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My First Blog Post

Forgiveness….

What is forgiveness? Let’s find out….

​The Dictionary defines “forgive” as:

VERB

stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake:

“I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her”

synonyms: pardon · excuse · exonerate · absolve · make allowances for ·feel no resentment toward · feel no malice toward · harbor no grudge against · bury the hatchet with · let bygones be bygones · let off (the hook) · exculpate.

Now that we know what it is, let’s talk about it.

The Bible tells us of a forgiveness that is Divine. That is, God restoring a relationship with man that was severed by sin. He removes all guilt. He forgives the sin and the sinner alike.

In the Old Testament, one of the things associated with God was mercy. Some descriptions are “slow to anger”, “abounding in love and mercy”, and “compassionate and gracious”Exod 34:6 ; Num 14:18 ; Neh 9:17 ; Psalm 86:15 ; 103:8 ; 145:8 ; Joel 2:13). God does not treat his people in the way their sin deserves (Ezra 9:13-15 ; Psalm 78:35-38 ; 103:8-10 ),

But He is also jealous ( Exod 20:5 ; 34:14 ; Deut 4:23-24 ; 5:9 ; 6:15 ; Joshua 24:19-20 ; 1:2 ). Don’t forget, God is righteous and holy and will punish sin ( Exod 34:7 ; Num 14:18 ; Nahum 1:3 ).

​God can also forgive a nation or city. For example, take the city of Nineveh. They were an evil people who did evil deeds. And that’s being nice! God was going to judge them, but decided to be merciful. He sent Jonah to warn them of the impending judgement, to give them a chance to repent. Jonah didn’t think he was up to the task. But God made a way to get him to Ninevah. The Ninevites believed Jonah, repented of their evil ways and were spared (Jonah 3:8).

​The way God forgives nations can be summed up in Jeremiah 18:7-8 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

Jesus has instructed us to forgive our brothers and sisters who sin against us seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22)

​The concept of forgiveness and the word forgive appear in many forms throughout the Bible.

The word “Forgiveness” is mentioned in the NIV bible 14 times. Once in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament.

Forgiveness, as a concept, is mentioned more frequently. For example, the word “forgive” appears 42 times in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament. The word “forgiven” appears 17 times in the Old Testament and 28 times in the New Testament. And the word “forgiving” appears 6 times in the Old Testament and 1 time in the New Testament.

I know this is a lot of information to take in, but I hope that you will feel enriched and encouraged. Thank you for reading.

Fahrenheit 451: Science Fiction or Prophecy?

The Creeping Menace of Book Banning

On October 19, 1953 when Ray Bradbury published that seminal work, it was seen as a purely dsytopian science fiction story. With an eye on current events, Mr. Bradbury is beginning to look as much like a prophet as a science fiction writer.

I consider the written word to be one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Its origins date to circa 3,400 BC in the land of Mesopotamia. The earliest writings were cuneiforms put down on clay tablets by Sumerian scribes. There are Sumerian clay tablets still in existence today.

Sumerian scribes wrote one of the oldest works of literature circa 2,100 BC. It was a series of poems entitled “Epic of Gilgamesh”.

Cuneiform Tablet

Moses authored the Book of Genesis circa 1,445 BC. The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Jewish Torah, and the Christian Old Testament.

Here in the United States, freedom of speech and of the press is guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution. The first line of this Amendment is known as the “establishment clause” because it prohibits the government from establishing a religion. I have also heard it called “freedom from religion”.

The text of the First Amendment reads as follows:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First Ten Amendment to the Constitution

If we look back to our early colonial period, we see that the Puritans in Massachusetts ruled the people with an iron fist. At that time, the church and the government were fully interwoven. Attendance at church services was mandatory as required by law. the church would levy a fine on anyone who did not attend these mandatory services. Anyone who could not afford the fine would be put in jail and have their property taken from them to pay for that fine.

Throughout our history efforts have been made by certain religious groups to ban books that they found offensive. What is different about the 21st century efforts to ban books is that the people have become militant. Members of these groups attend Public Library board meetings and shout everyone else down. There have also been reports of members of these groups harassing library employees at their homes. Some of them have been carrying firearms. This is something completely new and frightening. It seems to me that it will only be a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

These groups have been emboldened by our previous president Donald Trump. He Provided the opportunities for far right-wing groups to move from the fringes of society into the mainstream.

The people who do these things claim that they are Christians but the Christian Bible it does not condone their actions. The Jesus that they claimed to follow preached love understanding and forgiveness towards others. Jesus acted nothing like these people have been acting. They spew a steady stream of lies, hate, and unforgiveness. They should be courteous to the rest of us by reading and taking heed of those bibles they love to thump.

Until then they have no right to force their beliefs on the rest of us.

Dear readers I wish that I had a simple solution to this problem. You can rest assured that the Steadfast Watchman will remain alert for any further developments.

‘The Truth Will Set You Free’

Tracing the origin of this oft quoted phrase.

We hear this phrase used most often by actors in movies or television shows, but it does not end there. Each day, someone somewhere will use this phrase.

In an effort to trace the origin of the titular phrase of this piece, I will discuss both secular and spiritual definitions of truth. Before we can fully understand the meaning of this phrase, we must first learn what truth really is.

Before we go any further, let us look at how the dictionary defines the word ‘truth’: (noun) ‘that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.’ This definition is decidedly secular, having its origin in Old English.

Old English was the first language written and spoken in Anglo-Saxon Britain from approximately 450 AD to 1150 AD. If you would like a more detailed description of Old English, you can find it here:

https://www.bl.uk/medieval-literature/articles/old-english#:~:text=Old%20English%20%E2%80%93%20the%20earliest%20form,the%20Norman%20Conquest%20of%201066).

In the secular world, this phrase is used to counter things that are not true. When most of us were young, we were taught that if something were untrue, it was called a lie. Children are often asked whether they know the difference between the truth and a lie, or between true and false.

As more and more people gain access to the internet, platforms such social media, news, even blogs have allowed a lie to travel around the world in mere seconds. Sadly, the truth travels much slower around the world than a lie does.

Most people in society do not see these things as either fully true, or fully false. Our society sees things in varying degrees of either true or false, even going so far as to attempt to describe the intent behind a falsehood.

As a result of this current view, our English lexicon has undergone some major changes. In an effort to describe the gray area that exists between fully true and fully false, we began using terms such as: misinformation, disinformation, misrepresentation, dishonesty, distortion, evasion, fabrication, inaccuracy, slander, misrepresentation, myth, and falsehood.

During his 1855 sermon entitled “Joseph Attacked by the Archers”, the famous Baptist minister from London, Charles H. Spurgeon, spoke these prophetic words to his congregation:

“If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old Proverb, ‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.’”

Charles H. Spurgeon

I say that these words were prophetic, because more than a century before the creation of the internet, Charles H. Spurgeon was able to grasp just how quickly a lie can travel around the world before the truth even begins its journey.

At this point, I think it is important to note the actual origin of the phrase ‘the truth will set you free’. Those words were originally spoken by Jesus Christ Himself during the 1st century AD, and written by his disciples/apostles later that century.

For my purposes here, I will quote Jesus’ words as recorded by the Apostle John:

‘So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”’ (John 8:31-32)

In the passage above, Jesus was telling the Jews who believed in Him that if they held to his word (teachings), they would be his disciples (followers), then they would know the truth (according to Jesus’ words), and that that truth will set them free from lives filled with sin.

The New Testament Scriptures were originally written in Greek. The Greek word for truth is ἀλήθεια, which has been transliterated to the English alphabet as alétheia.

The original word, along with its transliteration into the English alphabet can be found in Strong’s Greek 225. That number is taken from the back pages of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, written by Edward Strong in 1890. Those back pages are commonly known as ‘Strong’s numbers’.

The original usage is important because it provides us with a window to what the word meant to people who either spoke or wrote Greek during the 1st century AD.

According to Strong’s 225 the usage was as follows: ‘truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness.’

Does any of the above bear any resemblance of how the word truth is used in the English lexicon to you?

I believe that the Holy Bible contains the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God. The four Gospels in the New Testament give us the story of Jesus, His Deity, His miracles, and His teachings.

I believe that the Holy Bible is the final source of truth in all spiritual matters. To put it simply, I believe the Bible to be 100% completely true.

For those who are unsure whether the Bible is 100% truth, I invite you to study recorded history, as well as a major archeological find. Two different Roman historians recorded the fact that Jesus lived on earth during the 1st century AD. The major archeological find occurred during the 20th century AD.

Please refer to the writings of Flavius Josephus and the Roman Senator Publius Cornelius Tacitus. Flavius Josephus (known simply as ‘Josephus’) was a former Jew who became a Roman citizen, and official Roman historian. The Roman Senator Tacitus was also a historian, and he wrote about Jesus.

The most talked about work of Flavius Josephus was The Antiquities of the Jews. In Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 3, Josephus wrote the following:

‘Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.’

The above passage written by Flavius Josephus is also known as the ‘Testimonium Flavianum‘, which is Latin for ‘The Testimony of Flavius’. That passage is not the only one he wrote that spoke of Jesus. In Book 20, Chapter 9, Section 1 of the same work he wrote about the stoning of James the brother of Jesus.

If we take another look at Book 18, Chapter 5 of The Antiquities of the Jews, we will find that Josephus wrote about the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. Here, Josephus corroborates what was written in the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament Scriptures. The Synoptic Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Flavius Josephus

Publius Cornelius Tacitus was also known as simply ‘Tacitus’. In Book 15 of his work The Annals, Tacitus wrote about the execution of Jesus under Pontius Pilate. He also wrote about the Roman Emperor Nero who persecuted Jesus’ followers, and how Nero blamed and persecuted them for the fire that destroyed 70% of Rome in 64 AD.

In the interest of brevity, you can find the relevant chapters of Book 15 of The Annals at the link below:

https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/tacitus/annals/15b*.html

Publius Cornelius Tacitus

Somewhere between November, 1946 and February, 1947, the Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum’a Muhammed, and Khalil Musa first discovered some manuscripts in a cave in the area known as Khirbat Qumran. This is the major archeological find that I referred to earlier. Eventually, the manuscripts were dubbed the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’.

The massive cave complex is collectively known as the Qumran Caves. At the time of their original discovery, they were located in the nation of Palestine. The Qumran Caves are located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.

The manuscripts were found a little more than one year before David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the Jewish nation of Israel on May 14, 1948. It is important to note here that U.S. President Harry S. Truman officially recognized the nation of Israel that very same day.

During the decades that followed the original discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, more and more manuscripts were found.

Currently, the Qumran Caves are located in the Palestinian West Bank, which has been under Jewish control since the Six Day War of 1967.

One of the reasons the Dead Sea Scrolls are so important, is that the manuscripts covered a period of time ranging from the 3rd century BC, to the 1st century AD.

Complete manuscripts of certain Books of the Bible were found there, especially an entire copy of the Book of Isaiah. That Book was first written some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The Book of Isaiah contains many prophecies that were fulfilled with the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ.

There were other manuscripts that contained what Protestants call the Apocrypha, or hidden books. The Apocryphal Books appear in the Roman Catholic version of the Bible.

While the Apocryphal Books were not included in the Protestant Biblical canon, they can be important to read from a historical perspective. The most notable of those is the story of the Maccabean Revolt led by Judah Maccabee. The story of the revolt is told in the two books of Maccabees. The revolt began in 167 BC, and continued until it was put down by the Romans in 63 AD, just seven years before the Romans destroyed the Second Jewish Temple.

Qumran Cave 4

Throughout this piece, I have discussed both secular and spiritual definitions of truth.

Exactly how did a portion of the words spoken by Jesus Christ Himself during the 1st century AD become a common part of the modern secular English lexicon?

I am unable to offer you a completely truthful answer to that question. If I am unable to provide an answer to any question that is not completely true, I will not attempt to do so. That is why I will not attempt to provide an answer here.

Would the truth be better served with the assistance of a linguist or historian? Perhaps a combination of both?

Dear readers, The Steadfast Watchman will leave you to ponder the answers to those questions for yourselves.

Separation of Church and State

How the modern Christian Church has strayed from the Holy Scriptures

Modern Christians, especially Evangelicals, love to shout about a concept known as the separation of Church and State.

At the same time, they intend to force their belief system upon others, and expect that the State should enforce said belief system.

They are being hypocritical, because despite their assertions that Church and State are separate, they wish to make their belief system the law of the land. That would mean combining Church and State into one single entity.

They are so blinded by ignorance of their own belief system, failure to read and follow their own religious text, that they are pushing for a Theocratic form of government. That is something contrary to the principles upon which this nation was founded. We live in a Democratic Republic, as defined by our Constitution.

According to the dictionary, a Theocracy is “a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god”. There are a few Theocracies in the world today. Two examples would be the Islamic State of Iran, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

They love to shout to anyone who will listen, that their religious freedoms have been infringed upon by certain government mandates.

They love to shout to anyone willing to listen, that the Christian Church in the United States is under attack from some unseen enemy they have labeled as the “Deep State”. If one were to listen to them speak long enough, one would find that they blame the “Deep State” for anything bad that has happened to them throughout their lives.

They have bought into a false gospel known as the “Prosperity Gospel”. This false gospel tells followers that if they just have enough faith, everything they have ever wanted will come true, including riches. If they were to actually read and understand their own Bibles, they would know that this modern invention is a false gospel. In fact, it is the polar opposite of what Jesus told us in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

They say that this alleged “Deep State” is an evil global cabal of powerful people who are intent upon destroying children through exploitation, sexual, and physical abuse. Because of this misguided belief, they consider themselves warriors against this evil cabal known to them as the “Deep State”.

It is important to note that throughout this entire process, they have failed to provide any proof that the enemy they call the “Deep State” actually exists.

After their failure to prove the existence of the “Deep State”, they have decided to take up a new battle.

This new battle is against any mandates by local, state, or Federal governments that they receive a certain vaccine, wear a mask, or isolate themselves in order to protect others while we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

The vaccine in question is the one for the virus the novel, or new, Coronavirus the World Health Organization labeled “2019-nCoV”. This deadly Coronavirus led to what we commonly call “COVID-19”. They have turned this into a political battle, using their faith as their reason for fighting.

At the time of this writing, they have not provided a single shred of evidence that anything contained in the Holy Scriptures says that vaccines or masks should not be used to stop the spread of a communicable disease.

The Scriptures give us an example of how to prevent the spread of a communicable disease among a large group of people in Leviticus 13. In that chapter of Leviticus, the Lord gave Moses commands on how they should deal with a person who may or may not have an infectious skin condition known as Leprosy. If the priest suspected that the person might have Leprosy, the person was to be isolated from the rest of the people for seven days.

It should be no secret that this virus is deadly, and does not discriminate between whether one follows any particular faith-based belief system. It is a biological enemy of the entire human race. One that requires a concerted effort on the part of the entire human race to fight.

As of the date of this writing, 824,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States alone. This virus has killed some 5,440,000 people worldwide.

These Christians are also operating under the assumption that separation of Church and State is written into our Constitution.

Their refusal to vaccinate themselves and their children has led to thousands of needless deaths. Because of their selfish, even foolish, belief that their personal freedoms are more important than the freedoms of others they have allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to not only survive, but to thrive and mutate into even more infectious variants.

The data from the US Centers for Disease Control bear this out:

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#rates-by-vaccine-status

Their self-centered attitudes and activism have violated what Jesus Christ Himself said was the second greatest commandment:

““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution gives the people the right to follow whatever religion they wish, but only goes so far as to say that the government shall not infringe upon the people’s right to their religion. What is does not say is that Church and State are completely separate entities.

The concept of separation of Church and State originated with a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.

In that letter, Jefferson expressed his views of Federalism, as well as his views on religion. The text of that letter can be found here:
https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/danburybaptists

As an aside to that letter, it is important to note that Thomas Jefferson chose not to follow certain sections of the New Testament of the Bible. He literally cut out and pasted entire sections. He removed everything that described any of Jesus’ supernatural works, even the Resurrection. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the pillar upon which rests the entirety of the Christian faith. What was left of the Bible after Jefferson’s changes has become known as the “Jefferson Bible”. A brief description of the “Jefferson Bible” can be found here:

 https://www.history.com/news/thomas-jefferson-bible-religious-beliefs

Do you see the resemblance between what Thomas Jefferson did to the Holy Scriptures, and what the modern Christians are doing?

I am issuing a challenge to anyone who calls themselves a Christian: Will you stand up and speak out in support of the true Christian faith as written in the Holy Scriptures, or will you follow this world-based quasi-political belief system?

To assist you in your decision, I will leave you with the words of Jesus Christ Himself from the Olivet Discourse:

 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.  Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:9-13)

Americans are Spoiled

Remember the group of Americans known as ‘The Greatest Generation’? They lived through both the Great Depression, and World War II. They knew the true meaning of sacrifice.

On December 8, 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made an impassioned speech before Congress. He asked that Congress declare that a state of war exist between the United States, and the Empire of Japan.

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory!” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8, 1941)

(Original Caption) President Franklin D. Roosevelt is pictured during the dramatic moments before the joint session of Congress, December 8th, as he asked Congress to declare a state of war against Japan for its “unprovoked and dastardly attack.” On the right is his son, James Roosevelt. In the background are Vice-President Henry A. Wallace (left) and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. Both the Senate and the House complied with his request almost immediately.

American citizens were subject to rationing, air raid drills, and mandatory blackouts. Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, and liberals all pulled together for a common cause. They fought, suffered, and died to win through to that absolute victory of which Roosevelt spoke so highly.

Sadly, the American people can no longer lay claim to that “righteous might”. They have turned their collective backs on God. This version of America could never sacrifice the way ‘The Greatest Generation’ did.

America is facing a new enemy. This enemy however, is invisible to the naked eye. It is known as “SARS-CoV-2”, or simply “COVID-19”.

Too many Americans choose to fight this enemy with selfishness and self-righteousness.

‘The Greatest Generation’ pulled together to fight their enemies. Today, Americans are spoiled, and have retreated into partisan tribalism.

They worry about getting their hair cut, going to a restaurant, or to the beach. Some have carried weapons of war, screaming about their personal liberties being infringed.

Too many Americans do not understand that we are in a public health emergency. They have politicized something as simple as wearing a mask. Some say that masks are an infringement upon their liberty.

Americans now want to sacrifice the weak, the elderly, and infirm all in the name of the economy. At what point did we start to care more about money and the economy than our people?

Businesses suffered during World War II more than they do now. Money was tight, and goods were hard to come by due to rationing. They had no government sponsored payroll program to lean back on.

It seems that our nation has forgotten God’s Greatest Commandments:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  (Matthew 22:36-39)

Dear reader, I ask you to please remember these commandments. Put others before yourself. And wear a mask when away from home. It is the neighborly thing to do.

The Steadfast Watchman

Heaven is Most Definitely For Real

I would like to talk about stories of people who have claimed to have taken a trip to Heaven. And I will use two particular examples.

There was the story of Colton Burpo who said that he visited Heaven while undergoing surgery. The story is told by his father Todd Burpo in the book “Heaven is For Real”. This book has since been made into a movie of the same name.  

And then there was the story about Alex Malarkey. Alex was 6 years old when he was in a severe car accident that left him comatose. Upon awakening from his coma, he said that he had visited Heaven.

He said that he saw himself at the accident scene, and in the hospital while he was comatose. And that he met angels who guided him through the gates of Heaven. And he also said that he had met Jesus while there.

His story was told in a book entitled “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”. He later recanted his story.  And he admitted that he lied because he thought it would gain attention.

And at the time he had not yet read the Bible. He has since read the Bible, and now says that it is the only source of truth.

The two boys’ stories were somewhat similar. It seems to me that Alex’s story was influenced at least to some degree by Colton’s story.

For decades, people have told stories of what they refer to as “near death experiences.” These accounts have differed from person to person. Logic would say that they can all be wrong, but they all can’t be right. Otherwise, all accounts would be the same.

The main point here is that the Bible is in fact the only source of Truth. And now Alex Malarkey understands this. According to the Bible, man is not permitted to tell of anything he saw if he does go to Heaven.

For proof of this point, we need only refer to the following Scripture passage:

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows– was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)

My hope is that others will not be lead to believe that the stories they hear about any of these “experiences” are true. And that if they are in doubt, they will refer to what the Bible says.

The Steadfast Watchman

Religion vs. Relationship

Religion (Noun): “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”

Religion is a set of man-made rules, doctrines, ceremonies, and celebrations. But is it possible that it can also be a relationship with God? Let’s see a definition of relationship:

Relationship (noun)

a connection, association, or involvement.

Can one have a true connection, association, or involvement with God if they are bent on following a set man-made doctrines? I submit that the answer to that question is no.

I also submit for your consideration this premise: man-made rules, doctrines, ceremonies, and celebrations directly interfere with having a true relationship with God.

Consider this: A person who spends all of their time worrying about whether they’ve done some ceremony, or followed this or that doctrine, does not leave any room for developing a connection, association, or involvement directly with God.

If a person is not sure they are following these things, then doubts start to creep in. This leaves an opening for Satan to make a move. He loves to plant doubts in the minds of believers.

Can those doubts lead a person to believe that they lack wisdom? Of course they can. Should a person ask God for wisdom? Of course they should! The Apostle James addressed this:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5-6)

Dear reader, do not be like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Do not let those doubts creep into your minds.

Instead, focus your efforts on building that connection, association, and involvement with God. The rest will fall into place.

This is what religion tells us

I’ll leave you with a couple of Scripture passages that reinforce the idea of reaching for God.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a)

The Steadfast Watchman

Troubles

Currently, we are facing a global pandemic. So I thought it would be a good idea to write something about facing troubles.

The dictionary defines trouble as: (noun) “a state or condition of distress, annoyance, or difficulty.” And “a condition of physical distress or ill health”.

How about we take a look at what the Bible has to say on the subject?

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  –  John 16:33

In this statement Jesus was issuing a prophetic warning to His disciples about facing troubles in the world. But it was also a message of hope. Jesus told them that He has overcome the world.

In our lives, things come and go. Bad things will happen, and good things will happen. It’s an up and down cycle.

When the bad things happen we tend to get very down and discouraged. For example, we received a cancer diagnosis. We are a stiff-necked people and tend to think that we can get through them ourselves. But we are completely wrong in our thinking. It is times such as these that we must depend on God to carry us through. Because He is the only one who can.

In Psalm 18:2 we see:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

It is during the good times that we forget to thank God for them. They are His blessings upon us.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we see:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The Apostle Paul’s words to the Church in Thessalonica appear to be pretty difficult to follow. Did he really mean that we are to rejoice and give thanks to God during the troublesome times just as we do during the good times? The answer to that question is yes, he did.

The Lord God has a purpose in everything He does, and allows to happen. And His purposes never go unfulfilled. In Job 42:2 we see: “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

It Proverbs 19:21 we see it again: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

There is hope in the words of the Apostle Paul to the believers in Rome: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So dear reader, whatever comes your way, rejoice in the Lord. Talk with Him through prayer. And know that He will work everything out for your good, if only you believe in Him.

The Steadfast Watchman

Diet and Defiling

Under the Old Covenant, God instructed the Israelites about their diets. God declared certain things to be clean and unclean. The Israelites were allowed to eat the things that were clean. But they were not allowed to eat the things that were unclean. If someone were to eat something that God had told them to be unclean, that person was considered to be defiled.

On the surface, this may seem to be extreme. But it was done to protect the health of the Israelites.

Today those who practice Judaism call this diet “Kosher”. Included are foods that meet the requirements of Jewish Law as given under the Old Covenant.

We know that when Jesus came along, he turned everything they knew on it’s ear. Diet was one of them.

In Matthew 15:16-20 we see what Jesus said about diet defiling a person:

“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.  “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

I think that we may have misunderstood this passage. And decided that we can eat anything we want. Regardless of whether it’s healthy. This has led to things like heart disease, diabetes, and excessive weight gain. We must understand what Jesus really meant when He spoke those words. And we should make the change to foods that are healthy.

And we also must recognize that it is what we think in our hearts that defiles us. The heart and the tongue are both deceitful and full of sin. To change this we need the power of God. We cannot change this sin nature on our own.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Apostle Paul said this regarding sexual immorality. So it’s not exactly in context here. But I think it serves to remind of us of what we are to do to, and with, our bodies: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

So remember that even though foods are not considered clean or unclean, we must take care to honor our bodies. Because our bodies were bought and paid for with the blood of Christ.

Forgiveness….

What is forgiveness? Let’s find out.

​The Dictionary defines “forgive” as:

VERB

stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake:

“I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her”

synonyms: pardon · excuse · exonerate · absolve · make allowances for ·

[more]

feel no resentment toward · feel no malice toward · harbor no grudge against · bury the hatchet with · let bygones be bygones · let off (the hook) · exculpate.

Now that we know what it is, let’s talk about it.

The Bible tells us of a forgiveness that is Divine. That is, God restoring a relationship with man that was severed by sin. He removes all guilt. He forgives the sin and the sinner alike.

In the Old Testament, one of the things associated with God was mercy. Some descriptions are “slow to anger”, “abounding in love and mercy”, and “compassionate and gracious” (Exodus 34:6 ; Numbers 14:18 ; Nehemiah 9:17 ; Psalm 86:15 ; 103:8 ; 145:8 ; Joel 2:13). God does not treat his people in the way their sin deserves (Ezra 9:13-15 ; Psalm 78:35-38 ; 103:8-10).

But He is also jealous ( Exodus 20:5 ; 34:14 ; Deuteronomy 4:23-24 ; 5:9 ; 6:15 ; Joshua 24:19-20 ; 1:2 ). Don’t forget, God is righteous and holy and will punish sin ( Exodus 34:7 ; Numbers 14:18 ; Nahum 1:3).

​God can also forgive a nation or city. For example, take the city of Nineveh. They were an evil people who did evil deeds. And that’s being nice! God was going to judge them, but decided to be merciful. He sent Jonah to warn them of the impending judgement, to give them a chance to repent. Jonah didn’t think he was up to the task. But God made a way to get him to Ninevah. The Ninevites believed Jonah, repented of their evil ways and were spared (Jonah 3:8).

​The way God forgives nations can be summed up in Jeremiah 18:7-8 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

Jesus has instructed us to forgive our brothers and sisters who sin against us seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22).

​The concept of forgiveness and the word forgive appear in many forms throughout the Bible.

The word “Forgiveness” is mentioned in the NIV bible 14 times. Once in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament.

Forgiveness, as a concept, is mentioned more frequently. For example, the word “forgive” appears 42 times in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament. The word “forgiven” appears 17 times in the Old Testament and 28 times in the New Testament. And the word “forgiving” appears 6 times in the Old Testament and 1 time in the New Testament.

God requires that we forgive others just as He forgives us. The act of forgiving someone for doing you wrong is a difficult thing to do. Carrying it around does more damage to you than it does to the other person. It can be very liberating to forgive that person, and release yourself from anger and resentment.

Though they are different concepts, I think the this old adage that speaks to carrying around unforgiveness: “Hate is like acid. It does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored, than to the object on which it is poured”.

The Steadfast Watchman

Stewardship of the Earth

The Earth was created by the Lord God. The Earth, and everything in it, belongs to Him.

The following Scripture passages will prove my above statements to be true:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

“Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14)

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)

As you can see, the Earth does not belong to us. It is the Lord’s Creation. And we must care for it. At the time of Creation, the Lord placed man in the garden to care for it.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

The keyword in that passage is “cultivate”. Cultivate is a transitive verb. A definition of it is “to improve by labor, care, or study”.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. A translation from the original Hebrew word is “nurture”. If you nurture something, you care for it and see that it does well. You do not intentionally do anything to pollute or destroy it.

"God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Notice that here God says to “subdue” the Earth. And also notice that the words pollute or destroy are not part of the text. “Subdue” is a transitive verb. It is defined as “to conquer and bring into subjection”, and “to bring (land) under cultivation”. Again, there is nothing in the definition of “subdue” that says pollute or destroy.

The Hebrew word for “subdue” in that passage is “kabash”. Which translates as “subdue”, or “bring into bondage”. Once again, there is no mention of polluting or destroying.

Why do people pollute and destroy God’s creation? Is it something as simple as a lack of caring? Maybe a lack of appreciation for what we have been given? Or economic reasons?

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on December 2, 1970 under the administration of Richard Nixon. (Yes, THAT Nixon). It’s purpose was to do just what it’s name says. That is to protect the environment. And the agency has done the best job they could do under the constraints they have.

The Trump administration has been systematically gutting the EPA. Including protections for clean water. A case in point is the Pebble mine in Alaska. The proposed mine is located in the watershed that protects one of the last and largest Sockeye Salmon runs in the world.

After Alaskan governor Mike Dunleavy met with President Trump on Air Force One, protections for the Salmon runs were removed. See the hyperlink below for more information:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/08/politics/alaska-bristol-bay-pebble-mine/index.html

Our bodies are made up of 60% water. Clean water for us to drink is not a luxury. It is necessary to sustain life. That means that everyone should be fighting to protect it. Not exploiting or polluting it in the name of profits.

“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to DESTROY THOSE WHO DESTROY THE EARTH.” (Revelation 11:18, emphasis added is mine)

That is a pretty sobering prophetic warning. Those who destroy the Earth will bring God’s wrath upon themselves. And they will be destroyed. One cannot destroy God’s Creation and not suffer any consequences.

I would like to ask you a hypothetical question: If you borrowed an item from your neighbor, would you misuse and destroy it before you returned it? No, you would not. You would do whatever you could to return the item to your neighbor in the same condition in which you received it.

The Earth does not belong to us. It belongs to the Lord. So why would one destroy it before returning it to the Lord? We are merely stewards of the Earth. So let us all do what we can to defend and protect it.

The Steadfast Watchman