Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is December 25 the birthday of Jesus?

Joseph is warned by an angel in a dream to fle...Image via Wikipedia

We know that most of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December, but have you ever wondered if the actual day of Jesus' birth be determined from scripture? Well, that answer is yes, we can get a pretty accurate look at the birthday of our Savior.

First, most of us don't accurately understand the Jewish calendar. To get you to a utilitarian understanding, let's start back in the book of Exodus, where God instituted with Moses the calendar system.

Exo 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

You will recognize this passage as the institution of the Passover, an event that is remembered each year in the spring, just as it was initiated.

Next, we need to look at the birth of John the Baptist:

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, ...

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, ...

Our clue is found in verse 5 that Zacharias was of the "course" of Abia.

There were 24 courses in the Priest's duty schedule. God instructed King David (1 Chr 28:11-13) to divide the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4). This meant that a schedule was established whereby the Temple of the Lord was continually staffed. The sequencing of service schedules was determined by the drawing of lots (1 Chr 24: 7-19).
That sequence is as follows:
1 Chr 24:7 1. Jehoiarib 2. Jedaiah
1 Chr 24:8 3. Harim 4. Seorim
1 Chr 24:9 5. Malchijah 6. Mijamin
1 Chr 24:10 7. Hakkoz 8. Abijah
1 Chr 24:11 9. Jeshuah 10. Shecaniah
1 Chr 24:12 11. Eliashib 12. Jakim
1 Chr 24:13 13. Huppah 14. Jeshebeab
1 Chr 24:14 15. Bilgah 16. Immer
1 Chr 24:15 17. Hezir 18. Aphses
1 Chr 24:16 19. Pethahiah 20. Jehezekel
1 Chr 24:17 21. Jachim 22. Gamul
1 Chr 24:18 23. Delaiah 24. Maaziah

Each of these courses represented a week of service by the priest. There were three feasts during the year that required all the men of Israel to travel to Jerusalem for festivals of the Lord, so on those occasions all the priests would be needed in the Temple to accommodate the crowds. Those three festivals were Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deut 16:16).

The Yearly Cycle of Service in the Temple.

The Jewish calendar begins in the spring, during the month of Nisan, so the first "course" of priests, would be that of the family of Jehoiarib, who would serve for seven days. The second week would then be the responsibility of the family of Jedaiah. The third week would be the feast of Unleavened Bread, and all priests would be present for service. Then the schedule would resume with the third course of priests, the family of Harim. By this plan, when the 24th course was completed, the general cycle of courses would repeat. This schedule would cover 51 weeks or 357 days, enough for the lunar Jewish calendar (about 354 days). So, in a period of a year, each group of priests would serve in the Temple twice on their scheduled course, in addition to the 3 major festivals, for a total of about five weeks of duty.

The Conception of John the Baptist.

Now back to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, ...

Beginning with the first month, Nisan, in the spring (March-April), the schedule of the priest's courses would result with Zacharias serving during the 10th week of the year. This is because he was a member of the course of Abia (Abijah), the 8th course, and both the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) and Pentecost (6 Sivan) would have occurred before his scheduled duty. This places Zacharias' administration in the Temple as beginning on the second Sabbath of the third month, Sivan (May-June).
1st Month 2nd Month 3rd Month
Abib - Nisan
(March - April) Zif - Iyyar
(April - May) Sivan
(May - June)
Week Jehoiarib (1) Seorim (4) All Priests
Week Jedaiah (2) Malchijah (5) Abijah (8)
Week All Priests
(Feast of Unleavened Bread) Mijamin (6) Jeshuah (9)
Week Harim (3) Hakkoz (7) Shecaniah (10)

Having completed his Temple service on the third Sabbath of Sivan, Zacharias returned home and soon conceived his son John. So John the Baptist was probably conceived shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan.

The Conception of Jesus Christ.

Now the reason that the information about John is important, is because according to Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy:

Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Luke 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Note that verse 26 above refers to the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy, not Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, and this is made plain by the context of verse 24 and again in verse 36:

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for the last 3 months of her pregnancy, until the time that John was born.

Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luke 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

Now working from the information about John's conception late in the third month, Sivan, and advancing six months, we arrive late in the 9th month of Kislev (Nov-Dec) for the time frame for the conception of Jesus. It is notable here that the first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev, and Jesus is called the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5, 12:46). This does not appear to be a mere coincidence. In the book of John, Hanukkah is called the feast of dedication (John 10:22). Hanukkah is an eight day festival, celebrating the relighting of the menorah in the rededicated Temple, which according to the story, stayed lit miraculously for eight days on only one day's supply of oil.

The Birth of John the Baptist.

Based on a conception shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan, projecting forward an average term of about 10 lunar months (40 weeks), we arrive in the month of Nisan. It would appear that John the Baptist may have been born in the middle of the month, which would coincide with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is interesting to note, that even today, it is customary for the Jews to set out a special goblet of wine during the Passover Seder meal, in anticipation of the arrival of Elijah that week, which is based on the prophecy of Malachi:

Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Jesus identified John as the "Elijah" that the Jews had expected:

Mat 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
Mat 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
Mat 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Mat 17:13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The angel that appeared to Zacharias in the temple also indicated that John would be the expected "Elias":

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

So then, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, and this is a likely date for the birth of John the Baptist, the expected "Elijah".

The Birth of Jesus Christ.

Since Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist, and we have established a likely date for John's birth, we need only move six months farther down the Jewish calender to arrive at a likely date for the birth of Jesus. From the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, we go to the 15th day of the 7th month, Tishri. And what do we find on that date? It is the festival of Tabernacles! The 15th day of Tishri begins the third and last festival of the year to which all the men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem for Temple services. (Lev 23:34)


Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel means "God with us". The Son of God had come to dwell with, or tabernacle on earth with His people.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The word in the Hebrew for dwelt is succah and the name of the Feast of Tabernacles in Hebrew is Sukkot, a festival of rejoicing and celebration:

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Why was there no room at the inn? Bethlehem is only about 5 miles from Jerusalem, and all the men of Israel had come to attend the festival of Tabernacles as required by the law of Moses. Every room for miles around Jerusalem would have been already taken by pilgrims, so all that Mary and Joseph could find for shelter was a stable.

Also of note is the fact that the Feast of Tabernacles is an eight day feast (Lev 23:36, 39). Why eight days? It may be because an infant was dedicated to God by performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth:

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

So the infant Jesus would have been circumcised on the eighth and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a Sabbath day. The Jews today consider this a separate festival from Tabernacles, and they call it Shemini Atzeret.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Everyday Greatness

Everyday Greatness, a compilation of inspirational stories pulled from the archives of Reader’s Digest, is a moving and often educating read presenting real life stories of character driven choices in life. Whether you choose to read this book in installments or whether you choose to read through, you will certainly gain insights into areas of your life that can benefit from these vignettes. To reach Everyday Greatness we are challenged with three important choices that we must make daily. The first is the Choice to Act and this requires a commitment of your energy. Secondly, we are presented with the Choice of Purpose – will we allow our destiny to be fulfilled by the actions of our first choice? And lastly, we have the Choice for Principles, a choice that provides for us the means for attaining our goals.

Organized into 21 categories with a forward by Stephen R. Covey, this book proves to be good medicine for repairing our attitudes. Faced with the concerns of our daily lives, and the stress that often accompanies our routines, we all need added encouragement from time to time to lift us up from the cares and doldrums. Each of us possesses the potential to improve in almost all areas of our lives. Application of the learnings that can be gleaned from this book will provide a process map that will facilitate the transformation of potential to performance!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

We've got to act now!!

Kudos to my friend, and hopefully the future governor of my state. Here a crisis, there a crisis, everywhere a crisis, and we must pass and sign legislation today. Have we reached the point that we believe a signed piece of legislation will act as an amulet to ward off the evil spirits that might surround us? Apparently so, as no one is concerned about what is in the bill, as long as we get one passed through both Houses and signed by POTUS.

I suspect there is something more at work here, something very base to the world of politics in general - the compelling desire to hang on to the power that comes with being a Washington insider. Our elected officials have this as an overarching objective - Get re-elected. By passing this piece of garbage legislation, filled with promotion of the most repugnant immorality (abortion will be covered under the new health care vision), these guys can go to their constituents and tout their support for carrying out the President's agenda.

I was privileged recently to visit with a friend as he led a local congregation in their midweek Bible study. The topic just happened to be centered on the Old Testament's "minor" prophet, Habbakkuk. In this story, we read of a man whose heart was broken at the wickedness that surrounded him, and he pleaded with God for understanding of why/how this could happen. I'm starting to see most of the gang on Capital Hill as modern day Chaldeans. May God have mercy on this country!

Saturday, July 18, 2009



Some folks are like buzzards. you don't see them in church unless a member is dead.
Some are like chameleons, changing colors with the crowd.
Many are like bugs, who seek the darkness because their deeds are evil.
Still others are like snails; no backbone.
Some are like pigs; greedy to get all for self.
Others are like roosters; always crowing about something.
Some are like goats; always butting the other fellows.
Some are like porcupines; always needling somebody.
Some are like frogs; leaping from church to church.
Some are like gnats; nothing but pests.
Some are like bumble bees; they'll sting you every time.
Some are like donkeys; just plain stubborn.
Many are just like mules; the extent of their own joy is shown by their long faces.
Some folks are like elephants; a long memory that always remembers the wrong someone had done.
Some are like beavers....EAGER
Some are like ants....REAL WORKERS.
Some are like Canaries.... SINGING ALONG LIFE'S WAY.
Then there are those who are just like sheep...FOLLOWING THEIR SHEPHERD

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A history lesson on Rome

Roman clad in a togaImage via Wikipedia

Everyone will remember the power and reach of the Roman Empire. Most of us have seen the movie "The Gladiator" reminding us of the grandeur of both the empire and the ruling Caesars. Our founding fathers patterned a lot of our governmental system after the examples of regency and protocol found in Rome. Have you ever considered why Rome, being so powerful and having such a tremendous regional span, could collapse? The similarities between the nations of Rome and the US are astounding in both the abundance and congruity. If Rome could fall from the world stage, what does that say about the US? I think it instructive to look at the factors that chipped away at the foundation and allowed the house to collapse:

In his book "History's Last Stand", Gerard Del Re writes that "The events that led up to the fall of Imperial Rome can be traced to several factors.
1. Agriculture declined as farmers found it unprofitable to plant, flocking instead to the cities, where they became wards of the state.
2. Heavy taxes to support wars left citizens with less to spend, causing businesses to fold; hence, prosperity declined.
3. Jobless men could no longer afford matrimony, and this factor, coupled with a high abortion rate, resulted in a falling birth rate.
4. Political disinterest on the part of the citizenry led to poor leadership.
5. The moral fabric of the society began to tear apart as degenerating spectacles in the arena occupied the minds of the unemployed masses.
Finally, Rome became dependent on foreigners, often subjugated peoples, to defend its borders and to fight its wars as fewer Romans were available for conscription. Foreigners obviously had no true ties to the motherland."

While this list does not represent the entire list of issues that brought about the collapse, all could agree on the detrimental impact of each of these contributing factors. We could also agree that the list could also be applied to modern day US. Does this fact predict failure for the greatest nation on the earth? If we don't start now to correct the fundamental errors in government, then I am afraid the answer is yes.

What are the fundamental errors we see today? Government intrusion - in our money, our education system, our religious life, and today attempting a takeover of the health care industry. Will we wake up in time to act?

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Rick & Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage

Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey, with a lot of help from their friend Martha Bolton, have swung for the fences again with their latest New York Times Best-Seller, Rick & Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage. While at first glance it would appear that the last thing this world needs is another offering in the self help category, the “two sexiest fat men alive” bring a fresh, honest, and often humorous look at the guidelines for enjoying a healthy, happy, and long lasting marriage.

As with their previous offerings, the dynamic duo draw from their own life experiences and share with us the good, the bad, and, yes, sometimes the ugly to set forth for us a guidebook on marital behavior principles. It is clear with even a cursory reading of this book that faith is the cornerstone of these two marriages. Within the vignettes of this book, we learn that the foundation of their feelings toward their spouses is grounded in spiritual principles presented in the scriptures.

Rick and Bubba present this nugget of truth as the cement to their success in married life – they have learned to survive. Things will go wrong and your spouse is not perfect (they have the same dilemma). Prince Charming is a fairy tale; and let’s face it, the Stepford Wives were a little creepy.

An easy and entertaining read, everyone could benefit from reading these selected glimpses into the authors’ married history. Men will especially benefit from the long awaited publication of the Book of Blame, the book your wives have used against you from day 2 of your marriage!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Comfortable in her own skin

Sarah Heath Palin has been in the news a lot lately. And, as usual, most of the coverage has not been very flattering. The continued bashing that this lady has taken got me to thinking. What is it about this woman that drives people crazy? Why does she set off liberals to a level never before seen? Just this week, Carl Cannon posted that the media had gone far beyond "normal" bias and had actually taken sides in the last election (see ). Again I ask, what is it about this woman that causes pressure relief valves all over this nation to explode?

Before I get to my explanation, let's review some highlights from Sarah's biography. Sarah moved with her parents to Alaska in 1964 and graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987 and married Todd Palin on August 20th of the next year. Sarah worked for a brief time as a sportscaster at a local TV station - if you need a reminder of what 80's hair was all about, check out The launch into politics began in 1992 with her election to the Wasilla city council. In 1996, she was able to win the Mayor's race and served until 2003. Her first political defeat came in 2002 via a failed run for the Lt. Governor's seat. Governor Sarah Palin made history on Dec. 4, 2006, when she took office as the 11th governor of Alaska - she is the first woman to hold the office. Which brings us to July 3rd of this year and the announcement that she was stepping down. Everyone has different opinions as to what will happen to Sarah and what will she do next. I think she'll be just fine, all because of the reasons she drives progressives crazy.

Sarah Palin does not fit the mold of a female politician, according to the model prescribed by feminists, progressives, and libs in general. Remember the jingle for Enjoli perfume, "I can bring home the bacon...fry it up in a pan...and never, ever let you forget you're a man, 'Cause I'm a Woman." Sarah Palin could have starred in that commercial. She has that 'Hollywood' look, and she epitomizes the lyrics - and that's where the problem starts.

From my perspective, and I've never met the lady, Sarah Palin is comfortable in her own skin - in whatever role she undertakes. She is comfortable as a mother, I see a woman that can embody both the nurturing love for her children and the vigilant guardianship of a mother Grizzly defending her cubs. From the time the nation was introduced to her, it became obvious to all of us that family was very important. We saw that her family accompanied her on many of the campaign stops, and you had a sense they were there for more than just a photo op.

She is comfortable in her faith - and has been for some time. In high school, she led the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and multiple pastors testify to her faithfulness in attendance of both worship services and discipleship classes. This maturation of her faith would be tested in 2008 with her fifth (yes, another source of discomfort for some) pregnancy. The strong pro life conviction, rooted in faith, produced these words:

"Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift
and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed."

Sarah is comfortable as an outdoors person. She actually enjoys hunting - and she goes after big game - Moose!! I've never gone moose hunting, but I can imagine you have to be a pretty good shot and that you would use a pretty powerful (more recoil) round to do the job. Most women don't want to get anywhere near a gun or rifle, much less a "high-power" gun. Not so with Sarah - whether hunting, fishing, or snowmobiling with her husband Todd, she is more than comfortable being outdoors.

Sarah is comfortable being on the point. Leading the pack is not a problem for her, I believe this is her preferred position. If you've heard her speak about why she got into local politics to begin with, you'll know she said no one was providing leadership! Sensing a vacuum of direction on the Wasilla city council, she entered the race and won her first election.

I admire this woman. I don't know enough about her to know if she would be a good presidential candidate or not. I do like that she is apt to "get all mavericky", but that also concerns me. I understand that her global worldview is probably her Achilles heel, and that she doesn't have all the answers. I would warn you with words again from my grandpa: "The man who says he has all the answers hasn't heard all the questions yet."

This much is obvious to me - from being a maternal rock to her children, to leading the state of Alaska during her term as the governor, to being a snuggle bunny for Todd - Sarah Palin appears comfortable in her own skin. That just drives some miserable people crazy because it looks like Sarah might just be getting ready to run.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Government Motors - Luxury Edition

The Smart Car -what we will be forced to drive quite soon.

But look at all of the 'great new choices'

we will have from 'The SMART Car'....

The Smorvette!

The Smaudi A3 AWD!

The Smamborghini!

The Smorsche!

The Smerrari!

And last, but not least,

The Smustang,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Duller than dishwater!

That's what my grandpa used to say. Duller refers to a lack of an ability to shine, and he used this term as an antonym to bright, or intelligent.

I just read an article at that brought this to mind. I've posted a section below:

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who has introduced legislation that would prevent the NCAA from labeling a game a national championship unless it is the outcome of a playoff, bluntly warned Swofford: "If we don't see some action in the next two months, on a voluntary switch to a playoff system, then you will see this bill move."

1998-2005 BCS logo.Image via Wikipedia

If you haven't guessed yet, the House Energy and Commerce Committee - commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee has taken up the extremely important issue of destroying the BCS system of crowning a national champion in college football.

Now, don't get me wrong, I do think college football is important. If you haven't been to an SEC football game in October, you haven't seen football! Yes, I know I'm partial, but I also know I'm modestly speaking the truth!

Regardless of your thoughts on the validity of the current BCS system - is there any of you that want your Congress, your House -the people's House, to take up valuable time on this issue when unemployment is at double digit levels? Is this total absurdity, or what? Isn't there at least 1 issue more important for these guys to waste their time on?

I'll leave you with two other sayings from grandpa that sum up Congress - corporately and individually -

If brains was grease, he couldn't slick the head of a pin
Bout as useful as a screendoor on a submarine

Brings me back to my title - Duller than dishwater - grandpa was a wise man.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Now Taking Applications

Mr. Smith goes to Washington

In case you haven't seen this classic, here is a synopsis:

Smith is an innocent, wide-eyed idealist who quotes Jefferson and Lincoln and idolizes Paine, who had known his crusading editor father. In Washington, after a humiliating introduction to the press corps, Smith threatens to resign, but Paine encourages him to stay and work on a bill for a national boy's camp. With the help of his cynical secretary Clarissa Sanders (Jean Arthur), Smith prepares to introduce his boy's camp bill to the Senate. But when he proposes to build the camp on the Willets Creek site, Taylor and Paine force him to drop the measure. Smith discovers Taylor and Paine want the Willets Creek site for graft and he attempts to expose them, but Paine deflects Smith's charges by accusing Smith of stealing money from the boy rangers. Defeated, Smith is ready to depart Washington, but Saunders, whose patriotic zeal has been renewed by Smith, exhorts him to stay and fight. Smith returns to the Senate chamber and, while Taylor musters the media forces in his state to destroy him, Smith engages in a climactic filibuster to speak his piece: "I've got a few things I want to say to this body. I tried to say them once before and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, I'm not gonna leave this body until I do get them said." ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

In both the movies, and in real life, Jimmy Stewart personified my idea of an American hero. In case you didn't know, he was the first movie star to enter the service for World War II, joining a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5 pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test. He eventually became a Colonel, and earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre and 7 battle stars. In 1959, he served in the Air Force Reserve, before retiring as a brigadier general.

His movie credits include my all-time favorite, "It's a Wonderful Life". I'm probably one of the very few people who could tell you the last name of Clarence-the angel sent to earn his wings by showing George the right path in life. The subject of this post is another of his movies, all of them classics, Mr. Smith goes to Washington.

In this movie, Smith is appointed to finish the term of the Senator Samuel Foley by Gov. Hubert "Happy" Hopper. He is chosen because of his reputation as an honorable man, but also Gov. Hopper wrongly interpreted his personality included a large dose of naivety. Smith did find Washington to be a bit overwhelming at first, and was amazed at the inner workings of the legislature. This movie opened in October of 1939 - imagine what a Mr. Washington would find today - almost 70 years later!

Somewhere along the way, we have lost our way with regard to our "citizen legislators". I suspect the major change came with the other intrusions that came with FDR. This was a time of major governmental expansion and encroachment upon the liberties enshrined in our founding documents. A time when Democrats would solidify their relationship with Big Government for decades to come. Looking back with the perspective of historical 20/20 vision, our response to the New Deal should have been "No Deal, Howie!!" (Deal or No Deal, Howie Mandel - they're never funny if you have to explain them!)

What has Congress done for (to) us within the past year?

  • Remember TARP? That was the bill rushed thru the legislature to rescue those that "were too big to fail.
  • Fannie and Freddie - To insure that everyone has a home mortgage (without any consideration of their ability to repay) legislation was passed that created the "sub-prime" fiasco. Just another example of the governments’ intrusion into the banking process.
  • Because of union pressure, Congress bowed to the automakers and rescued (twice) GM and Chrysler by injecting dollars (borrowed dollars) and becoming the largest shareholder. We've also created "special" rules to allow these two companies an accelerated path thru bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Stimulus package - Got to stimulate the economy now - remember that crisis? $284.9 billion has been spent as of 6/26/09 according to the official government tracking site, A couple of comments on this issue-
  1. While the amount spent is a LARGE amount of money, it’s nowhere near the trillions that were authorized. The dirty secret is that the majority of the spending is targeted for future years – no doubt to assist with political campaigns by promoting home-town pork where needed.
  2. Why would anyone in their right mind ever think that spending is what would is needed to revive an economy? Do that with your own personal depressed economy and let me know how it works out!
  • Cap and Trade legislation – not the first bill passed that wasn’t read, but now the poster child for Congressional dereliction of duty. This was a total abrogation of Constitutional responsibility – both in the betrayal to the country by not reading the bill and allowing the passage of this destructive legislation – over 2 reams of paper filled with more favors to lobbyists.
With all of the above, and framed by the latest unemployment numbers that are the 2nd highest ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, did you realize that Congress voted themselves a pay raise at the end of last year? Between 1798 and 1901 the average number of terms served by House members was 2.18 compared to 4.86 terms for House members serving between 1901 and 2002, and since 1947 the average number of terms for a House member has increased to 5.84 terms. (from ). The Senate is not immune to this malady, as they too have their share of "tenured" legislators. Robert Byrd holds the distinction of having cast the largest number of votes, 18,517, being first elected in 1959 and serving continuously since. I don't think this is what the founders intended.

What did they intend?

The founding revolution of this Republic was in response to the oppressive oligarchy of England. They opposed elitism, and considered themselves common citizens of the colonies, bound together by duty of service - service to fellow man and to God.

This Independence Day, I have been thinking a lot about the courage shown by these men. I have wondered how our leaders and the common citizenry would respond to the same challenges these men faced. I have come to the conclusion that the absence of leadership suggests that we are not prepared today to face such trials. Washington now marches to a different drumbeat than Main Street USA. We need to clean house (and Senate!).

There will be 36 US Senate Seats contested in the 2010 election. 18 are currently held by Republicans, and 18 are held by Democrats. 5 Republicans are retiring and not seeking re-election, as is 1 Democrat. Regardless of the label worn by these incumbents, We the People have the opportunity in this election to make a difference. We're taking applications now, experienced need not apply!!

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Monday, June 29, 2009


Google the word "truth" - I dare you!

Today, you'll get 225,000,000 hits. Well, Google does say about 225,000,000. You'll find websites devoted to verifying the facts on that last outrageous e-mail you just received, the homepage of a hardware company, a website that "shines the light" on the conspiracies of today, and even a Wikipedia page on Truth. That really excites me, as Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia that ANYONE can modify! Do we really need to allow the world to have their input on what is conveyed by the word "truth"?

The Holy Land Experience Theme Park - The Ten ...Image by Rob Sheridan via Flickr

The underlying reason for all these pages is that the world has stubbornly refused to accept the tenet of absolute truth. We have reached a point in society in general, and even in our churches, where we who believe that absolute truth exists are in the minority. For a reference, see the latest report on covering the components of worldview thinking. It is staggering to ponder that only 46% of those who profess to be a born again Christian believe that absolute moral truth exists! No wonder we have so many powerless churches!!

The whole concept of relative truth has its origins in our rebellious nature. Oh, you say you're not rebellious, but instead you're a good person? Stop reading now and go read Romans 3:23!! Since each of us fail, we love to cast our failures in contrast to the failures of others. We rationalize our behavior by saying, " I know that xxxxxxx is bad, but at least it's not like I am xxxxxxxx" In making these comparisons, we wrongly justify our actions by employing this concept of "relative" truth. The abstract of "relative truth" is a concept birthed in our imaginations, and is, in fact, an oxymoron. A simple but effective definition of truth is that which agrees with reality. Understanding this, it's easy to see the fallacy of relative truth - how can we have a relative reality??

We come to our concept of truth via a belief system that is constantly evolving during our lifetime. Thoughts and ideas are spawned within our mind throughout the day as we encounter new situations and opportunities. If we ruminate long enough on any of these ideas, we will form opinions on those thoughts. Further internal deliberation of these new found opinions will result in a belief - an intangible, personal asset created solely from our own intellect.

Truth exists independent of our belief system. Reality is absolute whether you feel like being cogent or not. Philosophically, relativism is contradictory. Practically, relativism is anarchy. The world is filled with absolute truth. Two plus two will always be four, no matter how much you believe the answer to be five. Jump in a pool and you will get wet. You can state emphatically that there is no law of gravity as you walk the ridge line of your roof; make that last fateful step off the roof and your belief system will be seriously challenged! BTW, we are introduced to absolute truth in John 14:6 !!

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” Abraham Lincoln

If Lincoln is right, where do we find the next town crier?

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

I am concerned

Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown by (John T...Image via Wikipedia

'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' George Santayana

It would appear that a growing number of Americans never learned of the origins of the United States. Either they have never learned, or they have chosen to forget. The decision to declare our independence from the mother land and the the subsequent Revolutionary War was not an outgrowth of ego. Our founding fathers no doubt anguished over the decisions they were making as they understood fully the consequences of their actions. They understood that what they would do would not only impact them, but would also impact their families forever. With all this concern, what was it that drove these men to launch on their massive undertaking?

Some would readily point to the Boston Tea Party, as that reference has recently resurfaced as tea parties spring up everywhere in protest to our government's current expansion. The historical protest arose from the passage of the the Sugar Act by England in 1764, taxing the colonies on all basic commodities. Some would offer the Currency Act that England enacted in the same year that outlawed future printing of money in America, and made all existing American-printed money "null and void." Parliament was trying to seize control of America's economy, but the American people were not going to let it happen without a fight. While other historical references could be suggested, I would submit to you that all of the reasons coalesce around a fear of the growing tyranny of the mother country. England had assumed that the best way to rule a remote constituency was with a controlling iron fist. The word tyranny, defined by Webster's means "oppressive power exerted by government". It is a derivation of tyrant which is defined as "a usurper of sovereignty".

Because of the current oppression and the anticipated incremental misery that would be forthcoming absent any tangible resistance, our founding fathers answered the call and rose up in indignation. They realized, as was written into our Declaration of Independence, that all the rights of man originate with the Father, and that governments can only serve to either support or oppress those rights. Even after the writing of the Constitution, this was further clarified:

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817. Notice that Jefferson was affirming the limitation of powers relative to benevolent acts. Only a mind of limited faculties would argue that his thoughts on governmental control would not be stronger.

Today, tyranny is back. Where in the Constitution is POTUS granted the authority to appoint a Czar? Why has Congress subjugated themselves to the Federal Reserve System with regard to the management of our currency? Show me the section that says Government can interject itself into general commerce. Tell me how Ford Motor Co. has a chance to compete with a government owned entity that is not concerned with profitability. AIG, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers - why does the government get to pick the winners and losers? Tell me that we don't have taxation without representation today -the Cap and Trade bill just passed the House of Representatives and, in all likelihood, NO ONE has read the bill!?! This is a total dereliction of duty and an abrogation of their constitutional responsibilities.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Controversy in the church

A picture of Pisgah Baptist Church in Four Oak...Image via Wikipedia

Over the past few days, I have tuned in to the live stream and followed closely on twitter to the proceedings of the Southern Baptist Convention. During this convention there were many moments of uplifting and inspirational music, some tremendous messages, and overall a good time of worship in a convention setting. If you were not following the tweets on twitter, you were mostly unaware of most of the controversies that developed there. From motions intended to ban certain authors from Lifeway to motions of censure of certain individuals the sins of man were on full display.

Oh, don't think ill of me for judging the actions of my brethren; rather, I wish to expose the errors we all make in pursuing our walk with the Lord. While I am fully aware of the Biblical precedent for church discipline, and the tenets associated therewith, I am also aware of the process prescribed for us to follow. This process involves approaching your brother or sister in love, with a spirit of reconciliation. Galatians 6:1 Only after attempts have been made at restoration, are we to publicly present the matter before the church. Even then, this event is one that is to be carried out in love, desiring only to maintain the spirituality of the church. At no time are we to "enjoy" or assume our actions arise out of vengeance.

How have we digressed to this point in our churches? I submit we have failed in our attempt to forge a relationship with Christ as the root cause. In many facets of our walk, we have stumbled and no longer trust in the "lamp unto my feet".

Primarily, we have failed in our prayer life. James tells us that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Do we believe that? In my opinion, prayer, honest prayer, is the principal component necessary for us to have a meaningful relationship with God. How can we ever hope to have a relationship with someone we never speak to? Try that with your spouse and let me know how that works out.

We need to be sincere with our prayers. Jesus set a scene for us of two people praying - a Pharisee and a publican. The publican prayed very simply and earnestly, God, have mercy on me a sinner. The Pharisee prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and said, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." I believe his name was Beauregard, and I think I remember him as a Deacon in one of the earlier churchs I attended. :) (that last line was in jest - if there does happen to be a Beauregard in my past, this reference is purely coincidental)

Do we really understand the power in prayer? Jesus said, Ye have not because ye ask not. Have you ever prayed for unity in your church? Why not? Do you believe Jesus could provide unity among the members? Then why not include that in our prayers. We should ask sincerely for God to bless our brothers and sisters. If we were as interested in their prosperity as we are our own (and we should be according to the Word) imagine the harmony that would be present at our next service.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Hezekiah Philosophy

Jewish King and soldiers in ancient Judah.Image via Wikipedia

The Hezekiah Philosophy
(What's wrong with America)

There's a story told in the Bible of a King of Judah by the name of Hezekiah. This King had a very interesting life and, while most people concede that he was one of the better kings of Judah, his story ends in a most puzzling manner.

Hezekiah was confronted by a gathering coalition against his nation, led by the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Upon hearing of this coming threat, Hezekiah sent for the prophet Isaiah so that he could intercede on behalf of the nation. Isaiah sent word back that all is well, God will provide the victory and sure enough that's exactly what happened. 2Kings chapter 19

The next chapter opens very dramatically:

2Ki 20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
2Ki 20:2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,
2Ki 20:3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
2Ki 20:4 And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
2Ki 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.
2Ki 20:6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

Wow! Another answered prayer! This king was surely blessed. God was protecting his country and had now delivered him from this sickness. No doubt he would certainly be eternally grateful for the continued blessings in his life - or would he? I mean surely after seeing the sun move backwards in the sky as confirmation of his healing he would have no choice but to be a model servant, right? Surely he would use the blessing of additional years to further establish the kingdom in the ways of God!

As the story unfolds, Hezekiah recieved messengers from the Prince of Babylon who came bearing a get well present. Who doesn't like to get gifts? Not only did he receive their gifts, he received the visitors and gave them the grand tour. Nothing was held back from their eyes, even the contents of the treasury was on display! While we aren't given direct evidence of the motivation of the King, I believe it was pride. He was proud of what he had. He should have been thankful.

Notice the words of the prophet Isaiah as he discovered the error of the King and chastised him with the words of the Lord -

2Ki 20:16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.
2Ki 20:17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
2Ki 20:18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Notice also the response of Hezekiah:

2Ki 20:19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

Hezekiah was just notified that everything he had shown to these messengers from Babylon was to be carried away, nothing was to be spared. His response? Well, at least all will be well during my lifetime. "Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?"

Now, let's look at this from the perspective of our nation today. My, how this country has been blessed. Regardless of the claims to the contrary of others, this nation was founded not on religious freedom, not on the belief in a Supreme Being, not in a belief in a Diety, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Patrick Henry:"Orator of the Revolution."

• This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”—The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

“The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.”

We have seen prosperity beyond the dreams of our founders, primarily because our predecessors knew that "every good and perfect gift is from above" and they expressed sincere thanks for the blessings that they had received. Our nation today, however, has reached a state where blessings are not thought of as a gift from a loving and benevolent Father, but rather they are entitlements of which everyone should partake. We also are not concerned with the welfare (both spiritually, financially, and physically) of our children and grandchildren. As long as things will be well with us within our lifetime (and many can't see beyond today) all is well.

I didn't tell you how the story of Hezekiah ends, but I hope you know - God carries out his plans revealed thru His prophets.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

1101 Hits

Weird title, huh?

Sitting in my office getting a little study time in and I pulled up the search box to find out just how many times the word "father" is in the Bible (KJV). Well, now you know where the title for this post comes from - 1101 times the word "father' appears in the Bible. With only 970 verses, there are some multiple occurrences.

As we approach this Father's Day, I have been thinking a lot about my Dad recently. I grew up in a very loving home - Mom and Dad were both dedicated to rearing us according to Biblical teaching: Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. They both worked at very difficult jobs to provide for us the basic necessities of life. I don't begrudge for a moment my early station in life, rather, I am so thankful for the life lessons contained in my childhood.

I remember coming in from school and being trained to change into my play clothes. It didn't take me long to learn this lesson - I hated those Toughskin jeans. I swear I believe they could have stood in the corner by themselves they were so stiff and inflexible. There was no way to run in those clothes if I wanted to.

Some of my earliest memories that I can remember of my Dad's work was getting to go with him to his job at Cotton Producers Hatchery on Grove Street. (Yeah, I know, kind of ironic huh that I too ended up in the "chicken business") The building is still there, today it's Southern States Supply. The Hatchery was moved into a new building on Athens Highway just south of Gainesville. Just as if it were yesterday, I remember the Asian folks in there sexing the baby chicks; I remember opening the drawers to the incubators looking to find out where all that noise was coming from; I remember sitting on the steps in the doorway of that chick bus staring out the door windows watching the road go by as Daddy would drive to farms delivering chicks ( He would be a wanted felon for letting me sit there today); I remember playing race car driver on the dolly's in that building, and I remember that barrel (55 gal drum) that smelled so bad in the back (Offal waste). The most profound memory is one I can't believe I can actually remember, because I was only 3(barely). In March January of 1960, Gainesville experienced a very abnormal winter, with snow (11.5 inches) and ice to the point that the National Guard was employed to deliver feed to the chicken houses in this area. I remember my Daddy laying in the snow putting chains on an old panel wagon that was the service vehicle for the hatchery. I remember thinking how much my Daddy must love those little chickens to be going to all this trouble to go and check on them.

As I grew older, I remember Daddy would work nights at the funeral home. This was cool, 'cause at this time the funeral homes were also the ambulance services. I loved to go with him on Friday nights to the football games - just like Navin R Johnson ( think Steve Martin comedy) I was somebody! What I didn't like was the times I didn't get to go with him.

Now that Mom and Dad have been empty nesters for some time, they are finally getting to spend some quality time together and do things they could only dream of as a young couple. I am fortunate in so many ways. Dad lost his father 42 years ago - It's hard for me to imagine that I've had my father around for 20 years more than he did. Wow!

Back to the title: when I saw the results of the search I just sat and stared at that number for a while, as it seemed God was speaking to me even through a 4 digit number.

1 for the Father, 1 for the Son, 1 for the Holy Spirit. Oh yeah, that "0"? That's me. I fail to measure up to the men that have preceded me in my family line. Oh, I've not done anything too terribly wrong, but when you stack my life up against my father, grandfather, and the generations preceding him, well, it would be like trying to measure the width of an ant with a yardstick. The achievements they accomplished, without the abundance of resource with which I am blessed, are a landmark to remind me of a greater generation.

Glad I still have the chance to go to Cracker Barrel with Dad on Thursday's, I hope I get to make many more trips.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rebellion, or the down staircase

The Prophet Jonah, as depicted by Michelangelo...Image via Wikipedia

This previous Sunday I was privileged to be a guest worshipper at a small Baptist church near my home. The pastor delivered a sermon on Jonah, and I've been musing on some thoughts since his message. While I have heard the story of Jonah for many years, going back to "Granny Taylor's" beginner's Sunday School class, each time I am presented with something fresh - that is, each time I am open to the teaching and leadership of the Holy Spirit.

I have noticed how the 4 small chapters used to tell the story all tend to focus how life for Jonah seemed to be trapped on the down escalator. His life was spiralling downward from the moment that he rebelled against God. We are told that he went down to Joppa, went down in the ship, went down in the ocean, and went down inside the great fish. Down, down, down until he reached the bottom.

Only when Jonah could descend no further did he remember the provision offered by Solomon's dedicatory prayer of 2 Chronicles 6. There Solomon asked God to look favorably on His people in the future when they looked toward the temple and prayed. How did Jonah know which way to look? It's a God thing.

Our obedience should be complete, unwavering. James tells us that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. We should exhibit the faith of the clerk in this news article:

Fort Bragg, North Carolina: A likely clerical error sent a supply clerk with the 82nd Airborne Division out the door of an airplane on his first parachute jump without any formal training. Army Specialist Jeff Lewis, 23, who landed unhurt, said he was just doing what a good soldier is supposed to do when he made the jump: Follow orders. "The Army said I was airborne-qualified," Lewis said. "I wasn't going to question it." Citation: Chicago Tribune (May 20, 2000)
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fruit salad

A grape: Palatina / Eine weiße Tafeltraubensor...Image via Wikipedia

Earlier today, Gideons across the world gathered for a special prayer service centered around fruit - already harvested and enjoyed plus fruit yet to be harvested. The scripture theme for this service came from the Gospel of John:

Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Joh 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
Joh 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Joh 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
(King James Version)

I enjoy from time to time reading the paraphrase "the Message". I do this with full understanding that this is not God's Word, but more a restating commentary on his word - hence, a paraphrase.

Joh 15:5 "I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. The Message

As always, it is important to understand who is being spoken to, and when, in context, are these workds being spoken.

Just after finishing with the Passover, singing a hymn, and a demonstration of servant leadership, Jesus led the disciples on a walk to the Garden of Gethsemene. On the way, passing a vine (grape vine?) he stopped to continue with his teaching of the disciples. Two main thoughts come to my mind from His words- both centered around the word abide. The Greek word used here is μένω, transliterated as menō, and pronounced as men'-o. This word is a primary verb; meaning to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy).

My first thought is that it is impossible to abide except ye be joined. This is where I like the Message, as it brings forth the depths to which we should be connected with the desires of our Father. If you've ever seen a live grape vine, you will recall that it is impossible to determine the exact spot where the branch ends and the vine begins! This is how connected God expects us to be in our relationship with Him. The lines of separation between our life and His life in us are to be blurred. Remember the words of Paul to the church in Galatia, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". Gal 2:20

Once we are connected, we are to remain in place, stay put - or as your Mom said, "Don't you dare move!" This is probably the hardest part of our Christian walk, as the enemy confronts us with many tests in his attempts to separate us from our relationship with our Saviour. Once we reach the mountain top, we often spend too much time basking in the marvelous blessings that God has granted to us and we don't spend enough time in praise and thanksgiving for those blessings. Before you know it, it's back down the other side of the mountain and start the journey all over again.

I'm convinced that I've known a lot of Christians over the years who simply didn't like climbing mountains, and they have, as a result, been content to spend their life in the valleys. In so doing they become ineffective witnesses, lukewarm warriors unconcerned about both the enemy and the cause.
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