportions right now; our knees have bowed to the god of political correctness, liberalism has choked off the last vestiges of common sense from this once-great nation, and Evangelical Christians have, in staggering numbers, worshipped the god of postmodernism.

God has put America on high alert — DEFCON 1– and given us over to the spirit of the age.

Columnist Cal Thomas notes:

“Surveys have shown that Christians are divorcing at the same rate as non-Christians. So much for “family values.” People who say they are Christians are getting abortions at a rate as high, or higher, as those who profess a different faith or none at all.”

Barna’s survey on religious syncretism cited that:

“Larger proportions of born-again Christians and people who attend evangelical churches concur with this sentiment (all religions are equally valid paths to the same god) than reject it.” 

To make matters worse: the NFL has recently showcased professional athletes who disrespect our flag, which has carried over to our young athletes in high school. College students, whose ears are too sensitive to hear the truth and make unreasonable demands for safe spaces, also demand free college tuition. Many illegals and refugees who have stormed our shores have no love and respect for our God of the Bible or our way of life and Constitution, and do not assimilate into our culture. We have millions upon millions of women that make life and death decisions over the precious lives of babies, and a very evil organization–Planned Parenthood — that stands ready and eager to abort and dismember these sweet lives for “filthy lucre’s sake.”

Or, as interpreted in Chaucer’s phrase from ‘The Prioress’s Tale’: “Foule usure and lucre of vileynye (“foul usury and lucre of villainy.”) Villainy and the love of money have been a constant theme of many ancient and modern-day stories. We are living in times of great wickedness and turmoil, as well, yet who would have expected to see Americans plot against their own flesh and blood, which has caused infants to become the major or principal characters in the saddest story ever told in our nation’s history?

Just recently, a poll showed that 46 percent of high school students feel socialism is preferable to a democracy, all because our school systems think it is politically correct to bury the past and let bygones be bygones–all the while forgetting to mention the repetitive nature of history. Can you say agenda, anyone?

God, in His great and immense wisdom, desired to display His kindness, and gave civil authorities/magistrates the right to bear the sword, to protect society from perverse criminals, and yet they are maligned, shot dead, disrespected and spit upon by thousands of Americans and illegals. President Obama has shown these street thugs and criminals an inordinate amount of favor and press and even invited them to the White House for dinner.

Let us also not forget that our government is worshipped as the proverbial cash cow which appeals to a vast number of legal and illegal aliens and many Americans who believe in the entitlement theory and who make up a huge percentage of the voting bloc. This will only get worse as new floods of refugees are allowed to relocate all over this nation. The liberal mindset has invaded every “crook” and cranny of our society. When the uninformed youths, adults and street thugs of any culture set the standards for a society, instead of following the steady course of God, we are not in the final quarter of the game— it is “GAME OVER” for America.

America, the beautiful, has been defaced and defrocked and is now a safe harbor for wicked and feckless politicians –who, by the way, have claimed to be the most transparent administration of all. Yet their continual cover-up of conspiracies and corruptions of all kinds surpasses, by skillful and cunning maneuvering, any other administration in our nation’s history. Mainstream liberal media also mirror this poison because they are just as wicked, corrupt and ruthless.

Collectively, as a nation, we have abandoned our religious moorings; we worship Moloch and find all manner of sexual sins appropriate — hence, Sodom and Gomorrah have come home to roost.

Ah, but you say this is an abysmal, pessimistic and fatalistic view to take. Yet, does the Bible, the very Word of TRUTH, predict a brighter future for the unrepentant world at large?  We all know the answer to that one. That answer is “no.” The matter is as stated: Do we listen to the god of this world, or to the eternal, righteous King of heaven?

The apostle Paul called our corruption of values the “course of this world.”

Describing the lives of the believers at Ephesus before their encounter with Christ, he said they were “dead in trespasses and sins” and “walked according to the course of this world” (Eph. 2:1-2). Christians have often translated the “course of this world” to mean “the spirit of the age,” or postmodernism, which means Satan and his falsehoods govern the world’s system. Absolute truths have been sacrificed on the altar of “all truths are relative and malleable.” We live in times wherein political correctness has gone mad — viral, on steroids — and is frothing from the mouths of its supporters; it seeks to undermine and completely obliterate Godly values and common sense.  A most appropriate quote by John Adams is so relevant for today’s society: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

I will reiterate a quote I wrote and posted on Facebook the other day: “No mere human being can out(T)rump God. If God wants to judge a nation of God-deniers and baby- killers, he will do so NO MATTER WHO is president of the United States.”

Lastly, the most important takeaway from the Katrina disaster is vitally important to our political upheaval today. The Katrina survivors kept their eyes off the storm and focused on Jesus! A lesson well learned!

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Political Soda Jerks

trump_eagle-620x620Years ago, when I was a teen, you could pick up a comic book at the local soda fountain, or in my case, the pharmacy counter, which was the coolest hangout for young kids of middle school age. It was common to buy the latest Superman comic for pocket change, spend some time reading it at the soda fountain just before supper and do some serious giggling, while spinning around on the tall, fountain stools. If my girlfriends and I were lucky enough, one of our boyfriends, who always tagged along behind us walking home from school, would offer to buy us a fruit-flavored-phosphate soda, for the nominal fee of 15 cents. Sipping on sodas and giddily being the naïve girls we were, we would daydream about how Superman would make the best kind of boyfriend or husband possible. He was strong, gloriously handsome, had great pecks, good abs, and, as far as we could tell, was not all brawn, but had brains, also.

I was pretty convinced, after having my head and heart absorbed in fantasy, at such a tender and impressionable age, that any one of my superheroes would turn the next corner, scoop up my heavy schoolbooks and offer to give me a ride home from the soda fountain on his white stallion. However, just about the time that my hero, Dick Tracy, would stroll by, I was sure he would catch me pulling up my knee socks that managed to droop around my ankles and cover the tops of my saddle oxfords. Then, all of a sudden, red faced and totally embarrassed by that thought, the clock in the town square would strike 12, I would suddenly wake up, as from a fairy-tale dream, and find my Cinderella slippers didn’t fit anymore, Superman had succumbed to Kryptonite, Dr. Seuss revealed as a fraud and Dick Tracy was just another dime store super sleuth not worth a plug nickel. Life would revert back to a mundane Tuesday afternoon on a school day; but at least I was getting well schooled in the folly of fiction.

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when your fantasy man has touched your vulnerabilities and hopes– and given this girl’s damsel-in-distress nature– a much-needed hug. As for our collective boyfriends, Dick Tracy and Superman, sadly, they were not the super men-of-steel we thought, but pimple-faced phonies trying to self-identify as knights in white satin. The fantasy bubble had to explode. Time to put Superman back on the shelf, get home, and get busy doing my homework.

That’s what a kid’s life is all about—the struggle of fantasy versus reality. Too bad; girls still grow up believing in lover-boy fiction.

Take the ubiquitous Trump, for example; he is six degrees hotter than Kevin Bacon is, and the new super-“gene” of Generations X and Y, who has risen from the ashes caused by his predecessor. Is it any wonder we get all dreamy-eyed when it comes to believing in fantasy? We “do” need another hero. However, we have only political soda jerks serving noxious Kool-Aid to deceived plebeians. As “God Save the Queen” is a slogan for Britain, we deserve one, too: “God Deliver Us from this Benighted King;” he’s full of trite, hackneyed platitudes and false promises that merely assuage the masses temporarily.

Does The Donald, the rise of a new Phoenix, orchestrate this new phenomenon: The Movement? Of course he does. He is self-funded, self-absorbed, his own man, and, in his own words, listens to himself and has a very big brain. There is no other Wizard in sight–only The Donald of all trades.

No mere human can slip the bonds of the surly earth, walk on water, leap tall buildings at a single bound and remain a part of “plausible reality.”

We are falsely being promised a weekend at Bernie’s, a cat in every hat, and “fair trade policies” that will still amount to little more than ”my chocolate chip cookies for your pimped-up Cadillac.” Something’s gotta give — starting with fantasy– I hope!

Now, with the “odd man,” Ted Cruz, out of the picture, there is no such thing as hypothesis any more, no provisional conjecture anywhere in sight.

We now posit (to place firmly into position) the very scary thought of a Trump dynasty. All speculations have ceased, are off the table– and the “Star Wars” battle, with the Queen of Hearts, is about to burst onto center stage.

The thought of living through this nightmare gives me a nauseous feeling; I’m sure I will sit this one out. After all, God is still on His throne, and He declares–“My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10); “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” (Dan. 4:35). “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” (Daniel 2:21).

Politicians are humans — all-too-fallen humans–.

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Justified by Faith Alone

The doctrine of justified by alone is such an important doctrine to me and many other Christians, so I wrote this for a very confused friend of mine from high school; he was wavering on some core doctrines of the faith and was sympathetic to the Catholic position. I hope and pray he changed his mind.

I’m sure you know that since Martin Luther nailed his 95th thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany, there has been a deep chasm among Protestants and Catholics concerning each other’s soteriology. The most egregious error, in doctrine, that the Catholics made and still continue to cling to this very day, concerns the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Martin Luther said the church either stands or falls on this crucial doctrine. It is crucial because it asks a very fundamental question: “How is sinful man made right and just before a holy God?” And of course you know, we’re justified by faith alone and not by the works of the law (Gal 2:16). Works are important, yes, as we can lay claim to having a saving faith if they are present, but they do not merit us our salvation. If one does not believe that works are a necessary proof and important adjunct to a lively faith, then one has crossed the line into antinomianism or easy believism.

The Roman Catholic Church pronounced a curse on anyone who believed(s) the sacred doctrine of justified by faith alone. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent, in Canon nine, has this to say: 1. CANON 9: “If any one says, that by Faith Alone the sinner is Justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (damned forever).”

To this very day, the RCC has not reversed this anathema. In January 1996, Pope John Paul II commemorated the 450th anniversary of the opening of the Council of Trent by visiting Trento, Italy, and affirming that The Council of Trent declarations “maintain all their value.” They would be hard -pressed to denounce this anathema, as they believe the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, and his words are written in stone.

Remember that Gal 1:8-9 is a stern warning to anyone who would preach another gospel. We know that there is only one of two possibilities of gospels to preach; and one is a gospel of a works based righteousness, which every religion outside of Christianity teaches, or a gospel by faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solo Christo). Christ is sufficient! To say and believe otherwise is a total affront to the finished work of the cross.

Here is a really great article by one of my FB friends, Justin Edwards on the basic rudiments of the RCC faith; and believe me, he did not even scratch the surface of their aberrant teachings. Titled: Fear Catholics of 40 Days of Life. 🙂

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The Lord’s Good Earth

17894_456352181107932_238237765_n“For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (I Cor 10:26).

I can remember, back when I was a very young girl, my father knew I needed a vacation from all things vexing and confusing.

So he hugged me, told me he loved me and said to me, “Why don’t you go visit Aunt Dorothy on the farm for a week? It will help clear all the cobwebs in your head.”

I knew exactly what he meant, too. My head was full of confusion, and I really loved my aunt Dorothy — or so I thought. So I packed my car and headed to the north country. When I got there, I was honestly surprised by all the chores waiting to be done.

“Chores?” I said to my aunt. “That’s interesting.” (I think this was a meeting of the minds, actually, and a well-planned-out plot between my father and my aunt Dorothy, now deceased.)

She had a very messy, overstuffed attic that needed cleaning — and I was still just about the right size to be told what to do.

What I had planned, of course, on this glorious vacation to the great Northern Woods of Michigan, were times of fun and laughter with a few of my zany cousins and maybe a game of croquet or badminton or a trip to a beautiful, serene lake in the country — the kinds of things city girls love to do.

But reality wasn’t prepared to follow my plan. My first ominous clue about that should’ve come from my first meet-and-greet on this visit.

And the strange personality I encountered was the farm’s cranky goose. She was busy, as one would expect, with the maternal duty of protecting. But rather than her precious offspring, the goose was guarding an old, rusty gas pump –used to fill up combines and a vast array of farming equipment.

These mechanical monoliths didn’t fit the fun, play-toy image that cowboy farmers got all “giddy-up” about. Rather, these machines would chop up anything and spit it out in seconds. I learned quickly to keep a safe distance. But to my surprise, I later learned, their guardian, the goose — meaner than most penned-up bulls — was a wise choice as sentinel.

Geese were so deployed by countless farmers in those days, because stealing gasoline was very common. But even the most sure-footed thief couldn’t get past such a wired, web-footed warrior.

Aunt Dorothy, with her sinister, calculating mind already in motion –- and wearing an apron stained with chicken blood — was so happy to see me.
“Come give me a hug, Mary,” she said.

I froze instantly. I immediately thought, “Dad, what have I done that was so terrible?”

Thoughts of kicking back, putting on blue overalls, petting the goats, setting milk out on the front porch for the scrawny, stray barn cats (which I had done on previous summer visits) and swinging from the old rope in the barn out back became a fading dream.

“Chores,” she said? I was being sold off like a child slave to my own relatives.

My aunt’s old farmhouse was the epitome of scary, but nonetheless had much character and a peculiar charm. So, with broom in hand, I slowly climbed the steps that creaked unsettlingly with every soft, calculated footstep I made.

I passed my Cousin Charles’ bedroom on the right (he was away for the summer in Sweden as an exchange student). I peeked in and saw an amazing collage of pictures of the Beatles pasted all over his bedroom walls: those, I liked. I then slowly, and very cautiously, crept past another bedroom on the left and saw a very bleak, sterile room with an iron bed, that didn’t even have a mattress, just the metal springs. Thoughts of some strange bed fellow sleeping there, tethered to an electric wire, with high voltage current running through it, kept turning in my mind. Whoever vacated that room post haste was very wise, indeed. I was chilled to the bone. But the attic door — to my sure doom — still awaited me straight ahead, just up three more lonesome little steps. I don’t know what terrified me more: the thought of what was behind the attic door or my aunt’s old apron, not knowing now if it was really chicken blood or something more evil and sinister.

With the door ajar, a small glimmer lit the room just enough for me to see a path forward. I quickly made a bee-line to the small attic window on the wall in front of me, my feet barely touching the floor. I thought, in my childish ways, that if I made it this far, it must mean I have a future, and don’t really deserve an untimely death.

On looking around, I couldn’t help but notice the cobwebs, hanging everywhere like the sunburnt-tinted lace draped from my mother’s living room windows. In the corner, I spied a tall ladder-back chair, layered with generations of dirt; this was one of the chairs my aunt sent me to retrieve for her dining room. My mission was to bring some antique furniture and small whatnots down for her to dust, admire and show off to her circle of lady friends.

So I took the chair straight away to the window, hoping desperately to bring in more light; I stood on my very tiptoes, as I was too small to see outside without added assistance, and was just able to get my chin upon the sill comfortably.

I wiped the foggy window with the palm of my hand, then opened the window for a fresh breeze. Peering out the window, I could now see for miles on end. The magnificent vista below me was absolutely breathtaking. This perch was the envy of eagles. The green summer meadow was sprinkled with Queen Anne’s lace; it looked as though a host of stars had given up their place in the heavens and come to rest for a short stay upon the soft, waving grass.

Smells of sweet woodruff — which crept along the rambling cow paths–tinged the warm air and dared to confront the dank smell of the dust surrounding me. I could breathe so much better now, with my lungs filling with the fragrance of fresh-mown hay. Earth, to me, now, was crystal clean and deserved my respect and notice–even though it was nothing more than black, sooty dirt that one would wipe briskly from one’s boots. I then captured a glimpse of the morning glories next to the hollyhocks, and followed their wandering trail up and over fence posts and broken-down wooden gates. Most of the outbuildings and fences were in a state of constant flux and disrepair, so to see a splash of color on a rusty piece of farm equipment or a weathered fence that needed mending was a part of the farm’s rich history and imposing tapestry.

The stunning breadth of the prairie outside the attic window kept me in a starry gaze; for it seemed to me that time had lost its momentum, words and language were no longer appropriate; all that was needed was a visual interpretation of the vast hillsides, valleys and the meandering streams that could be seen in a running frenzy for miles upon endless turning miles.

I was convinced that being earthbound was a very foolish burden placed upon humans. How long I stood there in wonderment I cannot say for sure, but it was long enough for my imagination to take over. I envisioned myself (as is the folly of most imaginative children) being lighter than air, soaring through the green maze of the corn fields below, spying for and suspicious of any varmints that would prevail upon my pleasure-filled garden. I fancied myself the surveyor and keeper of all things green and simple; knowing full well this was the Lord’s good earth. My footprints counted for nothing. Nonetheless, this was country. I was smitten.

Scampering down the stairs with my last chair in tow, I was so anxious to tell my aunt what I had seen, and tried desperately to convey to her the amazing landscape laid full out for my purview, just as if God chose this expanse for my vision alone.

But she was totally oblivious to my annoying, run-on chatter, and just kept quietly and contentedly to her needlepoint, like, “yes, and so … we see it every day, come rain or come shine.”

But to a city girl, it was a world away in my own fairy-tale dreams, away from all the cares and clattering in my own head. On that tranquil, summer getaway, I learned to love and appreciate old dusty things — things my Aunt Dorothy referred to as “An-T-ques,” and old people, and old barns and the old ways of good, solid farmers.

My days have been long on God’s good earth but these memories, still to this day, tug at my heartstrings. I will never relinquish the vision of the field corn that stretched in never-ending rows up to the neighbors’ distant doorstep and beyond, and never forget being enchanted by the pastoral music of the old homestead — the quiet, gentle mooing of the Jersey cattle.

After my momentous visit with God’s patchwork design, I found myself never looking back into the dark, recessed corners of the attic for more cobwebs. They disappeared completely from the walls and rafters and from the deep crevices in my hurting brain. Everything ominous and gloomy took flight that day, never to return. The room seemed almost cheery, almost inviting, as if to say, “Come again any time and sit for a spell. We’d love to have you back.”

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The Death of Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaMy friend, Donna Pinazzo, recently asked me a very deep, penetrating question, “How much good did Nelson Mandela do?”

My response to her was: “The only way to rightly assess and answer that question is through the lens of Scripture. We are to filter all our perceptions through the Bible and judge all things accordingly.” So if the Bible, God’s Word, is the standard by which all things are judged, good or evil, we can be confident that God will give us the answer.

I think the answer can be found in the word “emancipation” – or, more appropriately, the concept. The word “emancipation” is often used solely as a political term and far less often in a Biblical context. However, the idea is pretty broad and comprehensive, in content and application; and it is certainly Biblical at its very core. Here is one of several definitions: “The state of being thus set free; liberation; used of slaves, minors, of a person from prejudices, of the mind from superstition, of a nation from tyranny or subjection.”

In Biblical parlance, emancipation means to be set free from the slavery of sin; to be set free from the inevitable torture of hell; to be set free from the trappings of this world and set free to honor and bring glory to God. That is a whole lot more freedom offered to mankind than a mere ephemeral freedom from tyranny. That is precisely why Nelson Mandela’s brand of freedom is an epic failure and only a temporary reprieve from the horrific consequences of tyrants. This is all the more reason to reach people with the Gospel message. It is of utter importance to a true, lasting and eternal emancipation. Had Nelson Mandela concentrated on the needs of the eternal soul, instead of the needs of the flesh, I would not hesitate to call him a hero. That aside: he never — to my knowledge, anyway — took the true torch of freedom (the Gospel message) to the world at large — and more specifically, to the neediest of all men: his own kinsmen.

Mandela’s sickness is in a much broader realm, though. He didn’t merely have a light dalliance with abortion, pornography or homosexuality, but set them in motion, by passing laws that would fix a nation’s eternal destiny. Those very symbols and actions of evil would grip a nation and cause lawlessness to gain a very strong foothold. Any leader has a profound effect upon the morality of a nation; and President Mandela was no exception. His approach was identical to the approach Erasmus took in confronting Martin Luther. Erasmus wanted peace at any cost, while Luther wanted a peace according to the strict mandates and sound guidance of Scripture.

Mandela’s life’s work was of NO eternal consequence whatsoever. All the things he may have accomplished during his lifetime were an epic failure. He managed only to alleviate a very small fraction of human suffering, and possibly, according to various sources and reports, did equal in damage to blacks and whites along the way.

Here was a president, who had a chance to create his own little microcosm — and to pass laws for the moral benefit and good of a great nation of people; instead he chose to create a nation of baby killers and give his full blessings to it. Few people are given the chance to affect the moral outcome of a nation directly, but Nelson Mandela left an indelible mark upon a country already torn by hatred, and it was not for the better. Make no mistake about that.

What says emancipation more succinctly than the Gospel message? Any other attempt to alleviate the sufferings of mankind, devoid of God’s Word, is simply self-aggrandizement.

Lastly, I believe this poem by C.T Studd has the final word.
“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”


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“Now you may join the Elks, my friend,
And some may join the Shriners.
And other men may carry cards
As members of the Diners.
Still others wear a golden key
Or small Greek letter pin.
But I have learned there’s one great club
That all of us are in…”.

–J. Pierrepont Finch, from the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

The following (as I hope won’t be too obvious) is my first foray—faithful yet faintly faltering– into the wonderful world of Web-logging.

My theme for this initial effort (settled on after a couple of recent false starts) is a personal take on relating, both online and off, to society at large. Or, as Frank Loesser’s lyric puts it (albeit somewhat cynically):  “the Brotherhood of Man.”

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I do take comfort (especially since joining Facebook—whose merits or lack thereof are a whole other topic) in a general sense that “we’re all in this together.”

In cyberspace social networking and in “real life,” I appreciate company and companionship and – as 12-step recovery programs call it—sharing of “experience, strength and hope.” A remark at the office or at the gym or in a diner or a class or even a bus stop can lead to a conversation in which there is great value—sometimes just in communication itself, which surely is a gift from God. Through Facebook (and before it, LiveJournal, mainly via tributes to a deceased, deeply missed friend), I have “met”—or become reacquainted with—many sincere, caring, intelligent and insightful people.

The “human experience” is something that this curmudgeon  (I sometimes think my picture is in the dictionary under “antisocial”) all too often takes for granted.

And I’m sure it’s with something deeper than mere sentimentality that we can marvel at achievements and experiences that bring out the “best” in people—the teamwork that builds cities, reconstructs after horrors manmade and natural, feeds the poor, comforts the afflicted and, sometimes, simply exchanges sincere but needed pleasantries. (Can you imagine amoebas and lizards and monkeys—from which secular humanists would have us believe we evolved—ever doing that? Or even wanting to?)

An infinite number of things that—when I contrast them to my own self-centered ways — put me to shame.

Online we can poke and like and comment and share truths and perspectives. Offline we can smile and welcome and have cups of coffee and help.

Philosophically and sentimentally, we can interlock arms and do this:

(Though—um, I’d rather not, literally. Not in 1985 and not now. Nice tune, though.)

Often, as in the charity cause for which this song was written, the appeal to “brotherhood” is genuine. Sometimes it is mere sentimentality and sometimes (as in the case of the fictional Mr. Finch—the window washer following directions from a book on corporate ladder-climbing—it used to influence people as means toward personal gain.)

(But then again, Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” makes a valid point that influencing people must be rooted in real—not feigned—interest in them.)

At a certain level, of course, it’s nice to feel part of something. For instance, in my dim and distant youth, 1,000 years before the Internet, I used to love reading the letters pages in comic books (and even contributed to them once or twice.) Comics “fandom” was then (and still was, the last time I checked) a close-knit, virtual society united in fellowship by a common interest. (In this case,  bodybuilders in garish long underwear, flying around with capes. But you may have a different interest or hobby. You get the point.)

In a secular sense—this “brotherhood”—the theme of all sorts of political and social sloganeering –is in part very real and admirable, on a human level (there is notable human “good” in, say, helping other people  in times of suffering: all sorts of charities, agencies and volunteer efforts by groups and even individuals rise to immense challenges to help other people over come poverty, pain, illness and all sorts of disaster aftermaths.) It’s not all just a feel-good fantasy that motivates altruistic “togetherness.” We all have feelings and wants and needs. We’re all created with consciences, and we can all relate –and often connect and/or help– when a fellow human laughs or cries or sighs. Charities and causes do good works—very good, as far as the world defines “good.”

But we Christians know that “one great club which all of us are in” is a category with an unpopular name—sinners.

We know from Scripture that humanity has two basic categories: the church (us) and everybody else. But all are in the larger category of sinners. By no means should we ever presume or pretend to be BETTER than the unbelievers. Under the Great Commission, we are to be preachers by example. Not judges or jurors, not prosecutors—but witnesses.  Within our little spheres (Google Circles may be a better example, in this regard, than Facebook groups, ) we can influence those around us by example—and by speech—so that God, if it be his will, might bring them to salvation.

“Brotherhood” without Christ goes only so deep. It is not eternal.

Of course we must show charity, compassion and love to all of our fellow humans as part of witnessing and just being Christians. But there must be no compromise of doctrine. The Bible must always be our guide.

As a “wacko fundamentalist,” as my brother once jokingly (I hope) labeled me, I find it tough to convey—without sounding judgmental and stonehearted—that the popular “all religions are equal” notion (you’ve all seen those posters that include the cross alongside other familiar icons in a sort of smorgasbord.)—doesn’t cut it. Others, light-years more learned and eloquent than I, have made that point repeatedly and explained the reason. (It won’t take a PhD to note, reading this—and sincere thanks if you’re still doing so—that I’m neither a philosopher nor a theologian. Just, as we say, a sinner saved by grace. The circumstances by which God brought this about, will, I hope, be material for another post.)

It’s always best to let Scripture speak for itself.

A Google search for “fellowship of believers” and related concepts turned up verses including these. (KJV):

First, the well-known truth imparted in John 15:19:

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

And 1 Corinthians 12:

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

And Hebrews 13:16:

But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

And Hebrews 3:13:

 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Lest we forget (yeah, right–as if!!) The teachings of our Lord didn’t exactly fit the lets-hold-hands-and-call it all-good mode. Like most of Scripture to those “that perish,” some of these quotes seem preposterous:

For a start, there’s Matthew 10:34-36:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

Jesus goes on to say, in verses 37-39:
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Hardly the stuff of 1960s soft-drink commercials.

So, in short—cliques and clubs, societies and sewing circles, all make up a tapestry with which God has covered this planet. And these little niches can serve as vehicles whereby we can influence our fellows to the salvation message. We witness in our daily “real-world” lives –in the circles in which we move—and now on the Internet that affords us a wider audience.

Maybe I’ve done more blabbing than blogging.

It could be (as I sometimes wish in my crankier moments) this new fangled Internet is just a passing fad that will fizzle out any day now.

But the realms described in the Word of God certainly aren’t.

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Self Love or Selfless Love

Self-Love or Selfless Love

How important is it to have our own feelings and desires met? Is it not better, rather, to give ourselves and our time to God and to the service of other people?

When we spurn the idea of worshipping God and helping others, we naturally default to our own needs, desires and wants — to get a lasting sense of self-fulfillment and satisfaction. After all, our feelings and desires live in that big, overly expansive room, in our thinking, that takes up so much space we have no room for thoughts of other people’s needs. The greater the ego, the more we banish the thoughts of spending our time with God, or on the poor, the downtrodden, the elderly, the homeless, the sick and the widows.

Gratification of our own needs, pleasures and desires builds our sole habitat; a very lonely place to dwell. Left to our own selfish devices, we actually inhabit and move with our feelings and dreams of self- fulfillment, in idle, egotistical daydreams– never meant by God to be any kind of virtual reality. True reality exists on an objective plane, and true reality becomes perverted only when the individual, autonomous ego takes over and raises itself to self-aggrandizement and unbelief by denying the existence of a Supreme Being and an objective truth.

We have to remember: true, agape love always has an object and an objective: to love and care and assist our fellow human beings. And agape love for God enjoins worshipful adoration and active obedience as a cornerstone to a real, lively faith.

Self-love (and I am referring to total absorption, here, not a reasonable regard for our own needs and Christian attributes, in proper perspective) is the antithesis of loving God first and foremost. When our feelings and desires become our sole focus, we always supplant the needs of others and do not honor God as supreme Lord. We cannot serve two masters.

And this goes back to what we, as human beings, were created for. We are finite beings (death pretty much takes away any objections to the contrary) and we were designed to worship an infinite being of great worth, truth, majesty and holiness. Any other worship, especially of self, is idolatry. We need to get this through our thick heads—God/Jesus Christ is the epicenter of *HIS* Universe, and we ain’t. But, oh, how this offends so many people’s egos and sensibilities.

Having said all that, here is one of my favorite verses in the Bible: “Not to US, O LORD, not to US, But to YOUR NAME give glory. Because of Your loving kindness, because of Your truth (Psa 115:1).”

Mary Elizabeth Palshan

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The Reformation Lives On

After Darkness… Light (Video from Geneva)

byJohn Piper|October 31, 2012Category:
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Dear Friends,

Today is Reformation Day. Martin Luther posted his explosive 95 theses October 31, 1517. In the wake of Luther’s life, an army of Reformers soon emerged. Foremost among them was John Calvin. Together they recovered for the church the supreme authority and clarity of the Scriptures. Grace-erasing tradition had buried the glory of the gospel. But now light was breaking out. So the Reformers took up a Latin phrase to describe the wonder: “Post Tenebras Lux”—“After Darkness… Light.”

In honor of Calvin’s ministry and, even more, in celebration of the God who restored the gospel to his church, we are making this video available today. My prayer is that it would stir in your heart a fresh passion for the majesty of the word of God.

In spite of his flaws, the essential meaning of Calvin’s life and preaching is that he recovered and embodied a passion for the majesty of God and his word. The labor of exposition through preaching was the supreme work of his life.

I am no John Calvin. But I do stand with him as a fellow preacher of the majesty of God’s word. Preaching has been the central labor of my life. I pray that God will give me a mind and voice that enables me to preach this word as long as I live. What a gift and privilege that would be.

Transition from Bethlehem

As I prepare to transition from my role at Bethlehem, it seems to me that the Lord is saying, “You have led Bethlehem to this point; it is time to hand off the internal leadership labors to another; I have a few other things yet for you to do.” Yes. Writing, preaching, teaching.  There is an increasing pull on my life to be involved in ministry in the wider church through Desiring God. The plan is for these next years of my life, as God gives me strength, to be devoted to that mission. I just read the story of Elisha asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. I paused to pray, Lord, could I have a double portion of your Spirit for the last chapter of my life?

Prayer for Desiring God

Along with my transition, these next two months of November and December are important for ministries like ours. We will provide more communication in the coming weeks, but for now, we would be greatly honored if you would pray about how you might be involved in supporting our missionas this year comes to a close. We give most of what we have away freely. This is possible because lots of thankful people help us make that happen.

For Christ and his kingdom,

John Piper with Josh Etter, Director of Communications

The link below is an amazing video by John Piper concerning John Calvin.



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Martin Luther Revisited

Martin Luther was one of the most polarizing figures in all of Reformation history; and a man full of complexities (I often refer to him as the “ever mercurial” Luther). But the more you read this theologian’s thoughts (which were very avant-garde for the hostile times in which he lived), and also the impressions and opinions of his detractors, a full orbed view of this larger than life person starts to materialize. One thing is for sure: one would never find Martin Luther commonplace. Although, I suspect, that is where he found himself best suited.

A free biography of Martin Luther is available at:

Mary Elizabeth Palshan

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Shall we sit idly down and say,
“The night hath come,
it is no longer day?”
The night hath not yet come,
We are not quite cut off from
labor by the failing light:
Something remains for us to do or dare—
Even the oldest trees,
some fruit may bear
For age is opportunity no less than
youth itself, though in another dress.
And as the evening twilight fades away
the sky is filled with stars
invisible by day.

Those that be planted in the house
of the LORD shall flourish
in the courts of our God.
They shall still bring
forth fruit in old age.
—Psalm 92:13-14

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