Saturday, February 20, 2010

Would We Recognize Jesus Today?

"But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. " 'Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe"-safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD." Jeremiah 7:8-11

There are 1,026,501,000 Roman Catholics and 316,445,000 Protestants in the world. Most Catholics are Roman Catholics; there are 60,018,436 in the United States. Protestants in the U.S. number 42,513,059 as of 1997. Of this, based on figures from the mid 1990's, in the United States, 28,921,564 individual Baptists in 122,811 local churches in 63 different denominational bodies. Worldwide one can identify 37,334,191 Baptists in 157,240 local Baptist churches. Those are impressive statistics. Yet, why do I as a life-long Baptist have this feeling that not many Baptists exist any longer? Why do I have this sense that Christians are invisible?

How is it in your part of the country? Are Baptists (and Christians in general) widely and popularly recognized today as the "stout champions of freedom"? Or is the popular image of Baptists in your part of the world by non-Baptists what it is in mine? And that is that we are narrow, provincial, even reactionary Christians, not freedom-loving freedom-fighters. Baptists in many places today are not seen as those who keep a sickle in their hands to root out the weeds of oppression and totalitarianism in the garden of life.

I have to admit: I have almost no faith in the human race. In the ten years since committing my life to Christ, the world has become a very strange place. Of course, the world didn't change. There is nothing new under the sun. What changed was me. My outlook on the world, myself and my relationship with God is what changed. Granted, I grew up in church, so I'm very familiar with the routine. I thought I was going to heaven at that time too. As it turns out, I wasn't even close. Merely calling oneself a Christian, having your name on an enrollment form or going through the conventional motions of religion isn't good enough in God's eyes. We may not burn incense to Baal, but we do worship other Gods. Those Gods particularly for the middle and upper class would be comfort, fame and fortune or its derivatives. There is nothing wrong with having a house, car or nice clothes in and of itself. But are these things obscuring our relationship with Christ? Are we truly blessed if we have these things? I seem to recall that the blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek, etc...

Which brings me to Jesus. He stands anywhere between 6'0"-6'4", has an average build, a brown mullet, blue eyes and is always dressed in a sparkling white toga. Yet, it is not known if Jesus ever sat for his portrait. The Gospels provide no physical description of Jesus. There is no mention of what day Jesus was born. Was Jesus really born in a motel? What was the innkeepers name? What is going on here?

What is going on is this: We've created Jesus in our image. We put our spin on the Bible in order to make it fit our culture. Jesus who was persecuted and murdered in his own day is now acceptable and spoken on the lips of people everywhere. Not bad for being dead.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is referred to as being a lawgiver re-establishing the covenant through Abraham, Moses and David. Jesus came to establish not a physical kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom and the good news was to go out to the world at large. This is the symbolism behind the torn curtain in the temple. The temple having been cursed by Jesus (parable of the fig tree), the 2nd and final destruction took place in 70 A.D. The deceivers who claim that Solomon's Temple must be rebuilt in order to usher in the return of Jesus are engaging in heresy and idol worship. They seek to lock people out of God's kingdom. By claiming that rebuilding Solomon's temple is a prerequisite for Jesus's return, they are saying God operates according to man's agendas. They also deny that Jesus is the Messiah. Beware of those who claim that Jesus blesses the powerful and wolves in sheep's clothing. Satan also claims to be the Messiah and performs many "miracles".

Take a close look at the genealogy of Jesus. There are five women mentioned: Tamar, Rehab, wife of Uriah (Bathsheba), Ruth and Mary. Bathsheba? The woman whom King David had an affair with? Yes! Tamar, Rehab, and Ruth also had engaged in questionable conduct. There are six women who factor into the account of the Exodus: Shipharh, Pual (mid-wives), Miriam (sister), Jochebed (mother), Zipporah (wife) and the Pharoah's daughter.

What is going on here? These accounts portray a Jesus that is very different than what our culture portrays him as being. Jesus came for the women, the lepers, the lame, the outcasts, the poor, the persecuted, the downtrodden, well you get the picture.

God came to liberate us. Jesus was the cumulation of His plan all along going back to Abraham. Women's liberation, civil rights, natural rights or what have you were being done 2,000 years ago and even earlier. It is just that the world took that long to catch up and yet still, we have ways to go.

So Would We Recognize Jesus Today? I doubt it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Time of Lamentation

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem

I don't have to tell you things are bad. It's crazy. In fact, it is worse than crazy. It is the Great Depression II and we are not even halfway through it. But I saw this coming years ago and have in addition to preparing myself as best as I can, I've attempted to warn others and offered advice on how to prepare.
But this isn't a technological failure nor will our modern day conveniences be able to save us. You can't change human nature.

Unfortunately, most people as it turns out are blind and deaf. Instead of listening to me, you either ignored me or persecuted me just like you did Amos, Elijah and Jeremiah. You ignore the poor, you insult the widow in front of her children, you taunt the crippled, you laugh at the cancer patient, you call your injustice system a justice system, you turn the place of worship into a den of vipers and create money out of thin air. Then you turn around and say to yourself, "I'm going to heaven!" Even Satan says that. But what does God say?

30 million people are out of work or only working part-time when they would rather be working full-time. The divorce and suicide rates are up as if they weren't high enough already. Birth and marriage rates are down. Based on how things turned out in light of my warnings years ago, I should be getting the last laugh. But I'm not laughing.

So what happened? In a nutshell, we like people of the past lost sight of what is really important in life. What do you do when you lose your job? Your house? Get divorced? After you lose just about everything, what is to become of you? We failed to take responsibility for ourselves and our families. "Let the government take care of it!" "Taxes are what we pay for living in a civilized society!" Well, the Germans thought they were free too. "I was just doing what I was told" is not going to be good enough for God.

If you asked me ten years ago where I saw myself ten years from now, it would be something along the lines of moving to Los Angeles or Nashville and working in the movies or what not. Well, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. In fact, our lives are planned out from birth until at least 65. Do this when you are 5. Graduate from high school when you are 18 and college at 22. Go work for a Fortune 500 company for the next 43 years. Retire, collect your pension, social security, medicare and live happily ever after. Well, that grand plan for our lives isn't working out so well is it? So much for social efficiency.

I challenge you to open your ears and eyes. I dare you to get outside your comfort zone. I invite you to do a term search on this blog for "16th Amendment", "Rothschild", "Council on Foreign Relations", or "National Emergency Center".

You can either acquire proper knowledge or perish. So I leave you with this question: What shall become of me?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The World According to Genesis

Let me ask you a question: How familiar are you with the account of Genesis? You are probably feeling pretty confident that you know what it says. Would it surprise you to know that this creation account is not the only one in the Bible? For further reading, check out Psalms 74:12-17, Psalms 104:1-8, Job 38, Proverbs 8:1-31, and Isaiah 45:12-13.

At one time, I thought I knew what it said until I actually took the time to sit down and read it word for word. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that our culture has created an account of Genesis, the Four Gospels, Revelations among others into something that is akin to pop culture, something that fits into our modern day prism of life. We are suffering from cultural inertia.

Was Jesus born on December 25? It might help to know about the Winter Solstice. Here is a hint: the Bible never mentions what day Jesus was born.

Was Jesus born in an inn? I don't think they had hotel chains back in the day.

Did Jesus cleanse the temple? I recall there being something having to do with cursing the temple as in being like a fig tree that no longer bears fruit.

Did Paul really say that men should abuse their wives? That is what Planned Parenthood and NOW claim. But we know how credible they are when it comes to issues relating to marriage, family and what not.

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to focus on the account of Eve and the serpent. The story goes like this: Eve was taking a stroll somewhere in the Garden of Eden while Adam is off somewhere perhaps tending to his chores. A serpent (there is no mention of the serpent being Satan) walks up to Eve and begins talking. Eve is tempted into taking an apple off the tree in the middle of the garden and eats it. Adam walks up sometime later and takes a bite too. God finds out about their transgression and kicks them out of the Garden of Eden forever.

Now open your Bible to Genesis 3. Very carefully read verses 1-7. Do you notice something odd going on? For one, it makes no mention of an apple. Simply fruit. It could have been figs or olives for all we know. Verse 6 (NIV) reads "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."

"She also gave some to her husband, [WHO WAS WITH HER], and he ate it."

This differs from the image in our heads about Eve going for some lonely afternoon stroll and Adam just happened to stumble upon her after she had eaten the fruit. So why didn't Adam stop Eve from doing so? Adam states to God that he ate the fruit that Eve gave her and Eve states that she was tricked by a sneaky serpent. The bottom line is that in seeking to "be like God, knowing good and evil," Adam and Eve sought to place themselves on a pedestal that is unobtainable. After all, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand." Job 38:4

For some insight on what is going on here, Isaiah 45:12-13 provides us with a clue. I found it interesting that this passage mentions Cyrus (as in Cyrus The Great) and the exiles returning home. This particular event occurred in 538 B.C. after Cyrus conquered the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian captivity began in 597 B.C. with the major part of it occurring in 587 B.C. This gives us a framework in which to refer to. No one is certain who the specific authors of the Old Testament accounts are. Most likely, they were complied by a group of Hebrew priests. The Babylonian exiles were largely people from the upper class, the priesthood and landowning families. Now imagine that you are living in Babylon and you are hearing accounts from the natives about how the earth and heavens were created as a result of some cosmic battle between Gods. You are reading about how the Earth came into being and credit is being given to a foreign God or Gods. The creation stories in the Hebrew Bible particularly Genesis apparently are a metaphor developed in response to the Enuma Elish as is Noah's Ark is in response to Gilgamesh.

People in our modern world by and large take for granted our ability of literacy. We can go to a library where there are hundreds if not thousands of pieces of literature. Literacy in the ancient world by and large pertained to usually no more than 5% of the population. To be literate in the ancient world is akin to being in charge of the money today. They didn't have a printing press, blogs, and the various wireless technologies that are so much a part of our world. These creation accounts never were meant to be taken with a view of them being "scientific". People of the ancient world didn’t have the understanding of the natural world as modern people do. How can one account for the physical aspects when one doesn’t have the knowledge of DNA, geology, physics among other natural sciences. If humans didn't create the Earth, the stars, the galaxies, then what did? Science merely attempts to explain the natural world. It does not prove nor disprove the existence of God or Gods. Faith and science are not opponents. To suggest they are opponents is to imply that since Peyton Manning is a pro football player, it must be because he can't sing very well. Ultimately, faith and science have different criteria and serve different purposes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5 Reasons Why Christians (and non-Christians) Should Not Obtain a State Marriage License

by Pastor Matt Trewhella

Every year thousands of Christians amble down to their local county courthouse and obtain a marriage license from the State in order to marry their future spouse. They do this unquestioningly. They do it because their pastor has told them to go get one, and besides, "everybody else gets one." Why should we not get one?

1. The definition of a "license" demands that we not obtain one to marry. Black’s Law Dictionary defines "license" as, "The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission, would be illegal." We need to ask ourselves- why should it be illegal to marry without the State’s permission? More importantly, why should we need the State’s permission to participate in something which God instituted (Gen. 2:18-24)? We should not need the State’s permission to marry nor should we grovel before state officials to seek it. What if you apply and the State says "no"? You must understand that the authority to license implies the power to prohibit. A license by definition "confers a right" to do something. The State cannot grant the right to marry. It is a God-given right.

2. When you marry with a marriage license, you grant the State jurisdiction over your marriage. When you marry with a marriage license, your marriage is a creature of the State. It is a corporation of the State! Therefore, they have jurisdiction over your marriage including the fruit of your marriage. What is the fruit of your marriage? Your children and every piece of property you own. There is plenty of case law in American jurisprudence which declares this to be true.

In 1993, parents were upset here in Wisconsin because a test was being administered to their children in the government schools which was very invasive of the family’s privacy. When parents complained, they were shocked by the school bureaucrats who informed them that their children were required to take the test by law and that they would have to take the test because they (the government school) had jurisdiction over their children. When parents asked the bureaucrats what gave them jurisdiction, the bureaucrats answered, "your marriage license and their birth certificates." Judicially, and in increasing fashion, practically, your state marriage license has far-reaching implications.

3. When you marry with a marriage license, you place yourself under a body of law which is immoral. By obtaining a marriage license, you place yourself under the jurisdiction of Family Court which is governed by unbiblical and immoral laws. Under these laws, you can divorce for any reason. Often, the courts side with the spouse who is in rebellion to God, and castigates the spouse who remains faithful by ordering him or her not to speak about the Bible or other matters of faith when present with the children.

As a minister, I cannot in good conscience perform a marriage which would place people under this immoral body of laws. I also cannot marry someone with a marriage license because to do so I have to act as an agent of the State! I would have to sign the marriage license, and I would have to mail it into the State. Given the State’s demand to usurp the place of God and family regarding marriage, and given it’s unbiblical, immoral laws to govern marriage, it would be an act of treason for me to do so.

4. The marriage license invades and removes God-given parental authority. When you read the Bible, you see that God intended for children to have their father’s blessing regarding whom they married. Daughters were to be given in marriage by their fathers (Dt. 22:16; Ex. 22:17; I Cor. 7:38). We have a vestige of this in our culture today in that the father takes his daughter to the front of the altar and the minister asks, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

Historically, there was no requirement to obtain a marriage license in colonial America. When you read the laws of the colonies and then the states, you see only two requirements for marriage. First, you had to obtain your parents permission to marry, and second, you had to post public notice of the marriage 5-15 days before the ceremony.

Notice you had to obtain your parents permission. Back then you saw godly government displayed in that the State recognized the parents authority by demanding that the parents permission be obtained. Today, the all-encompassing ungodly State demands that their permission be obtained to marry.

By issuing marriage licenses, the State is saying, "You don’t need your parents permission, you need our permission." If parents are opposed to their child’s marrying a certain person and refuse to give their permission, the child can do an end run around the parents authority by obtaining the State’s permission, and marry anyway. This is an invasion and removal of God-given parental authority by the State.

5. When you marry with a marriage license, you are like a polygamist. From the State’s point of view, when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, but you are also marrying the State.

The most blatant declaration of this fact that I have ever found is a brochure entitled "With This Ring I Thee Wed." It is found in county courthouses across Ohio where people go to obtain their marriage licenses. It is published by the Ohio State Bar Association. The opening paragraph under the subtitle "Marriage Vows" states, "Actually, when you repeat your marriage vows you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that contract. 1.You; 2. Your husband or wife, as the case may be; and 3. the State of Ohio."

See, the State and the lawyers know that when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, you are marrying the State! You are like a polygamist! You are not just making a vow to your spouse, but you are making a vow to the State and your spouse. You are also giving undue jurisdiction to the State.

When Does the State Have Jurisdiction Over a Marriage?

God intended the State to have jurisdiction over a marriage for two reasons - 1). in the case of divorce, and 2). when crimes are committed i.e., adultery, bigamy. etc. Unfortunately, the State now allows divorce for any reason, and it does not prosecute for adultery.

In either case, divorce or crime, a marriage license is not necessary for the courts to determine whether a marriage existed or not. What is needed are witnesses. This is why you have a best man and a maid of honor. They should sign the marriage certificate in your family Bible, and the wedding day guest book should be kept.

Marriage was instituted by God, therefore it is a God-given right. According to Scripture, it is to be governed by the family, and the State only has jurisdiction in the cases of divorce or crime.

History of Marriage Licenses in America

George Washington was married without a marriage license. So, how did we come to this place in America where marriage licenses are issued?

Historically, all the states in America had laws outlawing the marriage of blacks and whites. In the mid-1800’s, certain states began allowing interracial marriages or miscegenation as long as those marrying received a license from the state. In other words they had to receive permission to do an act which without such permission would have been illegal.

Blacks Law Dictionary points to this historical fact when it defines "marriage license" as, "A license or permission granted by public authority to persons who intend to intermarry." "Intermarry" is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as, "Miscegenation; mixed or interracial marriages."

Give the State an inch and they will take a 100 miles (or as one elderly woman once said to me "10,000 miles.") Not long after these licenses were issued, some states began requiring all people who marry to obtain a marriage license. In 1923, the Federal Government established the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act (they later established the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act). By 1929, every state in the Union had adopted marriage license laws.

What Should We Do?

Christian couples should not be marrying with State marriage licenses, nor should ministers be marrying people with State marriage licenses. Some have said to me, "If someone is married without a marriage license, then they aren’t really married." Given the fact that states may soon legalize same-sex marriages, we need to ask ourselves, "If a man and a man marry with a State marriage license, and a man and woman marry without a State marriage license - who’s really married? Is it the two men with a marriage license, or the man and woman without a marriage license? In reality, this contention that people are not really married unless they obtain a marriage license simply reveals how Statist we are in our thinking. We need to think biblically. (As for homosexuals marrying, outlaw sodomy as God's law demands, and there will be no threat of sodomites marrying.)

You should not have to obtain a license from the State to marry someone anymore than you should have to obtain a license from the State to be a parent, which some in academic and legislative circles are currently pushing to be made law.

When I marry a couple, I always buy them a Family Bible which contains birth and death records, and a marriage certificate. We record the marriage in the Family Bible. What’s recorded in a Family Bible will stand up as legal evidence in any court of law in America. Early Americans were married without a marriage license. They simply recorded their marriages in their Family Bibles. So should we.

(Pastor Trewhella has been marrying couples without marriage licenses for ten years. Many other pastors also refuse to marry couples with State marriage licenses.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Warning From Amos

I, the Sovereign Lord, am watching this sinful nation of Israel. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. But I will never completely destroy the family of Israel” says the Lord. For I will give the command and will shake Israel along with the other nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, yet not one true kernel will be lost. But all the sinners will die by the sword all those who say, ‘Nothing bad will happen to us.’ Amos 9:8-10

Anyone who has studied the Old Testament will tell you that Israel had a bad habit of turning its back on God whether it be worshiping other Gods, idols or claiming that sin was being carried out with God's approval. But as one reads the Prophets especially Amos, one realizes that God will not hold back judgment because Israel refuses to listen to the prophets and even goes so far as to try to silence them (2:12, 3:8, 7:10-17).

Needless to say, Amos's message of social justice and retribution was not welcome in Israel. Amos is thought to have been set sometime around 750 B.C.E. During this time, Israel, the northern kingdom (presently most of Lebanon) had gone astray. The urban elites through credit manipulation and debt instruments, were able to drive the farmers away from their land and amass ill-gotten fortune for themselves. The elites had become smug to the point of mocking Amos's pleas of justice. The court system similarly was corrupt and unduly influenced. "They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name." Amos 2:7

The central idea of the book of Amos is that God puts his people on the same level as the nations that surround it - God expects the same purity of them all. As it is with all nations that rise up against the kingdom of God, even Israel and Judah will not be exempt from the judgment of God because of their idolatry and unjust ways. The nation that represents Yahweh must be made pure of anything or anyone that profanes the name of God. God's name must be upheld above all else. These themes are very much relevant to today's world. Committing atrocities in the name of God will not absolve individuals or nations of their sins.