Sunday, January 20, 2019
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a
murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in
him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the
father of lies." (John 8:44)
Is it sin to deceive ?
Jesus said we show who our father is, by the deeds our hearts desire to do. He said
deceivers show their hearts are set on doing the deeds of "the father of lies" (John 8:44).
Is it sin to be deceived ?
Of course it is. How is anyone ever deceived, except by their own failure to love the truth.
The con-man understands perfectly how deceit works. He operates by the evil wisdom that
"you can't cheat an honest man."
The ultimate of that reality is where Christians live. Nobody is a Christian at all except
they love Jesus, Who said "I AM...The Truth" (John 14:6). No one can claim to be a Christian
unless they are led by "the Spirit of Truth," sent by God to lead us into all Truth (John 16:13).
Is it sin then for Christians to be deceived ? Is it sin that a Christian does not love Jesus ?
Is it sin that a Christian turns from following the Spirit ?
The good news for Christians is that God will forgive even those deep sins.
Even at this late hour, any Christian who will can confess their sin, turn away from their
sin, and be forgiven.
All you Christians who have been deceived, and foolish enough to follow liars, please
be radically honest to God about your horrible sin, while He is still pleased to forgive.
Saturday, November 10, 2018
The best thing about America's current president is that he will die. When, and how much more harm he will be permitted to do before then, is God's decision alone.
It's good that the current president is such a complete narcissist that his evil thoughts and deeds center entirely on himself, on what he personally and immediately wants. He will not leave his followers an evil ideology to follow to destruction, like Nazism or Communism. Trumpism's sole Great Purpose is Trump, and when he is dead it will not survive.
But of course, the spirit of evil is greater than any man, or ideology of men: and evil will survive and flourish
An amazing number of people who've made it their life's purpose to follow the current president will be without direction when their Great Leader is no more. They will not then know whom they should hate, and who to love. They will not have his hourly outbursts specifying what "opinions" and worldview they must adapt to accord with his.
An amazing number of people will then be waiting for someone...anyone...to tell them what to think, and what to believe, and what to do. The current president's admirers have shown they lack the spiritual discernment to recognize and flee from satan's evil spirit and intent. When Trump passes from the scene, their hearts will continue to desire someone of that spirit whom they can follow, and trust, and believe, and obey.
I'm convinced God will allow them their heart's desire.
Jesus' coming was preceded by God's sending John the Baptist to prepare His way. It just may be that satan's end-time anti-messiah likewise has his forerunner, preparing those whose hearts long for his appearing.
Perhaps the best thing about the current president is that through him God is purifying His Church of those who will not receive the love of the truth, so as to be saved (II Thessalonians 2:10). Perhaps in this way God is preparing for His Son a Church in submission to Him, Who IS The Truth: a Church cleansed, glorious, holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:24-27).
Tuesday, October 02, 2018
"For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind..." Hosea 8:7a
It's not often we see a direct line between causation and result in history. America's distress today may be one of those times.
Almost 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan began his presidency with the proclamation that "...government is the problem." He promised his presidency would attack that "problem" by making government smaller and less powerful, and instituting a government-wide policy of "de-regulation."
He did a great deal to enact his doctrine. His followers ever since have proclaimed and followed his doctrine...at least, publicly and superficially. Politics' real purpose is always power, and politicians are always lying when they claim they want to limit their own exercise of power.
There are so many things wrong, and hypocritical, about Reagan's doctrine. I usually focus on its greatest falsehood: its denial of God's command that human government be His "minister," doing good to its people, and punishing evil-doers. Reagan "de-regulated" government from doing both.
Sometimes I ponder Reagan's reversal of America's traditional doctrine of government, that "the people" are our government. If government is instead a "problem," it's clearly an external entity endangering "the people"...unless Reagan meant that "the people" are "the problem."
Sometimes I focus on the illogic of that statement. Anyone who paused to think for an instant, in the flow of Reagan's inaugural rhetoric, would have had to ask how it was possible to have anti-government government.
As a former anarchist, I was probably more sensitive than most people to the fact that Reagan's doctrine..."government is the problem"...is the core teaching of anarchism. But that's the evil I was pondering today. Pondering what scripture says about the consequences of following evil.
The scripture in Hosea 8:7 came to mind, that those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind: almost always, in scripture, a symbol of God's wrathful judgement.
The thought that came to mind with that scripture was very clear: Reagan sowed in America the "wind" (the Hebrew word is ruah, which is also translated "spirit") of anarchic government, and America is reaping God's judgement in today's anarchic government.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I've been greatly moved by a book I just read, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45, by journalist and academic Milton Mayer.
Mayer wrote that in 1935 he'd unsuccessfully requested an interview with the new Chancellor of Germany, Adolph Hitler. But after the war he'd come to see that "...Nazism was a mass movement and not the tyranny of a diabolical few over helpless millions. Then I wondered if Adolf Hitler was, after all, the Nazi I wanted to see. By the time the war was over I had identified my man: the average German."
Knowing there was no such person, Mayer set out in 1950 to live in Germany for a year, and get to know Germans who had lived through the Nazi years. He settled in Marburg (called "Kronenburg" in the book), a university-town of 42,000 in Hesse, central West Germany (at the time). His intention was to develop a friendship with the ordinary men he met there, and get to know them in friendly visits to their homes, and their visits to his. Mayer wrote that he wanted "...to bring back to America the life-story of the ordinary German under National Sicialism..."
He was aware that there would be problems in befriending Germans. First that he was an American, whose troops occupying West Germany were widely seen as "conquerors:" and second that he was Jewish, though he'd become a Quaker. For purposes of befriending people in Marburg and encouraging them to be candid in their conversations with him, he didn't divulge his ancestry.
Mayer felt he succeeded in developing a friendship with the ten ordinary Marburgers on whom the book is based, except perhaps one. They were deliberately a mixed group: a teacher, a tailor, a butcher, a local policeman. Mixed too in their acceptance of Nazism.
One had been a local Nazi leader, but all the others had only joined the party in connection with their jobs. The local leader was later convicted of involvement in the burning of the city's synagogue, and served prison-time. But for all the others, the evil that befell their nation was largely tangential to their daily lives.
Beyond their culture's antipathy toward Jews, only one man admitted to participation in official anti-Semitism (before Jews were taken into "protective custody" and sent to a regional holding facility, after their synagogue was burned on Kristallnacht), saying he had passed a lifelong Jewish neighbor with only a nod, rather than his usual "Good evening, Herr Schmidt." Even the policeman, ordered by his state's government to assemble local Jews for transport to their facilities, served them tea in his office as they came to agreement with him that they would be safer under state protection.
Only the teacher, although a party-member, resisted the Nazi regime in any way. Contrary to party instructions, he quietly assigned his German Literature classes a few classic works by Jewish authors. And of all Mayer's friends, he alone expressed regrets for his tacit acceptance of Nazism.
Mayer wrote too that he also had two assets in befriending his ordinary Germans: "I really wanted to know them. And another, acquired in my long association with the American Friends Service Committee: I really believed that there was 'that of God' in every one of them."
I was especially impessed by Mayer's "Foreword," perceptive of how absolute political evil insinuates itself into the lives of ordinary people: and prescient in its warning about that possibility in America.
"My faith found that of God in my ten Nazi friends. My newspaper training found that of something else in them, too. They were each of them a most marvelous mixture of good and bad impulses, their lives a marvelous mixture of good and bad acts. I liked them. I couldn't help it. Again and again, as I sat or walked with one or another of my ten friends, I was overcome by the same sensation that had got the way of my newspaper reporting in Chicago years before. I liked Al Capone. I liked the way he treated his mother. He treated her better than I treated mine.
"I found--and find--it hard to judge my Nazi friends. But I confess that I would rather judge them than myself. In my own case I am always aware of the provocations and handicaps that excuse, or at least explain, my own bad acts. I am always aware of my good intentions, my good reasons for doing bad things. I should not like to die tonight, because some of the things that I had to do today, things that look very bad for me, I had to do in order to do something very good tomorrow that would more than compensate for today's bad behavior. But my Nazi friends did die tonight; the book of their Nazi lives is closed, without their having been able to do the good they may or may not have meant to do, the good that might have wiped out the bad they did.
"By easy extension, I would rather judge Germans than Americans. Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany . . .It was what most Germans wanted--or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.
"I came back home a little afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under pressure of combined reality and illusion. I felt--and feel--that it was not German Man that I had met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here, under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.
"If I--and my countrymen--ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm. For there is no harm that anyone else can do to a man that he cannot do to himself, no good that he cannot do if he will. And what was said long ago is true: Nations are made not of oak and rock but of men, and, as the men are, so will the nation be."
I also give here a quote from Mayer's Wikipedia profile. As a "public intellectual" of his time, he was involved in various controversies. This summary of one seems to well summarize his lifelong championing of social change:
"Before a group at a War Resisters League dinner in 1944, he denied being a pacifist, even while admitting that he was a conscientious objector to the present conflict. He opted for a moral revolution, one that was anti-capitalistic because it would be anti-materialist. About this time, he began promoting that moral revolution with his regular monthly column in the Progressive, for which he wrote the rest of his life. His essays often provoked controversy for their insistence that human beings should assume personal responsibility for the world they were creating."
Monday, September 17, 2018
There was a lot of attention paid the remarks of the current president after his servile summit with Vladimir Putin last July. His dismissal, for example, of United States' policy toward Russia, by the 11 U.S. Presidents who preceded him, as "foolish".
And there was much attention given his claim that when he said "I don't see any reason why it would be Russia" who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election (although all of America's intelligence agencies had certified to him it was so), what he meant was "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Paying close attention to any of the current president's remarks is wasted effort. Their stupidity and lies are obvious on the surface.
But the most interesting comment in that press conference was Vladimir Putin's:
Q "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election? And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"
PRESIDENT PUTIN: (As interpreted.) "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."
Vladimir Putin has showed that he's not stupid. But we know he's no more truthful that our president.
The context of his remarks was that the U.S. president had just bragged about his Electoral College numbers (again) to claim again there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia; and Putin had chimed in to say charges of collusion were "nonsense."
It's no doubt true, as Putin admitted, that he wanted his toady to be president of the United States, and had directed his government's officials to help the current president win election. All American intelligence agencies had verified that. But that admission quite puts in question Putin's claim of "no collusion."
(As does the current president's campaign speech asking Russian hackers to search for his opponent's e-mails.)
But most of all, I think we have to discount Putin's claim that his motive was a "normal relationship" between the U.S. and Russia. Everything Putin has done; murder of Russian investigative journalists, fomenting war in Ukraine, occupying Crimea, sending troops to help the President of Syria slaughter his people; shows his motives are always, and only, about increasing his own power, in Russia, and in the world.
It's a safe bet that Putin's interest in America and its elections is that America, his only real super-power rival, be too weak to stand in his way. We have Putin's admission, and independent verification, that he wanted our current president to be elected, and directed that his government do everything it could to make that happen.
Putin wanted an American president who would weaken America. The candidate Putin wanted elected was elected.
The candidate, our current president, got what he wanted. Putin got what he wanted. I don't know the technical legal definition of what constitutes "collusion," but relationship of mutual wish-fulfillment between Putin and our current president seems like it might qualify.
Jesus cited the Law, that every fact should be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses (in Matthew 18:16, and elsewhere). I have to wonder if that applies here, in the negative.
When two liars swear there is "no collusion," does that constitute proof there was ?
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Listening to the news this morning, I felt I had to stop and pray for the Syrians trapped in the last province held by al-Assad rebels. The news this morning, and for the last few days, is ominous. Government forces, with their Russian and Iranian allies, seem poised to crush the last rebel stronghold in Idlib province.
Of course only a few of the several million people in Idlib are armed rebels. The vast majority are non-combatants. The number of non-combatants in the province has been increased by the probably-million refugees who have fled there to escape previous war-zones.
It's not clear whether or not Turkey will accept more hundreds of thousands of fleeing Syrians when the government offensive begins. It seems fairly clear that the world community will really do nothing to stop the offensive, although one NGO has characterized Idlib as a "death-trap" for those living there.
It's those non-combatants and refugees, families and women and children, I'm praying for.
I'm not at all praying for the politics of the situation. Politics created the situation: why do we think politics will heal it ? And how much is a prayer that "our side" win in accordance with God's heart: especially in a war, when we're asking Him to kill a bunch of people we don't like ? Realizing in his Psalms David did so, his prayers were usually based on the fact those people were enemies of God, which was the reason they afflicted God's people.
We already know how God has said He will deal with His enemies (whom we should also consider our enemies): the only question is when. I doubt we're out-of-line to ask Him to bring His righteous judgement on His enemies, crushing them so completely and quickly that His absolute sovereignty is manifest, and praised, by all who see.
That's quite a different prayer than, "God, kill those people I don't like."
Bashar al-Assad has been a worse ruler than most, for a long time. Even at his best, he was contemptuous of God's command that a ruler be "a minister of God for good" to his subjects. And when his hold on power was threatened, he showed himself ready to bomb and poison-gas his own people indiscriminately...children and mothers and families along with those in armed rebellion against him.
There's probably no greater measure of the man's evil than that hospitals were especially targeted by al-Assad's forces. Even when we saw videos of horribly-wounded people and children gasping for air laying in the halls of medical facilities, doctors could do little to help as medical supplies dwindled under al-Assad's blockade of rebel areas. His war-policy was to destroy even those facilities, to ensure there be no hope whatever for his victims. Policy also to follow a bombing with a second bombing when medical personnel came out to treat the victims of the first.
In one sense, the current president of the United States is pursuing a similar policy. His attacks on Truth extend to those whose work is to heal the wounds he inflicts: "the failing New York Times," and all "the fake media," that accurately report his words are lies.
After Bob Woodward's recent book detailing the danger and idiocy he's made of the presidency, he's renewed his call for libel laws that would enable him to sue anyone who publishes stories "told to make the president look bad." And no doubt his followers, like al-Assad's, will follow his evil orders.
I doubt they will succeed: God guarantees evil will not triumph. But sometimes He waits for evil men to fill "the cup of His wrath" to the brim before He unleashes His judgement on them. He may do so in Syria, and He may do so in America.
But however and whenever God destroys the murderers and liars, the children of satan (John 8:44) who seek to kill men or kill truth, and seek even to kill those who would heal the wounded, God's righteous rule will be glorified, and His Name will be praised by all who see it.
May all God's people pray with David,
"Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,
And let those who hate Him flee before Him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish before God.
But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God;Yes, let them rejoice with gladness."
Saturday, September 08, 2018
The old con-man's maxim is "you can't cheat an honest man." People get sucked into a con by their own dishonesty; usually a desire for money, even if the opportunity is slightly shady. In the BBC TV comedy Hustle, the con-artists' motto is to "find a man who wants something for nothing, and give him nothing for something."
Honest people, approached by a con-man claiming he'd found a bank-deposit someone had lost on the street, don't agree they should split it; even when the grifter points out that no one will ever know, and the person who lost it will probably be reimbursed by an insurance-company. An honest person's first, and unshakable, response is to return the money to the person who lost it.
That's the classic con called the "pigeon drop." There's a memorable example in the first scenes of The Sting. James Earl Jones and Robert Redford play it to perfection on a numbers-runner from Doyle Lonnegan's gang. (And James Earl Jones finds there are dire consequences for conning another criminal.)
You can't cheat an honest man.
The flip side of that coin is that you can't (or it's extremely difficult to) convince the dishonest of the truth. They always suspect that everyone has a shady intent to take advantage of other people...like they themselves do.
My friend Mike Baker told me his dad always said that all politicians were out to get rich at the public's expense. Mike said he challenged his dad once, that "You don't know that's true." His dad replied, "Of course it's true. I would if I could."
One of Mike's favorite phrases was "irrefutable logic." It was usually his jocular way of throwing up his hands, when someone's self-deluded certainty made them immune to reason. That was how he characterized his dad's cynical view of politicians; and it's the "irrefutable logic" of the dishonest.
The dishonesty they share with the con-man can even produce a kind of Stockholm Syndrome: the deceived can come to identify with their deceiver. Satan can't really make anyone follow him: and he doesn't have much to offer those who do, except the utter destruction God promises to evil-doers. But satan doesn't have to argue us into following him. In the absence of the Holy Spirit, he finds a room already prepared for him, and a family-welcome.
It's probably the only way satan can have children. That may be be what had happened with those Jesus said in John 8:44 had the spirit of satan in their hearts, and called children of satan.
That seems to be what happened with supporters of the current president Their politics already had a large component of dishonesty, and the deceiver was able to exploit what was in their hearts to his advantage. Over the course of time, many who at first had to be deceived to follow him have come to follow him willingly, because they identify with him.
Truth is a hard sell to people with Stockholm Syndrome, who make themselves oblivious to the fact that they're being held prisoner by a criminal.
Knowing the truth, acknowledging the truth, would set the captives free. We have Jesus' word on that (John 8:32). But the con-man's coin has two side. You can't cheat an honest man. And you can't free a dishonest man from the lies he wants to believe.