Obedience to (Usurped) Authority?

I am grateful for Your faithful guidance, Holy Spirit!

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Romans 13

I have probably mentioned it before. This passage has troubled me, since I first read it, many years in the receding past. I also can’t count the times I have been pointed to it by well-meaning Christians, telling me – no matter what – we are required to do what governing authorities tell us, because they are ordained by God. I have a few problems with this simplistic assertion. Let’s first admit that Paul, the author of the Roman Epistle, was no stranger to overbearing government, to Rome’s crucifixions and many other abuses. This passage was probably written eight to ten years before Nero’s worst treatment of Christians and it is not clear how much of Nero’s descent Paul was alive to observe. At any rate, there is little chance Paul was blindly optimistic about about all government. He was in prison for his faith, after all.

However, what type of government is Paul describing as “ordained of God”? Explicitly, one that rewards good behavior and punishes evil behavior; one who ministers the good of God and executes wrath upon the evildoer.

How, then, does a government that rewards or facilitates evil and punishes Godly behavior and conscience reflect on the Creator if we believe such a power is “ordained” by Him? If we believe such an interpretation, what does that tell us about the nature and character of the Ordainer? It took me a long while to recognize that the stance that any and all governing authorities are put in place by God is an outgrowth of the Calvinist theology that everything that happens is enforced by Sovereign God, conveniently absolving men of any responsibility and casting God as dictatorial and less than loving.

I digress. Don’t just think about our current government, rushing headlong to tyranny though it be. Consider also Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, to name a few recent examples. Did God ordain the torture and murder of more than six million Jews (and others) under the Nazis and their collaborators? By no means is the Holocaust the only example of government-sponsored genocide. Stalin may have outdone Hitler. The number of deaths during Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” tallied forty-five million souls between 1958 and 1961. I was between four and seven at the time, but I don’t remember anyone speaking of it.

No, I firmly believe the thirteenth chapter of Romans describes the proper function of government; that which God ordains. It does not follow that no other type of government can exist. Governors have free will, like all the rest of us. Malevolent behavior in government authority can exist as easily as it can in the heart of the individually governed. If we don’t believe that, then we have put 1 John 1:5 to naught:

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5

A second point that I might make takes it stand, along with Peter and John, called before Annas the high priest and his cohort:

18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Acts 4

One who resists the powers-that-be ought to never loose sight of the fact that the government “bears the sword”, as we read in Romans 13. That fact applies whether the government is of the God-ordained type, or the usurped-by-hell variety. Peter and John received a brutal beating (for which they rejoiced). There will be a cost for resistance.

Consider this passage from the Psalms:

4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. 5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; 7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; 9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 149

That two-edged sword is a reference to the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). He who would resist had best be in constant, intimate communication with God. Consider the term “bind” in light of these words of Jesus:

“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:19

This is work to be done in fervent prayer, offered in full knowledge and conviction of the Word. In the end, we have the government we will accept. We will be victors, or we will be victims.

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On the other hand, if in the flesh we take a stand opposing government, we risk a perilous trap:

But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

2 Peter 2:10

Want to know how to pray? Proper government is available within. The immigration policy is straightforward and there is no waiting period.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 3:19-21

Will you open?

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Conviction

I am grateful for the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:1-5

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Revelation 13:16-18

I am going to assume, up front, that no reader will be unaware of the use of an executive order by the White House to direct the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to create a so-called emergency temporary standard (ETS) to require all employers with more than 100 workers to show proof of vaccination or require masking and proof of negative weekly testing at the employee’s expense. If not, that ETS link will take you to the OSHA site.

I have been working to reconcile my understanding to properly address this threat to livelihood. One might think the answer is to go to work for a smaller enterprise, but the Executive Branch is signaling intent to extend to small business as well. The OSHA ETS is carefully written looking forward to that step. (One increment at a time, as always.)

You might ask, “Why have you cited the passage in Revelation 13 pertaining to the ‘mark of the beast’”? Do I think vaccine documentation fulfills the definition of the mark? No, I think it is apparently still short of the description laid out in Revelation. However, there are obvious components of that more intense scenario involved in this situation; prevention of trade (by deprivation of income), identification of individuals based on certain choices (impressed to make decisions contrary to the direction of God), and man as the apparent source, for starters.

I believe the current exercise has at least two purposes. The first is as a test: “If we run this up the flag pole, will the populace salute?” Failing the first test, the second purpose becomes more important – conditioning more people to incrementally surrender their personal sovereignty by continually elevating the level of coercion.

I work for an employer with a few thousand employees, so the first roll-out applies to me as it is now written. Employers are placed in an untenable position by prohibitive penalties for “violations”. An employer determined to resist on principle would be fined out of existence forthwith. Let us think about these penalties for a minute. In fact, let’s limit our gaze to the masking requirement for unvaccinated but weekly-tested employees. A single employee caught with only his nose uncovered could be considered in violation and subject the employer to a $13,653 penalty. Repeated or willful infractions have a 10X multiplier. Therefore, the second violation could cost the employer (who has been made responsible for enforcement) $136,530. That is for just one recalcitrant employee who – horrors, wanted to breathe better – out of potentially thousands. If this level of penalty is considered in conjunction with the near-real-time reporting requirement, one can easily see why an employer might start to use facial recognition/mask monitoring as a protection against this huge liability. What’s to recognize in a masked individual? Well, the forehead is visible. Hmmmm.

Because employers will be coerced (financially) to be agents of the government (OSHA), possible resistance will be mounted only by the individual. This is by design, of course. Imposing isolation has been the modus operandi for some time now. My belief is that these genetic therapies (propagandized as vaccines) are part of an evil affront to the created order. The gain-of-function manipulation that resulted in the virus itself is part of that. Sorry if you have taken the jab and that stance offends, but that is another entire discussion. So what about compliance with the smaller increment of masking-and-testing to keep working, buying groceries and utilities this winter?

The Holy Spirit handed me an epiphany a couple of days ago in the form of a question. Even if this tyrant’s edict via OSHA is merely a practice run in preparation for a time closer to the end or a diabolical barometer to determine if we are “there” yet, do I want to practice accepting a “precursor mark” to make it more likely that accepting the eventual “mark” will not look like a step too far?

I pray the ongoing legal challenges will prevail. God bless those who have started mounting them. I pray the courts are not all already too far around the bend. But a conviction has easily solidified in answering the Holy Spirit’s question to my own satisfaction. By the limitless grace of God, I am going to resist refuse with all that is within me by the power of God Almighty.

Lord, thank you that You are Jehovah-Jireh, God my Provider. In You I trust. I pray the ones implementing this evil will turn to You and repent. I pray the same for their abettors.

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Liberty!

I am grateful for the gift of salvation, believing that You empower me to become more like You!

[For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:8;

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. John 4:10;

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12]

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

from James 2

Me: Good evening, Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening, Jon!

Me: I have read this passage out of James 2, thinking that James felt that works were preeminent in the life of the believing. That works are evidence, – a litmus test – as it were, of the fidelity of a disciple’s walk in You. It seemed to me to be an outpouring of a lifelong adherence to Judaism as it was practiced by the Pharisees in Jame’s time.

Jesus: Do not miss the earlier unmistakable reference that James made in verse 12:

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” Compare Galatians 5:1 to see what he was talking about:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

James is simply exhorting to consider carefully whether your faith is placed in Me, resulting in a changed heart and changed works or in some idol (self is a common one) resulting in nothing. This is worth constant attention: are you in Me and I in you? If you are, the works will follow of themselves, as Mine do also. In fact, the works that will flow out of your life will be mine. You may walk in them freely.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Divide and Conquer

Lady Justice, modeled on the Greek Goddess Themis, who was regarded as the personification of justice, has been depicted as blindfolded since the 16th century. Her blindfold represents impartiality. I believe this concept has found its way into the judicial systems of many societies because it is intrinsic to the character and nature of God and we are made in His image. Therefore, we have within us the same understanding of the rightness of impartiality in judgement. Listen to Peter:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Acts 10:34-35

What American is unfamiliar with at least the beginning of the Declaration of Independence? Here too, the concept of equality is spelled out.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Second Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1868, six years after the end of the American Civil War. The amendment clarified who is a citizen. Clearly the intent was to circumvent discrimination against former slaves. Two years prior, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared all persons born in the United States to be citizens, “without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude”. Note, however, there is nothing in the language of the Fourteenth Amendment that identifies any class of persons.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1

Taxonomy is the formalization of a system of classification. Its very purpose is to organize living organisms by identifiable differences. The process has been applied to humans. There are at least eight levels: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. The graphic below is a partial illustration. The quotations above are all aimed at the tip of the inverted pyramid – Man (the species). That is, all of us.

Partial Classification of Man (my graphic)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, continued with the approach of the Civil Rights Act of 1886. The newer act forbade discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin. It had the effect of creating “protected classes” of people. These acts came about because of general recognition of discrimination against some by business owners, landlords, even government officials, to name a few examples.

Additional legislation has been expanding “protected classes” ever since. Race, color, sex, religion, and national origin have been joined by disability/handicap, familial status, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status.

These additional classifications amount to subspecies branching out under the point of the taxonomic pyramid which have turned the figure into a pyramid resting on the roots of diversity.

It seems to me our forefathers had more wisdom than our later selves. The act of naming these subspecies in the law and making protected classes of them is antithetical to equal protection under the law. We did not need protected classes. We needed, and still need, equal protection under the law. It does not come by dividing us.

The Merriam Webster definition of “divide and conquer”: [Strategy] to make a group of people disagree and fight with one another so that they will not join together against one.

These problems are not accidental.

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Many may be Hypnotized in America

I am grateful to be off to spend more time seeking a deeper relationship with You!

These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

He that saith unto the wicked, Thou are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:

But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.

Proverbs 24:23-25

Me: Good Morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good Morning Jon!

Me: Holy Spirit, I just watched a video demonstration wherein Roy Masters hypnotized a man to do odd things, mostly to demonstrate to his audience that one can be made to do things when hypnotized that he would not normally do. The subject appeared perfectly awake some of the time. The odd thing that Mr. Masters had his guest do was put his shoes on the wrong feet, simply because he suggested that that they were uncomfortable the way they were. He then had the man examine how other people had their shoes on. What happened next was breathtaking. The man with his shoes on the wrong feet began to passionately implore the rest of the audience to exchange places with their shoes, that they might be more comfortable too.

It was not all nonsense. Next Mr. Masters told his subject to answer with complete honesty. Then he quickly discovered that the man harbored much anger and seething resentment toward his (now dead) parents for their treatment of him. To make a long story shorter, the man was able to forgive his parents and release his anger toward them. This was a great thing for the man and the emotional release was all but palpable. But the important issue for the rest of us came when Mr. Masters observed that the negative emotion (anger) was what made him susceptible to being hypnotized in the first place. Who among us does not have these negative emotions in play?

Holy Spirit, Mr Masters also mentioned that the (organized) communists are well versed in these techniques and employ them in a widespread manner and did not need a concentration camp to do it. Can you tell me more about people being hypnotized to carry out evil? I am thinking of those who support turning our nation to communism and are working on every front, from rioting in the streets and crying to stop funding law enforcement, to making evil decisions in the courts and legislatures. How often have I observed that a newly elected congressperson does not seem to last twenty minutes on capitol hill before they have gone to the dark side. Is hypnosis involved? Is there a way to guard against such attacks? I noted one other thing he said that rang a bell. He said, “Excuse making is incontrovertible evidence of one rationalizing illogical positions he has been hypnotized into”.

Holy Spirit: You already know that your spirit is redeemed because you have accepted Jesus. You know also that entertaining sin in your life still opens you up to the schemes of the devil. The more one toys with sin, the higher his risk. Mass hypnosis (to use that term for it) can easily be carried out over the television. I submit to you that the news media are not reporting much “news”, but are instead delivering commentary that has much in common with what you saw Mr. Masters do with his guest. The scripture gives enough guidance for resistance:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:23

If you are allowing My gifts to be manifested and to increase in your life, all the more, the devil will not find a foothold.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 4

Encourage others to walk in the Spirit and let My character be that which comes out in them at all times.

It should not surprise you that if a believer habitually tolerates sin in his own life, he will be open to more of the devil’s agenda. Even more, the one who has clung to rejecting Jesus has no real protection.

If I am allowed to shine the love of God into a person’s heart; love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, self control, gentleness will be the light that drives out all darkness. (Ephesians 5:19-21)

Jesus knew the devil had largely succeeded in taking over the hearts of all. That is why He prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Me: Thank You Jesus! Thank You Holy Spirit! Preserve our nation, help wake up the ones who have been taken over. I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love You! Many are coming awake. Few know the full extent of the risk of straddling the fence.

Finale of the Musical In God We Trust at Charis Bible College on July 4, 2021

In God We Trust

“Modern” Idols and a Remnant

I am grateful for Your direction and reassurance!

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay (heavy debt)!
7 Shall they (creditors) not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
20 But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2

Me: Good afternoon, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good afternoon, Jon!

Me: It seems the instruction you gave to Habakkuk to write what You told him for later and for others, was very good.

Holy Spirit: It is a way of respecting what I Am telling you. The one who thinks he will remember all later deceives himself. This, he would know, if only he looked at how his remembering has worked in the past.

Me: Then Your word is not like the manna which was to be gathered only for the day, and spoiled if the direction was not followed to consume what was gathered? I have heard preaching that says the gathering of manna was meant to teach that we are to have to have a fresh conversation with You every day.

Holy Spirit: You are to have a fresh conversation with Me every day! However:

For,“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory is like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

1 Peter 1:24, 25

I asked Habakkuk (and you) to write down what I Am telling you to make it more permanently available to you. You are flesh, and do not always understand Me at first. If you go back and look at what I have said to you earlier in light of what I have told you later, I Am able to reveal both error and incomplete understanding. Habakkuk was called as a prophet. Whereas, you are not. Yet, I Am watching over My Word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12)

Me: Most (all?) of the prophets spoke of the iniquity of the people, serving idols instead of You.

Holy Spirit: Yes. Has the iniquity of the people changed? Do not many serve idols to this day? If anything, they are more proud; they serve their own appetites and stop their ears to all that I Am saying, all the while claiming that idol worship ceased with antiquity. In fact, they are more corrupt; serving only self and thinking not of another.

The Old Testament prophets spoke under the Law. You understand that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law:

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Romans 13:10

The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:8

Do you yet love as Jesus loves?

I am no longer going to be in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are.

John 17:11

The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one;

John 17:22

Are you seeing unity, or division?

And knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

Matthew 12:25

Do not despair that many are not seeking Me. Have I not proved that I will work with the remnant? And, that it is My work to change hearts of the willing?

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, since otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Romans 11:5, 6

Me: I pray you will help us consider what idols we have put before You and help all to lay them down, seeking You and Your righteousness! Let us individually be restored to You that we might together be all that you have desired!

Holy Spirit: I will help any who humbles himself enough to consider.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

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The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

PS: About the First Amendment Tablet on the Newseum building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. : Bizjournals

The featured picture is simply one I captured on December 12th. In no way am I suggesting that our (US) Constitution or Bill of Rights is an idol. These are not things we should lay aside. Ever. Rather, these truths have always been properly understood as the intention of God concerning the liberties He bestows on His children because we are made in His image and He is constrained only by His own word and by His perfect nature.

Just the Beginning…

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Matthew 24

Actions for us:

Take heed that no man deceive you.

See that you are not troubled.

Endure.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Iowa Christmas Tree, Washington D.C.

Law and Unfailing Love

I am grateful for Your grace.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1f

Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!

Me: Holy Spirit, I kind of get the “law of sin and death”; that under the law no flesh is justified. But I am puzzled that this passage in Romans 8 talks of “the law of the Spirit and of Life in Christ Jesus”, as compared to “the law of sin and death”.

Holy Spirit: What puzzles you?

Me: I suppose I generally think of the law as prohibitive. Speed limits, prohibitions against theft, assault, murder, and mayhem. How does the law of the Spirit fit with that?

Holy Spirit: What about the law of physics, biology, chemistry? What do they do?

Me: They describe how something works. If we can observe that something always works the same way, given the conditions, we classify it as a law.

Holy Spirit: My Word never fails. It always works the same way. The laws spoken of in Romans 8 are spiritual laws. They are more sure than they laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, as understood by men.

Me: In that sense, then, “the law of sin and death” is not prohibitive, but instead describes how sin works?

Holy Spirit: You are made in the image of God; you have free will. I have simply told you how sin works (what it pays and the predictable outcome), as I have told you how life in Christ Jesus by My Spirit works.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Iowa Caucus – Monday Night

I used to write a politically-oriented blog because I care deeply about the country that I live in. I care about the Constitution that our founders have left us. I believe the Bill of Rights is an awesome expression of the grace we have enjoyed as a people. I am passionate about trying to help elect those who care about these things too. I care about those who have served in various ways to secure and protect the freedoms that we hold dear. Those traditions go back to the very beginning.

I served six years on active duty in the US Navy myself, longer ago than I usually admit. The “featured image” for today is of one of the ships that I served on during a transit near a typhoon that was churning things up in the western Pacific (photo credit – Ralph Turner) . But I don’t limit my honor to those with military service or to our elected officials, or even to our brave first-responders, who are using their specialized skills and regularly putting their lives on the line on our behalf. As heroic as all those are, who selflessly do these important jobs, I also recognize that the mom and dad who are doing their best to instill a sense of duty and service and love of others into the next generation are also on the front lines doing work that is critical to our survival as a nation.

Today, I spent the afternoon driving around rural Iowa, delivering some last-minute materials that will be used in the caucuses in my Iowa county on Monday night. I hope the turnout is better than the one we saw last year. There was a blizzard, and it was an “off” (non-presidential) year. Perhaps folks wonder, “What difference will it make?” To me, the difference is that I meet with my neighbors and together we show that we care enough to show up. The sacrifices we make to get together are so pale when compared to those who suffered the brutal Winter and supply crisis at Valley Forge (1777-1778) with General Washington. Or how will we compare our time of discussion to the withering fire faced by those who fought their way ashore at Omaha Beach? No, ours seems like a minor contribution. I take it as important in preserving our freedoms for the next generation, none the less.

You might wonder, since this is a passion that I freely own, why I gave up my political blog. The reason is fairly simple, and it was voiced by John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I came to realize that as a nation, while we must work within our political system to do what we can, our fundamental dilemma is a spiritual one. Our diminishing state of spiritual existence probably helps explain the explosion of laws and bureaucratic regulations that have been passed to try to restrain us. Alas, the long line of legislators that we have had since our founding apparently felt the simple and direct Constitution had to be supplemented. The word “religious” used by Adams may not have exactly the same connotation in our day, as it did in his, but unless we return to our mooring as “one nation under God” as our Pledge of Allegiance has it, we will remain adrift and headed for the shoals of destruction – and all those regulations will not save us.

Am I? Are you? #6


I am grateful for having made Eric’s acquaintance.

This is the sixth affirmation found on the piece of Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork that we have been working though.

I Am … More than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

My life is mercifully devoid of deadly peril most of the time. Hardship? More like occasional inconvenience. Nakedness? Hardly ever in public, except nightmares remembered from childhood where I was a helpless mannequin on display in the J. C. Penney store. I guess I was feeling sorry for the public embarrassment of the mannequins that worked there.

Persecution? Well, that is certainly on the increase. It is a plot by dark powers faithfully executed by those who follow them, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The policies of most companies have been changed to restrict open expression of convictions supporting traditional moral values. They may or may not be regularly enforced, but are a snare waiting for the unwary. Does this documentation mean your company is actually against traditional values? They could be. Probably though, they are just observant and pragmatic. They observe that if a complaint is lodged against you they are open to be sued because of your beliefs, unless they have taken a position against them. The courts have proven repeatedly to come down on the side of anyone but the one who is following convictions based on Christian belief. Christ-believers are now in a condition where one can’t work for a living and vocalize one’s traditional beliefs without taking on significant risk.

Most of this is in a still-trifling state, compared to the full aims of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This passage in Romans 8 stands ready to console, however bad it gets.

Death? I am convinced, like Paul, that death is no enemy for the Christ-follower. This doesn’t imply my sense of self-preservation has ceased to function normally. Though I know that none of us gets out of this world alive, I am sure that this existence is not all there is. Yesterday, I learned my friend Eric, who had been valiantly fighting cancer, had passed. I watched him battle the symptoms at fairly close range and fervently prayed daily, expecting his restoration. I never talked with him when I did not come away uplifted by his sense of gratitude and grace. There is no doubt in my mind that the attitude he displayed was merely an artifact of the upward road he was walking, right to the end of this phase of life. There in no end of the list of things that Eric was conquering. If you had known him, you would have seen that clearly too. Death is now one of them.

Life is in Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God. I need to be reminded at every turn that I am a conqueror over the issues of life. God has given us in the scriptures a perfect life manual, He has given us a reprieve in Jesus from the spiritual death sentence we each had earned. He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to move in the life we are called to live. Why, you might ask, would I need to be reminded that I am a conqueror over life? You can likely answer that question yourself before it is fully formed on your lips. Life is sometimes not a bed of roses. Sometimes if is filled with many of the other troubles in Paul’s list. For me, though, it is my past history as a serial abuser of the free will that God has graciously given me, doing things that I wanted to do that were not in my best interest. Why? Well, inexplicably, because I wanted to. Still, I find Him unfailingly faithful. Unerringly true to His word. Helping me to be more than a conqueror, even over life. And this is the best part, simply because He loves Me.

Christy Mitropoulos Signature