Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fly The Burgee

One sunny day on the lake (one of the 134 per year) I saw a young man in a small inflatable dingy rowing towards me from across the lake. Every time he would pull an oar the craft would spin a lot and go forward a little. When he beached I asked; "Do you know why it took you so long to get here and why the dingy spins so much?" "No," he said. "I don't." The teacher in me surfaced immediately and I told him that the oars were too short so that the power stroke was too close to the boat, making it easy to spin but harder to go forward.
Have you heard the analogy of the "faith oar" and the "works oar" that is supposed to describe how one lives the Christian life? I've been thinking about this and I am convinced this is wrongheaded.
And why is it wrongheaded? Because it suggest (strongly) that one makes forward progress with faith and works. But what about the text that says '...all of our righteousness is like filthy rags'?
I want to propose the idea that both oars are faith and that our works are the burgee. And what is a burgee? It's that little triangular flag mounted forward on the rail of the pulpit (on the bow of the boat). It's about eighteen inches long, a foot high, and has a unique design that identifies the vessel as belonging to a particular yacht club.
We get to heaven by our faith in Jesus Christ and His grace alone; period. However, our works, which we do for Jesus because He loves us, died for us, and has saved us from our sins and cleansed us in His blood, are better represented by the design of our burgee. It tells everyone who sights us on the waters that we belong to Jesus Christ.
To go in a straight line in our own little rowboat we need oars of faith that are long enough to keep us from going in circles and a burgee that tells the world that heaven is home port!
God Bless. e.c. [Thank you Jeane for the idea] [Thank you Lord for Jeane]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Only A Little Better

The memory of Loma Linda is a day old and I'm doing better, but only a little.
I have to presume that most don't know they live in Laodicea. I also have to presume that they don't care. Because...if we did...while some would surely stay there would be a lot of folks moving to Philadelphia (I don't mean Mr. Penn's sylvatic retreat)..
Once upon a time (just to see if I could ruffle feathers), on my recommendation a biochemistry professor and I each had a T-shirt made that read; "Laodicea; Love It or Leave It." The project was a resounding success if one measures success by frowns, scowls, snarly remarks, and general disapproval. But we had made a/our point. Interestingly, what we were trying to say was that if one chooses to remain in spiritual Laodicea, they should be whole-hearted about it; be rich, be naked, be miserable, be blind, and eventually be vomited out of the mouth of the Lord. The whole project was intended to encourage movement TO the Lord.
The problem was, and is, that the real meaning of the message flew right over the heads of our intended targets. Id est, they didn't get it. (Maybe it's time to have another "Laodicea" T-shirt made???). What say you?
God has a cure for the malady of Laodicea; a little gold, a few yards of white linen, and a little eye salve (see Rev. 3).
I get too upset about these things but then that's the way I'm wired. I am well aware that there are dear souls who would rather that I just sit down and shut up (which translated means don't write one critical/observational word about anything but just sit in your assigned pew and swallow whatever medicine is compounded; and don't ask, "Who is the pharmacist?" [That's a sideways reference to the Great Controversy].
Here's a text for everyone to ponder; "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, [which] shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." [Isaiah 62:6, 7].

I love what Isaiah says; don't give him (it should be, "Him") any rest. Ply Him with prayers, petitions, fasting, and whatever it takes to move God to move His people who will move His church who will move the world.
God Bless. e.c.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This Do In Remembrance Of Me

Yesterday was a high Sabbath at the Victorville Church; we celebrated the Lord's supper and humbled ourselves before God and man/woman to wash their feet.
I think there's a reason for the text in I Corinthians 11:26 which reads; "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
So how often is "often"? To borrow (again) a word from George Knight, every time the church "forgets" to "remember" an important, spiritual, integral part of its history (both recent and ancient), it pulls out the X-acto and takes another swipe at self neutering.
I praised God for the services yesterday; from beginning to end I was blessed by being immersed in worship to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I trust that your church will not forget to remember. Like the engraving on the table (that used to be in the front of the church but has been moved closer to the door); "This Do In Remembrance of Me.
God Bless, e.c.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"And This Gospel..."

Moses complained to the Lord that he couldn't "talk to the people of Israel" because he wasn't trained, he had stage fright, public speaking wasn't his thing, he had a speech defect, his cellphone battery had run down, his neighbor was grouchy and unapproachable, he didn't like knocking on doors, rejection was intimidating, he had tried it once and failed, he didn't know his Bible well enough to give a study to the Egyptians, there were lots of others who could do it better, witnessing wasn't his gift, he was more into sewing layettes, his wardrobe was too shabby, he was shy, he had to have his hair done first, he didn't have the money for gasoline, at his age it was getting harder to get around, he was tired and needed an afternoon nap, 3ABN was doing a good job, wha' daya suppose preachers and elders are for, the meeting started the same time as Jeopardy, once he got so frightened he peed himself, yadda, yadda, yadda.
So God asked him, "What do you have in your hand?" And Moses answered, "My staff." Or maybe he said; my laptop computer, my IPod, my cell phone, a DVD from Amazing Facts, a religious music CD from Christian Edition (men's singing group), a copy of Steps To Christ, (one in English and another in Spanish), announcements for an upcoming satellite evangelistic series, a Bible, a key to the church, a loaf of bread, a bottle of water, some clothes, a dollar bill, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Or maybe Moses didn't really believe the stuff he had learned over the past forty years herding sheep, or maybe in forty years he forgot all the things he learned in church school, or maybe he couldn't afford to give money to the church anymore (probably they just waste it anyway...ya know...ya know.
And God asked him; "Why do you still go to church?" And Moses said (looking at the ground and pretending to think real hard); "Well, ya know, all my friends are there, it's the only time I ever really get out of the house, I love potluck Sabbath (especially the sauerkraut and Big Franks), the sermons are good, I get to sit in the lobby and talk to friends during SS and church, I just sorta catch up on things, they have food in the lobby (lotsa sweet snacks and juice) (some say it's gluppy but I don't), it's nice and warm in the church, I can listen (but never say a word or ask a question) during lesson study, yadda, yadda, yadda.
So God took a deep breath and asked Moses again...."What do you have in your hand?" Moses held both hands palms up...studied them for a moment, and answered with a sort of question mark; "Nothing?" And God said waitingly, patiently, "Not so! None of my children are ever empty-handed." And God added; "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." [Matthew 7:7]
By the way, what is that you have in your hand?
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And They Have No Rest...

Revelation 14:11. "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
Is this verse talking about the wicked not having rest day or night because of their punishment of eternal torment, or is it speaking about something else? This verse is not easily nor quickly digested because there are four topics in 33 words.These are the four; 1). smoke ascending forever, 2). no rest (for the wicked), 3). worship of the beast and, 4). receiving the mark of his (the beast's name.
The task here is to examine which of these are sequential and directly related or, nonsequential but interrelated. Admittedly, coming on the heels of, 'the smoke of their torment...", it sounds as though the torment of those who worship the beast goes on, and on, and on... Is that what's happening here? It requires another entire study to examine all the verses in the Bible that speak about the first death, the second death, and the issue of an eternal torment (kind of like waterboarding forever and ever; except this involves fire instead of water.
Of the four issues in this verse we are dealing with that of rest and why the wicked do not have it. When we speak of rest, or resting in the Lord, what we hear is an echo from the book of Hebrews that distinguishes between those who worship and obey God (and enter His rest), and those who do not worship nor obey Him (and thus cannot enter His rest).
Looking just at the wording of the text, John's use of the present tense of two very significant words gives one pause to reconsider what the revelator is trying to convey. Those who have no rest are those who (contextually) still worship the beast; rather than being identified as having previously worshiped him. If the wicked were being punished for having previously worshiped the beast, then the text would be saying that they continue to worship him throughout the eternities of their torment. I opine that this is not what John was saying.
The next question has to do with whoever receives the mark of his name. If eternal punishment followed worshiping and receiving, would not the verse speak more clearly about those who had received the mark of his name?
Is there a more logical explanation of this verse; one that harmonizes with Bible verses that teach the destruction of the wicked rather than an eternal torture for three score and ten years of rejecting Jesus (see Job: 31:3; Isaiah 5:24; Matthew 3:12; II Thessalonians 2:8; ITimothy 1:9; Revelation 16:18 [KJV]). Eternal torture of the wicked is in direct contrast and opposition to what the Bible teaches, and what the crucifixion illustrates of the character, and love of God; Who does not merely have love, but Who is said (many times) to be love [Romans 5:15; Romans 8:39; Ephesians 2:4; I John 4:10; I John 4:16].
For the answer to this apparent dilemma between rest and torment, we will follow the echo to the book of Hebrews; most particularly chapters 3 and 4. The writer quotes liberally from the Old Testament many times as he illustrates the hard heartedness of Israel during their 40 year sojourn in the desert and applies the quotations to New Covenant Christianity. He writes; "...They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest." [Hebrews 3:10, 11]. Again he writes; "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (in the desert) [Hebrews 3:15]. The writer of Hebrews goes on to exhort; "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them..." [Hebrews 3:18 - 4:2a].
This exact same theme is repeated several times in Hebrews chapter four and the application is clearly made that "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." [Hebrews 4:9]. The final point in this post is the way Hebrews ties the keeping of the 7th day Sabbath to '...entering His rest..." for he writes in verse 10; "For he who has entered His rest has himself ceased from his works as God [did] from His."
The connection is clear and the meaning is clear; those who enter His rest cease from their works of self righteousness and accept the free gift of the righteousness of Christ.
Going back to Revelation we see more clearly that those who worship the beast are in rebellion against God and thus they can not enter His rest: They have no rest because they worship the beast rather than the Living and True God. it comes even more clear when we move to Revelation 14:12; the very next verse. "Here is the patience of the saints; here [are] those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
The saints are characterized by two traits; first, they keep the commandments of God, and second, they keep their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior; this is what it means to keep the faith of Jesus!
God Bless. e.c.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Healthy Church; Sick Church

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another." [John 13:35] NKJV
When asked, "Which of the seven churches in Revelation best describes your church?" most will answer, "The church of Philadelphia!" Of course! But as a matter of course, over the course of sixty years of church attendance, I find that most/many have a better fit in Laodicea.
You know of course that the seventh church, the church of Laodicea, the last church in the prophetic line is a sick church. This last church thinks that all is well but then along comes Christ and describes the real condition. The church of Laodicea is a little like the comedian, Billy Crystal, who has the funny (but not so funny) line that goes like this; "It's better to look good than to feel good." That's the whole point of 'Healthy Church; Sick Church.'
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see." [Revelation 3:15-18] [NKJV].
Everyone who wants to go through the fiery refining process please raise their hands......
So who wants to go through refining process and be pure like the golden wedge of Ophir. O.K., let me rephrase that; "Who realizes they need to go through a refining process, put on white raiment, and anoint their eyes?" Aha! I see some have raised their hands.
How then do we diagnose the vitality of any church; yours, mine; it doesn't matter. The answer is the text for today; John 13:35. If one goes to church seeking information (for its own sake) they might as well stay home. If one goes to church to catch up on the latest (whatever), again, they might as well stay home. If one goes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, to rest from their works (unrighteous and self righteous; doesn't matter), they are entering into the beloved.
Whoever enters into the spirit of the beloved will glory in their worship of the Lord and they will ...'keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.'" [Revelation 14:12]. The, 'and' is purposely italicized to emphasize the two-part description of those who claim Christ in these last days. God is waiting for a people who keep all the commandments and, whose faith is fully founded in Him who has purchased us with His blood and Who holds us in the hollow of His hand.
Are you going to church today? Why?
Think on these things.
God Bless. e.c.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Prayer Warriors

Do I pray? Do we pray? Well of course we pray. But am I (are we) prayer warriors? I don't think so. Yesterday evening I was watching 3ABN and their version of Inside Edition where they talk about all the things that are going on at the station; new programs, publications, DVD's, etc.
I sat straighter and listened intently though when they started talking about the internal 'prayer warrior' policy/program with all the volunteers, employees, and leaders.
I know. There are a lot of people and institutions that look down their aquiline noses at 3ABN because it's a little to homey, the music is a little to southern Gospel, there's an unmistakable "twang" to the tone of many of the speakers, and (this is probably what most bothers/offends them; the message is too sharp, too pointed, too true, too Biblical, and so they 'turn off' 3ABN because they are 'turned off' by messages from the mouths of mere former carpenters, farmers, laborers...what we would call ordinary folks. However 'ordinary' these folks may be, because of this ministry people are coming to the truth by the hundreds, thousands, and by entire churches. So what's to not like? wife and I have decided that instead of having separate prayer lists we would combine them and form a band of two prayer warriors.
While we're on the subject of decisions, we've also decided to increase our giving for the work of the Lord in 2009. No sense leaving money here on earth when there's souls to be saved for heaven.
Rather than trying to be shrewd (in the investing sense of the word) we will practice what the world thinks is foolishness; "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." [I Corinthians 2:14]. If our treasure really is laid up in heaven; if we really are in the end-times; if the soon coming of the Lord is a reality rather than a comforting abstract, then we will invest where we are promised the greatest returns upon His return.
Think on these things.
God Bless. e.c.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


[1st Corinthians 15:58]. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
My bride continues to urge me to write in the same manner that Andrew Fearing would speak; a man of God whom she heard preach when she was but a young girl; ten or twelve years old. He addressed the congregation as "dearly beloved". She also speaks fondly of Fordyce Detamore; the man who baptized her into the beloved.
The title of today's post (yediyd) is the Hebrew word for "beloved," or "one beloved." (pronounced , yed.eed).
Deuteronomy 33:12 reads; "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell safely by Him, Who shelters him all the day long; and he shall dwell between His shoulders." The word translated "shoulders" or "shoulder blades" suggests being carried on His back as a father will carry a child; one not old enough or strong enough to walk on their own or without wearying.
Every time I sign onto my computer I read and see what I consider to be apocalyptic reports and messages whose real meaning is not their literal wording but rather the nearness of the coming of our Lord.
What are we to do? The world is a state of fear; everywhere there are signs of fear. Oil prices are escalating on market "fears" that the conflict in Gaza may affect the supply of crude oil. The Stock Market DOW drops on fears of poor reports of sales. Fear is everywhere. The answer of some is to buy gold. Jesus gives the same advice but for far, far different reasons. Here is what He says; "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments that you may be clothed; [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see." [Revelation 4:18].
That is the message to the last church in prophecy; the church of Laodicea; the church of today; the church that "..keep the commandments of God and the faith of/in Jesus." [Revelation 14:12.
So dearly yediyd, fear not, for He is coming soon and He will not forget not neglect any whom the Father has given Him. We must look up '...for our redemption draweth nigh.'
God Bless. e.c.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bernie And "Friends"

I've been pondering (again) Bernie Madoff (made-off) and his unequaled, history-making Ponzi scheme. I could readily rail against Bernie but that would not be harmonious with the point of this posting.
Consider the following text: "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.[Emphasis added] [Revelation 9:20, 21].

Bernard Madoff, former chairman of NASDAQ, is an unknowing player in the fulfillment of the unrepentant described in these verses from Revelation.
He is being "punished" by confinement to a lavish penthouse in New York City. Curiously, very curiously, a Federal judge refused to revoke Bernie's bail and send him to jail. And Bernie's lawyer, is negotiating for a reduced sentence based on Bernie's willingness to 'confess' to certain charges.
Oh Isaiah, how true, how true are your words; "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey." [Isaiah 59:14 and 15].
I've been wondering (but I would never put these thoughts to paper) whether or not Bernie and the 'judge' share a common, hidden bond.
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pick a Word: Any Word

"Yea, he magnified 1431 (8689) [himself] even to the prince 8269 of the host 6635, and by him the daily 8548 [sacrifice] was taken away 7311 (8717) (8675) 7311 (8689), and the place 4349 of his sanctuary 4720 was cast down 7993 (8717).
And an host 6635 was given 5414 (8735) [him] against the daily 8548 [sacrifice] by reason of transgression 6588, and it cast down 7993 (8686) the truth 571 to the ground 776; and it practised 6213 (8804), and prospered 6743 (8689).
Then I heard 8085 (8799) one 259 saint 6918 speaking 1696 (8764), and another 259 saint 6918 said 559 (8799) unto that certain 6422 [saint] which spake 1696 (8764), How long [shall be] the vision 2377 [concerning] the daily 8548 [sacrifice], and the transgression 6588 of desolation 8074 (8802), to give 5414 (8800) both the sanctuary 6944 and the host 6635 to be trodden under foot 4823?
And arms 2220 shall stand 5975 (8799) on his part, and they shall pollute 2490 (8765) the sanctuary 4720 of strength 4581, and shall take away 5493 (8689) the daily 8548 [sacrifice], and they shall place 5414 (8804) the abomination 8251 that maketh desolate 8074 (8789). [Daniel 8:11-13]

And from the time 6256 [that] the daily 8548 [sacrifice] shall be taken away 5493 (8717), and the abomination 8251 that maketh desolate 8074 (8802) set up 5414 (8800), [there shall be] a thousand 505 two hundred 3967 and ninety 8673 days 3117. [Daniel 12:11].

Perhaps the reader has noticed that in each verse cited the word sacrifice is enclosed in [brackets] which means it was [added] by the translators. Of course, this refers to the animal sacrifices that were part of the Hebrew spiritual economy.
But to limit the meaning of daily to the sacrifice of animals as a sin offering is to severely limit the true meaning(s) of the verses.
The real abomination, the real application of the verses refers to the daily ministration of Jesus Christ and not the mere sacrifice of animals.
As our High Priest, Jesus is the one to whom we confess our sins ["If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1st John 1:9.]. This is part of the ministration of Christ in the temple in heaven that is so clearly explained in the book of Hebrews.
To fully understand these verses one has to understand how, and in which ways, the church of Rome has usurped the prerogatives of Christ and His daily ministration on our behalf.
For a brief glimpse of this usurpation I will take you to the writings of Fr. Alphonsus Liguori. Hang on!
"The dignity of the priest is also estimated from the power that he has over the real and the mystic body of Jesus Christ. With regard to the power of priests over the real body of Jesus Christ, it is of faith that when they pronounce the words of consecration the Incarnate Word has obliged Himself to obey and to come into their hands under the Sacramental Species. We are struck with wonder when we hear that God obeyed the voice of Josue----the Lord obeying the voice of man----and made the sun stand when He said move not, O sun, towards Gabaon...and the sun stood still. But our wonder should be far greater when we find that in obedience to the words of His priests----HOC EST CORPUS MEUM----God Himself descends on the altar, that He comes where ever they call Him, and as often as they call Him and places Himself in their hands, even though they should be His enemies. And after having come, He remains, entirely at their disposal; they move Him as they please, from one place to another; they may, if they wish, shut Him up in the tabernacle, or expose Him on the altar, or carry Him outside the church; they may, if they choose, eat His flesh and give Him for the food of others. "Oh how very great is their power." says St. Laurence Justinian, speaking of priests. 'A word falls from their lips and the body of Christ is there substantially formed from the matter of bread, and the incarnate word descended from heaven, is found really present on the table of the altar! Never did Divine goodness give such power to the Angels. The angels abide by the order of God, but the priests take Him in their hands, distribute Him to the faithful, and partake of Him as food for themselves.' "

Perhaps the reader better understands the depth of blasphemy in the way the church of Rome has taken away the daily ministration of Christ and (by claim of tradition) put Him at the disposal of mere men; "...even though they be His enemies..." (All quotes from "Dignities and Duties of the Priest", Chapter III, Grandeur of the Priestly Power, by St. Alphonsus Liguori, C.S.S.R. 27 Sept. 1696 - 01 Aug. 1787.
"Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church". Ignatious of Antioch, 1st c. a.d.
Judge for yourselves.
God Bless. e.c.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"To and Fro"

"But thou, O Daniel 1840, shut up 5640 (8798) the words 1697, and seal 2856 (8798) the book 5612, [even] to the time 6256 of the end 7093: many 7227 shall run to and fro 7751 (8787), and knowledge 1847 shall be increased 7235 (8799). "

The above text, while familiar, may look a bit strange. The reason for that is that I imported it directly from "Blue Letter Bible" including all of the reference numbers from Strong's Concordance that will take one directly to the words (in Hebrew) that permit one to study all the words the translators could have chosen from as they did their translation (King James).
I remember being taught that the phrases about "knowledge increasing" and "running to and fro" referred to the increase in general knowledge (e.g. scientific, technological, etc.) and also to vastly improved modes of transportation. Evangelists would point to the logrithmic increase in knowledge and say, "See there. This proves we are in the end times."
No. that is not what this verse means. The angel directs Daniel to "shut up the book until the time of the end." There is a strong contextual suggestion that knowledge of the Book of Daniel would be increased. And how would this happen? From many running "to and fro" in the book.
And this surely did happen simultaneously in Europe and America when the Book of Daniel was unlocked. Many, many papers were published on both continents beginning at the turn of the 19th century and these resulted in increased knowledge of the writings in Daniel.
This is a common understanding amongst theologians in the SDA church while the bit about faster travel and greater general knowledge is a common misunderstanding.
Here is a tiny bit of substantiation: "... baffled by the mystic symbolism of the prophetic books of Daniel and John. ... it was foretold that men should run “to and fro” in the “book” of Daniel"
But the church today is not finished with the book of Daniel and I will opine that the church does not fully understand its closing chapters. This opinion is based on what I view as the paucity of exegesis of chapters 10-12 in all the books written about Daniel in the past ten years.
Perhaps there is one....perhaps more than one that I have not read; one that is not eisegesis but exegesis; one that brings out the Word of God and not the opinions of man (the difference between exegesis and eisegesis). If you know of it, post a note.
Daniel is still alive. We have much to learn from diligent study of Daniel and we should be setting ourselves at work to understand what God is telling us through His servant Daniel.
God Bless. e.c.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Joy? Really?

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
"Joy", I like. I want more of it. "Temptation", I don't like. So I looked up the text in Strong's Concordance and here's what I found: The word used for "temptation" is the Greek word, "peirasmos". Alternative translations offered of "peirasmos" by Strong include; "trial, proving, a trial of man's fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy."
The next translation Strong offers up is that of "enticement to sin, temptation."
I concluded that God tests the constancy of my committment to Him through trials that test my integrity, my fidelity, my virtue. And He does not do this only by allowing us to be tempted to sin---which the translation suggests---but through trials of all kinds; hardship of unemployment, of not having enough money to meet obligations, of being reviled and/or hated, of having to care for someone who doesn't care that we care, of being ill [perhaps for a long time] [perhaps terminally].
Whatever it is that gives us perplexity, difficulty, or trial--- count it all joy, for it is Jesus Christ that carries us through.
We don't have to do this on our own because God has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you", and I take the meaning of never to mean exactly what it says---never!!
Hang on to Jesus Christ! He is coming soon! and whether I am alive or dead it matters not because! Amen.
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A New Constitutional Convention

Most of you are smarter than I (ask my wife) so you are probably aware of what has been growing since the 70's.
There have been calls to convene a new (Convention, Congress) to re-examine the Constitution of the United States.
Someone said that "...the final movements will be rapid..." Well, the fall of the Berlin Wall was rapid. The disintegration of the USSR was rapid. The 911 terrorist attack was rapid. Though the build up to our present financial took time the resulting breakdown was rapid. The present chapter of the Israeli conflict with Hamas opened rapidly. Need I say more about rapid movements? Probably not.
So what is this thing with a new Constitutional Convention? I just read about it. (Fat and dumb) (Well, maybe thin and dumb). Anyway, here is what I learned today; It takes a majority of 34 states signing on to approve a new look at the Constitution. States have been signing on since the mid 70's and presently 32 have formally approved just such a congress. The next state in the sites already signed on is Ohio. 32 + 1 =33. So that means there's just one to go. Now if states are calling for a review of the "original" my viscera are telling me that they must think something is amiss...perhaps a change is needed. If there were to be a change/changes would it involve additions only, deletions, only, editing only?
I took the time to write to NARLA today and ask, "What's Up?" I'll let you know what they say. I don't see any reason to get excited----yet----but I do see reason to follow the instructions of Christ; particularly where He says, "WATCH"! So I'm watching and encouraging you to do the same.
Hmmm. Maybe the final movements in the Great Controversy really will be rapid. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my response is to keep giving my money to God for Him to use; keep talking to everyone I can about His soon coming; and----live like there is another tomorrow all the while thinking----maybe not.
Whatever, stay close to the Lord. Remember, those who "keep the commandments of God and faith of/in Jesus" have nothing to fear----except fear itself.
God Bless. e.c.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Trinity "Goes It Alone"

"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine. I will repay.' says the Lord." [Romans 12 19].
Earlier I wrote about the two roles of Jesus Christ; the Lamb slain for our sins, and the avenging Lion of the Tribe of Judah. To some these seem contradictory and mutually exclusive. "How can He be both?" they ask and their answer has been to pull the teeth of the Lion and huddle in the warmth of their Ecumenism.
Supposedly a toothless lion guarding the gate of Truth and Righteousness would (for them) be more inclined to say, "Oh well! It's O.K. C'mon in (to heaven). Churches began implementing their exodontia/tooth-pulling theology in the 20th century as more and more things became expedient and were stripped of their "abomination" labels.
Belief in Creation was left behind in favor of Evolution. Jesus Christ as the only Way was abandoned in favor of a more "inclusive" theology. More recently the Sins of Sodom are embraced and ordained to show the church more "loving, accepting, and diverse"
The teeth of the lion were being pulled---by the church! (Does anyone think this has not gone on in the Seventh-day Adventist Church??)
Of course, this has not gone unnoticed by many theologians and church historians of all denominations.
Probably you know, perhaps you don't but John records in the book of Revelation what happens in the Temple of God during the time that the Seven Last Plagues are being poured out. You can find it in chapter 15, starts with verse five and goes on through 16:1.
Picture this: "After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels, seven bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels was completed. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."
This is the voice of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He has all His teeth. Man's attempts to strip Him of Power and Authority are failed.
In an anthropomorphic sense (the only way I can try to understand what is happening), God goes to His Room, alone, and the Trinity goes it alone in unleashing millenia of rejected Love, Patience, Shed Blood, Reviling, and whatever else God has suffered at the hand of Satan and sinners. In full solitude, without any observers nor witnesses, God avenges millenia of wrongs done to His children; and He does it in complete and uncontestable righteousness.
"You are righteous O Lord...because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink, for it is their just due." [Revelation 16:5, 6].
This is the Lamb of God taking His place as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Ponder this.
God Bless. e.c.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"And The Winner Is...?

Joseph and James have been arguing since the mid 1840's.
Joseph emphasizes "...keeping the seventh-day Sabbath..." brings salvation in its train but James points to "...the righteousness of Christ as the only means of salvation. The interesting thing is that in every Seventh-day Adventist church and on any given morning during Bible study the argument is still heard; and I think the answer is so obvious and so simple that the whole discussion is a waste of Holy energy.
Apart from Jesus Christ, Sabbath keeping is a waste of time. One might just as well stay home or go shopping. (Yes, I did say, "go shopping"!
During his long and very fruitful life Joseph Bates was in turn; a health reformer, our first theologian, our first historian, one of the first (if not the first) sabbatarian), the first to understand the larger picture of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, our first missionary...there are other firsts as well.
But Joseph had a problem: He kept falling into legalism throughout his life.
James White emphasized righteousness by faith all the while understanding that one's works came as fruit of the Holy Spirit. Borrowing a tone from George Knight; one can keep the Sabbath and be meaner than sin; one can be a vegan and love nothing but their piety. "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; if you have love one for another." [John 13:35].
One member of Bible study class says, just about every week, "you have to qualify for heaven." And every week I ask him (and myself) "What in the world does that mean?" I love this man and have known him for decades but one Sabbath the "switch" flipped in my brain and I said, Bro. S. there is only one thing I need to do to qualify for salvation and that is to be a sinner, and that I am (most assuredly!).
Zechariah's illustration of Joshua the high priest and the work of the Angel of the Lord [Chapter 3] perfectly illustrates what Jesus has done for us. The Angel of the Lord says, "Take away the filthy garments (covered with excrement [look it up in Strong's Concordance]) from him. 'And He said. "See, I have removed your iniquity from you and will clothe you with rich robes." What robe is richer than the Righteousness of Jesus Christ? Nothing!
So, every Sabbath, in every Adventist church Joseph and James still fight it out; mostly because about half the people lack a full understanding of the message of righteousness by faith in Revelation chapter 14 verses 6-12. Undoubtedly the most significant "righteousness by faith" verse is the last; verse 12. It reads like this [NKJV] "Here is the patience of the saints; here [are; and added word] those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
According (again) to George Knight, the Greek translation for the word, "of", could be just as faithfully rendered as, "in".
Wrapping this up, those whose faith abides in Christ as their Saviour also (just so happen to ) keep His commandments. So which is it that "qualifies" them for heaven? their faith or their commandment keeping?
My church needs to figure this out. Those who do can look forward to the coming of Christ in the clouds [verse 14]. And those who don't figure it out...well...they have on the wrong wedding garment; one of their own weaving.
As a footnote (Thank you George); When Joseph Bates first presented the sabbatarian message (which he got from Seventh-day Baptists) to James White and his girlfriend Ellen Harmon, they rejected it. (Bates sometimes preached as though there were no other commandments [ibidem]).This "Ellen" lady makes the statement; "...the law, the law, the law; we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa."
Think on these things and read John chapter 15.
God Bless. e.c.