Sunday, November 30, 2008

"First Person" Version, Daniel 9

"Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, 'O Lord, great and awesome God; who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, I have sinned and committed iniquity, I have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have I heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to my kings and my princes, to my fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to me shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven us, because of the unfaithfulness which we have committed against You. O Lord, to me belongs shame of face, to my kings, my princes, and my fathers, because I have sinned against You. To the Lord my God belong mercy and forgiveness, though I have rebelled against You. I have not obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, to walk in His laws, which You set before me by Your servants the prophets. Yes, I have departed Your law, and have departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on me because I have sinned against You. And You have confirmed Your words, which You spoke against me and against the judges who judged me, bringing upon me a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon me; yet I have not made my prayer before the Lord my God, that I might turn from my iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon me; for the Lord my God is righteous in all the works which He does, though I have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord my God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--I have sinned, I have done wickedly! O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because of my sins, and for the iniquities of my fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around me. Now therefore, my God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and my supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolation's, and the city which is called by Your name; for I do not present my supplications before You because of my righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Did Anyone Say, "Merry Christmas!"

Meanwhile the insanity rolls on. Who doesn't know about the soul who perished under the feet of the mindless shoppers who literally broke the doors of a New York state WalMart when he was dutifully...just...opening the doors of the store yesterday morning?
This tragedy is begging for commentary and there will be plenty.. Here he was, a young man, holding a temporary job with WalMart, and all he had to do the last moments of his life was to open the doors.
Police estimate that about 2000 people broke through the doors and that was when he was pushed to the floor where he was stepped on by a herd of hundreds eager for bargains.
Stuff. These men and women were on the hunt for nothing but stuff; cheap stuff at that. The tragedy of this tragedy is this: The cheapest thing in the store yesterday morning lay on the floor dying from the maddened feet driven by maddened minds. The life of that soul was worth nothing to these shoppers (No! that's too gentle a word; "murderers," better describes what they were).
Ask any of them; "You, lady; did you step on this man?" and she would say "I didn't kill 'em!" Ask the fat guy in the T-shirt and all the tatoos, and he's say, "H*ll no! It wasn't my fault!"
So who is to blame? We are. All of us. Everybody.
That's ridiculous! someone is thinking. Is it? The greed that was acted out there in that store is alive and well in each of us. Some of us are a little more sophisticated in the way we act out our greed, but it is there nonetheless.
The day before Thanksgiving I made the mistake of going to CostCo. They should have had someone at the door selling life insurance. The rush-hour freeway is a piece of cake compared to monstrous people hurtling monstrous shopping carts down narrow aisles; their faces aglare with expression of "I dare you to get in my way 'cause if you do I'll run you butt into the concrete." You think I'm kidding. You think I'm exaggerating. Wrong. The mentality and the behavior was a member of the same family as that exhibited in the fateful WalMart.
Switch gears. What do you think it will be like in the world, in your town, in your neighborhood, when terrorism strikes in the heart of our homeland (like Mumbai, but on a bigger scale)? What will it be like in a national emergency when your local SuperStore runs out of food? Read the story on WalMart again and you'll get a tiny glimpse of what it'll be like. But instead of killing just for "stuff" (made in China), that herd will be killing for food.
I hold the opinion that we have no idea how bad things will be when there is a time of trouble such as never was on the earth. Well, ask the guy on the floor of WalMart and he would tell you, if he could, just how bad it was and how bad it will be.
And Nobody slowed to say, "Merry Christmas." I wonder if WalMart's army of lawyers will be able to wiggle out of this one or if they will be able to wiggle out of this by saying simply, "Your Honor, WalMart is not responsible for this tragedy" "The woman You gave me: She made me do it."
Whooosh! right over your head. Oh well. Think about it and it should come clear.
Pray for the family of this poor man. May God be with them as they mourn their loss. e.c.

Friday, November 28, 2008

And Tomorow????

I thought that things would get worse; I just didn't know it would happen so fast and be quite so horrific. So, should we be surprised? I suppose not. Not if we know what the Scripture says about these times.
Of course, I didn't KNOW they would get worse so quickly, but I do know that the devil never sleeps and is as hungry for souls as a starving lion.
It's very difficult to be cheerful and joining in the Season that was always a time of real joy when I was a child. A part of that child still lives and is distressed that happiness has been displaced by terrorists; but that is their job description; to cause ordinary folks to feel be afraid...afraid they might die in a bomb blast....afraid they could be shot...afraid of being kidnapped....afraid of being afraid.
So if we permit terrorists on the other side of the globe to make us afraid, and if the terror along with the terrorists invade our neighborhood....which will eventually happen...and if we go out shopping to forget about the murders in this world in the past 48 hours...and if we hide our heads in a Nordstrom (name your own favorite) holiday shopping bag...I have no words but, "Shame on us."
Ask for God's blessing and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Since I wrote about the Holocaust and Great Britain I have learned that the Power Point item sent along to us was INCORRECT on this point. According to a reliable source (my grandson) the issue of Great Britain deleting information on the Holocaust from its school curriculum is spurious. 'Nuf said.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What To Say? What To Say?

My wife read this for our worship this morning and I'm curious to know how you read the words: "Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool;" "...but My salvation shall be forever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished." [Isaiah 51: 7, 8, 6].
Or, how does this stir your coffee (so to speak)?; "The truth must not be muffled now. Plain statements must be made. Unvarnished truth must be spoken, in leaflets and pamphlets, and these must be scattered like the leaves of autumn." [9T 231].
Some are afraid of what I might say. Frankly my dear, I am afraid of what I might say. I fear timidity and hesitancy. I am intimidated to knock on doors. I can be silenced by bully's; bigger or smaller, men or women; it makes no difference. Criticism is a knife that cuts the blood supply from a fragile mind to the finger tips that put words on this page.
So whom do I fear? Myself, mostly. But seeing as I can write...though I may be the only one who believes that is so...I will write. And I will ask the Holy Spirit to weave my thoughts into a fearless but caring fabric that lifts up our Lord Jesus, the Christ.
At the end of Mark chapter thirteen Jesus says this: "And what I say to you I say to all: "Watch!" So what are we to watch? Everyday I find something that grabs my attention much like the way my 5th grade teacher (Mrs. Melgard) brought my wandering mind back to class. Here is something you can watch and think about;
"It came as surprise for me to learn this past week that the impetus for Sunday laws may come from the current financial crisis that affects many nations today. The European Episcopal Commission, known as COMECE, consisting of 24 bishops, each representing a western country, met in Brussels, the headquarter of the European Parliament from November 12-14, 2008. The Bishops agreed that "the financial crisis has exposed a deeper spiritual crisis and a misguided set of values. The sense and value of human work has been pushed to the background in the general struggle for profit." "In their exchange of views with the State Secretary for European Affairs, the Church representatives expressed their wish to see the Sunday rest day being better protected in national legislations as well as in the future EU Working Time Directive which is currently being revised." "The Bishops called for respect for Sunday rest as one of the foundations of the European social model and as a way of balancing work and family life. In recent years, Sunday as a weekly rest day has been threatened by legislation in many Member States thanks to liberal and consumerist-driven political concepts. In the context of the present economic crisis, Bishops call on the Members of the European Parliament to assume their responsibilities and include the protection of Sunday in the Working Time Directive that will be submitted to the European Parliament's vote by the middle of December." ( What This means that at their next meeting scheduled by December 15, the European Parliament will discuss the European Bishops' request to pass a legislation "for the protection of Sunday." This is a startling new development in Western Europe where Sunday has become a secular day.
[Source: Bacchiocchi, S; Endtime Issues #217]
There are more; lots more. But you'll have to turn off the bloviating (I think you get that) and dig into what is being published. It is sobbering! It is frightening! It's not just coming; no, it's here. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." [Rev. 22:20]
God Bless. e.c.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anybody Have A Pepto?

My stomach is in knots and it's not even 10:00 a.m. Two items I read on the computer (one a Power Point essay on the Holocaust; the other a Blog link from NARLA) have me all wound up, angry and roaring to write. But first I have to ask the Holy Spirit to moderate me (I write the word but have no idea what "moderate" looks or feels like), so as to not run the risk of offending. Come to think about it I guess I, like Paul, should not be deliberate in offending but should be careful in my words: I'm not sure I know how to do that.
One item that offended me was a Power Point pictorial of the results of the Holocaust, but most particularly, the comment (be it true or not I know not), that Great Britain has dropped the entire Holocaust topic from its educational curriculum out of concern of offending its Islamic citizens; which are many.
Either Great Britain is cowardly or pragmatic; cowardly if they folded out of fear of retribution in its most flammable form, or pragmatic, in order to avoid the flames and exploding vests of fanatically indoctrinated men and women. Which is it Mr. Prime Minister?
The second fuse that was lit comes from a homosexually political (re)action bunch in California (of course), who put out a video commercial that allegedly shows two Mormons coming up to the door of a lesbian couple and announcing their intention to tear up their marriage license and strip the rings from their fingers. This has played on 30 television stations in California, has been "praised" in the Los Angeles Times and one of the leaders of this "Kool Aid" drinking bunch (sorry O'Reilly), has appeared on NBC TV. Those gullible enough to believe their sorry propaganda are Kool Aid chug-a-luggers as well.
But here's the interesting part; ...what...if...this group chose to attack Muslims....or...Jews? Impossible!! And why? because there would be protests and retributions across the land. But really, what's to fear from Mormons? I don't know any Mormon who "carries" (a not-so-subtle reference to concealed weapons); at least, the main group of LDS are not known for being violent.
It's open season on Mormons because they chose to speak up, put up, and not shut up. Adventists need not worry because they only "whisper" about matters such as this. But while we rest in the smugness of our socially neutral recliners, remember this; we are next.
But that is true only for the committed who will choose and dare to speak up against the religio/socio/political injustices that are just now coming over the horizon from all sixteen points of the compass.
So as EW .wrote, "agitate, agitate, agitate," but we'd better not offend what's offensive.
I don't think I know how to do that!!!
God Bless. e.c.
p.s. here is the link to the NARLA blogger

Monday, November 24, 2008

Plagarism, Distilled To Its Purest

Right from the top, this isn't my idea but I am going to take liberties and elaborate on another's work.
Let's construct a hypothetical. Assume that you engage three different men (or women) in conversation about whether or not there is a God and whether or not there is such a thing as right or wrong. Further assume that one of the three is an atheist, another is an agnostic, and the last clings to a religious creed that does not include God as Christian's (ought to) think of God. (Don't ask me to elaborate on that last remark just now; I'll do that at some later date).
So the question is this: "If there is a God, does this God set boundaries on the behavior of man or does man set his own boundaries?" Put another way; "Where do our individual and corporate sense of "right" and "wrong" originate? Is is intrinsic to our being, or is it extrinsic?
Assume that while I was in college I went to a record store, and, while browsing the new releases I came across an LP (that means "Long Play" to anyone under age 50). Suppose it was an LP I really wanted; exempla gratia "Les Elgart", and suppose that I slipped it inside the back of my tweed overcoat, and suppose I walked out of this hypothetical store in downtown Walla Walla, Washington with a new "free" record.
I did this in 1956 but you already knew I had done this because there are too many details. (My #3 son still has the overcoat that my mom bought for me in 1955 at Sears in downtown Tacoma, Washington).
Someone ought to be saying (or thinking); "That was wrong!" And this is where I ask, "Why is it wrong?"
In order to understand God and His government we have to understand what it is that causes an action or even a thought to be labeled, "wrong." I can hear someone(s) saying, "Thou shalt not steal."
Right! But what does that mean to the atheist, the agnostic, or someone of a religion that does not admit to the existence of our Protestant/Catholic/Jewish God.
Is it wrong because there are civil consequences if one is caught? Is it wrong because one might go to jail? Civil consequences would be the voice of government and when did government begin defining "right and wrong", and on what basis? On what fundamental authority does one, or a community, or a nation, say, "That is wrong."
Coming from another direction; "Does sin exist apart from being defined by any but God?"
Actually (as Christopher would say), sin exists independent of "reason" because as I said in an earlier "post," if a reason could be given for the existence of sin (the "wrong" part of right and wrong), it wouldn't be sin.
So how is this resolved? It is wrong to steal, fundamentally, because God has declared it to be so. We may try to justify or excuse ourselves but none of these are sufficient to stand as reasons for our misdeed(s). There is a galaxy of side effects that attends each of our wrongs and each has to do with how our malicious act(s) adversely affects others. Each point in this galaxy is in itself wrong, because someone or someones are wronged and we are the ones who must assume the burden of the guilt and the fault. Guilt is a burden; everyone knows that without having to read it in some book or Book, and it is heavy.
Only Satan and his minions (here and in hell) might not feel guilt. For them, their anger is their guilt. I'm not certain which is heavier; anger or guilt. You figure it out and let me know what you know.
Anyway, (as Scott would say) (this is inside stuff folks so don't try to figure it out), four years later I went back to that record store, admitted the theft and handed the clerk a five dollar bill. She stood looking at me (my wife was with me to help me stand straight like a man), and finally said, "Well, I'll just ring this up as a sale!"
Going out the door of the store I knew I'd left a lot of weight behind because somewhere in my "Nephesh" (Hebrew for heart, mind, being, person, myself, soul, etc.) I knew that taking the record was wrong. Sin is heavy. Guilt (I'll opine) is heavier.
God Bless. e.c.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Golden Slippers

My great-grandmother (Letitia Virginia) was born in Virginny--as she called it--and had a Southern "twang" as strong as any. There was a song she used to sing about "Golden Slippers" and one of the lines went like this, near as I recollect: "O' them golden slippers I's gwyne ta' wear ta' walk th'm golden streets."
Heaven: She was singing about heaven; putting on golden slippers and walking the streets of gold. I expect she will be walking those streets, and soon at that.
So here we are in Victorville, California where it is warm and sunny; too warm actually. Driving down here we drove by Lake Shasta and I was shocked because never, in more than fifty years of driving that route have I EVER seen the lake so low. Not only is the lake low but the Shasta River is finding it harder to deliver water downstream to Redding, Red Bluff, Stockton, Sacramento, etc.
California is drying up, burning up, and broke.
But "...This is just a cycle..." some say, just like all the other cycles the world has gone through since Creation. Perhaps they're right..and..perhaps they're wrong. The Bible says, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage until the flood came and took them all away." [Matthew 24:38, 39].
There is a flood of sorts, not only in California, but in the world; it is a flood of sin that eventuates in the degradation of humanity. One could say that mankind is not "evolving" but rather "devolving."
As a nation we flaunt our wickedness in the face of God and I sometimes wonder just how much of this God will tolerate. Thankfully, "God is long suffering, not willing that any will perish."II Peter 3:9]. The Sodomites were given opportunity to repent and they would not so the cities of the plain were destroyed by fire.
Sooner or later God will declare, as He did from the cross, "It is finished!" and the cities of the world will suffer the fate of Sodom.
Are there scoffers? Of course. Are there those who refuse to believe? Certainly! Are they setting themselves up for a sad surprise? Yes.
God says "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" [Isaiah 6:8], and Isaiah answers, "Here am I! Send me." So the question for us is the same: "Who will go for the Lord?" Who will speak for their family, their friends, their neighbors?
Are there any willing to say, "Here am I! Send me."
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To Offend Or Not To Offend:That Is The Answer

The past few days I've had discussions; rather intense discussions, actually. The question raised had to do with whether or not one should stand, raise their hands, or exhibit any visible manifestation of "praise" during a worship service.
My position was that if one feels led by the Spirit to stand as an act of worship and/or praise (and be the only one doing so), one should do as they feel led to give praise to God.
The other sides of the debate opined that if one is alone in such demonstrations, they run the risk of offending others who may feel that such actions may be misinterpreted as wanting to be noticed, going against the grain of "propriety," and venturing beyond the historical, denominational bounds of worship.
So, there I was, pinched between "propriety," "tradition," and one's own emotional/spiritual reaction to the beauty of music, preaching, etc.
Of course, the apostle Paul was brought along with his recorded opinion which reads; "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak."[I Corinthians 8:9].
But of course, taken in context and eisegetically rendered, this text is talking about what one eats and not how one may feel compelled to worship on occasion.
I thought about King David who "...danced before the Lord with all (his) might, and David (was) wearing a linen ephod." [IISamuel 6:14] (I put the added words in parentheses). According to Strong (#5797) the word translated "might" is the Hebrew word " 'oz " which is also rendered "strength.
Does one close the hearts and file them under "propriety?" Does one praise God carefully so as to avoid even the possibility that others may be offended? Does one heed or shed the opinions of others offered in love and concern?
Lord, what am I to do? David, a man after your own heart, I certainly am not. Speak Lord; I need a word from You.
With utmost sincerity, e.c.
p.s. we have made it only as far as Medford, Oregon and each day has started out with a low fog that burned off before noon. Lovely!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To All My Friends and Readers

We will be driving from cold and rainy western Washington down to the high desert in California to winter with our son. That drive will take a few days for this old man, but the day of, or the day after our arrival, I will immediately begin posting again. God Bless all. Christ is coming soon!!e.c.

I Don't Wanna' Know

Once upon a time we set up a blood pressure testing station at a Marine swap meet at the marina in Chula Vista, California. It was free (of course) because we thought we were providing a service, and that they would want to know if they were at risk.
Obese men (mostly) whose belly's made too much demand on their belts would say, "I don't wanna know!" as they strolled by looking for a buy. (I don't know for sure of course, but it seemed that most of these guys were doing more than their best to support the (beer) economy)
What was/is true for blood pressure is true about the imminence of the return of Jesus Christ. There are die hard, dedicated unbelievers (this is for them also but they won't read it), but most of us either don't know or don't want to confront world conditions head-on and perhaps be pushed (by our conscience) into making changes in our lives; changes that keep nagging us somewhere in the back of our minds; somewhere we keep pushing them to avoid meaningful conversation with ourselves and with God.
"I should start going to church"
"We should go to church more often"
"Smoking is probably killing me; I really ought to quit"
"I need to be a better husband and father to my kids"
"I need to be a better wife and mother"
"I've gotta dump my girlfriend; If my wife ever finds out..."
"I'm a deacon in my church and I know I shouldn't drink"
"The things I (steal) from the company are small besides..."

How long is the list? It is as long as the sum of the conscience of every rational being in the world. In the section on "Ethics" I said everyone knows what they ought to do but not all (read most of us) do not do the "oughts." The reason is simple: we can't, because as St. Paul says, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice...Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [Romans 7:14-19 & 24].
Then comes the answer to the problem of our sin and of doing what we know we ought not to do.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." [Romans 8:1].
Those who are in Christ have put on the pure robe of His righteousness; the one that is free; the one He provides because He paid the price for our sins on the cross. Christ says, 'Here, put it on. It's free. I bought it for you!"
The problem is that though this redemption has been known since the beginning of the world and that the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation (read Genesis 15:5, 6), many, many, walk past, their belly's full of unrighteousness, and when asked if they want free forgiveness, they reply: "I don't wanna know!"
God Bless and Go Figure! e.c.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thinking About The Mark Of The Beast

The human brain is an extremely complicated organ, containing billions of connections between brain cells. There are different types of brain cells and different parts of the brain control different aspects of what we call, life and living.
The frontal lobes make up about 37% of the human brain. In primates (chimpanzee, etc.) the frontal lobe is less than half this number. As dog's brain is about 7% frontal lobe and a cat's about 3%.
So, what is this all about?
It is about our spirituality and the controls the frontal lobes exert over our behavior, and more.
The frontal lobes are responsible for:
1. Emotional control
2. Personality
3. Motor function(s)
4. Problem solving
5. Spontaneity
6. Memory
7. Language
8. Judgement
9. Impulse control
10. Social and sexual behavior
Many Christians are concerned about "The Mark of the Beast", [Revelation 14:9, 10], and well they should be. These verses reveal the dreadful results of receiving the "Mark." But Christians, we have a problem! Listen to Christian radio or watch Christian TV and you will soon discover that most believe the "Mark" to be literal or perhaps some sort of implanted microchip that will enable the bad guys to track believers everywhere they go. Not so: And why.
The Mark of the Beast is said to be either in the forehead or in the hand and one is wiser to think in a spiritual sense rather than literal.
Worship is the great issue in the battle between Good and Evil and it is the issue here as well. As one can see from the list above, the frontal lobes are the seat of judgement. One has only to consider "judgement" to discover how important this particular activity should be in our walk with Christ.
In order to exercise judgement one has to weight and prioritize data. That could involve buying a house, engaging in sexual activity before marriage, whether to save or to spend our time, money and other resources. But most importantly, judgement functions to determine whom we will serve; Christ or satan.
Therefore, knowing the these important frontal lobes lie directly behind the forehead, it seems to make more sense that the "Mark of the Beast" is not some sort of implanted microchip; instead, it is received when one makes the decision, concludes, determines, or, after weighting their alternatives, makes a judgement to serve (worship) satan rather than Christ.
Why then a mark in the hand? Judgement is not a factor. A mark in the "Hand" is symbolic that one concedes to the demands of The Beast as a matter of convenience so as to be able to "buy and sell" [Revelation 13:17].
In the forehead, the Mark of the Beast signals and rational decision; one has decided to solve the problem (a frontal lobe function) by agreeing with the demands of this evil power.
In the hand, one is exhibiting a concession made for convenience and this does not involve any of the deeper issues of judgement such as loyalty, worship, devotion, etc. It's much like going to hear Jesus speak so we can get some free fish and bread; same thing [Matthew 14:16-21].
The battle between Good and Evil, Christ and satan, always has, and always will be, about worship. Worship of the Christ requires one to pay a price. In advance we may not know the price. It could mean loss of family, abandonment by friends, loss of income, or, as was the case for most of His disciples, loss of life.
The question remains; whom will we worship? Who will choose the easy and convenient path and thus be marked in their hand? Who will truly believe that the Beast is the better of the two choices; Christ or satan. These will be marked in their mind; in their foreheads, in their seat of judgment.
Choose wisely, carefully, prayerfully.
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Ethical Mind

Ethics is the formal study of morality. Every person has an ethic whether they realize it or not. That ethic may not exist because of a set or series of rational decisions. For most of us our ethic is learned from our family, our studies, or our religion.

But what if ethics is never served in the home? No matter; an ethic is still learned. It may not be an "ideal" ethic but it is an ethic no less. The same is true for those who do not attend a church or believe in God; they have an ethic.

The easiest way to define ethics is to describe it as a principle-based way in which we decide what we ought to do in life situations that require us to distinguish between what we believe to be the right thing or the wrong thing to do.

Ethics includes not only right and wrong things to do, but more broadly, all manners of interaction with other people.

Some believe in God and if they were to be asked if it is O.K. to steal they would probably say, "No!" Ask the same question of someone who does not believe in God and in all probability you would get the same answer.

If we were to ask why stealing is not O.K. the the one who believes in God might quote the Commandment that says, "Thou shalt not steal." Ask the unbeliever and they would probably say something like, "Because it isn't right," and of course that is correct.

The next question gets into the core of one's thinking; it peels back the flesh of the heart, mind, and Nephesh (soul), and this is the question; "Why is it wrong?" Is it because we might be caught and punished? No. Is it because our reputation might be tarnished? No. These are consequences, but they are unable to satisfy the question, "Why is stealing wrong?" This line of reasoning and questioning is applicable to every act, situation, issue, and opportunity we encounter in our daily interactions with others.

Enter...the Church.

Society expects--and has the right to expect--the church to hold itself and its members to an idealism that mirrors a higher ethic; one that tries to explain why certain behaviors come under the heading of what one ought to do.

But the church does not always know what it ought to do as seen in the lives of those who claim to be a part of the church. One has only to say, "pedophilia," and we think of predatory priests who shame their God and their church. Certainly they were in the church but not of the church, a difference I trust we understand. If I list names such as Bakker and Swaggart, readers cringe because of memories of financial and sexual misconduct. In each of these cases--and there are many more--the ethic had atrophied (shriveled away) over time.

Every church exhibits its ethic to the community and the ethic of any church is the sum of the parts; and we are the parts. A church ethic is displayed in compassion to the community; not just to those who need food and warm clothing because there are civil organizations that fill that need very well.

So what is the core of the ethic of the church? It is a love that shows itself in fair and equal treatment of all peoples; those in the church and those without a church. It does not feed on the reputations of others (id. est., gossip or criticize), it does not politicize to gain a secular advantage, it does not discriminate but seeks to introduce all to Jesus the Christ and to do it with soft, caring words and with strong, caring actions.

The stronger the visible, corporate ethic of a church, the stronger and more effective the church; both for God and for the community.

Bonhoeffer, a German ethicist who helped Jews escape from the Nazis said this: "It is better to do wrong than to be wrong." That gives us something to think about.

If the church is going to get it right it has to be right, and to be right it has to undergo a process of continual introspection and searching of the heart. The pastor is the logical and elected leader of this process. It is a top-down, Spirit led, on-going process to insure the honesty, integrity, fairness, message, mission, action(s), and reactions of the church.
Of course the church has made mistakes: Of course the church will make mistakes but there is a cure for this: Repentance and Confession. Paul describes the church God is seeking to build :It is one "...that He might sanctify and cleanse ...with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot,or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." [Ephesians 5:26, 27]. This is the church that has the Ethic, the Truth, and the Faith of Christ.
Is this your church? Is this my church? God Bless e.c.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Throw-Away Souls

The Rwandans slaughtered each other for no reason except that some belonged to one tribe and others to another. The United States did nothing except perhaps to issue a statement which in summary said, "Too bad!"
In the Sudan (south of Egypt) parents have been murdered and children were/are being made slaves of their captors. And the U.S. does nothing but perhaps lament and issue a formal protest; "Terrible!"
Illicit trafficking of humans to be used for slaves, for prostitution, for all sorts of despicable acts, is estimated to involve between 600,000 and 820,000 women and children a year. And the U.S. does nothing.
Do slaves have control of wealth, power, oil, minerals? No.
Is there any financial advantage to be gained if a nation, any nation were to come to the aid of the displaced, the disadvantaged, the down-trodden? No. We have other things, more important things to worry about.
We have to protect and preserve the oil reserves of the world? We have to use our power to preserved the status quo in the balance of world power.
If you look for the "ethic" of America you will find it in its purse; in its wallet, it its financial portfolio. America is a partner in the business that throws away souls; women and children mostly (the men are usually killed).
Throw-away souls can be found in every country of the world. America has legalized, sanitized, and packaged its throw-away program until most in American find it acceptable. It's acceptable because it is invisible. We call it abortion.
And where is the church in all this?
The Catholics are very vocal and adamantly oppose abortion.
The Protestants are more ambivalent and not nearly as effective in opposing the murder of the innocents; los innocentes; las innocentes.
Churches too are guilty of throwing away all sorts of inconvenient human beings; pedophiles, homosexuals, transsexuals, addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, etc., etc., etc.
Evidently there is a sentiment in the church (perhaps my church, or your church) that acts out the epithet, "To hell with 'em."
If we (that is the editorial, "we") do not come to their aid in Rwanda, Hong Kong, India, Atlanta, Seattle, your city, my village, we are saying, "To hell with you!"
Any action we take; any inaction we embrace, any attitude we adopt that ignores the innocentes of any age or any color is, in its essence, another crucifixion of the Christ who died to save mankind.
If you're wondering who is included as "mankind," it is every person you see, hear, touch, or talk to on any given day. Simply put, it is everyone. We, the church, are without excuse in the sight of God if we purposefully neglect or ignore any person or group of persons simply because we consider them unsavory and unacceptable for any reason.
Be certain of this; if that is our attitude THEY will go into the kingdom of God ahead of us and they will do so because someone told them that God loves them and died for them.
There are no throw-away people! None! Think on these things.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Out of Ink!! But Only For a Day

There are days when pens go dry
and words 'or pages cannot fly.
When synapses are winter-slow,
and sweet-tree juices refuse to flow.
To write like Hughes of eagles and crows,
a Shakespeare-like sonnet or 'en simple prose.
To stir weary souls with fired words writ,
or carve laugh-lines with sharpened wit.
To soar above where angels sing,
or strike love's bell and feel it ring.
But sad it is when I've nothing to say,
knowing I shall not true minds sway. e.c.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Church + State = ...

The past three days have seen some very interesting events transpiring at the Vatican. The Grand Mufti of Bosnia and his entourage of 29 other Muslims are meeting with a French Catholic Cardinal and his team of 29 supporters.
The topic of the meetings for the first two days is the love of God and loving one's neighbor. Benedict XVI addressed the group today.
The purpose of the meetings is to establish dialogue so that, as much as possible, future misunderstanding and conflict can be avoided. Muslims worldwide exploded into a frenzy of rage and protest over a remark the pope made in a speach two years ago; that much of the violence in the (religious) world was the work of Muslims.
The second round of rage, tire burning, flag burning, and effigy's ablaze was ignited by a Danish cartoonist who caricaturized Mohammad in an unflattering way.
Evidently there are a lot of short-tempered, short-fused people of religion who are also long on revenge. After the death of
Mohamed (A.D. 632) there was disagreement as to his successor. Someone(s) picked the wrong name, from the wrong family, from the wrong side of the debate and Islam was split. There has been violence ever since.
Never, never, ever use the word c-r-u-s-a-d-e in the presence of a Muslim. (I'm spelling the word rather than say it straight out loud). Rome sent thousands of men to their death to battle Mohammad and his followers. They were promised eternal life if they joined the fight. Untold numbers were slaughtered on both sides of this war between religions. (It seems odd to even put such words to page).
Anyway, 'what we have here is a failure to communicate.' So if the Catholics and Muslims have killed each other over the centuries, and if the Sunni's and Shi'ites are blowing up each other still, then how high is the hope that two ancient enemies will suddenly come to agreement and simply agree to love their neighbor.
There is more on the agenda. Benedict wants an agreement that Catholics can build cathedrals and churches in lands where they are not now welcome; exempla gratia, Saudi Arabia. His reasoning--and it makes perfect sense--goes like this, except it's in German: " The world lets you guys build your mosques where ever you want. How come we can't build a church where we want?"
The pope is hoping to get reciprocity out of this and I'm thinking, in English: "Don't hold out hope, pope."
One fascinating facet on all this remains; each of these religions is not just a religion: each is a religiopolitical behemoth (1.3 billion Muslims, 1 billion Catholics) and each aspires to ultimately hold the reigns of power in the world and over the world. In the past each has been the biggest and toughest in their own neighborhood and there is every reason to believe that aspirations have not changed. Incidentally, have you noticed lately how the neighborhood is changing?
Oh Lord; what is a poor Protestant to do?
Stay tuned to world events. The Answer is on the way.
God Bless. e.c.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Emancipation II

"Negros," is what people of color were commonly called when I was a child. The maternal side of my family came from the South (Virginia) to the Northwest. They used a different word. Somehow I avoided inheriting the use of that word even though the family tossed it about like any other noun.
But it is not just like any other noun.
The word my family used was derived from the Spanish and Portuguese, "negro" which in turn found its roots in the Latin "niger," meaning black.
Men of meanness have a way of using etymology as a tool for hammering home insults. When the Italians emigrated to America many arrived without any papers so Ellis Island officials first documented their entry into the country as "without papers" which over time devolved into the pejorative W.O.P.
Unfortunately this was true of the Polish, the Jews, and most other immigrants that came to America.
As one ethnic group would move up the sociological scale and leave the slums of New York or Chicago new immigrants would move in and become the butt of prejudice and epithets. Welcome to America.
Methinks pejoratives are still alive and sick, but now are whispered instead of shouted (probably still freely used around the dinner tables and in the woodsheds), and great-grandpa still slips one in now and then.
But the nation has its first president who is a man of color; a black man, a negro, a (Latin) niger. I see this as a second emancipation that far exceeds Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in the same way that "full color, High-definition TV" exceeds the first four-inch black and white TV I ever saw.
The nation has finally permitted people of color their Emancipation cum laude; long awaited and long overdue. Somewhere(s) in all parts of our nation there are those who are grumbling; who heard their parents grumble and are teaching their children and grandchildren to grumble.
A new generation of children are learning the pejoratives, the epithets, the slang, the attitudes...and the sad part is that these claim to be Christian. Obviously they do not know the meaning of the Word. They do not realize that heaven (if they get there) will be ablaze with color; people of all colors who are trophies of Christ, His suffering, His death, His sacrifice for all men.
"For God so loved the world (read people of all colors in the world) that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever (read of all colors and languages) believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." [John 3:16].
If we do not love the children of God how then can we say that we love their Father?
Think on these things. e.c.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Party Time!

The last insult has been hurled; the last lie offered with a straight face; the last promise made (with fingers crossed behind the back); the last accusation tossed into the turbid political slough; and now we wait.
Whoever wins, I win, because we have come to the end of two cacophonous years of sound-bite-blather. There were "Debates" (so called) that were more awkward political ballet than debate; hosted by OCD clock-watchers seemingly more interested in order than answers.
And of course the campaign party "advisers" who, to the core, as a corps, are convinced they are responsible for the denouement of this dollar-adorned race of endurance.
But here is what actually happens in this case and in every case since the Italians invented the insult, politicos..
[Daniel 4:30-31, 35, 37]. Over 2600 years ago Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon was walking on the portico of his palace saying to himself, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you.' (Seven years later when Nebuchadnezzar regained his sanity he wrote, [verse 35]"All the inhabitant's of the earth are reputed as nothing. He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His had or say to Him, 'What have you done?' " [verse 37] "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride he is able to put down."
The prophet Isaiah writes, "Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing, and Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless." [Isaiah 40:15-17].
God rules over the affairs of men. They may think they are in control with their counsels, committees, parliaments and presidents but God has said:"This decision (to bring Nebuchadnezzar low) is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever he will, and sets over it the lowest of men." [Daniel 4:17].
Conclusion: It is not by the wisdom of politicos nor the frenzy of supporters that kings or presidents are made, it is because God rules in the affairs of men.
Party Time--Democratic and Republican meanness, disdain for truth, ignorance of civility, absence of esteem for needs other than their own--have trespassed into a new and lamentable edition of politicos!
God Bless. e.c.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spring Ahead, Fall Back

The clock on my computer is telling me it's 08:29 hours. Funny, it feels more like 07:29. I guess it really is because during the night, at some magic moment, time retreated and we went are able to relive an hour of our life--unless you live in Arizona or some other state where time-thrift is not a virtue.
Saving daylight is an interesting philosophical concept (to a few) when one thinks about it; the underlying existential act of extending the light of day symbolizes man's fear of celestial night but more deeply, our fear of an ultimate night.
Saving daylight gives us more time to do things, go places, buy stuff, build, tear down, design and redesign or just look at ourselves in the mirror. "This is stupid," you say, because the pragmatic solution when our saved daylight is all gone is to turn on the light!
Time:There is never enough of it either in the day or our own span of years. My wife (whom I affectionetly call, J.B.) were talking just yesterday about how quickly fifty-one years of marriage have fled. Fifty-one years sounds like a lot and I guess it is, but its not enough.
In the eternal scheme of things we can't see and even in the cosmic things we can see, time, whether measured in moments or light years is but an augenblicht (an eye blink). One's kisses are always too short and pain of all shades and shapes is too long.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the people in ancient Corinth, pours out his heart saying, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house (body), this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven...." [2nd Corinthians 4:17-5:2].
The day is too short, my days will be too short, the bed is too short [Isaiah 28:20] and the covering of this life is too narrow for me to wrap myself up in it [Ibidem].
When will the time come when time will end? ...when forever with JB is just a honeymoon, when there is no sickness, no pain, no death. I know the answer; you can read it in Revelation 21:4.
Time can't be saved it can only be spent so spend it wisely and unselfishly.
One final thought while I still have time: My faith is set on Jesus the Christ and I will be with Him, my J.B., my friends, and friends I have not met. I will spend eternity where time is not saved but all the those with Christ 'who are saved from the uttermost part(s) of the earth.' [Mark 13:27].
(Gotta go now. Breakfast is ready and I have lots of things to do today because time is short! God Bless! e.c.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

From e.c. To j.b; Just Because

LX. Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes be- fore, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd, Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight, And Time that gave doth now his gift confound. Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth And delves the parallels in beauty's brow, Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow: And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand. W. Shakespeare

Saturday, November 1, 2008

October 31, 1517

Buried between Halloween and El Dia De Los Muertos is Protestant Reformation Day. On the 31st of October 1517 a Catholic Monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 proposals, or theses, to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
Most protestants know of Martin Luther but I will posit (suggest) that not many know about Reformation Day; a day to celebrate the bravery of a lone monk who stood against the Church of Rome.
Tetzel, a representative of Rome, was given the task of going from city to city to raise money for Rome as there was a large building program going on and Rome needed money: What to do?
Effective salesman that he was Tetzel sold indulgences, ("remission of the temporal punishment including canonical penances and especially purgatorial atonement that according to Roman Catholicism is due by divine justice for sins whose eternal punishment has been remitted and whose guilt has been pardoned by the reception of the sacrament of penance"), and also early release from Purgatory. Tetzel's sales pitch went something like this; ' soon as the coin falls into the box a soul flies free from Purgatory.'
Luther was particularly incensed at Romes' use of fear on the poor and ignorant in (entirely Catholic) Germany and his initial attacks were against the "selling" of forgiveness of sin(s), guarantees of eternal life, and escape from Purgatory. It was never his intention to cause strife in the church, to be divisive, or to separate from Rome. Luther was forced out of Rome because he would not and did not agree to the sale of salvation to help fund a building program.
It was later, after his pilgrimage to Rome, that he found himself deeply disappointed in HIS church and ITS unsavory practices.
Sola fide (by faith alone), Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone, Sola Gracia (by grace alone), Soli Christus (Christ alone), Solus Gloria Deo (glory to God alone): All these came later as Luther studied more deeply into the writings of Paul and the everlasting Gospel of righteousness by faith (sola fide).
Martin Luther was forced out of Catholicism and all Protestants can praise God for that outcome.
The Lutheran Church (a church Luther never intended to establish) honors Martin Luther with the "Luther Rose", which is a black cross set within a red heart, surrounded by five rose petals, all enclosed within a circle of gold. Luther himself designed the "rose" which he intended to have made into a ring. Each detail was a symbolic representation of his theology.

The memory of Protestantism is much shorter as is its attention span when compared to Catholicism. I suppose few know of the "Luther Rose" or that Reformation Day is buried under Halloween, All Saints Day, and El Dia De Los Muertos which used to be in August but was moved (by Rome) to October 31 through November 2.
Hmmmm. How did that happen? And Why? Go Figure! e.c.

Lord, End The Insanity! Please!!

When I wake up in the morning usually the first thing I do is to flip the top of my computer, fire it up, and check what's happened in the world while I was somewhere unawares.
I know the readers already know that last night, on the first night of "el dia de los muertos" (the day of the dead), a 12 year-old boy was shot from inside a house by a 22 year-old man?? where he, his father, and siblings had stopped to "trick-er-treat." (His mother witnessed it all from the car where she was waiting.)
The lad died in the hospital. Though the father and other children were injured thankfully their wounds were not as serious.
I sit and stare at the paleness of the page trying to cover it with words in a vain attempt to say something that will make sense. But there is no sense to be made of this.
I'm thinking, "That is the way it is with sin." If one could somehow make sense of it; if one could give a reason for the existence of sin perhaps we could feel better because we would know "why" this happened. But herein is the problem (or, the catch if you please): If someone could give the grounds for the existence of sin, then sin would cease to be sin because the grounds or reason would justify it's existence. (I distinguish here between cause and reason. Christians know the cause). Without a reason it is impossible for us to understand, and that is what crushes and compels us to cry out to God, "God! I don't understand! Why did this happen?" Silence.
But if you look, you will find comfort and even peace in The Book (The Bible). The Christ was killed expressly for the purpose of putting an end to things just such as this.
Oh, we know what happened and we know how it happened and we know who did it. None of these explain "why," and that is what constitutes the maddening mystification of sin.
Some of you pray; some of you don't. I pray. Deep within my soul, my "Nephesh," I am compelled to complain to God about the insanity of sin and to ask Him, "How long, oh Lord?" How long will the madness continue before You declare from the heavens the same way You did from the Cross, but with an eternal finality, "IT IS FINISHED!!!"
If you pray, ask our God who said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.;." ask Him to comfort this family and hold them in His hands: to cover them with His wings the way a hen covers her chicks.
This family will search for some kind of meaning and there will be none. They will try to understand why they have been tragically victimized and they will not.
I don't have anything wise or deep to offer today because I am sinking in sadness over the mindless death of a boy I do not know who was the son and brother in a family I do not know.
But this I do know: Jesus Christ will soon put Death to death and for me, that can not happen soon enough.
Last night was el noche de los innocentes, el noche de los angelitos, el noche de los muertos. And they call it a Hallowed Eve, a "holy night." How strange. How sad.
I weep. e.c.