“What Is Truth?”

Humanity’s depraved motive to manipulate truth for selfish gain has been a violent, insane, treacherous road of desperation, full of switchbacks, deadfalls, and detours through rivers of blood.  Even a cynical agent of Rome (an empire built on violence), Pontius Pilate, asked the very essence of truth himself, Jesus Christ, “What is truth?”  (John 18:38), but received no reply.

Why?  Because simple reality is the long and short of truths definition.  But the bitter irony is that as depraved humanity throws itself into this rabid misuse, truth’s reality crowds us like a hungry lion seeking us as prey.  Pilate’s ill motive toyed with truth, even as divine eyes of its reality burned his soul with a desire to be known by him.  Ironically, God’s sublime truth was not Pilate’s prisoner at all.  No, Pilate used what he required for selfish gain, then literally attempted to wash his guilty hands of the rest of it.  But as he would come to learn, truth evilly entreated is coiled with the deadly strike of a rattlesnake.

 

Pilate was not alone in his crisp question.  The builders of the Tower of Babel, the ancient Persian astronomers, the Greek philosophers, even the Mayan priests and other seekers the world over, including those of modern times, were, and are, motivated toward a blind thirst for facts to be used as tools of power whereby their own hand can unify and satisfy the search for humanity’s origin, purpose, and destiny. As Mark Twain once observed, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them any way you please.” Although couched humorously, he spoke true words. But as Solomon said of such selfish aims, “all is vanity…” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Regardless of our tumultuous history, our daring explorations, and our fantastic discoveries, today’s human condition shouts to us that our selfish hands are yet empty.  Truth’s essence of humility yet runs through our misguided fingers like quicksilver slipping through sand, and disappears.

Probably the most faithful metaphor for truth is light and perhaps the best Scripture verse describing it is, “Whatsoever maketh manifest is light” (Ephesians 5:13).  Simply translated, it means, Whatever reveals reality is truth.  The best illustration of it is to enter a pitch dark room and then turn on the light.  Everything suddenly lights up in plain sight, in full reality for every normal eye to behold in true perspective.  But a self-made blind man who enters and turns on the light is yet blind and misses reality because it doesn’t match his preconceived imagination.

Again, simple reality is truths definition.  Truth is factual and real.  It is not a product of human intellect; instead, human intelligence is a product of truth.  Truth is ahead of us, not something we have in tow.  The wise do not own it; rather, it owns them, and wisdom’s rightful definition is that a man is possessed of it, not its dictator.  The very nature of reality is that it has fixed laws, and these may be regarded as the White Stallion of Truth.  For example, the law of gravity may be foolishly violated, but such foolishness falls to the ground to be trampled by the razored hooves of truth.

We should learn that truth never progresses, for it is an eternal essence; we either progress, digress, or regress in knowing it. Never the deceiver, it always tells the truth.  It never changes, is never new, never old, never evolves, it just is, ever present, never compromising.  It laughs hard at so-called “Situation Ethics,” but sits rather as a lead weight in the pit of every stomach who fantasizes, philosophizes, doctrinizes, or compromises.  Truth demands respect, and has a sharp presence equally in slums or mansions, churches or brothels, on death row or the Supreme Court, in the seat of a garbage truck or the one in the Oval Office.  It is always simple reality, the nose on our own faces regardless of who looks down it, be it Joe Stalin, Genghis Khan, Geronimo, or the Pope; whether we be farsighted, nearsighted, ego-sighted, or stone blind. Truth always wins every debate because it is in essence its own proof of what winning is.  Though all humanity should call it false, it yet looms before us because it cannot not exist.  It is never the captive, but itself either sets free or imprisons.  It never bounces because it is the bouncer.  It is unmoved if missed, if stumbled over, or even if it kills you.  Although humanity’s recklessness to ignore it should turn the landscape into a chaotic nightmare of confusion at the cost of millions of lives and human suffering, there it yet looms as an unmarred granite monolith amid utter human chaos saying, “I was right here all along; how could you possibly have missed me?”

By observing humanity’s sordid past (and present), one might reason that no honorable search for truth exists.  Oh, but it does!  You see, the facts contained by reality are actually for the pleasure and benefit of those who seek truth in humility, not for selfish gain.  “The meek will he guide in judgment: And the meek will he teach his way,” (Psalm 25:9). He who truly finds it embraces its very embodiment.  He does not crucify it as a subservient to a perceived higher power, as did Pilate.  Rather, he discovers that truth itself is a higher power to be embraced in broken humility.  Those grounds are not for Neros or Hitlers, nor are they for intellectual stiff necks.  Such as these will be ground to powder, but “the meek… shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).  Who are the meek?  These are they who found that life worth living never came from tyranny, but from following Him whose very name is Truth (John 14:6; John 17:17; and 1st John 5:6).  Such passages declare truth to actually be a person, even though secular minds tossed that idea aside long ago as useless nonsense.  Nevertheless, the moral principle of perfect goodness, intuitively known among depraved humanity, demands the existence of a Perfect Person to judge the validity of right or wrong.

It is in fact the driving force in the natural law of cause and effect, a process Jesus Christ aptly called sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7, 8).  Our bad moral choices in the very face of truth’s reality renders us victims, much like the insanity of beating our own faces bloody against a stone wall.  The truth Himself declares with omnipotent authority, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6), but our dull ears and scaled eyes, swollen with inflated egos, are why our guilty hands are yet empty.  Even though “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and although the very firmament above us, and the world of wonders engulfing us below, shows his power (Psalm 19:1), we vainly ignore truth’s guarantee that, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Until we come humbly to know truth personally, intimately, and until all our ego, genius, pride, and debate, dissolves into God’s personal presence and fellowship, until that day, our grasping, clutching hands are yet empty.  What great eternal loss is that when his resounding voice echoes through the chambers of our souls, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

DA

 

 

 

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News Media: Social Wrecking Ball

Wherever we find humans, freedom is always so very precious to us because it is who we are.  Nothing phases that love, no matter what comes against it.  Liberty and America are synonymous terms in today’s world, but everyone knows instinctively that communism, fascism, socialism, and all such isms are bed partners with slavery, bondage, torture, and suffering.  What an amazing irony that such things even exist at all among our freedom loving human race!

But depravity and evil are bound up in our human identity, and so out leaps from all too many of us an aggressive urge to fulfill our lusts.  It is an exercise in utter foolishness to think any human society of such nature, past, present, or future, will not act in such a destructive way.  Evolution will never cure it, because we just keep getting worse and worse, not better and better.

America, the grand experiment of a free people, is no different.  Think of it this way: we can bake the most delicious bread possible until its wonderful aroma fills the air, but if the baking process does not go on replacing the previous batch, then one day we will slice into it and discover it to be shot through with mold.

Before mold is visible, it begins smelling bad.  You don’t see anything, but you sniff it and say, “Hmmm…something doesn’t smell right about this.”  Sure enough, one day the smell bad becomes visibly bad, and if you eat it, it tastes bad, and then in your stomach you finally realize just how bad!  B.O.  becomes oh, me!

Too often we forget the formula for American liberty.  We must keep baking new batches, one after another, until it is infused with the very same freedom that made us a great free society from the start.  We need only visit our public institutions and read what is chiseled into granite, shown in our paintings, and shouts from our preserved documents to know what we must pass on if our new generations are going to be free of mold.

One of the visible spots of mold was the B.O. of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.  It was passed on, leaped the fence, slammed into our public schools and universities, and attacked our greatest asset to freedom, Christianity, with an aggressive vengeance.  Today, it eats like termites into our very superstructure of liberty, and threatens to crumble it into a heap of godless atheism.  There cannot be a more deadly enemy to the liberty of Christian America.

That brings our subject to a deadly mold that has become the greatest threat to the very existence of our American experiment.  It comes down to the familiar adage, “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (Acts 20:29), which American Christians do not seem ready to hear.  This wolf is so very well disguised, so subtle in his methods, so self-effacing, so full of a false humility, so believable and seeming trustworthy, that even Christianity itself goes bleating in train behind it.  In fact it is a vital part of our very American identity as a free people.  It is our constitutional guarantee of free speech, especially  our precious constitutional freedom of the press.

Early in our history, the enemy of Christianity saw that soft underbelly, and set it as his main target of infiltration against what God had inspired in our founding fathers — Christian freedom.  America was to become the world’s bastion of freedom, a protected haven whereby the gospel of Christ would be preached to the ends of the earth.  It came from God’s inspiration that energized them, knowingly or not, and became the thread of gold running through American liberty.

The problem connected to the free press was just that — free to anybody, Christian or not, and not everyone with money to found a press was a Christian, or perhaps was a liberal one.  American printed materials quickly became it’s loyal citizen’s source of trusted information, simply because it was produced by an American press, not British or French.  In those early times when high moral standards ran through society, and because patriotism was at peak, the press was forced to follow such standards or else go broke for lack of readership.  Besides, if they failed to please the people, another enterprising publisher was waiting to give the people what they demanded: truth.

Moving forward then, American prosperity and freedom affected Americans the same as it has affected all people of the past who experienced it: they grew cold in their spiritual morality and turned to self sufficiency.  And this process became an evolution before Charles Darwin’s curse of The Origin of the Species claimed the word.  And, quite naturally, when Darwin’s curse dawned, the evolving American press embraced it with great enthusiasm.  Since the press was their trusted source of truth, the American people came to Darwin’s view as well.  It’s poison shot through society with a vengeance, especially the institutions of higher learning.  The result was phenomenal.  What was once a press governed by a people at large with moral convictions, it evolved into a press which became more and more dictatorial of what is truth, than a mere reporting of the truth– a vital difference indeed!

But a worse thing happened: Christian pulpits across the land, once flaming arrows of truth into American hearts, became somewhat confused.  You see, as I said, the entire governing principle of the American press was to provide the American people with facts, not propaganda from England or France.  In short, the press itself was meant to be a pulpit of truth which complemented the Christian pulpits, the original source and inspiration of American freedom.  The American press was never designed to insult the integrity of the free people of America, whose chosen guiding moral principle was kept fresh by faithful Christian pulpits.

However, because the Christian zeal of the people cooled, they found themselves faced with a double-image source for factual information, the pulpit and the press.  Sadly, the people’s mental focus gradually shifted away from the Christian pulpits, and slipped rather into judging the pulpit by the “factual” reporting of the press-pulpit instead.  In a word, the press-pulpit very slowly stole the limelight of public trust.  If the so-called truths of Scripture coming from compromising pulpits could not stand up to the dictatorial scrutiny of the press, the Christian pulpit appeared to be a dispenser of fairy tales, while the press took on the image of an everyday source of factual, reliable, reality.  In fact, a noted newscaster of the past always closed with, “And that’s the way it is.”

As a result of that progress, elements were set in motion for the erosion of whom God intended us to be as a Christian nation.  What started as our friend, became our deadly enemy.  We were fooled into thinking our enemy was abroad, when in fact it became part of our furniture, right there in every American living room!  And, I’m sorry, but  that’s the way it is!

How did that happen?  Here’s how: silent pulpits.  That’s how!  Ministers behind pulpits, through lack of perception, became suckers to this covert strategy.  It was an imperception molded by compromise, lack of New Testament vision, a doubting the veracity of God’s word as the final authority of any issue, not to mention a plethora of new translations by questionable scholars with a bent to soften the edges into something more in keeping with modern accepted views.  Besides the feminist Bible, the Reader’s Digest had the foolish notion of printing a condensed Bible, leaving out much of God’s vital message!

This multistage missile passed through many stages over the last 200 years to reach what appears to be the final stage before it explodes among us.  With each stage it gathered more power for greater altitude and accuracy toward its target.  It passed through such stages as the Scopes monkey trial, the FDR stage, the Vietnam stage, the hippie stage, the rock ‘n roll stage, the Nixon stage, the Clinton stage, the hanging Chad stage, the terrorist stage, and many other smaller ones, until the dangerous one now facing us.  Today the liberal press could well be called the fourth arm of the government, and seems to have positioned itself into the most powerful arm of the government!  It’s readership and viewership is so vast and so relied on by so many, that it holds the entire nation captive to its dictated “truth.”  Reality has become what the wolf says it is.

Taking advantage of the human psyche, these deceivers have developed great skill over the many decades, and have honed their message to a razor edge.  They have great skill at maneuvering of emotion, directing human affections, of winning confidence, believability, and trust.  They use degreed personnel to their advantage, especially those skilled in the fine art of moving people in a desired direction.  It works wonders simply because through many decades they firmly hold an envious position where all eyes and ears are on them.  With such power, something becomes fact simply because they say it is, a tactic proven again and again for thousands of years. “It has to be true, I read it in the newspapers and saw it on television.”

Unguarded pulpits themselves have fallen victim to this deadly assumption, but it is a colossal mistake for any pulpit to assume that just because it is a network newscast it will be any different than a soap opera shown daily by the same network.  Such a naive pulpit is taking a bath in false reality.  One cannot drink a sip of hemlock tea and expect not to be sick the same as everyone else who sipped it.  A free people are not advantage if 90% of the press is a thundering pulpit into American living rooms preaching the glowing wonders of a socialist state, such as we are seeing today.

But it should be clearly understood that a wolf in sheep’s clothing is not going to bark or growl.  No, he will only give a lowly bleat.  He will carefully blend with the real sheep and seem very much to be a part of the flock.  Only in the influence he gives to others can he be detected.  The most subtle trick they have found to date works like a witch’s brew.  Probably the best description for it would be the old bait and switch deception.  Here’s how it works: first, it takes a handsome or beautiful face, carefully and professionally dressed and made up in the latest hairdo and fashionable attire.  They must be very personable, but of a matter-of-fact expression, well spoken, with a smooth voice.  Then it takes a very carefully screened editorial staff, one honed to a philosophy and harmony to the purpose behind the political aim of the network.  It must be of an overwhelming liberal mindset, except for a token moderate voice, but never a true conservative.

Now comes the gathering of information for the sheep-like staff to present to a waiting audience, who have complete confidence in hearing truth, “the way it is.”   Out goes a film crew and reporters to gather what will make excellent material for such a setup.

Once a full stock of materials are gathered, it is then put in the hands of an editorial staff for tailoring to fit the foregone agenda of the network.  Now, here’s where the entire process becomes extremely subtle.  Bear in mind that the reporting agency is heavily ensconced in an adopted political base, and has staffed virtually the entire organization, through interview, with only those of the same persuasion as the base.  The base, however, is never stated.  Instead, it is always presented as honest, factual, unbiased, and completely reliable for truth.  The agenda is always followed, even if it fits the political views of only a minority of the American people.  This ploy is extremely effective if one has a “captive audience,” such as currently exists in America where the majority of the American people hear the news from several dominant networks which, over the decades, have become trusted household news sources. Only one comparable news source conflicts with the others, but the majority heavyweights have successfully reduced them to only a novelty where one goes for humor, not hard facts.

So that’s the bait, the smooth anchorperson, the subtle editorial staff, the majority voice.  Now comes the magic of the switch.  The suave anchor, with a smooth, calm voice, reads a prepared script.  Now watch: they show pictures and videos of a reporter on location proving what the  anchor just said.  The viewers see and hear these hard “facts” and come away thinking they have been factually informed of the actual truth of an event.  After all, there’s the proof for the whole world to see and hear for themselves.  Seeing and hearing is believing.  Now how slick and subtle is that?  Well, here are a couple of examples of how slick it is:

A few years ago I saw on the local news that a recent storm had completely demolished an auto parts store.  My ears perked because it was where I’d shopped for auto parts for years.  I knew the owner.  The news item showed the damage, and even an interview with the owner’s wife.  A few days later I was near there, so I decided to drive by and view the damage.  To my great surprise, there it was, completely intact, doing the usual booming business!  I stopped and went in.  Absolutely nothing had changed!  I asked the owner about the report.  He said it was nonsense.  I said, but they showed pictures.  He said that too was nonsense, that it was an adjoining empty room where one piece of tin roofing lifted and let a little water in on a concrete floor.  He showed me.  It was virtually nothing!  I said, but they interviewed your wife and she said you didn’t know what you were going to do.  Again, he said nonsense, that he told her not to talk to them.  Here, then, was a news report that was viewed all over central Texas, made perfectly believable to those viewers by a story “proven” with undeniable  pictures and even a testimony of the man’s wife!  And yet, it was almost entirely a fabrication!  Those who knew the truth were not fooled, but well over 90% of the viewing audience, even to this day, believed a lie.  The only reason for it was a desperation to show some news, any news, so they could make money. Mind you now, this is the testimony of only one person, myself, of an incident that my own eyes and ears know for sure that this was a false report.  Imagine how many other similar false reports have taken place across the nation and deceived multitudes of people into thinking they were actually seeing and hearing reliable facts.

But here is another one viewed and heard by my own ears, which was a pure fabrication: we were victims of the great Bastrop, Texas wildfire, although it narrowly missed us and was just across the street as it went by.  We lost power, and the outage lasted nine days during one of the hottest summers on record.  After the burning was well underway, I received a cell phone call from someone 250 miles away saying the news report they heard said a corner gas station and minute-market (name withheld) only a short distance from us had burned to the ground and all the underground tanks had exploded!  It was perfectly believable, because this whole area looks very much like a war zone.  We even heard many explosions. But several days later, the highway barricades came down and we were able to drive into Bastrop for groceries.  To our astonishment, there stood our so-called “demolished” minute-market completely untouched!  In fact, the emergency personnel were using it as a way station for supplies.  The news report was a complete fabrication, with not an ounce of truth in it.  One wonders how many other false stories went out around the world about this devastating fire, and floats around out there even yet as truth.

Now let’s swing that focus around to politics. It is easy to see that the same liberties are taken, but more so, when the stakes are infinitely higher.  It can easily be seen that in extremely subtle ways, a “free” press can easily be a propaganda tool the same as any communist nation where the press is state owned.  Quite frankly, when a nation ceases to be a Christian-based nation such as America has been, the  greatest danger to its liberty is a rebel press, whose daily fare is the art of brainwash.  When Christian morality is not the ruling principle in our society, it cannot be self-governing, because self control with a worthy principle is the only way a society can get along with itself.  To quote an adage of recent years, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”  And when a free press is not self-governed, it becomes a heavy weapon in the hands of tyranny and barbarians. Mark Twain once observed to another writer, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”  In short he was observing that if you make the facts your base, you can easily make distortion believable with some slick maneuvering.  Joy Lucius, continuing the thought, observes in the AFA Journal, “How can Christian consumers distinguish the truth amid the whirling, spinning facts disseminated by creative marketing and a politically correct cultural bent?”

Few Americans seem aware that the political stakes are as high as they actually are.  The stakes being gambled for is the overthrow of a powerful Christian nation whose history was to stand like a monolith against tyranny, barbarism, cruelty, hedonism, slavery, perversion, human suffering, and the stealing of innocence.  America has been a bastion of Christian freedom, a base from which the good news of the Gospel has been a lighthouse to the world.  The enemy of such greatness is using every available means to dynamite our base, and to see “The Establishment,” as the hippies called it, come crashing down in a heap of rubble, plunging the planet itself into an unbelievable darkness called socialism, a way station on the road to Communism.  If it happens, woe to those who assisted even in a small measure in that fall!  Especially Christian pulpits whom God has charged to be vigilant, discerning, resilient, strong, and faithful to God’s holy Word.  –DA

 

 

 

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Message To America

The following is an article appearing in Days of Praise, a devotional periodical, by the late Dr. Henry M. Morris, creation scientist extraordinaire, founder and former president of Institute for Creation Research (ICR,  www.icr.org ). During the last half of the last century, this man transformed the way Christian society handled the onslaught of godless evolution. His colleague, Dr. Duane Gish, championed debate with evolutionists until they began warning one another against debating him because he always won. It was bad PR.

Dr. Morris was also an extraordinary Christian, Bible teacher, and theologian. He published The Defender’s Study Bible, the main commentary against evolution, a tool for Christians to defend themselves. This writer is a proud owner of one. While I sharply disagree with Dr. Morris in his Calvinist-slanted theology, he was and is a man I greatly admire as truly one of the great Christians of the Church age.

THOUGHTS OF THE HEART

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
(Genesis 6:56)

These two verses, describing the incurable wickedness of the antediluvian world, which finally brought on the global Flood, contain the first two of over a thousand occurrences of the word “heart” in the Bible. Note the contrast: man’s heart was evil; God’s heart was grieved.

Both the Hebrew and Greek languages treated the heart as the center of a person’s being, the seat of all feelings and thoughts, and we do the same in English. The writers knew that the heart was a physical organ, with its function of circulating the blood as basic to physical life. Leviticus 17: 11, among other Scriptures, notes that “the life of the flesh is in the blood,” but only rarely was the word used thus in Scripture. Nearly always the word is used symbolically in reference to the deep essence of a person’s being. It is also used occasionally to refer to the innermost part of physical objects (e.g., “the heart of the earth,” as in Matthew 12:40).

In this first occurrence it refers to the “thoughts” of the heart. Somehow, before one thinks with his mind, he thinks with his heart, and these deep, unspoken thoughts will determine the way he reasons with his brain. Jesus confirmed this in Mark 7:2 1: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.”

How important it is, then, to maintain a heart that is pure. In fact, in sharp contrast to the first occurrence of “heart” in the Old Testament referring to man’s evil thoughts, the first occurrence in the New Testament is in the gracious promise of Christ: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). —Henry M. Morris

Here is a message America needs to hear, but almost no one is telling her. Great Christians of many faiths founded America on Christian principles. All Washington D.C. edifices give witness to that fact, as well as all the founding documents. It was a time when God was honored by the hearts of God’s people, the heart of the nation. Imperfect though we were, our hearts pleased God, and so He blessed us against our enemies. Time and again when we should have lost, God saw that we won against formidable odds.

But Dr. Morris’ text is very troubling. Man’s sin against God in the Garden of Eden “grieved Him at His heart.” Here is where we have gone wrong as a nation. America has grievously sinned in so many ways it is breathtaking! And this even to the point of thumbing our noses at Him and spitting in His face, or ruling Him completely out of existence with atheism! A few preachers paint God as a merciless, Holy God standing ramrod and stern toward everyone. But the great majority of preachers present Him as all mercy, extraordinarily tolerant of sin, a mixer-mingler with sinners, and that virtually every person naming the name of Christ, regardless of their conduct, is going to Heaven, while Hell virtually doesn’t exist, so it isn’t worth mentioning in the pulpit.

But there is far more to God being humanity’s Creator and God than we are giving Him credit for. The balanced view of Scripture shows God as the essence of pure equality. He is instantly standing ready to rejoice with those who bless Him and to “give them as the days of Heaven upon Earth,” (Deut.11:21) as well as Heaven hereafter, but also just as instantly ready to show His Holy rage by giving to us the days of Hell upon the Earth, as well as Hell in the hereafter! This is true from individuals to nations to the world.

America’s people of God who once properly blessed and honored Him have, through compromise watered down our doctrines, surrendered our offspring to godless teachers, generally cast ballots toward prosperity instead of righteous Christian principles, and have given birth to generations closer to barbarians than Christ followers. Yesterday’s Americans dumped sewage into underground septic tanks, but the ugly picture today is of elevated septic tanks that back-flush into American living rooms! It takes no Scriptural intelligence at all to see God’s reaction to this ugly scene. We have greatly offended Him and “Grieved Him at His heart,” to say the least, until He would have to apologize to ancient Israel if He were to simply bless us and fight for us.

In fact, we would do well to brace ourselves for Isaiah 63:10, “But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.”

WAKE UP, AMERICA!
—DA

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Tragic Ignorance

” ‘Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not. yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. ‘ (Hosea 7:9)

“One of the saddest dramas in human experience is the sight of a proud and confident leader who does not realize that his once-vaunted powers have deserted him and he now appears merely weak and foolish. Mighty Samson, with his locks shorn was a sad example of such tragic ignorance. ‘And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him’ (Judges 16:20), so the Philistines put out his eyes and bound him with chains. So it was with the once-mighty people of Israel in the days of their deep apostasy. Hosea described their distressing condition in the graphic words of our text.

Many years later, God’s chosen people exhibited an even more tragic state of pompous ignorance. Their Messiah had come to them, and they didn’t know Him, even crucifying Him. God’s judgment couldn’t be delayed. ‘[They] shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation’ (Luke 19:44).

But perhaps the most tragic case is the church in Laodicea. This church represents all those outwardly prosperous evangelical churches that attempt to take a neutral stance on the basic conflicts of the last days. The one who is ‘the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God’ (Revelation 3:14) will pronounce the awful judgment. ‘So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked’ ( vv. 16-17).

How urgently the people of God need to guard against the tragedy of arrogant ignorance! ” —Dr. Henry M. Morris

The foregoing devotional by Dr. Morris seems so very appropriate to our times. So it was with the ancient church of Laodicea, until Jesus was on the OUTSIDE of their door, bidding them to let Him back in to sup with them. That church, like so many churches since then, started well at it’s birth, but became full of what Dr. Morris calls “pompous ignorance.”

In our own time, the first tragic sign of compromising our testimony is always “that attempt to take a neutral stance on the basic conflicts of the last days,” forgetting that the stand for Godly righteousness, whether it be a church, a city, a state, or a nation, is first of all individually. How many church pews today are occupied with used-to-be’s, but are now arm-folding, gray-headed has-beens, full of pride and “arrogant ignorance,” and “wist not that the Lord has departed” from them.

Jesus’ admonition to those seven churches of Asia was to do their first works over again. There is no indication at all that He ever changed His advice for any New Testament church. His vehicle to win souls has always been equipped with just one gear—reverse! It’s no secret formula, no elaborate, complicated seminar course. That’s why He had the New Testament written with all the vital details for everyone to read. It has never failed to do the job when the church goes back to it, and the church has always failed, and always will, when they don’t.                             –DA

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Puteoli and Irony

Virtually nobody has ever heard of Puteoli, including Bible-believing Christians. That’s unfortunate, for Puteoli shared the spotlight in events that changed history.

Now called Pozzuoli, Puteoli was a tiny city located in the Bay of Naples on the western coast of Italy. It is mentioned in Acts 28:13. Paul passed through it in about 62-63 A.D. as a chained prisoner on the way to appeal to Nero for his freedom.

Puteoli sat precariously and almost literally in the bulls eye of Rome’s sulfurous, stinking, boiling, shifting, idolatrous playground. Here Rome’s wealthy aristocracy, including the Caesars, enjoyed what Cicero called, “A…delightful, a most desirable place, despite the crowds of bores that almost make one want to flee.” It was a place of much wine, prostitutes of all sorts, made possible by temples of idolatry to a multitude of gods suited to every fleshly occasion, such as Venus, Diana, Apollo, Bacchus, Serapes, and many more. Here brutality fed appetites for bloody thrills. This whole gulf was the Roman “escape,” even as its hot springs reeked with a rotten odor oozing through sulphur. All of it sat atop a boiling cauldron below, which heaved and tossed the earth above in preparation for an occasional release of God’s wrath.

The sins of the antediluvians enflamed God’s wrath to curse the ground and sent its crust cracking and shifting, competing for space. The Eurasian and African plates met violently head-on along Italy’s western shore, building such friction as to melt solid rock. Pressure from it couldn’t go down, so it boiled up into a string of nine volcanoes along an 800 mile faultline with Rome smack in the middle. Rome, whose passions vacationed in the shadow and on the slopes of the most dangerous, violent, destructive volcano on the European continent. The world knows it today as VESUVIUS!

A towering peak arose amid the depravity to say that evil is more than dumb—it is pure stupidity! The fools before the Noaic flood discovered it the hard way, but here was a theater telling the world that humanity was doing it all over again. This blowhole of death and destruction had erupted many times before, and so it seems incredible that the Romans didn’t even have a word for VOLCANO! But they did know as a frequent event that the ground often moved with thunder beneath their feet as it shook down buildings, but to which they as much as yawned and went on with their business of sin. After all, although they all, even the rich, had gardens and enjoyed the peaceful things of life, they never missed events at the arena where men and beasts fought to the death in violent butchery. Someone might get crushed under a roof, but they were mentally calloused to such tragedies.

The city officials of Puteoli, at about the time the Apostle Paul walked through it in Emperor Nero’s chains, petitioned and received from Nero the title of “August,” that is, one of Nero’s official, royal cities. It shared the ring of cities around Vesuvius with such others as Pompeii, Neapolis (Naples), and, Rome’s most favored, Herculaneum, which was later to be covered under 75 feet of volcanic rubble and forgotten. All of these had one or more theaters where “stars” performed on the stage. Suetonius, in his ancient biography of the infamous Nero, records that in about 64 A. D. Caesar Nero made his singing debut for the first time on a public stage in Neapolis, only a few miles from Puteoli. A Vesuvian quake began shaking during his performance, but calloused Nero kept singing until he finished his song. Tacitus records that the whole theater caved in shortly after being evacuated. The irony being, as he sang his song he had the Gospel to the gentiles, Paul, on a chain which, in turn, was shackled to Nero himself, perhaps the very reason he wasn’t crushed in the cave-in since God later used Nero to release Paul.

But Nero was at center stage of yet another irony: You see, an active volcano is a violent belch with a blessing. The layered soil around it turns the landscape lush. The Romans then planted farms in it and raised bumper crops of fruits and vegetables. Pompeii, for instance, grew grapes and exported more wine to Rome than we can imagine. Ironically, they boiled the juice for wine in lead pots. Stirring it would have scraped lead into the boiling syrup, giving the wine a high lead content. When modern archeologists dug up and analyzed the skeletons of Vesuvius’ victims, they had high levels of lead poisoning. It is known today that lead poisoning causes insanity. Many scientists now believe such despots as Nero and Caligula drank excessively with poison in their goblets. The irony being, they were cursed with a blessing from a curse because their passions were turned on their heads.

Pompeii suffered an irony of its own: It perished in the 19 hour Vesuvian belch in August of 79 A.D. The city had been conveniently located on the Sarno river and near the coast. After the eruption Pompeii was ten feet under, the course of the river now missed them, and they were no longer convenient to the coast. As if that would make any difference to a city ten feet under the ground. Yes, Pompeii also died like Herculaneum, and was forgotten.

Volcanologists now estimate between 10,000 and 25,000 people perished in that eruption, but, ironically, today more than 3,000,000 people live in Vesuvius’ shadow, even as the ground beneath their very feet rises, falls, cracks, and rumbles as it emits slimy pools and sulfuric steam. They trust the experts who are trusting their instruments and instincts for enough warning to race for safety. It is a risky trust, for God’s wrath doesn’t have scientific sensors attached to it. They somehow missed the simple solution: Stop bathing in their spas and start bathing in God’s righteous holiness. A very simple truth storms at these millions for their attention: To live and move and have one’s being in the shadow of one of Earth’s favorite blowholes is not conducive to long life and good health. One might feast a while, but it is only a flash in the pan.

Another irony: Two tectonic plates also do battle up and down the California coast along a faultline about as long as the one in Italy. There sit San Francisco, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and San Diego within its striking range. The ground shakes and rumbles warnings as depravity plays while astride this unpredictable curse, trusting in their wealth, human achievement, scientific know-how, and their own gut instincts. Christians work there among fools, many thinking somehow a disaster would bypass them and destroy only unbelievers, never considering that Satan’s success among the lost was because the church slept.

On the coast of ancient Herculaneum sat a fabulous villa owned by one Calpurius Piso, father-in-law to Julius Caesar. It is today referred to as the Villa of the Papyri because of the priceless papyri scrolls archeologists uncovered in its ruins. Ironically, one can virtually visit this opulent spectacle today by simply touring the J. Paul Geddy Museum, also on the coast, but this one is in Malibu, California. The blueprint of it was lifted from the ruins of the one in Herculaneum, and faithfully copied. The one in Malibu was built with wealth acquired in America, which was founded on Christian principles of freedom, whereas the one in Herculaneum was built by blood, sweat, and tears of slaves, whose dug-up bones tell us they starved as they toiled. One would think Americans could find something better to copy.

Ironically, most of the scrolls in the original villa were those of an Epicurean philosopher, Philodemus, who began, “…god is not the world,” meaning the gods have nothing to do with the affairs of men. The one in Malibu is saying the same thing. In fact, today America says it from the White House to the poor house, from public schools to our most elite universities, from Hollywood to virtually every major news desk. This, even as there in the sideline shadows where we shoved Him, stands He who will judge the nations. At that tribunal He can and will surely say, “I told you so.”

Of all the gentiles of human depravity in Paul’s day, surely the Romans were most strategic in which to sow the good news of the Gospel. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, passed through Puteoli, but he was chained to one of Nero’s soldiers. He was allowed to lodge there seven days with “brethren,” but the evidence best lends itself to believe these were his Jewish brethren, not Christians. In fact, no historical evidence exists to show that later Christianity in that city can be traced to Paul’s visit. They were simply too busy with sin, enjoying the wealth of Rome’s elite, partaking in depravity’s sensual pleasures.

But we would be mistaken to say these citizens of Puteoli, Pompeii, Neapolis, and Herculaneum were not cultured. They certainly were, as evidenced by their works of art. They could even be poetic. The following verse was found on the wall of a citizen of Pompeii:

“Nothing can last in unending time.
When the sun has shown brightly, it
Returns to the sea;
The moon wanes, which was just now full.
So the savagery of love’s passions often
End up as a gentile breeze.”

But Christ-less culture always reduces it to emptiness and vanity, just as King Solomon wisely stated in his Book of Ecclesiastes. It surely showed in Roman culture, as it does today on the faces of their statues and wall paintings. As writer Rick Gore said in his May, 1984 National Geographic article, THE DEAD DO TELL TALES AT VESUVIUS: “Did the excavators, I wonder, notice the eyes in the paintings, busts, and statues? So many stare vacantly ahead…these faces do not express much joy. Often they seem to be asking whatever gods are listening why there has to be such sorrow in the world. From these eyes flows a sadness that sums up the fate of this ‘loveliest region of the Earth,’ that makes me want to say,’…alas Pompeii, alas Herculaneum.'”

True enough, for there is a vast difference between open joy in God’s daylight, and all the laughing in the dark—a truth well illustrated on the back cover of that issue of the National Geographic magazine: A Kodac advertisement shows a photo of an ape whose eyes gleam a happy twinkle, as a pleasant smile stretches his lips.

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Is God In Control? Part 1 of 3

FORENOTE

Possibly the most used phrase in Christian circles today is, “God is in control.” No matter what awful thing happens, disaster, disease, war, tyranny, all such things, “God is in control” is shouted from the housetops by everyone from the least of laity to the height of scholarship.

Well, excuse me, but in the sense universally used, GOD IS NOT IN CONTROL! This article is intended to prove that fact.


Really now, is God in control? Well, depending on the usage, yes, but no. Because of that, if we’re going to say “God is in control,” then it behooves us to clarify what is meant, especially any Christians in positions of influence. Indiscriminate usage of it sends confusing signals into listening ears, saint and sinner. They rely on Christian leaders for what to think about God’s role in such inconsistencies of right and wrong.

Yes, God is most certainly and sovereignly in control of the Laws of Nature which He originally created and set to work in flawless order for all time. He ordained them that way. Only He alone can temporarily suspend those laws, and the times He has done it can be counted on your fingers without running out of fingers. What’s more, those laws are completely neutral in nature in regard to good and evil. They work just as well for despots such as Hitler, or an Abraham Lincoln. Fire will cook a pot of oatmeal, but it will also melt a whole city in a nuclear explosion. In every case, God’s laws of nature operate the same, no matter if it is used for good or evil. The hijackers of 911 skillfully employed it to bring down the Twin Towers in a slaughter of thousands of innocent people because God made certain His morally neutral law of gravity operated in absolute flawless manner. Fire heated the homes of America while Hitler incinerated over six million innocent Jewish people.

Now it doesn’t take a scientific genius or a great theologian to realize those obvious facts of nature. No, even an ignorant bum on the street corner is never heard to say, “Ho-hum, guess I’ll levitate today; I’m getting tired of sleeping on this concrete.” Why do we not see a religious order “prove” by Holy Writ that it is possible to levitate if they will only believe they can? Simple answer: There could be a large church of them making the claim, but anyone with eyes can plainly see that none of them are “floating” around in the church house. No, we all know about the laws of nature, even if we can’t even pronounce their names. We just know they have to be respected, or we pay the sad consequences. So what happens to a religious nut who leaps from a high-rise to prove his faith to levitate? Better ask him about it on the way down, because once he splatters the argument is over.

Oddly, we don’t even NEED Scripture to tell us to obey God’s laws of nature. Doesn’t matter anyhow. Even an atheist is forced to obey God’s laws of nature, or die. Just the act of living is absolute proof that these laws are ironclad for every human, belief in God or not. The factual essence of them is as much of who we are as the noses on our faces! We have to look cross-eyed to see our noses without a mirror, and one has to be a little cockeyed who examines God’s laws of nature to find out if they are real or not.

So what does this have to do with “God is in control,” you ask? EVERYTHING! You see, what we seem to overlook on purpose is yet another of God’s natural laws. Remember, God’s natural laws are set in stone to work flawlessly in neutral between good and evil. He guarantees it by His ordained providence. Like the others, this one God established from the beginning of creation, as secure and solid as gravity itself, if not more so. This one played THE major role in Hitler’s Germany, 911, Hurricane Katrina, and much more throughout history. God always maintains it in full working order, and will throughout all time. He’s not about to change it for anyone. And like the others, this one actually needs no Scripture to prove it’s existence, because it is always as real and present as light and gravity.

However, unlike the other natural laws, would you believe that large religious orders formed hundreds of years ago, and continue today, who have adopted and promote the ridiculous notion that they can suspend this law at will so it ceases to operate for them ever again? I’m not kidding! The thing is addictive, too. Multiplied millions have bought into this fictitious notion. Why? Because of the wonderful convenience it serves in not having to be bothered with it’s troublesome presence everyday of our lives.

Well, like gravity, though, God is always faithful to make absolutely certain the thing is in full operation all their lives, no matter what they choose to believe about it. It is just THERE! Yep, like gravity, light, heat, and perpetual motion, this one just goes right on being itself, forcing us to recognizing it, no matter what. Millions of folks go about claiming to “levitate” free of it, but not one among them, ever, floats away from it. Frankly, of all the examples demonstrating the lengths humanity will go to ditch having to deal with it’s grasp on us, this one takes the proverbial cake!

Think of the thousands of years humans have spent trying to figure out how to suspend the law of gravity. It is only within the last two centuries that we managed to come up with a fake of it: The balloon and the aero plane. But really, did we suspend the law of gravity? Nope. Not at all. We simply obeyed one law to temporarily override another. Trouble is, old gravity makes sure a deflated balloon crashes; an aircraft engine fails and down it comes, people and all, in a fireball. Suspend one of God’s natural laws? Come on! Let’s not be silly!

So what is that other natural law of God? So sorry; we are going to save that part for the next segment of this three-part article. If you haven’t figured it out, boy are you going to be surprised!

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Christians, Bullets, Cheeks, And Irony

Jesus Christ Himself said we should humbly offer the other cheek if someone slaps us (Luke 6:29). If Christians are not careful to understand what Jesus meant, all of Christianity would park on a church pew and wait for God to wreck his enemies so He could tell us, “Okay, you can come out now.” Such a concept is loaded with nonsense. Like Old Testament swords and arrows, New Testament guns and bombs can be for a righteous cause before God. If that were not true there could never be an honorable peace.

The notion that “The righteous shall inherit the Earth” without resistance is a fantasy. The clash between good and evil has always involved bloodletting. We need look no further than brothers Cain and Abel.

The Book of Acts tells the ironic story of one Cornelius (Acts 10), a very high ranking Centurion officer in the Roman army who “Gave much alms” to the despised Jews. This, although he commanded a large contingent of hardened, brutal Roman soldiers who had a reputation for despising Jews. But that isn’t all: Cornelius became a Pentecostal tongue-talking Christian at the laying on of Peter’s hands. It is unlikely that he gave up his command but, as best he could without violating his faith, served God where he was.

I am reminded of one ironic account during World War I in France, before my father served there in Pershing’s army. The opposing forces were entrenched either side of a strip of no-man’s land. One Christmas Day they ceased shooting at one another to honor the holiday and began celebrating. Before long their festivities joined friend and foe in a mutual Christian celebration out on the killing fields. At the next day’s dawn, though, they went back to bloodletting. The irony was that the belligerents were thoroughly Christianized at the grass roots, but their felt differences were sharp enough to kill over. What difference? What each perceived to be right or wrong. We might say the “good guys” won, but unforgiveness on their part led to far worse. It was called Hitler.

Twenty-three years later a large airborne strike force led by one Mitsuo Fuchida devastated Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2000 men. World War II began. A river of blood ensued in order to secure peace and freedom. Black wreaths draped the doors and windows of half a million American homes alone. Two mushroom clouds were necessary to prevent that many more.

My oldest brother worked on the bottom deck of a thin-skinned baby aircraft carrier in the Pacific when it almost sank from the crash dives of two desperate Kamikaze pilots. The irony of the Pacific war was that the Samari code was all about aggressive power and dominance, while the Christian ethic that birthed the American Constitution was about peace and freedom for all, as taught by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Manning the military ranks of both, however, were multitudes who claimed neither religion but fought for their ideals. Reality, though, cared little about that–the blood was just as red. My brother escaped, but as irony would have it, he came home, married, fathered a baby daughter, but had a sudden brain hemorrhage at the age of 28, and died. It is not known whether or not he became a Christian before his passing, although he had shown serious interest.

In 1953 I joined the U.S. Air Force and saw duty abroad twice, one to England, another to the island of Guam. I became a Christian during my tour of duty, the irony of which was that General Paul Tibbets was for a while my Wing Commander. Tibbets was the man who piloted the Enola Gay, the B-29 which dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, ending the war.

As irony would have it, perhaps 15 years after I joined the U.S. Air Force, I went to our church one Sunday morning and saw on the platform sitting next to our pastor a very well dressed, composed oriental gentleman. He was to be our surprise speaker that day. The pastor introduced him as none other than Mitsuo Fuchida, the man who led the raid on Pearl Harbor! He presented a rich Christian testimony of humility, having received forgiveness for his great sins. I was one of many who shook his hand after the service, welcoming him into God’s family. Ironically, my brother who fought for a Christian nation might have missed Heaven, whereas Fuchida lived, a man who fought as a Samari warrior, but became a Christian and made Heaven his home.

In recent years our church has had a quiet yet friendly, very elderly, dignified gentleman attending our church. One Sunday a few weeks ago his visiting daughter and son-in-law sat beside him. They were casually dressed, her husband wearing a sports shirt. To my great surprise the pastor recognized him as none other than Admiral Vern Clark, recently retired chief of all U.S. naval operations around the world! While this humble man had a very devout Christian testimony, he had been Chief, under only the U.S. President, of the greatest naval war machine the world has ever known! I was unable to shake his hand that day, but I did shake the hand of his delightful wife. Since his retirement he is heavily engaged in Christian endeavors. Indeed, here was a classic life of irony between a great warrior and a peace maker occupying the same body, both of them in the service of God! Here was a man who well knew both how to turn his cheek, but also how to make war like no other.

It is easy to miss the middle ground in Jesus’ admonition to turn the other cheek. For many reasons necessity turned the cheek but bore arms as well. Perhaps it would not have been necessary had humanity at large rose to faith in their Creator. But we didn’t, did we. I am reminded of the farmer trying to plow with an obstinate mule. He used a two-by-four up side the mule’s head, but only to get his attention so as to perform a task necessary to feed them all–including the mule.  –DA

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The Alexandrian

Imagine being on the top deck of an Amtrak vista car as it speeds through the mountains. For a long stretch of track the trip is mostly through a series of long tunnels with only a sudden peek of daylight now and then between tunnels. In the distant we catch a fleeting glimpse of a magnificent snowcapped peak , high and breathtaking, with each quick flick of daylight in passing from tunnel to tunnel. At last the track turns away and heads down the mountains, the mighty peak now out of sight behind us.

This is a perfect picture of the mighty Apollos recorded in the Book of Acts, Chapter 18, verses 24 through 28. I have written extensively about this towering champion of truth in a much longer unpublished article titled “The Alexandrian.” What follows are only a few thoughts stemming from that article. The Scriptures have very few words of this great man, but what they do say tell us of a mighty man of God indeed.

In fact, enough of him is seen through the lattice of Scriptures and history to tell us that in his time he stood on equal footing with such giants as Paul, Peter, John, James and others! What’s more, many ancient scholars such as Tertullian, Eusebius, as well as a growing body of such scholars today, conclude that it was Apollos, not Paul, who wrote the masterful Book of Hebrews. I agree, based on compelling evidence in the Book of Hebrews itself. A careful study of Apollos led me to conclude that the character and content of Hebrews matches the character and content of the person of Apollos perfectly. In fact, I strongly believe that the beginning of Hebrews is missing, lost due to the early flames of persecution and book burnings to stamp out Christianity. I would not be at all surprised if one day, through modern methods of archeology and analysis, an ancient manuscript of the book of Hebrews surfaces showing the beginning salutation that once existed, one that bore the name of the mighty Apollos himself.

Luke, in Acts 18:24-28, describes Apollos by using such strong terms as “boldly”…”eloquent”…”mighty in the Scriptures”…”fervent in the Spirit”…”diligently”…”helped them much”…”mightily convinced.” Such terms fit perfectly in describing the nature of the Book of Hebrews. They also describe a giant of the faith on the order of Paul, Peter, John and others. The knowledge of such giants was passed to us because those men themselves wrote, or someone wrote for them, or wrote about them.

But be careful here; we mustn’t be so naïve as to think only those who are recorded were the only giants of the faith who were contemporary with them. To put this fact into modern perspective, imagine a modern movie theater with its wide, panoramic screen. The viewer sees a broad spectrum of action, together with surround sound. Suppose it has a width of, say, fifty feet, but then the theater manager curtains off all but a three foot section for our viewing. Not much to see, considering there’s another 47 feet of action we never see.

But if we are going to make the illustration truer to real life, imagine a theater with not only surround sound, but surround screen! There we sit in the middle, action and sound happening all around us, not just in front of us. At the rate of real life there is no way we could keep up with it all. Well, that’s our individual selves buried in the action of billions of other individuals in a real world of live action all over the planet at the same instant.

Now let us bring the illustration home: Suppose we are called upon to relate just one aspect of all the bewildering number of events in play all around us at the same time. With that weight of truth, let us remember that the Gospel hydrogen bomb detonated there in Jerusalem. The mighty shock wave from it stormed out in every direction simultaneously, north, south, east, and west. Fantastic events were happening at the full circumference of it as it began its Divine purpose of filling the whole earth with its power.

But most of today’s readers of the account are guilty of thinking that only the tiny sliver of the Book of Acts was all that was happening on the Christian scene at the time. Of course we know better out of pure instinct, but we fail to act like it in our personal treatment of Scripture. But it behooves us to realize that Scripture by no means records all the giants of the faith at the time, just as it is today where silent, invisible male and female giants of faith roam the earth by the multitudes, known only to God Himself.

Through the lattice we see Apollos as just such a giant who, compared to Paul, Peter, John, James, and others stood no less in stature. Only when we absorb this truth of reality into our reasoning are we able to view such great men and women in their true perspective of imperfection, instead of flawless icons of virtual worship, who made no errors of judgment. It pays to heed this truth, lest we take our eyes off the real Hero of the Divine account, the Holy Spirit Himself. –DA

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An Evangelism Curiosity

I can’t resist sharing a very curious observation about the Apostle Paul, his evangelistic efforts, church history, as well as world history. If one looks at a world globe, we see north and south are divided by lines called meridians, while east and west lines are called parallels. The equator is the 50th parallel, the middle mark between north and south. North of the equator lies the 38th parallel. A Gospel phenomenon surrounds the history of this parallel. If we were to turn that one into an arrow, Divine purpose would have it pointing westward.

We note that all key events of Gospel movements followed in very close proximity westward along the 38th parallel. For instance, Paul’s birthplace, Tarsus, lies close to it. Paul’s evangelism ranged westward. Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth lie almost on the 38th parallel. Paul was martyred at Rome, not that far north of the 38th parallel. He spoke strongly of going to Spain with the Gospel, and probably did. Southern Spain is divided by the 38th parallel.

Christopher Columbus, explorer extraordinaire and great Christian launched his ships from close proximity to the 38th parallel. The Mayflower and it’s Pilgrims, with Bibles and Christian heritage in tow, made landfall and began evangelistic efforts among the Indians near the 38th parallel. Came then the wagon trains westward with the settlers, virtually Christians all to some extent, bringing their Bibles with them along the 38th parallel. Saint Lewis, Missouri, with it’s giant arch symbolizing “The Gateway to the West” and the “Jumping Off Place” to the west sits not far from the 38th parallel.

By far the busiest port of America’s west coast is the great San Francisco Bay, spanned by the mighty Golden Gate Bridge, lying just south of the 38th parallel. From here multitudes of ships and aircraft were launched in war and peace, blazing trails, opening closed doors to the Gospel in the Pacific islands and the vast Orient, until today the greatest voice of Christianity in the entire Orient radiates from South Korea, home of possibly the largest Pentecostal church in the world, located in the city of Soul, very close to the line of demarcation between North and South Korea which closely follows the 38th parallel.

West, it seems, is God’s favored direction over north, east, and south, because movement of humanity toward reuniting with our Creator has gravitated westward, including the travels of ancient Abraham. God’s earth rotates eastward causing the sunlight for humanity to travel westward. The Scripture declaring the removal of our transgression “As far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12) plants the west as the reference point in describing how far east is from it, not the other way around. Prophesying of His coming again (Matt. 24:27) Jesus likens it to the lightening coming out of the east, traveling westward. In fact, we might humorously ask, Is Heaven west?

The east has always had reference to beginnings, with west as future hope and excitement, a welcome of something better. Indeed, the prophet Malachi said, “The sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2), and so the Wisemen saw His star in the east which led them westward toward hope.

We might well ask, does all of this curiosity have meaning? Perhaps. For now, though, the real meaning appears to be hidden in the folds of God’s eternal purpose and pleasure, to be revealed in his own good time. –DA

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