Resolutions. . .

Resolutions. . .
Vol: 29 Issue: 31 Saturday, December 31, 2016

The celebration of the New Year is one of mankind’s oldest customs, dating back some four thousand years to ancient Babylon. The ancient Babylonians celebrated a new year with the first New Moon of the Vernal Equinox (the first day of spring).

It was a logical time to start a new year; the first day of spring is a time of renewal. It was when new crops were planted, flowers and trees began to blossom and the year actually DID begin anew in a real and tangible way.

The Romans continued the tradition of celebrating the new year in March until about 150 BC. By then, the various Roman emperors had so messed up the calendar that it was out of synch with the sun. The Roman Senate selected January 1 as the first day of the new year. A hundred years later, Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar. By 46 BC, successive emperors had thrown the calendar off by so much that to make it work, the year before the calendar went into effect was 445 days long.

Until about four hundred years ago, New Year’s Day was (accurately) dismissed as a pagan holiday and accordingly, it was not celebrated by the Church.

One of the oldest New Year’s traditions is practice of making noise at the stroke of midnight. Noisemakers, horns and so forth are rooted in the pagan practice of driving away evil spirits who it was believed flocked to be among the living at the start of the new year.

Another, that of unbridled drinking the night before, was a holdover from the Babylonian custom of personally re-enacting the chaos that existed before the gods brought order to the world.

Assessment:

Considering the absolutely pagan nature of celebrating the New Year, should Christians participate? This is one of those issues of individual soul liberty.

Paul addresses this issue, writing;

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

According to Paul, the origins and customs of a particular holiday are irrelevant, what matters is motive.

“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:15)

Take, for example, the New Year’s custom of making resolutions. The custom also traces its origins in ancient Babylon. Babylonian farmers would take the occasion to inventory and return borrowed farm equipment.

But if one takes that same pagan custom and uses it to make resolutions of self-improvement before the Lord, is it still pagan? As Paul noted; “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

I am fully persuaded that there is nothing of human origin in this world not contaminated in some way by paganism. Most of our ‘Christmas’ customs predate Christ by centuries.

Resurrection Sunday, the ONE event directly ordained by the Lord (“Do this in remembrance of Me”) has been corrupted into some kind of perverted “Ides of March” festival involving rabbits, eggs and other pagan fertility symbols.

Retailers prepare for Easter by stocking up with chocolate Easter bunnies, decorated eggs and candy chicks. The customs associated with Easter are almost wholly pagan, right down to the Christian custom of sunrise service. (That harkens back to the pagan practice of sun-worship.)

But that doesn’t stop Christians from celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord on the same day that the world celebrates the pagan renewal rites of spring.

I don’t generally participate in most traditional American New Year’s customs. I am usually in bed well before midnight. But I am faithful to the custom of making New Year’s resolutions. The practice of making New Year’s resolutions is one of self-examination, confession and repentance, even among the most secular of people.

I like to think of each New Year as a reminder to God’s People that we are not perfect — only forgiven. There is still plenty of room for improvement.

To that end, New Year’s Day is the day I take inventory of my service record from the year before, and re-dedicate myself to His service for the coming year.

This year, I resolve to put away those sins “which doth so easily beset us” and to “run with patience the race that is set before” me. (Hebrews 12:1)

I resolve to be a better man, a better Christian, a better friend and a better soldier in the Lord’s service. The fact that I make the same resolution every year is all the evidence I need to prove to myself that there is still lots and lots of room for improvement.

May God grant each of us a blessed, prosperous and happy new year. May He make each of us useful servants and fierce warriors in His cause. May He grant us victory over the enemies of the Gospel and grant us victory over our own shortcomings.

In 2017, we resolve to live each day as if the trumpet will sound before morning.

Because in 2017, it just might.

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)

Happy New Year, brothers and sisters! May 2017 be THE year.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 31, 2005 *Updated dates

Welcome to the Future

Welcome to the Future
Vol: 29 Issue: 30 Friday, December 30, 2016

I was thinking about all the technological wonders that we had envisioned for the 21st century back in the 1960’s; stuff like death-rays, videophones and flying cars.

(Cell phones weren’t expected until the 24th century, when Captain James T. Kirk uses one to call Scottie aboard the Starship Enterprise. But flying cars and videophones were due around the Year 2000.)

Videophones do exist, but they’re not all that popular. (Back in the 60’s we never dreamed hardly anybody would WANT a videophone.)

And while we could build flying cars, we still haven’t mastered driving the ones on wheels safely.

(It turned out it isn’t the building of cars that fly that was the problem. It’s the idiots that would be driving them while they’re up there.)

But all in all, the future is really much more interesting than even I had daydreamed it would be when I was a kid in the 1960’s.

Who, in the age of LPs and two-song 45 rpm records, could have envisioned a 4G iPod the size of a matchbox that could hold a radio station’s entire library?

While we imagined death-rays (and, indeed, they exist) who would have thought that the first war of the 21st century would instead be fought using high-tech rocks?

(Remember the GPS-guided cement warheads used against the tanks that Saddam parked nears schools and hospitals to minimize collateral damage?)

In 1968, a typical office consisted mainly of a desk and a telephone, some notepads, a typewriter and some filing cabinets.

Who would have dreamed that just four decades later it could all be packed into a laptop computer the size of a clipboard?

Or that an office filing room could be replaced by a “pen” drive smaller that a Bic lighter?

Or that I could sit in this ordinary room in my ordinary house and instantly communicate with thousands of people located on every continent in the world — by hitting the “send” button at the bottom of this page?

In the 1970’s, I was assigned as a computer operator in the Data Processing Department at the Marine Corps Base at Cherry Point, NC.

The computer was housed in a climate-controlled 4000 square foot room kept precisely at a chilly 68 degrees. It had rows and rows of tape drive banks, each the size of a refrigerator.

One of our jobs was printing out payroll checks for the base’s military and civilian employees.

It involved: 1) programmers writing the code; 2) keypunchers to input it onto keypunch cards; 3) a sorter to operate the EAM sorting machine and box them up; 4) an operator to hang the tape on the drive, input the keypunch cards in a big hopper, transfer it to tape, and then; 5) another computer operator to tell the mainframe where to look for the data.

The entire process tied up the whole department for five days, twice a month, using equipment that costs millions and took up a small city block.

Today, I could do it all on my MacBook (which cost less than my first microwave oven did) using Quicken and my laser printer — in two hours or less.

Wirelessly. While watching TV in a little corner of my computer screen.

In 1899, as the 19th century was drawing to a close, US Commissioner of Patents Charles H. Duell solemnly pronounced that, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

When Duell was born, transportation, communications and trade moved at the same speed as it had since the Greeks discovered hemlock was a poor choice for a cocktail beverage.

In his lifetime, he’d seen the invention of the railway, the steamship, the telegraph and the automobile. What else could be left to invent?

But Duell wasn’t the only one suffering from a lack of vision.

In 1922, Thomas Edison declared, “the radio craze . . . will die out in time.”

In 1943, Thomas J. Watson, who was at the time the chairman of IBM, gave this business forecast: “I think there is a world market for about five computers.”

In 1977, Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment Corporation declared, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

And in 1981, Bill Gates opined; “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Assessment:

As we’ve seen, predicting the future is no simple task. One of the problems with trying to forecast the future is that the future is a conspiracy of unknown and seemingly unrelated events that must work together exactly for the prediction to be accurate.

IBM failed to see a computer hardware market, Digital Equipment failed to see the demand, and Bill Gates failed to see its potential.

All their predictions failed — and laughably so — within a matter of decades or mere years of their prognostications. And they were the world’s leading experts in those particular fields!

But the Apostle John predicted, not over a period of years or decades or even centuries, but across two millennia, the rise of a centralized global economic system that would come into existence over the space of single generation, somewhere in time.

Such a system wasn’t possible until the invention of computers, in this generation.

The Prophet Ezekiel predicted the rise of a Russian/Persian Islamic alliance that would come into existence in “the latter years” at the same period in history when there was again a nation called “Israel.”

Ezekiel spoke across two and a half millennia, from a point in history when Israel and Judah had both been invaded and destroyed and the survivors taken as foreign slaves.

And from Ezekiel’s day until May 14, 1948, there was no such place on earth as ‘Israel’ (and no Russian/Islamic alliance, either)

The Prophet Daniel, from the same perspective in history, predicted the rise and fall of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great’s Greece.

Daniel also predicted the rise of the Roman Empire, its decline and fall, AND he prophesied its revival, concurrent with the restoration of Israel.

The Hebrew prophets weren’t forecasting the immediate future of a particular industry in which they were the leading actors.

They were forecasting world events, geopolitical alliances, wars, and social and technological changes so profound there were no words in their vocabulary with which to describe them.

And unlike technological ‘prophets’ like Charles Duell, Ken Olsen or even Bill Gates, the Bible prophets have proved themselves 100% accurate, 100% of the time, even when they admittedly didn’t know what they were talking about!

The Prophet Daniel didn’t have a clue as to what he was seeing and hearing:

“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Daniel 12:8)

And for centuries, neither did anybody else. Until only recently, Daniel’s words were sealed.

From the Reformation until the middle of the 20th century, the Book of Daniel was the least studied, least understood and least preached Book in the Bible.

Martin Luther questioned whether or not Daniel even belonged in the canon of Scripture, and John Calvin omitted Daniel altogether when he wrote his commentaries on the Bible.

Without the existence of a literal place called ‘Israel’ Daniel’s prophecies made little sense.

But once Israel was restored to the land, what had previously seemed to be a collection of symbolic heads, horns and beasts began to take on a literal meaning.

Especially in the context of the revealing angel’s charge to Daniel:

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

Duell, Olsen, Gates, etc., couldn’t begin to imagine the wonders that would exist by 2008, even as they were in the process of working to bring them about.

The Bible prophets, under the inspiration of God, could imagine them, but they couldn’t find the words to describe them.

But Jesus brings it all into perspective, speaking across the ages and addressing us directly, saying;

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

As 2017 dawns, may our God richly bless and keep you all, until He comes. 

Maybe this year?

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 31, 2007.  *Dates are updated

Featured Commentary: Merry Christmas from Muhammad and Devotees ~Alf Cengia

The Third Element

The Third Element
Vol: 29 Issue: 29 Thursday, December 29, 2016

The body is only one third of what God created in the Garden of Eden.  God created the body out of the dust of the earth.  The body is the first element of man.  It is a physical shell.

Then God breathed into his nostrils, and man became a living soul.  The soul is the second element of man.  That’s the part that makes you ‘you’. 

The Third Element is mentioned in Genesis 1:26 when God says,

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . ” 

What does God look like?

“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (John 1:18)

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

“And He said, Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. . . And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:20,22-23)

But we are in His likeness.  His likeness is the third element — the spirit.  That is the component of man to which God was referring in the Garden when He said, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) On that day, Adam’s spirit ‘died’. 

What does it mean to say an immortal, eternal spirit ‘dies’?  If it is eternal, how can it die?  We use the phrase, ‘a fate worse than death’ as a modifier for something so horrible as to be humanly unimaginable.

Because truth be known, it is impossible for the human mind to conceive of a fate worse than death. 

Death is unknown, so it is impossible to measure something known against it.  That’s why we use it to describe something unimaginably horrible.  That is the sense in which spiritual death is understood.  It is a fate worse than death.  Death is an ending. 

Spiritual death is eternal torment, eternal separation from God, eternal nothingness. . . you are written off as dead by God.  You wrote Him off as dead in this life.  You aren’t separated from God at death — you were never joined to Him in the first place. 

You had your chance.  You made your choice.  You will never hear from Him again.  There is no reprieve, no appeal.  But you continue to exist.  Eternally. 

I’ve always loved Larkin’s charts.  Larkin was a man truly gifted with both a double measure of understanding and double measure of the gift of teaching. 

Larkin beautifully illustrates the three parts of man.The Threefold Nature of Man 

The outer ring is the body.  This is the physical part, the part that dies.  But while we are here, the body serves as the sensory input to the soul.  Larkin labels the senses as the “Eyegate” “Eargate” “Nosegate” etc because those are the gateways to the soul — for both good and evil. 

Because that is our only sensory input, that is all we have to work with. 

In Larkin’s center ring is our soul, wherein dwells the natural man.  The soul consists of the mind, will and emotions.  It is the ‘ghost’ in the machine. 

It is the part of you that makes all the other parts yours.  It is uniquely yours.  It is God-breathed.  It will continue to exist after your body dies, whether you are saved or not. 

Now, look at the inner circle.  This is the Third Element.  This is your spirit.  Notice that Larkin’s drawing is of a new creature — indwelling Larkin’s spirit-man is the Holy Spirit of God. 

Let me summarize this all before going on.  I want you to really see this. 

The body is in the outer ring and it is the sensory gate that feeds the soul.  The spirit is in the center and it is the sensory gate through which the Holy Spirit communicates with us.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)

When we die, the soul and spirit separate from the body and the body’s sensory input.  The Bible tells us that our soul doesn’t sleep, but remains conscious; Paul tells us that; 

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith and not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:6-8)

I want you to see all that this teaches.  The first is the most obvious since it is most often-quoted; ‘absent from the body, present with the Lord’ but see the Bigger Picture as well.  When in the body, we are absent from the Lord.  Our sensory inputs are limited to the five gates of the carnal body. 

Most of us are spiritually blind.  We hear the phrase often enough.  Think of what it means.  It refers to the sensory input we get from the center of our being, from the center of Larkin’s inner circle, where our spirit is. 

At the center of the natural man’s the spirit is dark.  It is totally blind to the things of God.  The natural man can be spiritual; the world is filled with spiritual people who are in communication with the spirit world.  But they are not in communication with the Spirit of God. 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14)

The natural man can thrash about trying make a spiritual connection, but he is just thrashing about blindly hoping to latch on to any spiritual passersby. 

Understand the function of your spirit.  It is your sensory input to the things of the spirit.  The quickened, or regenerated spirit is in contact and communion with the Spirit of God.  Absent the body, the spirit becomes the eyes and ears of the soul. 

When we die, the body’s sensory gates close, but the spirit’s sensory gates swing wide-open.  We (that is, the soul, the part that makes you ‘you’) remain aware of what is going on.  (Absent from the body, etc. . .) 

So when you die, the spirit functions much as the body did, as the primary sensory gateway into the soul. 

Look at Larkin’s chart again.  First, your middle ring was being fed from the outer ring.  Now it is being supplied with sensory input from the inner, spiritual ring where the Holy Spirit sits. 

Or not.  If the spirit is dark, then the soul has no source of sensory input.  The spiritual, but lost person who was thrashing about blindly in this life?  We’ll come back to him momentarily. 

We are half blind in this world.  Our souls only know what they can learn from the sensory input of our carnal, physical bodies.  Our spirits are capable of just enough faith to invite the Holy Spirit in, which then quickens us and opens up our spiritual ‘eyes’. 

When we get our resurrection bodies, we will receive sensory input from both sides.  Both the physical and the spiritual.  The reason that at the Rapture, the dead in Christ rise first, is that they’ve been waiting half-blind for theirs. 

Right now, Paul says, “we see through a glass darkly. . but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)

Imagine at the Rapture, when we who are alive and remain suddenly start getting unrestricted sensory input from both our resurrection bodies and our eyes-wide open quickened spirits!  It is a spectacular thought. 

Back to the less-spectacular thought of the soul who dies without the quickening of the Spirit.  His soul has lost its physical sensory input.  His spirit is dark, dead, and incapable of getting any spiritual input.  But at the Great White Throne, that soul will also receive a resurrection body. 

Remember the function of the body and spirit.  They are the gateways to the soul. 

That lost soul will have his physical sensory input restored to him just before being cast alive into the Lake of Fire.  There, he will be deprived of spiritual comfort, since his spirit is dead, but his resurrection body will be eternally alive. 

And his soul, the part that makes him who he is, will spend eternity thinking about how he blew his chance to escape his fate while his spirit aches to see the God he rejected. 

The body is not what its cracked up to be.  It’s really only a temporary life support system and communications center that connects the soul to this physical world.  The part that makes you ‘you’ is the part that makes the body work. 

The body isn’t life to the soul.  The soul is life to the body. 

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13)

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalms 139:14)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 18, 2012

Featured Commentary: United States Betrays Israel: Why? ~J.L. Robb

It’s All In How You Play the Game . . .

It’s All In How You Play the Game . . .
Vol: 29 Issue: 28 Wednesday, December 28, 2016

For Christmas this year, I got a pool table. It wasn’t the expensive slate-top kind, but it plays as nicely as if it were.

Instead of slate, my table bed is a cheaper, but excellent man-made material called Slatron. The only difference I noticed is that when the ball rolls across the Slatron bed, it sounds a bit like a ball rolling down the lane in a bowling alley. 

The table came from Sears, and we set it up in an unused corner of the garage. (Actually, that is where my car used to live, but there was room for either a car or a pool table — and the car wouldn’t get soggy if it rained) 

I love pool. I started to play when I was in the Marine Corps. At first, I didn’t much care for it, but, who wants to be the ONLY guy in the barracks who doesn’t like to shoot pool? 

We had a pool table in our barracks’ communal room and I used to stay up into the wee hours of the morning practicing, until the duty NCO would kick me out for making too much noise. 

By the time I got out of the Corps, I thought I was pretty good, and I’ve played pool whenever I got a chance since. 

I love pool because you aren’t playing your opponent so much as you are playing yourself. It doesn’t make much difference to me whether I win or lose; in pool, it truly is how one plays the game that counts. Every game is a learning experience, and pool is the only game I know that is as much fun to play alone as it is to play an opponent. 

Nothing is as relaxing as a game of pool. It is like a hot bath with Epsom salts for the mind. My pool table came with a book of instructions written by pool legend Steve Mizerak. It has a number of tips, but the most important one is this one: “When you are taking your shot, forget about everything else in the universe, except making that shot.”

Pool is a precise game — close doesn’t count. It is a game of strategy and planning. One doesn’t just shoot to pocket a ball — a good player will have his next four shots planned before he takes the one in front of him. In pool, pocketing a ball is only slightly more important than leaving the cue ball properly positioned for the next shot. 

Sometimes, it is more important to miss a shot and leave the cue ball in a position where your opponent can’t make his than it is to pocket a ball yourself. If you do it right, you’ll get another shot. 

Practice makes perfect and I practice whenever I get a chance. Practicing helps me to perfect my technique, and missing a shot teaches me what NOT to do as much as it teaches me what I should be doing. 

Assessment:

In many ways, to me, shooting pool is a metaphor for life. Even if you miss the mark, there are second chances as long as the game is alive. And every shot you take affects the way your opponent plays his game. A single shot can change the layout of the table completely and undo all your opponent’s careful planning. Or it can undo all of yours. 

Pool teaches you patience. If you miss a shot, you just remind yourself that if you made every shot you were aiming at, nobody else would play pool with you. Everybody misses, even the great ones. It happens when you remember something else in the universe except that shot. That tiny distraction is all it takes to turn your best-laid plans into a victory for your opponent.

Pool is something of a metaphor for our relationship with God, as well. 

At first you aren’t very good at it, but as time goes on, you get better at it, get a bit more confidence, and after awhile, you understand that EVERYBODY misses sometimes. When you miss, you take it in stride, learn from your mistakes, and try and do better with your next shot. 

In pool, you aren’t judged a good player or a bad player based on one or two shots, you are judged by how consistently you win the game. 

The Christian life is like that. Sometimes, we miss the mark, but God doesn’t judge our whole lives by a bad shot here and there. 

EVERYBODY misses from time to time, but until our lives are over, the full measure of our game has not been taken. There is always another ‘shot’ until the 8 ball is pocketed. And as long as there is another shot, there is still a chance to win. 

As Christians, it’s our job to win others to Christ. Sometimes, we make a ‘bad shot’ that changes the whole layout of the table. In our earnestness to personally lead somebody to Christ, we overdo it. We shoot too hard and miss. We get discouraged, and worry that we’ve done more harm than good. 

In pool, pocketing the ball is only slightly more important than positioning the cue for the next shot. Sometimes, it isn’t our job to lead that person to Christ. Instead, we are just setting up cue ball for the next guy. We are just planting the seed. The Holy Spirit will water that seed, but sometimes, He gives the job of harvesting to somebody else. 

The point is, once you’ve planted that seed, there is always another shot, that lost person still has a chance to win, as long as the game is alive. 

But to win, you have to play.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 30, 2004

Featured Commentary: Happy New Year? ~Wendy Wippel

The Hypocritical Christian

The Hypocritical Christian
Vol: 29 Issue: 27 Tuesday, December 27, 2016

One of the most common challenges one faces when witnessing about Jesus Christ is effectively responding to the question, “Why are Christians such hypocrites?” What makes it challenging is the fact the question is legitimate. Lots and lots of Christians ARE hypocrites.

Before you clobber me, let me rush to say, “Not all of them” (I think). But there are certainly enough for the charge to have legitimacy. And you can bet your skeptic will provide you with plenty of examples, just in case you can’t.

All any skeptic needs to do is turn on his television to see all the evidence he needs to convince himself that Christians have the corner on hypocrisy. Take the ‘seed faith’ doctrine of Oral Roberts, R. W. Shambach or John Avanzini.

This ‘doctrine’ proposes a spiritual LAW that says giving money to a ministry will cause God to return more money to the giver than the actual gift.

More than that, even. It teaches that if you don’t give money to a ministry, God has nothing to work with, but if you give Him money, He will send it back to you 100-fold. Kind of like a spiritual lottery ticket.

It is hard to tell which is the more hypocritical; those who use God to squeeze money out of people, or those who send in money for the purpose of getting more back.

To the skeptic, it is evidence that Christians are not only hypocrites, but also pretty stupid. . . In 1986 Oral Roberts claimed that God appeared to him and said the following;

“I want you to use the ORU medical school to put My medical presence in the earth. I want you to get this going in one year or I will call you home. It will cost $8 million and I want you to believe you can raise it.”

Pleading to his adherents that God would kill him if he didn’t raise the money; Oral Roberts received the $8 million dollars by April of 1987 and claimed he had $9.1 million, which was $1.1 million more than was needed.

John Avanzini teaches that Jesus Christ was a very rich man, who lived in a mansion, wore designer clothes and had a ministry that took in so much money that it had to have a financial manager, Judas Iscariot, which is why he carried the bag of money.

R. W. Shambach tells TBN viewers that they are guaranteed a 100-fold return for every dollar they contribute to TBN. The skeptic asks why Shambach isn’t throwing every dime he can into TBN himself, or why he isn’t a multi-billionaire if he has.

There are no end of examples of Christian examples of hypocrisy, and no end of folks to point them out. “You Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites! Why would I want to be like you?”

Christians instinctively understand both the question and the answer, but often can’t articulate it. The answer is actually pretty simple, as are most things of the Spirit, except for the skeptic. By definition, he cannot discern the things of the Spirit in the first place.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The Christian is not a perfect person, and never will be in this life, but wants to reflect the nature and work of Jesus Christ in his life. But, because of the weakness of human nature, the attainment of the goals is not always accomplished.

This is not hypocrisy, it is the sin nature common to all men, saved or unsaved. The world is well tuned to note hypocrisy; hypocrisy is a knowingly conducted act of deception.

Like pretending you are better than you really are, thereby diverting to yourself the Glory due Jesus for using you AS you are.

The skeptic looks for hypocrisy in others in order to justify his own failures, rationalizing his own actions by finding a perceived greater fault in others. That way, he can turn away from the discussion, comfortable in his unbelief.

But the Bible tells us to be “confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL PERFORM IT, until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

That is to say, Jesus BEGAN a PROCESS at the point of salvation that He continues to perform until we stand before Him.

Christians are perfected in the SPIRIT at the moment of salvation, but, as Paul asked the Galatians,

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

The Christian understands the old adage that, ‘the only entrance requirement for Christianity is that you must first be a sinner.’

The answer to why Christians are such hypocrites because they are people, just like everyone else. The difference is that a Christian has recognized his failures and is being conformed and molded, by a continuing process, into a likeness of Jesus Christ.

But the skeptic holds the Christian to an impossible standard, comparing the Christian’s life to the Life of Jesus Christ.

While they themselves reject Him while asking, “Why CHRISTIANS are such hypocrites?”

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 10, 2004

”And the End Shall Be With a Flood. . . ”

”And the End Shall Be With a Flood. . . ”
Vol: 29 Issue: 26 Monday, December 26, 2016

President Barack Hussein Obama formally embraced the Palestinian position regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict in a speech in which he declared that any final solution will have to be based on the 1967 borders.

The speech, delivered on the eve of a scheduled visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was intended to signal to Netanyahu that Obama is expecting major concessions from the Israelis.

Israeli officials were especially surprised at Obama’s “blunt” language, especially Obama’s criticism of so-called “settlements” and what he called Israel’s continued “occupation” of “Arab lands.”

According to Obama, “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.”  Great, swelling words – but ultimately meaningless. 

First off, Israel does not dream of a Jewish and democratic state.  Israel IS a Jewish and democratic state – and has been such for more than sixty years.  And second, what “permanent occupation?”  

The only territory that qualifies as “occupied” would be the Golan Heights captured from Syria and annexed to prevent Syrian gunners from lobbing shells down into the Galilee region. 

Giving the Golan back to Syria would be suicidal – but one suspects Obama knows that. 

Maybe that is why Obama has steadfastly refused to take any meaningful action against Syria’s Bashar al Assad, despite reports that he has ordered his troops to shoot indiscriminately into crowds of protestors.

According to published news reports, Assad’s forces have arrested more than eight THOUSAND people, many of whom have been tortured.

“In Banias, a strategic oil refining port on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, prisoners were being held in the power station and a sports stadium because all the city’s jail cells were full. . . In interviews with 19 Syrian detainees last month, including two women and three teenagers, Human Rights Watch found that all but two had been tortured, including being whipped with cable and stunned with electric-shock devices while drenched in cold water.”

There is more, but it is just too sickening to repeat.  But that isn’t what is important to President Obama. What is important to President Obama is keeping up the pressure on Israel.

Like everyone else, I’ve been wondering why Obama dumped Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak so abruptly, siding forcefully with the protestors against Mubarak, while staying relatively silent when other, less friendly dictatorships were on the ropes.  

Why did Obama plunge into the fray in Egypt but refrain from any interference with Iran?   Iran is already sworn to Israel’s destruction.  Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt had a peace treaty with Israel. 

Iran is an Islamic republic led by Muslims according to the tenets of the Koran and Sharia Law. Hosni Mubarak was a secular leader of secular state ruled apart from the Koran.

Obama sided with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a group dedicated to replacing Egypt’s secular government with an Islamic republic.  

In Iran, Obama sided with the government, congratulating Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent ‘re-election’ and respectfully referring to Ayahtollah Khameini as the ‘Supreme Leader.”

But when it came to Syria, Obama’s criticism was muted.  He didn’t call Assad’s regime ‘illegitimate’ — as he did with Mubarak – much less call for Assad to step down.   It seems the only Arab dictatorships not supported by Obama are those few with friendly relations with Israel.

Memo to Arab Dictatorships:  If you want to survive the Arab Spring, avoid any appearance of friendship with Israel.

Assessment:

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. “

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:26-27)

This linked map shows what the President of the United States called “the Israeli occupation.”

Note the little blue dots – those are Israeli settlements. Places where Jews live.  The Palestinians want all Jews expelled and the West Bank to be a “no Jews allowed” zone.  

Can you imagine the outcry if Israel agreed on the condition that all Arabs be expelled from Israel?  Not even the Israelis would agree to something that reprehensible. 

Look now at all the little red dots.  Those are the Palestinian ‘refugee’ camps – camps for homeless displaced Palestinians from the 1948 War of Independence.  How many little red dots do you see in Israeli-controlled territory? 

There are none inside Israel because Israel didn’t put them into camps.  Israel absorbed its Arab population, granting them full Israeli citizenship. It was the Arab states that put them into camps.  

Sixty-three years later they are still kept in these concentration camps as ‘refugees’.  These Arab ‘refugees’ are the ones actually under occupation – but their occupiers aren’t the Jews – they are their Arab brothers.

How do the ordinary Arabs really feel about the Israeli occupation? You would suspect that somebody would ask them. But when somebody did, the answer was so shocking that they quit asking the question.

Given the choice, vast majorities of Palestinians now living under Israeli rule say that they would fight against being turned over the Palestinian Authority.   As one of them explained to Daniel Pipes:  “The hell of Israel is better than the paradise of Arafat.”

While Obama is throwing Israel under the bus and offering American support for the division of Jerusalem, how are things going back home?

From May to September, 1993 the Clinton administration was secretly engaged in feverish talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  On the table was the Oslo Agreement  — a seven year contract between the two sides — based on the formula of land for peace.

The Oslo Agreement called for Israel to take land captured from Jordan, Syria, and Egypt during the 1967 War and give it to the indigenous Arab peoples who claimed national status as a ‘Palestinian people’.  

Despite the fact that there never was such a people, or a Palestinian culture or Palestinian language or Palestinian history, the Oslo Agreement required Israel to pretend there was a Palestinian people and to carve out part of its own territory to give them for a Palestinian state.

The Oslo Agreement was brokered by the Clinton administration and held an emotional signing ceremony in the Rose Garden overseen by US President Bill Clinton.  

As Clinton nudged a reluctant Rabin to take the blood-stained hand of Yasser Arafat on September 13, 1993 the Mississippi River overflowed its banks in what was called “a five-hundred year flood.”

 “And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

According to NOAA:

“The magnitude and severity of this flood event was simply over-whelming, and it ranks as one of the greatest natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Approximately 600 river forecast points in the Midwestern United States were above flood stage at the same time.

Nearly 150 major rivers and tributaries were affected. It was certainly the largest and most significant flood event ever to occur in the United States.”

Here we are almost twenty-years later, with an American president calling for the division of Jerusalem and supporting the creation of a Jew-free Palestinian state in Biblical Samaria and Judea.

And that’s exactly the interval between five-hundred year floods in the American Midwest, too.  

I don’t believe in coincidences.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 20, 2011

Featured Commentary: The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown ~Pete Garcia

The Most Ironic Story Ever Told

The Most Ironic Story Ever Told
Vol: 29 Issue: 24 Saturday, December 24, 2016

The story of the Virgin Birth, sinless life and blameless death of Jesus Christ, an itinerant Jewish preacher from the Judean village of Nazareth is often and rightly called “the Greatest Story Ever Told.”

What makes it great is its theme.  A Child born to a young Jewish virgin and (as was supposed) a Jewish laborer of low estate Whose birth is announced by angels.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

The Child is the Son of God, come to bear the sins of the world.  He grows to maturity, living low as a laborer in Nazareth until He is called to ministry during His baptism in the Jordan by His cousin John.  

Jesus preaches repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.  He teaches love of God and to love one’s neighbor.  He lives a blameless and perfect life, is condemned as the King of the Jews and crucified for the sins of the world.

Three days after His execution, He rises from the dead to announce that the hereditary penalty for sin imposed on all men since Adam had been paid.   In evidence, He offers His own Body, showing the nail scars and the side wound.

“This is the price paid on your behalf for sins.  Believe in Me, and Him that sent me, and thou shalt be saved.”  

THAT is why it is the greatest story ever told.  But what makes it ironic is the WAY that it is told – as a Christian story.  The story actually begins way back in the Book of Genesis.   

Abram was the son of an idol maker named Terah who lived in the great city of Ur in modern-day Iraq. The Bible relates that Abram was called by God to a new land that God would show him. 

By faith Abram undertook the journey.Genesis 15:6 says;

 “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

But Abram wanted a guarantee, nonetheless. 

“And he [Abram] said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8) 

It was then that God proposed a blood covenant after the manner of the Chaldeans

“And He [God] said unto him, [Abram] Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 

Abram knew what to do next, since this was something he was familiar with.

“And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.”

The blood covenant worked this way. The animals were slaughtered and cut up. The pieces were intermingled and then carefully arranged to form a kind of aisle through which the two parties to the covenant would walk together, hands joined. 

The principle of a blood covenant, and the symbolism of the animal parts was clearly understood to Abram. Whoever broke the covenant would end up like those piles of animals.

A blood covenant was, by common custom, a joining of 2 or more persons, families, clans, tribes, or nations, where the participants agree to do or refrain from doing certain acts.

What God proposed was a patriarchal covenant. The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party.  Something like adoption by agreement.

In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.  And God’s proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram’s seed forever.  Abram’s seed, as we learn in Galatians 3:29, are the Jews and Christians that are “heirs according to the Promise.” 

What promise?  The one made by God to Abram and to his heirs and guaranteed by a Chaldean blood covenant.  

Abram waited, driving away the carrion eaters from his grisly creation, waiting for God Himself to come down, join hands with Abram and together, they would swear a blood oath. God would be the Father of Abram and his descendents, who would then be required behave as sons of the covenant.

Genesis 15:12 records that as Abram waited for God, a deep sleep fell upon him. During that deep sleep,

“it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:17-18)

Abram didn’t join with God in passing through the aisle.  The Bible says that God took TWO forms that Abram saw as a “smoking furnace” and “a burning lamp” to symbolize that the covenant was “signed” the requisite two times – but both times by God.

By passing through the aisle alone, God signed the contract — alone — for both sides, binding Himself to keeping both parts. 

And THIS is where the Christmas story begins.  Of the covenant that God signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul explains,

“Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.” (Galatians 3:15)

The covenant could only be confirmed when the price demanded for its violation was paid in full.

When the Law was given to Moses four centuries later, it was assumed by the Jews that to break it was to break the Abrahamic Covenant, for which the penalty was death. Remember, somebody had to die.

But God signed on behalf of Abraham, and Paul pointed out the blood penalty required of the covenant was paid in full.

“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.”

The covenant demanded satisfactory payment for its violation and no one guilty of violating it was qualified to stand in full payment except those that signed it.  The penalty for its violation was death. 

Justice required that someone keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son as it demanded.

So Abraham could not pay the penalty on behalf of his seed.   Abraham was already under penalty of death.  But somebody had to die for justice to be satisfied and the only signer was God.  

The terms of the Abrahamic covenant required God Himself to step out of eternity and into space and time where He could be subject to the death penalty justice demanded.   

Two thousand years after the first covenant, an angel announced that “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Unto WHO was born a Saviour?   Unto the Jews of Israel, first. And then to the Gentiles

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

That is what makes it the Most Ironic Story Ever Told.  Christmas is the most Jewish of all holy days.  It is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant whereby the terms demanded were satisfied. 

But to most observant Jews, Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates something to do with the Christian God.  

That is the irony of the story.  It is a day that celebrates the birth of a Jew from Nazareth, born unto them in the city of David, which is Christ the Lord.  

So this Christmas, pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And pray for His Chosen People that they will receive Him as their King.  And may our God richly bless you and yours, until He comes.

Shalom.  And Merry Christmas.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 24, 2010