About Me

My photo
Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

Welcome to my Opinion Pages

Thanks for stopping by and reading some of my thoughts. I hope you will find an enjoyable adventure here on my pages.

The articles are only my opinion and are never meant to hurt anyone nor to downgrade any other person's ideas or opinions.

Scroll through the page and stop to read any of the articles you wish. If you like what you see leave a comment, then tell someone where they can find this site. If you don't like what you read then leave a comment reflecting your thoughts and I will read them when I visit the site from time to time.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ave Maria, Florida: Christian living community

On July 19, 2007 during the "Today" morning show broadcast, there was a story about a newly established town in Florida named Ave Maria. The town was established with a Catholic University at its center and a focus on being built upon Christian principles. The Today show interviewer had guests who had been responsible for the development of the university and the town built up around it. During its building, the external hype was that it would be an "All Christian Community." That apparently had perked up a lot of ears around the country from the "diversity" and "separation of Church and State" crowd.

The barrage of questions from the interviewer suggested the focus of thought from those crowds. "Do you have to be Catholic to live in Ave Maria, Florida?" "What about the diversity of the community?" "How would you deal with the separation of Church and State in a community with only one set of values?" "Do you have to have those 'Christian' values to live there?" "Would it discourage diversity?" Finally, "What would attract people without Christian values to come live in that community?"

The two gentlemen being interviewed did not seem too wild-eyed or radical, nor on the fringe of insanity, but then as some might believe, having those "Christian" values may pose a danger to push one a bit too close to the fanatical. In fact, the two gentlemen seemed most rational in their answers. They talked about higher education, living in harmony, people getting along, practicing their beliefs and not hurting anyone else in the process. Perhaps to some people, even having that desire might classify the residents of Ave Maria as "right-wing." At one point both gentlemen stepped away from the charge that Ave Maria was exclusively a "Catholic" community by saying that one of them was an Episcopalian while the wife of another was a Lutheran. The Today Show host conceded that perhaps it should be referred to as only a "Christian" community.

Perhaps to ward off those who will find a fight in the establishment of a so-called "Christian" community and to include services that would "attract people without Christian values" the community could build in some alternative services.

Perhaps to be fair, and completely diverse, those alternatives could be some businesses and services that are opposed to Christian-Living values. Some examples might be:

Perhaps the Ave Maria city planners could ensure that at least a percentage of the movie theaters show pornographic movies.

The city planners could establish at least one or two of the middle schools, and at least one high school, that would be barred from teaching any reference to creationism.

Each of the school's sex education classes could refrain from teaching abstinence of sex as a form of birth control before marriage, but pass out condoms instead. In fact, for diversity's sake, marriage could be mentioned at those schools only in the context of an "alternative life-style."

The city planners should have at least one abortion clinic that freely provides its services to teenage girls without invading their privacy by informing their parents.

Of course all prayer in those schools could be banned, and certainly no references to the Bible could be made, even within an historical context.

Of course if you have not stopped reading by this time, and have gotten to this point in this article, you must realize that it is written with "tongue-in-cheek" per se. It seems as Americans with our own unique heritage that we would encourage more Christian -Living values based on the lifestyles of Christianity.

Surely the time-honored foundations drawn from the Biblical values of not killing, not stealing, treating one's neighbor as one would like to be treated, not lying or cheating or lusting after others' valuables would be a good thing. One wonders if when most people are measuring the Christian values against the values of diversity, and diversity wins, just how much longer those people will be able to travel down that road before they run head-long into a solid wall.

An oft quoted Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of

Edinburgh, is said to have described the way of all past civilizations:

"Politics and Progress-

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to selfishness;

From selfishness to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependency;

From dependency back again into bondage."

The way of our civilization at the current time seems to be somewhere between dependency with apathy and complacency…perhaps moving toward bondage. It would be great to think that before bondage becomes a reality we could consider a move directly back to spiritual faith through Christian living.

A more recent stand from the leaders of Ave Maria, Florida that charged Ave Maria as being only a "Catholic" town was answered by saying:

"Absolutely not; Ave Maria is open to every religion, ethnicity and age. In fact, we believe that the intermingling of people of different backgrounds, interests and life stages will be important to making Ave Maria a true community."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial of remembrance

The bomb blasted its way through the bunker. Sandbags twisted their way through the air, landing askew on the bunker or trench’s floor. Sand oozed from the bags mixing with the already muddy muck on the floor. Men scrambled to plug the hole, trying to shield themselves against the onslaught of enemy fire. The sounds of war made their way to the ears of those men in the bunker. They were there defending the American way of life. On that, and many other calamitous days, perhaps for one of those men, posterity was unfolding in another scene ten thousand miles away.

The room was sterile and the lights were bright. As the woman lay panting in the throes of yet another contraction, the doctor sat in the ready position in front of the stirrups urging the woman to push harder. With as much adrenalin flowing through her veins as was perhaps flowing through the man’s in the bunker, her final push resulted in the child being ushered into that sterile, brightly lit, and starkly cold hospital delivery room. At that moment, though they were miles apart, that child became the living essence of his or her parent’s union, and somehow perhaps, even in their separation by miles, they were together.

War is tragic. It separates, destroys and changes things forever. But it also unifies in such a way as to create relationships and friendships that last a lifetime. Sometimes even more than the husband-wife relationship that is based on love, tenderness and protection, the relationships formed in war forms a bond that is maintained through the years by remembrance. Trench, foxhole, jungle or desert experiences forge bonds that change two people in such a way as no other experience can. During those experiences when lives are in peril, spirits and souls become entwined in such a way as to mold into those person’s minds the essence of oneness with a memory that will last a lifetime. Is it any wonder that those who have had such experiences stand tall and proud as they remember and mourn the loss of their comrades?

There are others, however, who may not understand the significance of such a remembrance. To them it may be the sales at the local department stores, or the parade on television. To some it may be that it is a holiday and a day off from work to go to the beach or have a picnic. It may just simply be another day on the calendar. To all of us it should be a day for honoring all of those who have given their all to make our lives more free.

Memorial Day is a day to pause and think of all whose lives have been given in sacrifice to ensure that our lives can remain free. I have a picture in my living room, "Reflections", depicting an older civilian who was a soldier in Vietnam, standing with outreached arm with fingers touching the Wall with thousands of names. From inside the wall two or three young fellow soldiers are standing with one reaching up from inside the wall with outstretched arm touching the fingers of the one standing outside the wall. From time to time I stop and gaze at the picture and am emotionally touched at the scene. The closeness to those with whom they shared the experience is a powerful relationship. That is something that only they have that none of the rioters at that time or anyone else missing that experience has.

So if you see someone pausing on the sidewalk, bowing his head for a minute or two on that day, or someone looking up to a waving flag for a moment, or a man removing his hat at the passing of the colors during a parade you may be watching, just watch for a moment and remember. What you may be witnessing is a person whose memory is that of an exploding bomb, or a best friend’s life ebbing away as he holds him in his arms, or a wife who has lost a husband, or the child of a Mom who gave her best for the war effort back home, or a woman who has gallantly fought in one of our more recent wars. But as you watch, remember too, that all of those men and women who have sacrificed their lives have done so in order to keep all of us free.

Our only true and just response to all of them, both fallen and those still living, is, "Thanks for your service."

Monday, May 24, 2010

“It’s We the people, not Me the President”

A friend sent me an email with an attachment of a truck with a license plate that said, “It’s We the People,” not “Me the President.” I have no idea who put that phrase together, but in thinking about it I wondered how a person would behave in such an awesome office.

It is really strange to think that we have come such a long way in our country that we even have to remind ourselves that it is "We the People" and not "Me the President." The evolution of the Presidency is amazing to say the least. To think that one man out of millions of citizens could wield so great a power as to make decisions alone that changes the lives of so many; to independently decide a course of action that sends tens of thousands of fellow citizens to their death; to establish a policy that puts tens of millions of citizens in debt for scores of years is a transformation a person of lesser character could not sustain. The ascendancy of that office, or institution, to such great heights as to exist like a monarch, be protected like a king, obeyed like a general and revered like a seer, and have all of it translated into the single, focused power of one person is almost like constituency creating a god. It leaves little wonder when that "god" ascends to that office and enters into that sanctuary of the White House; it ceases to be "We the People" but, "Me the President."

Come to think of it though, perhaps that was in the minds of those men who established our constitutional form of government knowing what happens when an institution grows beyond its boundaries. The person who ascends to that power can easily become corrupted and thinks more highly of him/herself and forget about those to whom those positions are responsible. Perhaps that is why the great experiment of democracy in the United States began with, “We the People,” and not “Me the President.”

Take a minute to watch and listen to some significant words from a Great American, President Ronald Reagan.  Follow this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlgTwp93E48

Friday, May 21, 2010

Changing times

On June 6, 2007 there was a short segment on the "Today" show that described a social engineering practice the Nazi elite instituted in the Netherlands during 1942. Because Hitler believed in a "super" race the Nazi hierarchy sanctioned and encouraged a practice of the German soldiers mating with the blue-eyed, blond-haired, fair-skinned ladies of the Netherlands. The German government took over the babies, more than twelve hundred in all, and planned to raise them as part of the "super race" with "pure" German blood. As with any evil intent, this plan turned ugly in the end. Of course the war was lost and the Germans left, but in their wake were all these children who had been abandoned by their mothers, and left in institutions or even worse living conditions. They, as a group, and individually, were shunned by the rest of society and taught not to mention their plight or special status. The "Today" story highlighted one man who was the product of that Nazi practice and had been one of those children who was now speaking out as an older adult and telling the story that had been suppressed for so long. This kind of Godless endeavor does nothing but put people at risk.

In the 21st Century America that we now live, one wonders how such atrocities could happen. And yet we have seen many examples throughout the short past 100 years:

The world aflame during the "Great War" that was to be the war that ended all wars.

The Second World War and all the death and despair it brought…along with the advent of a nuclear age.

Korea, that still stands ready to move away from the simple "cease fire" agreement that exists today.

And then from Vietnam to the current holy Jihad that seeks to destroy those who can be defined as "infidel."

Perhaps we have already seen some changes toward a repeat of history. It has been seen in part because of a growing practice of what Martin Luther King Jr. described in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail as a group of "good" people who fail to rise up with their voices in unison against the rabble.

Of course Dr. King was referring to those religious leaders and congregates who believed in the right thing, but failed as a group to see the social injustice and the tyranny against an entire ethnic group through nullification and interposition. By not speaking out against that injustice, they in fact tolerated and supported it. That was not unlike the "good" people in Germany during the Hitler era that looked the other way when millions of families were being destroyed by those whose agenda was "social change." In the end it brought nothing but world war.

Turning to the Bible we read,

2 Chronicles 7:14

"IF MY PEOPLE, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (KJV)

This likely means in context that God is telling Solomon that the land will be healed by the devastation of the locusts that devour the land; but the eternal truth is that God has promised to care for those who call upon His name, turn from their sin and follow Him.

Now, as then, in fact, we often find ourselves actually catering to those who are screaming the loudest. We have allowed ourselves to become submissive to those who have the loudest bullhorn. We see injustice and illogical actions; we see the politicians finding every conceivable tax to levy and then "redistribute" those funds as they will. Oftentimes reading in the newspapers and watching on television those elected "public servants" who leave their elected office after years of government salary as personal millionaires. We lower our heads and mutter silently, "How did that happen?" And yet, in our heart of hearts we know the answer. We just don't want to get involved. We don't want the spotlight to shine in our direction because we don't want to be bullied and ridiculed for being "disingenuous" or failing to be "politically correct." Yes, we cater to the few because they are the most vocal.

Let's face it, the ultra liberal position has captured many in the media and the extreme left. Their message is pounding away at the American people trying to change their hearts and minds regarding issues like separation of church and state, abortion, marginalizing the military or catering to all kinds of special interest groups. One definition of liberalism that seems appropriate is: "Liberalism is the belief of a concentration of power in the hands of a few who then use the power and institution of the government to extinguish individualization and independent thought."

Karl Marx, who is known as the Father of Socialism and Communism held that belief in God was the opium of the people. He did everything he could to eliminate that belief. The more government takes over and controls the lives of individuals, the more the masses become like the "collective."

A while ago the California Legislature discussed introducing a law that would criminalize parents for any "corporal" punishment for any child under the age of three. A pat on the bottom or a slap on the hand for a child in the "terrible twos" could, under that law, have the child taken away and raised by the state, and have the parent sent to prison. Remember, these things come only gradually.

As government grows and the liberal perspective becomes more and more dominant, one significant change will likely be the elimination of God in our Society. Multiculturalism, instead of assimilation, that is being taught in America's public education is at the very least equalizing the country's own national heritage with other national groups who refuse even to learn the language. It is teaching a "sensitivity" that precludes "offending" anyone whose beliefs differ from the foundational Christian ethics of the Bible.

On January 31, 2007 in Indiana on a station in Fort Wayne, the news reported that one Legislator "broke the silence of over a year" imposed by the courts to not have any prayer in the Indiana Legislature. The news story related that the Legislator prayed only to "God" but could not mention the name of Jesus as the court injunction demanded. Mentioning the name of Jesus offended those who do not want to hear that name.

As one generation rises and another passes into history the values of the former overshadow the latter. It is very difficult to see any differences between yesterday and today, or last week and this week. But the differences begin to be noticed as one examines last decade with present times, or last century with now. So it is with generations, one comes with the values formed from experiences and knowledge, while the current generation passes away. Someone has said that we are only one generation away from extinction. Perhaps that is true when you examine the differences in the values from one group to another.

An oft quoted Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, is said to have described the way of all past civilizations:

"Politics and Progress-

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to selfishness;

From selfishness to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependency;

From dependency back again into bondage."

Looking at the American civilization from Tyler's perspective, it might be argued that America is on course for such a cataclysmic change as to be swept up into bondage once again:

Seventeenth century America: Europeans of faith migrate to American Colonies for religious freedom to escape the bondage.

Eighteenth century America: American colonists living in relative freedom under British rule during the first half of the century. Latter half of century the colonists fight revolution and declaration of independence through great spiritual faith with great courage.

Nineteenth century America: Expanded freedom through expanded territory; bloody civil war with abolishment of slavery; reconstruction and great movement toward liberty for all.

Twentieth century America (first half): Freedom, industrialization, modernization, world liberation through two world wars; establishment of foundation for dependency (New Deal).

Twentieth century America (second half): Atoms for peace, New Frontier, War on Poverty, Guns and Butter. Movement from liberty to great abundance and dependence on socialized government. Scientists expanded Technology with computer advancement and application while social theorists expanded a movement toward socialism. Introduction of legal practices to eliminate segments of society: abortion and "death with dignity."

Twenty-first century America: With great abundance and the greatest economy ever, selfishness through public policies such as abortion, greater influence of larger government, higher taxes and much more leisure time, accompanied by a movement to a world-wide market.

Since it is generally agreed that change is inevitable, the mode of change is what may be the most important.

Using Tyler's cultural taxonomy, the way of our civilization at the current time seems to be somewhere between dependency with apathy and complacency…perhaps moving toward bondage. It would be great to think that before bondage becomes a reality we could consider a move directly back to spiritual faith through the Gift has provided and live in that faith in God and His leadership for Christian living.

The winds of social change are blowing hard.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Honesty and integrity

Christian living practices honesty and integrity. To accept Christ and His lifestyle is to be "Christ-like" and walk in His ways, not the ways of the world around us. Honesty stands above even riches, glory and fame. To maintain ones honesty and integrity is a far greater calling than to step on others to gain wealth or notoriety.

Proverbs 19 starts by talking about honesty and integrity. The first verse reads:

"Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his speech."

Honesty and integrity have been maligned over the past several years. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. A life lived with integrity is a life that is deemed honest in all dealings with everyone around us. Reputation is formed and trust is gained. We seek out those whose reputations reflect their honesty; we know that when we do business with those people we are not likely to be cheated. As integrity grows within the person, his way of life becomes obvious for all to see; he is said to have a good and true character.

It is from character that a person's decisions are made. Each day, almost every minute of the day we make decisions. Each decision we make has consequences that result in influencing or affecting another in some specific way. When we have gained a reputation based on integrity and honesty and have formed a character of good report, the direction of our decisions are mostly for the common good of others.

The opposite of that is true as well. When we choose to ignore our "higher calling" and practice the more "perverse" way of life, we fall into a pattern of life-style that leads us into a downward spiral that oftentimes leads to despair and self destruction. The Apostle Paul refers to that "sin nature" and some of those outcomes such as "…hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties…." (Galatians 5:19-21)

Having internalized the Christian way of life by accepting the work of Jesus and His sacrifice by the shedding of His blood on the cross, we are free to yield ourselves over to His leading as He works through us to lead us to this way of life that produces integrity. The good news is that by yielding ourselves to Him through faith, we have His promise that He will continue to provide us the help to grow toward abundant life. He promised never to leave us, "I [Jesus] am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Christian living should contain elements of:

Submitting your life to Christ;

Being receptive to the leading of His Spirit;

Growing by practicing honesty and integrity;

Giving all the glory to God.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Evil is as evil does

The actor Tom Hanks played the character Forrest Gump, who said, "Stupid is as stupid does." The same thing could be said about evil: "Evil is as evil does." Much of the evil we see is violent and gruesome and causes unimaginable harm to innocent people. Violent acts are evil. The Webster's New World™ Dictionary defines evil as follows:

Anything morally bad or wrong; wickedness; depravity; sin; anything that causes harm, pain, misery, disaster, etc. SYN. BAD; the Evil One the Devil; Satan.

Evil is "morally bad or wrong;" and it causes "harm, pain, misery and disaster." It is even defined as "the Evil One the Devil; Satan."

In our secular society many believe the Devil is not a real being. But information about him abounds in the Bible in both the Old and the New Testaments. In Genesis he was called the serpent; a beautiful beast that tempted Eve with a lie to deceive her. In 1 John 3:8 he was called a sinner from the beginning. Matthew 12:24 calls him the king of the devils. 1 Peter 5:8 says that he is an adversary to God and man. Ephesians 2:2 says that he is the prince of the power of the air. Revelation 20:2, he is again called the Devil or Serpent. He is deceitful (2 Corinthians 11:14 and Ephesians 6:11), fierce and cruel (Luke 8:29 and 1 Peter 5:8), daring (Job 1:6 and Matthew 4:5), malignant (Job 1:9), proud (1 Timothy 3:6), subtle (Genesis 3:1) and wicked (1 John 2:13). The devil is a real being.

Luke wrote in 10:18 that the devil has fallen from heaven. The devil tempted God's creation in the garden (Genesis 3:1). He tempted Jesus to worship him (Matthew 4:11), he masqueraded even as an Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and engaged in a spiritual battle for the souls of mankind (Ephesians 6:10-16, Romans 12:21, 1 Peter 5:7-9, 1 John 4:4b and James 4:7-8a). He is called Lucifer or Satan as leader of the fallen angels: he was an angel of light until he revolted against God and, with the others, was cast out of heaven. But the devil's time is limited; he has lost the war and was defeated by the blood of Jesus.

The Bible says that Jesus has already declared a complete victory over Satan the devil, saying that Satan has already been judged. Satan, along with death and Hades, will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10-14).

Christians have protection from the devil while they live on this earth under his deceit and efforts to trick them. The Bible says that he acts like a roaring lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour, but those in Christ have protection from him if we remain vigilant to his efforts and remain in the faith of Jesus and the protection of His blood. Christians are to resist the devil; if they do he will flee from them (James 4:7). The Apostle Paul wrote that our struggle in this world is not with flesh and blood, but with the devil and those who follow him (principalities and powers) who perpetrate wickedness in high places. The Christian's defense against the devil is to dress themselves with the clothing that God has provided for them; that clothing is the whole spiritual armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-13). Our secular society, however, has failed to heed the warning and continues to live unprotected in a world that grows more evil by the hour.

President Ronald Regan called the former Soviet Union an "Evil Empire." President George Bush called the actions of governments and organizations that sponsor terrorist activities "evil." Some of the "politically correct" crowds are offended by the use of the term evil. And yet we have seen the effects of evil empires that have enslaved, tortured and killed millions. We have fought wars with nations and organizations that were dedicated to the destruction of citizens who did not share their political or fundamental religious ideology. Now we watch in horror as radical fundamentalists rip the lives from innocent people who are not guilty of anything except the simple act of just choosing to ride the bus or train that day. And so the sound behind the societal noise we hear is the sound of a roaring lion and the hideous laughter of the devil and the screeching sounds of his glee as he keeps watching humanity melt into his own desires by willfully following yet another of his lies. The modern Church needs to increase the intensity of its teaching that the devil is a real being who is desperately trying to win the souls of people by being and doing evil.

The devil is not a little red man with horns and a pitchfork whose picture appears on the side of a lighter fluid can. The devil is not just an imaginary figure that sits on a person's shoulder to make arguments for that person to do something naughty. The devil is not just a character in a movie, nor a woman who wiggles her nose to make dirty rooms clean again, nor a young girl who fights to eliminate bad vampires. With wave after wave of new generations being born into our world, and into our churches, we need to keep repeating over and over the presence of the devil. We need to re-learn that the devil is a real, powerful, evil being that is spending every ounce of his energy "seeking whom he may devour." We should not let our children forget.

For fear that future generations would forget, Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4:9 that,

"Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;"

Surly it is important to teach the power and majesty of God. His power and role in history for the "sons' sons" was so important that one generation should not pass without each of the sons being taught of the very source of salvation.

By contrast, without re-teaching one generation after another that there is an enemy that destroys and kills and hardens the hearts to cause spiritual blindness, is to watch succeeding generations of "sons" grow weary and faint and lose all perspective of the true source of evil.

The outgrowth of that generation will be to perceive with blinded eyes, turn the truth to a lie, and see wrong in place of right, accept evil things as good things, and become the very ally of the true source of evil. As each succeeding generation follows along that path, the devil becomes less challenged and people begin to relegate him as simply a harmless fairy tale. People need to be awakened!

One wonders when the people of this world will wake up and realize that the "prince of the power of the air" is the one who spews hatred and distrust and hardens the hearts of people.

Hearts are hardened by the power of evil.

Hearts are hardened to the fact that it is wrong to wish your fellow man harm to the point of death.

Hearts are hardened to the fact that it is wrong to espouse a religion that demands the death of other human beings.

Hearts are hardened to the fact that it is wrong to hide behind a "faith" that destroys rather than builds up.

Hearts are hardened to the fact that it is wrong to join in with a group of fanatics who want to dispense terror to people all over the world who do not believe as they do.

Hearts are hardened to the fact that it is wrong to chop off a fellow human being's head the way that terrorists have done.

The God of the universe may be slow to anger, but His wrath will not wait much longer. From the beginning of the creation of mankind, we have proven that our leadership is not better than God's leadership. We followed the evil one in the beginning, and God has rescued us from him. And now, for those whose eyes continue to be blinded by the evil one, God will someday pass judgment on them.

Is it too late for Christians to mount the horse and ride through the night as did Paul Revere shouting to a dying world, "The enemy is here; he is deceiving, he is lying, he is killing, he is making war and he is turning good into evil?" Christians need to raise the banner of the blood of Christ, clothe themselves with the armor of God, stand firm, wield the sword of God's Word and expel the (d) evil from the midst of the people.

Christians must never glorify Satan; nor should Christians ever place him on a pedestal. But they must recognize that he exists as a real being, and is waging war against God's elect. Christians must yield to God's cleansing by the blood of Jesus and stand firm in obedience to God's will. There should be no need for political correctness or sensitivity to that which is wrong, but only acceptance of the God of the universe who has redeemed those who accept Him by the blood of His only begotten Son in Whom there dwells no evil.

Come quickly, LORD Jesus.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Christian living is a way of life

Christian living is a way of life; a way of life that is derived from hearing, believing, accepting and following the way of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi sharing with them about how Jesus left the glories of heaven to become part of the creation as a man to give Himself as a sacrifice so that all people everywhere could return to a face-to-face relationship with God.

Recorded in the account of Genesis chapter 3 in the Bible, the fall of mankind is laid out in some detail. Disobedience entered into the world because the woman and the man decided to enter into a life style of making choices that rejected their Creator. From that day forward there are two laws that exist in the world that influence all people everywhere and for all time this earth is allowed to continue. Those two laws are mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman church in chapter 8:2-4:

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

One only has to look at the daily newspaper or listen to any of the 24-7 news network cycles to know that sin abounds all around us. Sin and death has reigned from the very beginning. If a person lives a life by the law of sin and death he lives in a way that produces outcomes of hate, despair, heartache, deceit and lies, unhappiness and final destruction. Throughout history following this law has resulted in lawlessness, revolution, genocide, totalitarianism, dictatorships and millions placed in various forms of slavery.

Of course there are many times when the person does good deeds and may even contribute to the great humanitarian causes that result in wonderful things to many other people. But in the final analysis, being subservient to the law of sin and death absolutely does bring destruction. There is only one way to break the death-grip of the law of sin and death: The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle begins chapter 8 of Romans with a great promise,

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

When the person puts faith into the work that Jesus did on the cross, that is, Jesus shedding His blood, dying and being raised from death, there is a new life that begins for that person as he or she becomes a Christian. That new life is empowered by the presence of the Spirit of Jesus that enables the Christian to live within the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus.

Keep in mind that there is no work that can be done by any person to bring about this salvation from Jesus. Jesus has already completed all the work necessary with His work on the cross. His sacrifice was sufficient for each person to be totally forgiven from any sin in their life and have the cycle of the law of sin and death broken. With continued faith in what Jesus has completed the Christian receives the Spirit of Jesus and is given the power to live within the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

When that happens the Christian-living becomes a life-style that pleases God.

(All Scripture is King James Version)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Debt…owe no man anything

Debt is something Americans live with on a daily basis. The news is full of stories about national debt: The recession due in part to high debts; Wall Street and the greed that is practiced there that prevents the growth of wealth on Main Street; personal debt that causes high numbers of bankruptcy; and, States that are nearing bankruptcy unless their Legislatures take immediate actions to either raise taxes, lower taxes, cut spending or just do something! Everyone is talking about debt and "generational debt" that will linger for generations for the kids and grand kids to pay off in the future. People are scrambling to find ways to deal with the tremendous debts that are piling up.

Alternatives are being advanced from all sides. Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University advocate paying down debt by using a "snowball" process where credit cards are paid off beginning with the least amount owed on a card to the card with the most owed. The idea is to pay off one, then use that payment amount to add to the next one, paying the payment on it plus the payment that was used on the one paid off. By the time a person gets to the third or fourth card, the payments have become substantial and therefore, pay off the balance much quicker. Other alternatives include "debt reduction" companies that negotiate with the debt accounts to reduce interest and establish a fixed amount of payment for an extended period until it is paid off. This method uses a third party to "manage" the payments until the debt is paid. The Christian might consider any or all of these methods, but there might be another alternative to consider.

Turning to the Bible, the Christian tries to find the answers for handling debt. A look at Solomon's writings in Proverbs one finds,

"Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts." (Proverbs 22:26 KJV)

Perhaps the first thing to consider is to avoid debt in the first place. This verse tends to warn against striking up a deal that will result in the person owing another a debt. For sure it would be best not to take a place of risk for another and stand in as "surety" or collateral for another as s/he places themselves at risk by taking on debt with the promise that you will pay if they don't. There is a great risk that the person who stands as the sureties for others will end up paying the bill. If personal property or wages are established as the guarantee; the person can likely as not lose that property or money.

Additionally, Christian living should consider not making purchases until savings goals have been reached and there are sufficient funds to make the purchase without debt. Living in a deficit-spending situation will one day cause the downfall of the family, organization, state or nation. The one who is in debt becomes a slave to the one to whom debt is owed.

The ancient Hebrew culture had an interesting practice regarding debts. Not only could land or other property be purchased causing a debt, but people could actually encumber themselves into a debt to another and have to work as a servant. God had seen this practice and established a rule that would "set things right" on every fiftieth year, called the Year of Jubilee. The Bible says,

"Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land." (Leviticus 25:9 KJV)

During the Jubilee the land that had left the family came back to the original family; those who had been sold into slavery were freed. The Bible says,

"And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family." (Leviticus 25:10 KJV)

Of course in modern America the Jubilee is not practiced. It would be unusual for debts to be forgiven every fifty years. However, the Christian does have a responsibility to pay the debts s/he owes. That debt includes the taxes that are expected from the government. Not only is it the law of the land, but the law is something that God expects the Christian to obey. The civil laws of the land are sanctioned by God and actually become His instrument for our good. The person wishing to practice Christian Living will want to be sure and accomplish everything according to God's will in the matter of repaying debt and taxes. The Bible says all must submit to authorities.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing, Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." (Romans 13:1-7 (New International Version))

God has actually supported those who have been appointed as government authorities. They serve as His "servants" by doing the very thing they are supposed to by giving themselves full time to governing. Christian living supports the principle of paying taxes on time and making sure that everything owed is paid to whomever it is owed. In the final analysis, however, we are to get out of debt and owe nothing except love.

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10 (New International Version))

Therefore, Christian living is to strive to curtail spending, increase saving, live within means, pay off all debts, avoid new debts, but always be in the debt of loving one another.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bible class topics for study

Bible class members frequently discuss topics for study with their teachers. Since the time for study is so short at various Bible studies in Church or Sunday school classes, most members want to study something relevant and useful to enhance their Christian living. A general consensus is for topics like the need for evangelism, growth, fellowship and caring. Perhaps as class members ponder their possibilities, the following topics might be helpful.

Many Christians believe that ours is a very hostile society which has become uncultured with the so-called “normal” Christian values being relegated as atypical. What has traditionally been “good” is now sometimes considered “bad.” That which in the past was considered “bad” I now okay, and even common practice.

In some parts of our country, especially in some inner-cities, living with high murder rates is a planned-for way of life. Drug abuse is rampant will sellers boldly dispensing their product on the open market. But since most people are already in constant contact with the reality of the daily news, they need not list every social ill when it comes to their Bible study.

More importantly, perhaps, is the effect this society has on the life of a Christian person. It is not unusual for a Christian to be surrounded by fellow workers who lie, cheat, steal, practice profane verbal behavior, and in general, increase the stress level for the Christian. Christians must be in the world, but try desperately not to be a part of it; especially the part that is profane toward God.

This is not always easy for those who cannot insulate themselves from the harsh realities of our present culture. So what the Christian receives during that brief period on Sunday morning during their Bible study must focus on being an uplifting experience, offering hope and comfort, and in some way offering strategies to cope with the pressures of a reality-centered life-style. Therefore, during that time, for the Christian, Jesus must be the focus of learning.

So, to the Sunday School Teacher, the Jesus-centered Christian member pleads…

Please do not give us philosophy. Philosophy has only given us ideas of relativity which has only resulted in the destruction of the absolute, which in turn has contributed to society’s despair. Just keep telling us about Jesus and His absolute power to offer hope and salvation.

Please do not give us sociological strategies to help alleviate our daily stress. Sociology has only pointed out examples of the worst behavior; provided only a reflection of what is. Just keep telling us about Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount. Tell us about Jesus, His teaching about the kingdom, and our part in it.

Please do not give us humanistic, educational self-help methods as a means to make ourselves better. Humanism has only aided in building the ego of mankind to the point of haughty rejection of God’s intervention into man’s affairs. Please educate us as to the methods Jesus used as He taught the multitudes. Help us understand the humble attitude that Jesus had as He gave up the glory of Heaven to present Himself at the cross as our substitute. Help us to focus on the fact that, as Jesus depended on His Father for strength, so too should we be dependent upon Him.

Please do not give us a review of the secular or liberal theological literature. Much of that literature is simply a reflection of the rebellious spirit of mankind and a lack of understanding of truth. Please give us the Word of Jesus, from His perspective of personal authority, not as the scribes speak.

Please do not give us a study of world religions. World religions can be counterfeit, and has nothing to offer which adds to our salvation. Please give us an understanding of a personal relationship with Jesus. Help us to understand that He is our friend and His words and shed blood are the power to our salvation. Keep reminding us that He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Please do not give us a study of science and its technological power. Science has bought into the relativity of philosophy and is constantly changing, offering no stability or hope. Please give us an understanding of the power of the gospel of Jesus. Help us to understand the power of the cross, the death, the resurrection, and the blood of Jesus. Show us how to put our faith into what He has done for us, and how His power will sustain us.

Simply put, saturate us with Jesus. Constantly tell us the story of His love, and what He has done for us. If teaching the reality of Jesus is our constant focus, then evangelism, growth, fellowship and caring will be a natural by-product of our class.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Union adds burden to taxpayer

The taxpayer carries a heavy burden. When government officials require more resources to take care of those who are in need, they oftentimes turn to the taxpayer and levy more taxes. For Illinois the tax and spend habit has left the state 11 billion dollars in debt.

In 1993 the federal government believed that it was important for a family member to provide care and services for their own family and passed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to help with that task. A working family member could take a leave to care for another member of the family who was in need.
The Apostle Paul admonished the people to

"Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due." He continued, however, "Owe no one anything…." (Romans 13:7-8).

The debt Illinois owes is made worse by one Union's actions.

One of the largest public unions, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has pulled a coup for its members. In their current Illinois contract for 2008 - 2012 in Section 26 Maternity/Paternity Leave, it states, "All male bargaining unit members who show proof that their spouses have received prenatal care in the first twenty weeks, with notification to the Employer within 24 weeks, will be eligible for four (4) weeks (20 work days) of paid paternity leave."

What a nice little package for time off for the fellow to be home an extra month with pay. Taxpayers outside of the government employment should be so lucky. For state employees it is not just maternity/paternity; it is any medical need that the employee can justify. For those outside of Illinois employment the usual practice is the FMLA allows for non-paid time off.

Multiply these extra months of paid time off scored by the Union for each of the state employees in Illinois and see how many multiple millions of dollars get added each year to the already bloated budget deficit.

Taxpayers should write to their local representatives and ask for an accounting of this and other similar practices.