Reality, Propaganda, Informed Consent, and The Mark of the Beast

Let me begin with a few bits of context. I am not an “anti-vaxxer”, despite being labeled as one in the last few months (my daughters have all standard vaccinations- even our dogs get their “shots”. I have also frequently been labeled as a conspiracy theorist, despite my record of debunking such craziness – though I do consider myself one who seeks truth, even when it challenges my opinions and beliefs. And finally, while I do believe we are getting closer day-by-day to the return of Jesus Christ, I don’t automatically assume every world event is a prophecy being fulfilled. And finally, I believe in free speech, even when the opinions and views contradict my own views. Indeed, I believe that free speech and debate are hallmarks of a genuinely-free nation. Even the LORD told Isaiah “come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). At the same time, I have deep-seated hate for lies, for obvious propaganda, and for “mandating” anything. I have remained fairly quiet here on this page regarding the last 20 or so months of the “COVID Pandemic”. I’ve not been silent in other forums, but I have for the most part tried to simply soak in all the information I can, to speak to health care professionals (including my own Primary Care Physician), and by simply keeping a running tabulation of cases, severity, and context for those diagnosed, treated, vaccinated, etc. I have attended community meetings, political meetings, Governor’s Townhall, And most recently, I have watched not only our nation’s supply and manufacturing sectors crippled, our economy loaded with skyrocketing (related to the previous) inflation, and policies being implemented that literally fly in the very face of the “science” we are constantly told to follow – which only exacerbates the supply chain, inflation, and even the health care crisis.

But the time for silence is over…

From early in 2020, as news began to emerge from China regarding this “new” CoV-2 virus, dubbed “COVID-19), theories of its origins were all over the map, but the most consistently attacked and dismissed until only very recently, was that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China (where the first explosion of cases was located). Fingers pointed at a “wet market” and bats or other animals used for food. China vehemently denied any connection and claimed it was natural. But we now know it was all a total lie and attempt to cover it up. Even much-vaunted US “expert” and longstanding head of the NIH aided in the dismissal and denials – until Senator Rand Paul finally spoke up, with documentation in hand, proving that Fauci’s NIH had illegally funded “gain of function” research on this exact virus for several years – at the very lab that had been earlier identified. Even more disturbing are patent filings for the exact virus genetic sequences – patent applications (and eventually-granted patents) all under direct violations of several laws, were submitted and re-submitted until granted. Included in said filings we also find vaccines of a new kind included. More on that later.

From March’s sudden mass closures and shutdowns, all under the greatest of assurances that 15 days would flatten the curve and we could get back to normal, we have seen a rapid degradation in public trust – or so I thought. Former President Trump, in his attempt to be a cheerleader and motivational leader, tried to paint a positive face, but those in power behind the scenes were rapidly working to undermine him. AS the virus spread and deaths began mounting, fear became the weapon of choice. And what an effective weapon it was. 15 days became 15 weeks or more in some states. Other state governors decided to buck the system and reopen (slowly in most cases). Some with more success than others. Here in the state of Arkansas, our governor began fairly well, but when federal dollars began rolling in in unprecedented amounts, he turned soft and actually began regurgitating propaganda to try to gain compliance by the public. We now know that in addition to massive cash payments to states for every day they maintained a disaster declaration (even when cases in no way merited it). Further, in the last few months, information got out that every school district that maintained restrictions and/or mask mandates also got huge injections of unrestricted cash. In some districts, it took lawsuits to end mask mandates.

And now, we have an executive order from President Joe Biden, to be enforced via OSHA regulation, that all companies with over 100 employees in any form, must require all workers to be “fully vaccinated” (the definition of which is also still evolving). Even before this EO, many large employers including Walmart Corporation mandated these shots under penalty of being terminated. Among the most egregious of these have come from major hospitals, where nurses, doctors, therapists, and even maintenance crews who were deemed “heroes” for nearly 12 months, now were relegated to useless scum if they didn’t want to submit to the vaccine mandates. Many had contracted the virus and recovered (giving them superior protection than any injection), while others simply objected on a variety of personal grounds.

Propaganda and Fear

Every ugly mass atrocity requires at least some public cooperation. I’ve often heard stories of Nazi Germany and the questions of how so many, even professed Christians, could be either directly complicit by their actions, or indirectly via their complacency. Even the vast majority of the Catholic and Lutheran leadership of the day went along, either willingly helping to spew propaganda (and yes, some were deeply antisemitic), or passively by not speaking out. Yet record after record from that horrific regime pointed to a reality of how easy it really was to gain compliance: Fear.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and what we have witnessed for nearly 20 months has been nothing short of a total capitalization of widespread fearmongering via propaganda and intentionally-misleading data manipulation. From day one, the standards for reporting the cause of death changed, but only for this particular virus. At first, many laughed at the absurdity that a rider killed in a motorcycle accident could have been counted as a COVID death – until we found out it actually happened. Those patients who simply presented with COVID-like symptoms (90% of which mimic the seasonal flu or common cold plus pneumonia) were counted. But case by case (with even lawsuits filed by grieving family members offended that their deceased loved one was counted even though they had no symptoms). But then I watched it happen with my own eyes – a church member who “tested positive”, but never had a single symptom (not even the loss of taste), who died because she was denied dialysis for far too long. Yet because of the positive diagnosis – COVID was clearly listed as a cause of death. And then the CDC quietly issues a soft recall on what had become the primary diagnosis tool – the PCR test. Apparently, the creator of the test was not lying when he went public saying that the test was not reliable, and further – the systematic (and mandated) over-cycling of the samples would generate massively false positives. But the CDC’s “recall” doesn’t firmly go into effect until the end of 2021 – leaving massive doubts as to even the reliability of the total “positives” that so many economic and life-changing decisions have been made.

But above all of this was raised up a great hope: Vaccines. With major pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of the 1986 legilsation harmlessly titled “National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act”, which literally absolved drug companies of any and all liability related to injury or death caused or exacerbated by their products under the guise of “vaccine”. In literally record time, a handful of manufacturers were given taxpayer funding and guaranteed contracts for hundreds of millions of doses – even before a final, proven, and safe product was released. Pfizer, MOdeerna, and Johnson & Johnson were finally chosen for the US market. The first two utilize a brand new technology – one that had consistently failed miserably in animal testing. Introducing “mRNA” therapy. A means of reprogramming cells of the body to produce proteins that were to interfere with virus activity. In the case of the COVID vaccines (this is over-simplified), this gene therapy would trigger the production of the same kind of spike protein the target virus produces – somehow interfering with the virus attaching and functioning. One (of many) problems: for the previous 8+ months, we had been told that it was the spike protein causing the most damaging and dangerous symptoms. Who to believe? Don’t ask – just obey or you might die!

We were told that as soon as a vaccine was produced, life would quickly return to “normal”. The President (Biden) even claimed “100% effective in preventing you from getting or transmitting the virus”. Yet as soon as the second major variant of the virus went wild (we were told from the beginning that the CoV-type viruses readily and regularly mutate naturally) – the vaccines showed an alarming lack of efficacy. And this is where things get truly insane – Doctors who had originally been radically pushing the shots began to question things. They saw statistically-significant adverse reactions. Patients were even dying after receiving the injections. But they were told it was not outside of the “norm”. But then these vaccinated patients began testing positive at rates equal to the unvaccinated. My own doctor has backed off pushing these vaccines, as has my wife’s. A growing number of doctors and health care providers have chosen to not even get the shots themselves (and are facing loss of positions, jobs, or practice). And amid the ongoing demands that everyone gets vaccinated, the evidence points to the likelihood that fully-vaccinated people are just as likely to spread the virus as the unvaccinated. As this troubling data has emerged and now is well-documented, the effort to cover it up, to sugar coat it, to put some kind of spin on it has intensified – to now include the call for regular boosters every few months to maintain your “vaccinated” status. And all of this with an ever-expanding demand that everyone gets vaccinated.

And dare ask about the unprecidented increase in well-conditioned athletes who are showing up with major heart conditions (primarily myocarditis and pericarditis) within days of receiving their doses of the vaccines. This has been particularly evident in the realm of international sports like soccer where all players have been required to get vaccinated. The situation is so grim that the official reporting has been shut down.

Yet we have seen similar results here in the US – with our own VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) of which the reports have exceeded the numbers of adversee reactions and deaths of every prior vaccination in over a century. Even more, suspicious is that some doctors and administrators have claimed to have been told explicitly to NOT report adverse reactions to the official system (even though reporting is supposed to be mandatory). Why would anyone try to interfere with reporting adverse reactions unless they were trying to preserve a narrative?

My own obseervations – As a pastor, my own observation within both my church family and network has concerned me. Of the funerals I have done in the last two years where the death was attributed to COVID, the maority now were vaccinated! Of those getting the most ill – have in the last few months been vaccinated. I have seen adverse reactions with my own eyes. I have spoken to a parent whose son was in the CCU with myocarditis brought by the vaccine. I’ve more recently heard of a young lady who received the vaccines while pregnant – she and her baby both developed blood clot and/or cardiac and respiratory issues requiring ICU care. But doctors are afraid to officially label it an adverse reaction.

And now we are supposed to expand vaccinations to children as young as 5 years old? A subgroup that has a statistically insignificant chance of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus these vaccines are intended to prevent? At the same time, younger patients are at a significantly higher risk of developing those heart inflammations mentioned above, as well as blood clotting issues.

And overall – the expanding list of vaccine-related reactions is astounding – and we now know that most of them were listed in the initial filings to the FDA!

So we have three “vaccines”, two of whic are not even true vaccines in the traditional sense but are gene therapies that we have absolutely no track record or history to even guess the long-term safety of (but we have a whole lot of evidence of serious safety issues in the short-term). And one vaccine (J&J) that is a modified but still more traditional vaccine. But even its efficacy is now in question having been developed so quickly.

https://nationalpost.com/health/more-polio-cases-currently-caused-by-vaccines-than-the-wild-virus-who-report

And note – beyond the elimination of a fundamenttal basic right of “informed consent”, which has been a bastion of our medical system and practice for over a hundred years, I have not even jumped into the ethical issues regarding the development of these products.

The Mark of the Beast

I recall reading the Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins Left Behind book series in the early 2000s. One of the biggest puzzles of the storyline is just HOW an anti-Christ could get nearly 100% compliance with an embedded “mark”. And while I don’t agree with significant portions of those authors’ eschatology, the question has been answered in the last few months, with nearly precision alignment with that fictional book. Beginning with a friendly suggestion, then request, to offering financial or prize incentives, but quickly moving to the taking away activities and privileges (must be vaccinated to enter a concert venue, or to take off the ineffective face masks), and now to even go to work and earn a paycheck to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Since fear didn’t completely work, only setting the propaganda machine and narrative in place (and making it much harder for those who bought in early to face being shown wrong), it is now deemed ok to literally deny people a livelihood, and in some areas – to deny them even basic health care if they choose to not take these injections. Even when the firing of employees exacerbates already over-taxed systems like health care and manufacturing – the attitude is – you WILL receive the vaccine, one-way or another. There is even serious talk of vaccinating people who are in a coma or are otherwise incapacitated (rememer that “informed consent concept?).

Lotto tickets for getting vaccine!

Do I believe that these shots are the Mark of the Beast? No. Yet it certainly makes clear how such a thing could be accomplished – via fear, then by taking away literally everything. I’ve seen heartwrenching, real videos of children being literally ripped from their parent’s arms to have the injections forced on them because parents refused.

I have also seen how religious leaders could become active participants in the forcing of shots. From those who shamed church members who sought religious exemptions, to even the previous President of my own Baptist association shaming any messengers who were still resistent to the vaccine (he demanded attendees who were not fully vaccinated to wear a face mask, even as the evidence was coming to light of the ineffective nature of the vaccines in regards to preventing spread, and despite the meeting being held in a state that stopped mask mandates).

I have seen family turn against family, churches split, friends divided, and truth dismissed for the sake of a narrative. I was actually not against the idea of a vaccine. I was actually even open to receiving one, once enough safety and efficacy data was accuulated and vetted. Sadly, when officials and society begin to implement mandates, and refuse to acknowledge even well-documented evidence – when they (along with social media giants and news media outlets) seek to censor or completely shut down any and all questions, to try to hide cases, and to alienate (or even attack) doctors with proven and well-documented track records of treating actual COVID patients with old and inexpensive medications with proven safety records, only to be labeled with a package of horse dewormer and wild accusations. Something stinks. And the best-case scenario is that there were some good intentions early on, but so many succumbed to the propaganda and literally gave themselves over to the pressure – and now simply are trying to save face…

But as a friend reegularly says: Always follow the money. Look at how many of those making the demands and requirements are major stakeholders in the same companies making the vaccines. Look at how many have gained unprecedented power. Just think – regardless of one’s politcial views or opinions regarding the 2020 election- one thing is for certain, the “COVID-19 Pandemic” was a major component in how it turned out.

And I will close with some truly sad tweets. They are from a real mom, who began as a proud pro-vaccine mother who had scared her son into believing the narrative, and as soon as he could get the shots – he did. The drama that unfolded, even just through her social media posts is heartbreaking – but at least she finally had her eyes opened. I pray for here son – but I pray even more that parents would wake up BEFORE her story, becomes their story.

I’m frequently told that my obseervations and experiences are “anecdotal”. I’m sure many have labeled the above experience by that mom the same way. Or the thousands of families with loved ones who died or were seriously harmed by these “vaccines” who undoubtedly have been told the same thing.

If you, with active consultation with your doctor(s), with serious prayer and consideration of ALL available information, to get vaccinated – that is informed consent – and while I may disagree with you, that is your choice. But if you shame me for choosing, having done all of the above and much more in diligent pursuit of the right thing to do, to not recievee these shots – shame on you.

And if you seek to take away people’s means of feeding their family and providing shelter over the shots – shame on you.

But if you truly believe that a manmade vaccine has moree bearing on how long you will live than our Holy, Sovereign, and Righteous Creator – you need to repent and seek Jesus.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

Please Stop Abusing Scripture

Brethren – there is NEVER an appropriate time or circumstance to force meaning or personal views onto Scripture. It is never appropriate, regardless of your intentions, to pluck Scripture out of its context, then bend it back double to paint a picture or prove a point to “reach a hurting person”. The formal term for this is “Eisegesis“.
 
Just as I would never tell a grieving person who just lost a loved one that definitively their loved one was in “in a better place, despite having never professed to trusted in Christ. That would be an abuse. There are other paths to seek comfort than lying to them (don’t give them false hope, give them the Gospel – the ONLY source of living Hope!).
 
I don’t tell people that God won’t give them more than they can handle – despite generations somehow twisting 1 Corinthians 10:2 to mean such. Again – it’s a false narrative.
 
It would be an abuse for me to that God’s will is to always heal our loved ones of every form of sickness and disease – Because it is clear, Jesus often overlooked sick for more important purposes. (And no, Jesus didn’t bear our stripes and die on the Cross to heal my mom of Botulism, or my friend of cancer. He died to redeem the lost sheep. Yes, there is an eternal sense of perfect healing for those who die in Christ… but I can’t just reach out and “claim it”.
 
Likewise – when we are faced with the traumatic events of our day – whether a virus or injustice and rage… we cannot simply pluck verses of Scripture, bend them around, and force a modern-day narrative on that Sacred Writ – but there IS plenty of God’s record that DO deal with what we are facing today – that is just as true and applicable as it was IN IT’S CONTEXT when penned.
 
Want passages to deal with those who faced hate due to their ethnicity? What about Jesus’ meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26)? Or maybe the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)?
 
Want to help someone have a biblical, healing, and God-glorifying understanding of how to respond to the hate we see before us? Open up Romans 12: 18-21 (among many others).
I have been seeing an example of eisegesis spreading like a virus all over social media that uses Jesus’ parable of the shepherd leaving the 99 to find the one lost sheep. This parable isn’t in any way a race or ethnic statement. It is simply about God’s willingess (through Christ Jesus) to seek the lost of His flock and bring them home. Each and every sheep is of great value to the LORD. This is not some kind of statement about skin color. Quite the contrary, it is a clear picture of the value of ALL His sheep.
There is no justification for bending God’s Word, even “well-meaning” bending. God’s Word is not a toy to play with or to throw about like a rag doll. We must not trivialize it by throwing it around out of it’s context and actual meaning. Sadly, this is a product of several factors – but one of the biggest being too many years of “teachers” using the phrase “what does this verse mean to you?“.  What I want a verse to say, and what my defective fleshly heart would desire it to say is irrelevant.  Scripture says and means what it says and means – firmly established in its context. To ignore the context and meaning at the time of writing is to set the stage for every form of heresy. And ultimately, forced eisigesis is a form of blasphemy.
Please stop abusing Scripture! Jesus is the ONLY hope, not the twisting of Scripture.

Responsibility, Decisions, Accountability, and Politics

I have made plenty of mistakes in my life, from economic to moral, from spiritual to physical. When I was a child, my parents tried to be selective in when and how they would “bail me out” of the consequences of my errors, all with the intent of guiding me to learn from my mistakes.

When I graduated high school, I was able to secure a band scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas, but I had to find funding for the rest of the expenses – from room and board, to books and additional fees. I was able to secure the old “PELL Grant” most years, but had to fill the gap with fairly sizable loans from a private fund for most semesters, and even a Federal Guaranteed Student Loan for a few semesters to make ends meet.

When I finally finished my extended undergraduate time and received my degree, I quickly learned that education loans, whether Government guaranteed, or privately-funded, remain one’s responsibility no matter your economic situation. They just don’t go away. It took several years on the relatively low income of a public school teacher to finally get those debts paid off. I often looked back at my fellow students who chose to work many long hours to pay for their education instead of taking out loans and thinking “that was what I should have done”. But at no point did I ask for or demand anyone else pay off my student loans for me. They were my responsibility.

Since then, I have been in several areas of work and ministry that have truly opened my eyes to how our national mentality has shifted from personal responsibility. Just listen for a minute to many candidates for the 2020 Presidential election who are promising to “wipe out” student debt. We hear cries of those being “crushed” under the weight of 6-figure debt for relief. But we hardly hear a peep about the fact that they all voluntarily entered in to said debt. We don’t see much published about the worthless diplomas being “earned” at such high cost.

But is this really so out-of-character for our culture?

Absolutely not! Every day, it seems we see yet another demand for something to be an entitled “right” – unlimited health care (at no cost to them), handouts, panhandling by people making more than the average employee – it really is startling if you take an honest look. I cannot find the article now, as it’s been several years ago, but a local media outlet did a bit of actual journalism and found a panhandler who admitted to taking in an average of $1,500 per week simply standing on a corner with a sign asking for money. Pretty lucrative when you consider there are no taxes being paid on that!

Have you ever taken someone grocery shopping who came looking for food help, only to get to the store and they don’t want any staples and components that would stretch the dollars available? Frozen meals, name-brand products, etc. And it all has to be “heat-and-eat”.

I must admit that I have become a bit jaded when it comes to people asking for help. If you come to me asking for $10 for gasoline – and you have a lit cigarette in your mouth and a pack of cigs in the car seat – I see gas money being smoked up. If you come asking for diapers or baby food because your kids are hungry – but I see beer cans and lottery tickets on your floorboard – it is you who deprived your child of those needs via your priorities.

A tough lesson in grace…

I say all of this precisely because I have allowed myself to grow jaded, pessimistic even, when it comes to those who come asking for help. How does one balance demonstrating grace while at the same time trying to not enable and encourage abuse and ongoing defective decision making and priorities? Grace.

This is why the church I pastor sponsors what we call a Micro Food Pantry we call “God’s Kitchen”. It is a box set up outside one of our doors that is “self-serve” with the mantra “take what you need, leave what you can”. No questions are asked. No criteria or paperwork necessary. If you take from it, that is between you and God.

At the same time, we really should look at the biblical example. We can rightly look at Jesus command to care for the widows, feed the hungry, give water to those who thirst, clothe the naked, etc., but we must balance that with the Old Testament warning about those who do not work (do not eat!), as well as the “filter” given in the New Testament regarding those like widows who have other means of support (like family). And from a moral persepectiv, if you have the means or are physically able and choose to take take handouts (or even demand them), you are taking resources from those who do not have the means or ability ot help themselves.

When we have means to discern real need – exercise it diligently. When we do not have such ability, then exercise grace. Be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And remember – it is still about personal accountability. If they take from you but don’t really need it or are abusing it – that will ultimately be between them and the LORD, if you are simply being faithful.

Don’t expect or demand that the government/taxpayers bail you out of holes you dig for yourself. Step up, make sacrifices, and take ownership of your situation. Stop digging holes you can never fill in. Get the help you REALLY need (and it might very well begin not with economic help, but spiritual help!). Find someone to help hold you accountable.

And if you really need help – don’t be afraid to ask for it – but with the request, commit to making the changes necessary to fix the problem at hand by making the changes in priority, habits, patterns, and decision making necessary.

Racism, Hate, and Counterproductive Acts

Media is aflame – from network news to social media, everyone is losing their minds over Jussie Smollett’s accusations and now arrest. What we see is an example of hate, racism, and an unregenerate heart deliberately trying to further divide this nation, and it seriously pushes the envelope not just of the law, but truly even sedition.

For those who may somehow not know what is going on:

On January 29, 2019, Jussie (so-called Hip-Hop artist, and star of the TV drama Empire) Smollett’s manager called Chicago PD to report an attack that allegedly occurred at approximately 2AM. Over the course of the next two weeks, many stars and politicians began loudly beating their chests over this alleged hate crime. You see, the allegations were that two white males, wearing MAGA hats, physically and verbally assaulted Smollett, a gay black male, putting a rope noose around his neck, hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him, then pouring bleach on him while chanting “MAGA Country!”.

Certainly, if true, these allegations should be extremely troubling. Even President Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted how egregious and horrible the alleged attack appeared to be. At the same time, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) tweeted out her feelings on the matter:

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) loudly proclaimed the attack as a “modern day lynching”.

As the story has unfolded over the last week, the Chicago PD has determined that Smollett hired these two men to help him stage the ‘attack”, including buying the rope and literally scripting the entire storyline. The brothers were released, and now, as of today, Jussie Smollett has been arrested and charged with filing a false report, though I suspect further charges are in order.

You see – Mr. Smollett was simply using “whatever means necessary” as so many who want to divide this nation have actually verbalized, to try to further drive a wedge in this already divided nation. What he did was a demonstration of his own hate – not just for this country (that actually provided a means for him to achieve fame and wealth), but against the elected President, and the nation as a whole. But even more concerning to the Christians reading this – is that he was remonstrating his corrupt and unregenerate heart that is in need of a Savior. Jussie Smollett is actually demonstrating the worst that he and the political Left accuse the President of being – a hate-filled biggot. He tried to inflame the nation over race and the new poster child for hate – homosexuality.

Wile I cannot presume to know the darkest corners of this man’s heart, what is glaringly obvious – we need to pray for him. While I pray that the legal justice system uses him as an example, I pray that God will open Jussie’s eyes to his corrupt and broken state, his destination if he remains unrepentant and unregenerate, that the LORD will give Jussie a heart transplant that he would believe and become a child of God, experiencing the genuine love that can only be found in Christ Jesus, that he would repent of his sinful lifestyle, that he would repent of his intentionally-divisive efforts, and that he would leave behind the agenda of division and hate that has become a sadly common commentary on our society.

But Smollett’s false accusations are nothing new. Over the course of the last decades, the number of false reports, hoaxes, and fabricated “racist” or “homophobic” attacks have increased.

Sadly, if we are going to truly become a great nation – it must be recognizing it is only by the Grace of God, that it must be in submission to God, and that we can NEVER achieve the unity that would be required if we continue to use deception, false accusations, and intentional divisiveness as tools.

I am reminded of the old story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. I won’t retell the story here, but the gist of the story is that a little boy, out of the desire to get attention and to entertain himself, cried that a wolf was coming – over and over. Eventually, the townspeople tuned him out and low-and-behold, a real wolf showed up and ate him up. The moral of the story that I believe so clearly should be learned here – when one cries Racism/Homophobia as a weapon, over every single disagreement or issue raised, when you hurl the accusations not just blindly, but knowingly in a lie – you are actually hurting the very cause that you claim to be trying to help. You have demonstrated you are a liar, a divider, and a corrupt soul – all while numbing the general population to your cries of “wolf” – so when the real enemy – the real predator shows up – Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

PSALM 10:1-4

  1.  Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
  2.  In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
  3.  For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD.
  4. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
  5. In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
  6. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, And the greedy man curses ad spurns the LORD.The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

A Burger King god

This post was originally posted by the author on his Old Blog and represents one of his favorite (and oldest) posts.

There is a “new” and destructive trend blowing through Christianity.  But in reality, this trend is nothing new.  The Apostle Paul wrote stern warnings, and Jesus Himself warned of this trend.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.(Galatians 1:8-9)

From the earliest days of Christianity – even when Jesus still walked the earth – there were already twisted “alternative” views of the gospel developing, even in the hearts of Christ’s own inner circle.  This trend really began to take off once the Gospel began to spread soon after the day of Pentecost.

I have said from the pulpit that the root of all of this is Satan and his use of the natural human nature towards pride and selfishness.  After all, Satan is described as being like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Which brings us to a quote I heard (and read) several years ago:

  Satan couldn’t beat the church, so he joined it.

The first time I heard that, I was speechless.  And then I began to open my eyes.  If God’s Word is unchanging.  If God HIMSELF is unchanging, then there can be only one correct understanding of scripture – thus only one true Gospel.

So how do we get to where we are today?  Simply by people, under the leadership of Satan (and I believe oftentimes these people are not even aware of it – they have also been deceived, to a point), have “joined” churches, have worked/manipulated themselves into positions to teach and eventually preach another gospel – all with the intent of helping themselves (fleshly/selfish desires), and Satan in “devouring” those they can deceive.

Somehow today, we have, just in the mainstream “versions” of Christianity (denominations).  This chart is in no particular order, except the first column being the biblical statement:

chart

All claim to be “right” in regards to who Jesus is – who God is – and what the gospel is.  But can these be all correct?
Let us return to Paul’s warning in Galatians – if ANYONE – angel or human- preaches to you a gospel different from the one Paul and his ministry companions did – let them be “accursed” – run from them, do not tolerate them.
Jesus dictated a series of 7 letters in Revelation 2 & 3.  Five were subjected to serious condemnation and warnings – and the primary reason – false teachers.  Those who were teaching and preaching another gospel.  Whether it be “Judaizers” or “Jezebels”, they were leading people down the path of destruction – and those churches were to deal strongly with them – and not tolerate it one bit.
And this all comes from the selfish “belly” of people and Satan.
So where does the title of this post, “Burger King god” come from?  In each case – when the image or character of God is changed to the preferences of mankind, that is no longer God.  He becomes nothing more than a Whopper ordered “your way” at Burger King.

Just this morning, I saw a reply to a post regarding the young girl, Jahi McMath, who has been declared brain dead after an apparent serious reaction to anesthesia having a tonsillectomy.  This post reminded me of just how much of a “custom-made-to-order” god that is being preached in churches.
claimit

Where in scripture are we, as believers, given the authority to command God perform a miracle and raise someone from the dead (or to demand He do anything else?).  Nowhere.  Pray- yes.  Plead with God on behalf of others (intercessory prayer)?  Yes.  But the only god that is subject to human commands is a Burger King god – done YOUR way.

And we wonder why there are so many disillusioned professed “Christians” floating around in this world.  It’s because they were sold a bill of goods by those “enemies of the Cross of Jesus Christ” who told them that they could just “ask Jesus into their hearts” and he would make life easy, bless them financially, and they would be “heaven-bound” no matter what happened.

  • No repentance (a change of mind and heart regarding sin – an intentional TURNING FROM sin).
  • No God-transplanted heart of righteousness
  • No sincere sustaining faith
  • No real conviction of the Holy Spirit
  • Just have an experience and/or see “signs and wonders”
  • And god becomes your servant…
  • It is time for churches who have allowed false teachers to hijack them to repent!  It is time for Christians to repent!  It is time to get back to God’s Holy Word. It is time to stand up and call sin what it is – sin.  No situational ethics.  No ever-changing and “living” God’s Word that conforms to the times.
  • It is time to stand against those who proclaim a prosperity gospel.
  • It is time to stand against those who preach a gospel of liberation theology.
  • It is time to stand against those who would create their own Burger King god.

It is time to get back to the Word of God.  The same Word of God that says clearly that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  The same Word of God that clearly states that the wages of sin – is death.  Period.  It doesn’t matter if you have decided you were “made that way” – sin, is sin.

It is time to get back to who God (in Jesus) really is – the perfect Lamb of God who came, not “to be a good teacher”, not even to heal and preach (though in His grace, He did).  Jesus came with one and only one purpose – to die in our place, pouring out His precious blood on the cross, that sinners might be saved from the wrath of God.  Yes – the very wrath that so many want to ignore or forget about.  Jesus died that we might live – eternally.  But that will never happen with a Burger King god.

Jesus didn’t die (and rise from the dead) so you can command Him to raise your loved one or friend from death.  Jesus didn’t die and rise from the dead so that you could have a fat bank account, a fine home, and all the luxuries this world has to offer.  Jesus died that sinners might stand before a Holy and Righteous God and be viewed in the righteousness of Christ, not our own unrighteousness.

And for those who are truly saved, born-again, in Christ Jesus, are made new creatures.  Put off the old self, for in Christ we are made new.  Read Colossians 3.

God is not who you, in the flesh, want Him to be.  God is God.

Who Is Jesus? (Deity of Christ) Part 5: Who Can Forgive but God?

Luke 5:20-21 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus clearly made many claims of His own Deity – see the previous installments of this series of posts. But we finally see an acknowledgement from even His opponents in the above passage. The Scribes and the Pharisees themselves knew that ONLY God had the authority of forgive sin. Yet here was Jesus, the lowly Carpenter from Galilee, son of Mary and Joseph – a man who was forgiving sins.

Under what authority did anyone have to forgive sins?  None – because sin, ultimately, is an offense to God almighty – the Sovereign of the Universe who is “Holy Holy Holy”. and here Jesus either is usurping the title and works of God (an act of blasphemy), or He was simply doing the very work of His Father which he repeatedly said He was doing (See John 6, for example).

And indeed, Christ’s one and only mission in His incarnation as God in the flesh – and that was to march head-long to the cross – to offer Himself as the only, perfect, and complete sacrifice for the payment in full of the sin debt of all who would believe.

At the most fundamental level – and the most important theological reality of all: God Himself paid the price for the very sins that separate mankind from Him.  A price that we could never pay ourselves. The price that the blood of millions of goats, rams, bulls, pigeons, doves, and so much more could never reconcile. It required the perfect, sinless blood of the Spotless Lamb of God – and He paid it all that we might live. No angel, no created being could ever be enough to settle the debt, but God Himself.

Part 4: Who Alone Is to be Worshipped?

Matthew 4:10  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

While being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus responded to Satan’s calling for Jesus to worship him in exchange for all the kingdoms of the earth, Jesus said that only the Lord and God is to be worshipped and served. This is an obvious reference back to the commandments given to the Hebrew people in the wilderness so long before, and the command to have no other God before Him.
Yet in John 9:35-38, we read of a man born blind, but given sight by Jesus. The man has been cast out by the Jews for his testimony of what happened – and when Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Time an again throughout Scripture, when someone bowed down and began to worship any other than God, they were quickly chastised for their mistake. Yet Jesus has no chastisement for this healed man. The man was simply allowed to worship Jesus.
Hebrews 1:6  And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
The writer of Hebrews laid out a picture of Jesus as one to be worshipped, and to boot – to be worshipped by all of God’s angels! In fact, if we go back to the beginning of Hebrews 1, we see it is all about laying out Christ’s superiority, and then the writer clearly differentiates Jesus from any created being, even angels.
Then we have Paul writing to the church at Corinth, and he identifies Jesus Christ as “their Lord and ours”:

1 Corinthians 1:2  To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

The term translated as “Lord” here is κύριος, literally meaning supreme, controller, master, or God.
And let us compare that to: 1 Kings 18:24 and Elijah’s challenge: And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD ,(יְהֹוָה – Jehovah) and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 
 
Zechariah 13:9  And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name,and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”
God’s resend always refer to God as “Lord” – they are terms of worship and adoration of God. So when we see Jesus referred to as Lord, and more directly  – “my God” as Thomas stated, we can understand that Jesus is the only God worthy of worship.
And this brings us to yet another reality – because who else an forgive sins? Stay tuned for the next Episode (Episode 5: Who Can Forgive Sin?)

The Blame Game, Agendas, and Reality

After a troubled night of sleep, much prayer, and time in God’s Word, I am still struggling with the events yesterday Sutherland Springs, Texas. I’m struggling with what could drive a person to commit such a horrific act. I struggle with my own family and their safety – especially after the news that the pastor of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs (who was out of town) lost his daughter in this mass murder.

And then I turned on the news this morning. Sadly, after recent programming change in our service, the only news network we have right now is CNN – so that definitely slants the reports coming out. And not surprisingly, the talking heads are already speculating and laying blame in every direction except on the real root issue in this case.  Indeed, it doesn’t take a degree in psychology, law enforcement, or in criminal investigation to know the real cause, but I will address that later in this post.

Of course, the first blame is being “aimed” at guns. Those evil guns, along with the wild and clueless rush to identify specific kinds of guns.  CNN’s anchor used the identification “AR556” – later to discover it was apparently the Ruger version of the popular AR-15 sporting rifle. Later reports say that he had a Glock handgun and some other .22 caliber handgun in the vehicle he was in.

Within hours of the shooting, the former President tweeted a mostly good tweet, but had to insert his own political agenda into the atmosphereobamatweet.png

I’m all about reducing violence, but not by capitalizing on the grieving hearts of people who have lost entire families. But the very last part is rather ironic in this snappy attempt to use this tragedy for political gain is the bit about wisdom to reduce “weaponry in our midst”.   Why do I call this ironic? It now appears that this shooting was stopped by the neighbor who lives across the street from this church – who pulled his own AR-15 firearm to engage the church shooter. It was the very kind of firearm so hated by the political Left that was used to STOP this attack.

Guns are not the problem.  Research, documentation, and statistics all verify that. Indeed, additional laws do nothing but take away firearms from the very kind of guy who stopped this mass murderer.  And I’m going to really stir the pot: no-one has ever been killed BY a gun of any kind!  Many people over the history of firearms have been killed WITH a firearm. Guns are tools – tools for sporting purposes, tools for recreation, tools for hunting, and tools for self-defense (as well as defense of our nation from tyranny – as our Founding Fathers indicated – the primary background to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution).  Mankind has always had the proclivity to kill, using whatever tool or method is available. It is a problem that has existed nearly as long as mankind has walked the earth (see Cain slaying his brother Abel). But again – this is a hint to the real cause…

Gun laws? The shooter in Texas purchased several firearms, despite a military criminal history and apparent dishonorable discharge that SHOULD have prevented him purchasing said firearms. The Pentagon/Air Force apparently hasn’t or doesn’t reported military crimes and convictions to the NCIS system. Laws not followed don’t help.

But some of the laws being proposed – would have disarmed the guy who is now being hailed as a hero for confronting the shooter with his own weapon.

Do we blame beer for drunk drivers? There were drunk drivers when the USA had prohibition. Indeed, it is speculated that alcohol abuse actually increased under prohibition! No – drunk drivers kill – because they made a series of bad decisions that included the alcohol.

There are many now pointing to mental health failures and the possibility of anti-psychotic drugs that have become so prevalent, though there are no indications of a diagnosed mental disorder in this case. Indeed, even if there was a diagnosis for the shooter, contrary to popular opinion, mental disorders still do not address the actual cause.  Mental disorders don’t kill people, people kill people. Anti-psychotic drugs do indeed play “Russian Roulette” with brain chemistry – and are also probably over-used. Has anyone really taken an honest look at the INCREASE in violent crime, including these mass casualty attacks and the vast expansion of the use of these drugs to “treat” the perpetrators? A quick scan of previous cases show a terrifying number of shooters who used or had used these chemicals. But again – drugs don’t kill, but they might open the channels for what is inside to emerge and carry out what one might not normally do.

No – laws, and rules will not make us safer. Additional restrictions to Constitutional rights for law-abiding citizens is counter-productive. All the pontificating on mental health seems to only lead to more excuses for tragic behavior. We must address the core issue at hand.  These acts are carried out by people who have a heart of sin. A heart that is evil. A heart that is not filled by the Holy Spirit. Humanity stands condemned because we all are sinners. But when one still has their heart of stone that comes with the natural man, you tend to do what the natural, unregenerate do – and that is sin, including beating your wife and child (as the shooter in this case was convicted of while in the Air Force). An unregenerate heart  leaves open the door to seeking out others to commit harm to other people.  A sin-filled, evil heart, refuses to see the value in human lives. A broken, twisted, unregenerate heart isn’t changed by anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs.  The only cure for the kind of heart that we all begin life with – is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will not deny that there are cases where some people have chemical disorders in the brain that CAN be aided by some medications – but without the Gospel, they still have the sin-filled, violence-prone heart.  Why is it that the most successful drug treatment programs and criminal rehabilitation efforts all are founded on faith-based, Christ-centered efforts that begin with the Gospel, then deal with the other issues.

And the ultimate “fix” for all the evil that is so pervasive in our world is the same: Jesus.  The Gospel is God’s answer. I pray daily for a great spiritual awakening to seep our nation – beginning with hearts being regenerated and drawn to Christ. But if that isn’t to be, then I pray for the return of Christ as was promised. when Jesus comes, guns, drugs, and other things will no longer even figure in to the situation. All things will be made new –

But as a side-note.  I have heard several things that have been encouraging in this otherwise horrific and dark event. First is the neighbor of the church who picked up his AR-15 and engaged the shooter at the church, apparently wounding him and causing him to drop his rifle and flee. Add to that, another driver picked up this neighbor to give chase and keep law enforcement eyes until they could arrive.

I was also encouraged by the family members of victims in the church who spoke boldly of faith, of turning it all over to Christ -and the need to cling to Jesus in all of this.

 

Who Is Jesus (Deity of Christ) Part 3: Seeking the the Real Jesus – My Lord, My God!

 I cannot help but be blown away by the words of “doubting” Thomas in his confession of faith found in John 20:28 – “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas didn’t just express Jesus’ position above him (“Lord” – κύριος – literally “supreme authority”), but he also called Jesus God (θεός – Deity/Supreme Divinity).
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossian church a description of Jesus that doesn’t mince words: “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”Colossians 2:9. Paul made qualms that he saw Jesus as, quite literally – God.
 
Further, in answering questions about Jesus – and the highly irregular claims that Jesus was God – Paul wrote to the Philippians:
 

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Equality with God? But there is only one God, correct?
The writer of Hebrews recorded something extremely interesting:
Hebrews 1:8  But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” (A direct quote from Psalm 45:6)
If we were to ignore the first phrase, this verse would not be controversial – yet the writer specifically wrote “But of the Son (that’s Jesus), he says…” OF Jesus. The writer directly calls the Son… God.
To label anyone, other than God Almighty, as “God” would be blasphemy. So our conclusion must bend to what the inspired biblical writers penned.
Installment #4 will come next week – “Who is to be worshiped but God alone?”

Who Is Jesus (Deity of Christ) Part 2 Who Is I Am?

Originally published by the author on his old blog.

Part 2: Who is “I AM?”

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18

I often hear said that “Jesus never claimed to be God”. While in a very limited and literal sense, Jesus didn’t use that exact phrase to describe Himself, between the above actions that the Jews were complaining of were understood in their time and context as laying claims to being “equal” with God – Yet there is non other. There is none like God.

“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he* you will die in your sins.” John 8:24

(*of note – in the original language, there is no personal pronoun “he” there. Rendering literally “believe that I am”.)

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

Compare this direct statement by Jesus to Exodus 3:14

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’.”

Or in John 10:30-33, when Jesus said “I and the Father are one”, The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
 
To lay any claim to being God or equal TO God would be a brazen sin – Yet Jesus is commended for the claim.
Jesus identified Himself with the name/title of “I Am”, which is one of the most powerful names God revealed of Himself.