When is the Last Time You Were a “Shoshben” to Someone?”

It had been a very warm day, and I was emotionally spent. It was my fourth day teaching at a college in Vanadzor, Armenia. I had been invited to teach a two week seminar at a local Christian College under conditions that were brutal. The temperature was approaching the low ninety’s, and there was no air conditioning nor any  fans. And while the students were very attentive and eager to learn, eight hours with only a one half hour break was taking it’s toll on all of us. It was approaching evening as I walked back to the small apartment where I was staying, and needless to say, I just wanted to relax in my room. But as I approached the door, I found that it was locked and my host was no where to be found. It is here that an adventure began that would touch my life and heart forever.

Darkness had set in, and I had no place to go. So, I walked back down the eight flights of stairs that I had climbed to reach my flat and just stared out into a small park area wondering what do I do now?. There sitting on a park bench were three older ladies, who I knew that were locals and spoke no English. Immediately one of them waved for me to come over. That was my first meeting with Asia. Probably in her mid 70’s, with a big smile and friendly heart, she asked me in Russian what I was doing. I spoke enough Russian, to explain that I was locked out and my host wasn’t home. Immediately Asia got up and told me to follow her. As we climbed back up the eight flights of stairs in what was a vintage world war two apartment complex, we soon arrived at Asia’s apartment which surprisingly was across the hall from mine! That began a friendship that has now lasted almost 15 years.

Over this time span, Hebrews 13:1-2 has become somewhat a reality in my relationship with Asia. ” Keep on loving each other as brothers (and sisters). Do not forget to entertain strangers , for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Was Asia an angel like the writer was talking about? I cannot say for sure, but she was one to me one scary night in a far distant country.

Asia has always had uncanny way of knowing when I show up to visit. She will tell others that her Pastor Chuck arrived yesterday or whenever without me ever letting her know that I was coming. I could cite so many other supernatural happenings through the years that sometimes do make me wonder about the angel thing; like her praying for me all night at times when I needed it the most. But that is not the focus of this article. You see, the day that I met Asia, that soft still voice of the Holy Spirit, spoke to me and said that I had been put in her life to ease her burden-To become a “Shoshben”to her. For almost 15 years, financially and otherwise, I have tried to fulfill that promise.

So what then is a “Shoshben?” In Eastern culture, a Shoshben was a friend of the Bride Groom.His responsibility was to handle all of the preliminaries that would take place before the marriage celebration. He made sure that invitations went out and the food was ordered. Besides helping with the ceremony, he would stand guard over the wedding celebration tent-where the groom would take his bride after the ceremony. He held a position of honor as the groom’s best friend.

John 3:29 explains it this way. “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom,waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.” Thus, as John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus, his words are likened to the role of the Shoshben.  John was positioning the lost to receive the bridegroom who was coming-Jesus Christ. John held that position of Honor for Jesus. He was His Shoshben, so to speak.

A Shoshben then positions a person to receive Christ. Much like with the “Woman at the Well”, Jesus positioned her to receive the Words of the Father. Barimaeus, Zaccheus, Peter and John- all of these men plus many others, Jesus came along side of, and became a Shoshben, in front of them, to reveal the Father’s Plan through his example of caring love.

Look at it this way. Every time you take someone to lunch, a ball game, or spiritually intervene and show them the Father’s Love,you become a Shoshben in their life-preparing the way for the Messiah; positioning them for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ!

Relational Evangelism is very simple. We are the friend of the Bridegroom and have been given the most honored position of preparing people to Encounter Jesus Christ. But we must keep in mind that people don’t come to Jesus through osmosis or even acts of love. Through Word, deed, and action we are to pave the way for a Jesus encounter so that one day when Jesus becomes Lord, they will have already seen and DSC_0183met Him through you-the Shoshben, the very hands and feet of Jesus!




Are You Ready For Some Good News?

35-ISRAEL October 2015 432JUBILEE- (Hebrew -yovel)” A season of restoration, overflowing joy, forgiveness, debt removal, and the releasing of God’s Mercies every 50 years.”  Jewish custom has much to say concerning “The Year of Jubilee,” but my focus concerning Jubilee, in this blog, is to examine this period of time in light of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Luke chapter 4.:17-19. Here, Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and stood up to read, and there was given Him the book of the Prophet Isaiah . “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for this reason; He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal those who are brokenhearted , to proclaim pardon to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth in deliverance those who have been crushed-To proclaim the acceptable Year of the Lord.” Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2. And what is amazing, with these words, His official ministry began on Wednesday September 11, 26 A.D.- The Day of Atonement and the beginning of the Year of Jubilee according to early church scholars.

Though today, modern Judaism does not recognize the celebration because it is non-applicable until representatives of all 12 tribes have returned to Israel and a majority of Jews live in the Land- ie. making Aliyah or the journey back to the Jewish homeland.. Yet the “types and shadows” of Old Testament Law invoked through Jesus’ ministry beginning on Jubilee, have immense implications. According to some Jewish Believers who believe that Jubilee can be practiced because of the establishment of the nation-state of Israel, the latest period of Jubilee began September 28, 2015, with the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles and will end in October 2016 with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. But it is not so much a date or event that I want to focus on, but rather what the Spiritual Concept of Jubilee offers to the Believer every day!

Jesus’ words in Luke,(quoting Isaiah), offer incredible Promises for those of us who celebrate The reign of Christ in our lives.  Jesus declares that He has been given Authority to help the poor-both physically and spiritually, heal broken hearts, set those trapped in impossible situations free, heal the blind who can not see right from wrong , and deliver those who have given up on life. He ended by declaring that, “The favorable time of the Lord has come.” In a Jewish sense, this referred to various feasts, but for our examination- I believe and Prophetically Declare that Jesus was saying, “Look up! I am offering you all that is necessary to regain control of your life. I don’t care how bad that it has been! This is a New Day, and I am ready to do a New Thing in and through you if you are willing to trust Me. So lay down all the excuses that are stopping you from becoming what you know that you have been called to do, pick up your Cross and follow me, for I am about to take you to realms that you never thought possible! No Longer can you look back, because I have Incredible News and  New Paths for you, stretching into a New Future so profound that if you were to know your Destiny’s conclusion, it’s very Glory would overwhelm you!”

Jesus came to declare a new season in our lives, and while the Jewish concept of Jubilee has a unique focus all it’s own, for us as Believers in Yeshua’s Masterful Plan for our lives, our Jubilee has come in the personage of a Suffering Servant, who, through His brokenness, our broken and scarred lives have been restored and now reflecting His Glorious likeness.

I want to conclude by examining a picture that I took portraying an early morning sunrise on the Sea of Galilee depicted above. I want to draw from it a Prophetic Picture of what I sense the Holy Spirit saying for our Jubilee year of 2016 and beyond. “As the early morning Sun rises over Galilee, depicting God’s Glory and Radiance-so I Am offering to you a fresh start, a season of restoration and joy in the broken places of your life, a reigniting of fresh enthusiasm, direction, and purpose, and a releasing of Holy Spirit Anointing- giving you relevance and a mandate to set the captives free leading people to the saving knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!” This is what He has given to me at the beginning of this Jubilee Year, and it is what I share with you as encouragement and strengthening for the establishment of His Kingdom Rule here on earth! Hadn’t we be about the Father’s business?



So What’s the Big Deal with Israel Anyhow?



As we stood on the Israeli Syrian border, with outstretched hands, we asked God to bless and protect our Syrian brothers and sisters, less than 50 miles from our vantage point. For me personally, it was a moment etched into my memory and feelings that I will never forget. While we stood safely and secure, under the protection of the Israeli army, just a short distance away, many were dying for their faith in Jesus Christ. In a sea of persecution, murder, and genocide, there we stood on a sliver of land, no bigger than 263 miles north to south and at it’s deepest width, no more than 71 miles, and it’s narrowest 9.3 miles. Israel can be driven north to south in approximately 5-6 hours and west to east in less than 2 hours. Under normal circumstances, one might ask why the Middle East is on the verge of major war over such an insignificant piece of real estate-the size of New Jersey? Well, these are not normal times and the significance of the establishment of the Jewish nation is key to understanding the times in which we are living- times in which the prophets dreamed of seeing and we are blessed to participate i Notice the size comparison between Israel and the Arab World below.


I have been home approximately 3 weeks from a Holy land Pilgrimage which we saw transform many lives. While I have been to Israel many times, I can tell you that the excitement and joy of going again has never lost it’s splendor and expectancy for me, and each experience in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob always offers new insight and clarity into God’s Plan for Israel and the Church.

Yet- this trip seemed different. I was given a new awareness of the Miracle that is the nation of Israel. Just think of it! The prophet Isaiah, writing approximately 2,700 years ago, proclaimed in chapter 66 verse 8, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?” Yes! On May 14-15, 1948, by a United Nation’s charter vote, Israel was established as a nation-In one Day! In this article, it is not my intent to re-examine my last blog- “The Role of Israel and the Church” but to create an awareness of Israel’s Role in God’s Plan and the miracle that is the state of Israel today.

Understanding that present day Israel has rejected God’s plan for her, yet also realizing God’s Master Plan is far from completed, I want to examine why, as believers, we are intrinsically connected to what God is doing with His people Israel . My understanding is based, not upon personal opinion or my many ventures to Israel, but the wisdom and knowledge of men who have mentored me and established my faith upon sold rock and firm doctrinal understanding-men such as Dr. Jack Hayford, Chuck Smith, Walter Martin, J. Rodman Williams, and a host of others who have had a passion to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

First of all, there are two main views concerning Israel in relation to God’s Plan. One view holds that Israel was chosen of God but has now been set aside because of her disobedience and rejecting Christ. God’s judgment fell on Israel when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by Roman legions in 70 AD. and hence, the Church has replaced Israel as God’s Chosen and now receives all the inheritance and blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament- but only in a spiritual sense. This teaching is called Replacement Theology.

The position that I personally believe to be correct says that though Israel was judged and set aside by God for rejecting the Messiah, the judgment is not permanent. The Church has an obvious key role to play in God’s Plan, but not in the replacing of Israel. Rather, Israel does have a future in the Plan of God, and the Promises given to Israel will be fulfilled in Israel. This view is part of what is called Dispensationalism.

A lot more can be said on this subject, but I want to direct my final comments back to the miracle that is modern day Israel. No more than one day after her establishment as a nation, she was invaded by her Arab neighbors. Outnumbered 10-1 in weapons and man power, somehow the nation was able to withstand the onslaught and achieve a victory that many historians say should never have happened. Since her inception as a nation, in 1948, the State of Israel has fought seven recognized wars , two Palestinian intifiadas, and a series of armed conflicts in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. Keep in mind, much of the land mass that is modern day Israel, was property purchased from Arab owners who had no use for it because of the terrain’s nature. Contrary to many biased in the media, it was not stolen from Israel’s Arab neighbors.

This land , ranging from mosquito infested swamps in the north to barren desert southward has been turned into fertile farmland and crop producing acreage like few other places in the Middle East. How interesting is the prophetic word found in Isaiah chapter 35 verse 1. In referencing Israel, ” The wilderness and desert will be glad, and the Arabah (or desert), will blossom like the crocus.”

Fully recognizing that some prophetic words concerning God’s Mighty Plan of Redemption refer to events and nation states existent at that time, we must keep in mind that  the Old Testament scriptures are replete with “types and shadows”- Old Testament events foreshadowing future happenings in God’s Plan. I believe that Isaiah, chapter eleven verse 12 can be fashioned in this way. ” And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Come to Israel and see. Jews are streaming home-over 4,000.000 making “aliyah” from every country where Jewish people can be found, thus fulfilling prophetic events that would transpire before the Messiah’s Return.

So why should we care about a land so far away? Simply, Israel is the spoon that stirs the cup, so to speak. That is why Jerusalem contains more media and press than almost any other capital in the world. The world is watching and waiting. Something Great is about to unfold! And as believers in the Jewish Messiah, we have been grafted in to God’s wonderful Plan of Redemption and soon from his Throne in Jerusalem, He will rule, and then Jew and Gentile alike will worship Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

























Israel and the Church Today

Traveling to Israel many times has afforded me the opportunity to discuss with Believers the role of modern day Israel and the the Church of Jesus Christ. I might add that such a discussion is not without controversy nor arguments that champion varying points of view. But my intent in this blog is not to defend Israel’s role nor the Church in God’s Master Plan for the end of the ages. But rather, I want to examine the term “Chosen” as it relates to Israel and “Grafted in” as a reference to modern day Believers, because I believe that if we examine both terms in the context of culture and history, we will find that we have a lot more in common than we realize.

The Bible is many books but one story. It is a story of God’s never ending love to redeem mankind through human partners-becoming a light to the nations and making disciples. In a sense, God found Israel in the Negev desert where He spoke to Abram and Sarah and through their obedience, would bring about His Divine Plan consummating in the coming of the Lord Jesus. Abraham and Sarah had a passion for God and His Plan for mankind. Deuteronomy 32:10 tells us that, “He found him in the desert and kept him as the apple of His eye.” And today, He is asking us to be part of this 4,000 year old journey to bring people into a Righteous relationship with Jesus Christ!

Let me begin by examining God’s pledge to Israel. in Exodus 33:13-16, as they were about to leave Mt. Sinai,God promised that His Presence would go with them. Moses quickly responded that unless His Presence did go with them, He would not leave. His reasoning was quite simple-He had seen God do incredible things on Israel’s journey out of Egypt, but now more than miracles, he desired to revel in His Glory, because that Glory distinguished Israel from all the other peoples of the world! It is that same Glory today, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that sets us apart as the “light of the world” in our increasingly immoral culture.

God had called Israel to Mt. Sinai to give them a mission. Like the church in I. Peter 2, They were to become a “kingdom of priests”-extending the rule of God and putting Him on display for the nations to see His Glory and come to know Him. He gave them the Torah, and they learned about their Patriarch father and how God had used Abram.

It was the role of the Patriarch in Israel’s cultural development that we first begin to realize the role of Israel in God’s Plan. The Patriarch was central to the family structure. All resources flowed to him, and he was in charge of “redeeming” all of those under his charge. The word redeem (Go’el in Hebrew) had a unique meaning. Of course, it has a religious significance, but at it’s very Old Testament root, it was tied to the Patriarch of the family who was in charge of meeting everyone’s needs. If someone was injured or strayed, it was his job to bring him back into the Father’s House (Beth-Ab). Redeem then meant, at a deeper level, to bring back or restore. If you had been alienated from the Father’s House, it became the Patriarch’s job, whatever it took, to bring you back! What a beautiful picture of the church’s role today;instead of settling for “business as usual” within our four church walls, we have been commissioned to redeem the lost-not just for heaven but for playing an active role as a kingdom of priests, bringing back into the Father’s House those who don’t have the Gift of Grace.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah-” I am Israel’s Redeemer” (chapter 43), In Psalms 135, God declared,” I redeemed you from your enemies,” and in Psalms 107, God told Israel that, ” I have redeemed you from your troubles.” In each Biblical example, God is saying,” I have restored you to the household.”

But what about when the Patriarch would die? Who would assume the Patriarch’s role? At death, the first born oldest son would replace him, and all the family would rejoice because now, that son would be in charge of taking care of them. The resources would go to the first born; likewise, God gave His resources to His first born Israel. Simply-God’s master plan for Israel was- ” Bring the lost children back into the Father’s House.” It was not because Israel was loved more than the others but was ” chosen” as the first born!

God wasn’t playing favorites but because of Israel’s birth right, they were commanded to “redeem”: the nations and bring them back into the Father’s House. But as God’s partners, Israel failed, and so God chose a second “first born” and gave Him all the resources of the Father. And because Jesus was God come in the flesh, He now offers us a way back into the Father’s House-any who would receive Him as Savior (John 14).

We, as Believers, have been grafted into this Great Plan. God has not forgotten His first born Israel. and revival will sweep the Land before the coming of the Lord, but for now the Holy Spirit is saying to the church-“I am entrusting you with all the resources, and your job is to bring a sick and dying world back into the Beth-Ab or the Father’s House!

Our commissioning has not changed from Israels. In Isaiah 43:1 God commanded Israel,” Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.” As God’s First Born, Israel has been Chosen through birth right and as grafted in branches, those same resources, are flowing through us who have received the “first born original bringer forth of all creation-Jesus Christ! (Colossians 1:15). So, what are we waiting for? As Israel received their commission at Sinai, we have been given the Great Commission by the Lord Jesus Christ. His Presence is with us! The Mission awaits us, His Calling is upon us. I don’t want to miss God-do You??Israel 2014 May 142

Thank You Steve for Showing Me Jesus!

Jesus was always about reaching out to the outcasts and the marginalized of society. During our morning service today at High Mill Church, I saw that same love modeled, and though my premise in writing this blog might seem simplistic to some, I believe that today’s events touched the very heart of God and gives us a living model of inviting others into the Father’s House!

I am not in the habit of writing blogs about individuals, but in this case I must. Thank You Steve for being the hands and feet of Jesus and modeling God’s love for the stranger in our midst. I don’t have to share your last name, because you know who you are, as do others who have observed you do this before.

I was standing in the back of the church as people were streaming in, when I noticed in the last row a couple with a teen age young man. I could tell that they were visitors and somewhat uncomfortable- being in a new surrounding with unfamiliar faces. I went over and introduced myself and soon realized that they were at High Mill for the first time. Immediately, I looked for another youth or leader to introduce the young man to. Initially, I didn’t see anyone, until I walked to the front of the church and saw, you guessed it, Steve. I asked Steve to go back and be friendly-nothing more. I always have a burden for those who need to be pulled into the “family” that we call church, so it was natural that a few minutes later, I looked back to check on the family, only to realize that the young man was missing. A few minutes later, I checked again, and he still hadn’t returned to his seat. My first reaction was that maybe he had been scared off by the attention that he had been receiving.

Worship was about over, and so I walked to the front of the church to where I would be sitting. Much to my surprise and joy, there sitting in the second row with Steve and a few other youth was the young man. You see, not only had Steve done the polite thing ,but he did the Jesus’ thing and took the next step and invited him to sit down front with him- literally inviting him into the security of our church family.

Again, this simple analogy might seem simplistic to you at the very least and a waste of blogging time at the greatest, but I want to ask you several important questions. When is the last time you took the time on a Sunday morning, or for that matter any other time and introduced yourself to the stranger in your  midst and invited them to sit with you? Jesus put it this way in Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger, and you invited me in.” Secondly, have you ever been that stranger and prayed for God to send you someone? Why is this simple lesson so important to me? Putting aside the fact that Jesus spoke and modeled such love, I can tell you personally, that it was that one simple invitation during a church service, in my moment of uncertainty and fear of the unknown, that catapulted me into a spiritual place that I had never known existed!

Finally, Hebrews 13:2 reminds us that,” Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” While I believe and take this charge literally, I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit would place angelic beings in front of you, but the charge in Hebrews is to take seriously the stranger in our midst because just maybe…

God, make us a people that takes seriously the Great Commission- realizing that often times it can be lived out within the church as well as without!

This blog, will form the foundation for a soon coming blog answering what is Israel’s Role in God’s plan for redeeming man, and secondly, how do we see Israel in light of God calling them is Chosen and loved?

Living Witnesses and His Secret Place

Israel 2014 May 015-001Hayden Planetarium, in New York City, some time ago, offered applications for those who desired to make the journey to another planet, when the opportunity would arise. 18,000 applicants applied and were subsequently interviewed by a panel of psychologists who measured their mental status for making such a trip. When asked why they desired to leave this planet and start a life somewhere else, the vast majority replied that they were totally discouraged with life on planet earth.

Discouragement is not a respecter of persons. Anyone who has lived any length of time, will have been subject to situational experiences that can impact life and devalue the very zest and joy for living. Broken relationships, failed dreams, betrayal, the loss of a loved one- all of these are but a few examples of circumstances that can rob us of enjoying life to it’s fullest.

Yet, I feel that more times than not,chronic discouragement is not caused by a singular event but is symptomatic of a much deeper wound that is rooted in unfulfilled expectations and hopelessness and a sensing that nobody understands my situation nor experienced my pain. In other words, I am the only one to have walked my walk. More than once in counseling sessions, I have been told that nobody understands.

We only have to examine the words of two great pillars of the faith to understand the error of such thought. John Calvin,a great theologian said,” In addition to the great troubles by  which I am consumed, there is almost no day on which some new pain or anxiety afflicts me.” The great teacher Spurgeon said, “Depression creeps over my heart and dreadfully weakens me.” There is a cost involved concerning our walk of faith, and there are times when things don’t go as planned. But the Apostle Paul, in II. Timothy 1:7 says this. ” God has not given us the spirit of fear( the cousin of depression) but of love, power, and of a sound mind.” Let me make it very simple. Jesus did not die for you or me to live our lives in a perpetual state of depression. It is natural that depression can impact any of us emotionally through life’s events, but it should never be accepted as natural or a part of your experience with Jesus.

Today, I want to share practically and spiritually how depression can be effectively dealt with once and for all. Practically speaking, there are many scriptures that teach us about hope, encouragement, and trust but recently, one stood out in the midst of me feeling sorry for myself. I know that none of you reading this deal with such struggles, but for me ,I just felt all alone in my circumstances and it seemed that there was no one to understand. Then the Holy Spirit drew me to Hebrews 12:1-2. ” Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses to the life of faith surrounding us, let us lay aside any weight (depression, fear, anxiety) that slows us down. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” Suddenly, fond memories of those who have shaped my spiritual walk for almost 50 years, flooded my heart and spirit. Those guideposts who helped me to understand the Christian walk, seemed to appear before me, one by one, extorting me on to His higher calling for my life. I was both elated and guilty at the same time. So many have given me so much out of their richness of faith, and here I was forgetting all the relational miracles (witnesses) that Jesus had placed in my life. Suddenly, in the light of their examples of overcoming faith and endurance, my petty grievances faded away into a sea of thankfulness and love! Faith isn’t just a blind leap but a record of living testimonies beginning in scripture and impacting our lives today by His Living Witnesses, who have been through history, a living pledge to us that we can make it; men and women,who defied their culture to live Jesus Christ before a disbelieving world. And that is why their testimonies found in Hebrews chapter 11, have been labeled chapter wise, “The Christian Hall of Fame.”

Spiritually speaking, there is a place that the Holy Spirit wants to take you to. It is a place only seen by the Believer. It is a place only understood by those who know Him. The Psalmist said in Chapter 91:1-2 ” He who dwells in the “Secret Place” of the most Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. There, He is He is my refuge and and my fortress-my God and in Him, I will trust.” Now, here is an important key spiritually. Moses, part of that cloud of witnesses, in Hebrews 11:23-27 is described as seeing the King invisible or “seeing Him who is unseen.” How was that possible and how is it possible for us to hear His voice and perceive and see our Lord’s plan for us? Exodus 33 :7 tells us that Moses would leave the familiarity of the camp and pitch a tent away from the people to wait and hunger for God to speak in that “Secret Place.” He left all the distractions of life to go away to wait and seek the Lord. If we want more of Him, we must be willing to put down those distractions that rob us from intimacy with Him. I believe that depression takes over when we are like a hamster on the proverbial wheel- spinning in our circumstances and unable to take time for that Secret Place.

Hebrews 13:12-13 tells us, “so that Jesus might sanctify the people through His shed blood, suffered outside the gate, so therefore, let us go outside the camp and bear the disgrace He bore.” Simply, be willing to leave the familiar set of daily routines and seek Him in that Secret Place. In I. Corinthians 3:3, Paul rebuked the church for being like “mere men”-settling for status quo and spiritual mediocrity. Let us be willing to seek Him out and hunger for Him in that Secret Place where the King is made visible to all who seek Him. With that approach to life, there is no time left to become depressed.

Realizing the Living Testimonies who have given us spiritual life and seeking Him in that Secret Place-which is really a place of your choosing where His Presence is welcomed and unhindered, are two important keys that I have found to overcome those events in life that would curtail the every day joy that is mine in Jesus Christ.

The Silencing of the American Conscience (2)

“If you say the wrong thing in America today, you could be penalized, fired, or even taken to court. Political correctness is running rampant, and it is absolutely destroying this nation. In his novel, 1984, George Orwell imagined a future world where speech was greatly restricted.

He refers to the language of  the  totalitarian state as “Newspeak”, and it bears a striking resemblance to the political correctness that we see in America right now.

According to Wikipedia, Newspeak is ” a reduced language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit free thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self expression, and individuality. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thought crime”. As of now, people are not being hauled off to prison for what they say, but we are perilously close to that becoming reality.

Every day the mainstream media bombards us with subtle messages about what we should believe and what ‘appropriate speech ‘ consists of. Sadly, most of the American public is falling in line with this unwritten speech code”.

Michael Snyder (American Dream August 14, 2013)

I remember George Orwell and his chilling Novel, 1984- but few of us in my generation, took it very seriously. As I shared about my experiences in Buchenwald concentration camp in 1995 (last blog), few prisoners that I talked with believed in 1938 that the Nazi reign of terror was about to fall upon their race and country. We are watching a sickening repeat of one of history’s greatest tragedies.

No longer is free debate a given in our culture, but rather, if you do not say what is politically expedient or correct, you are shouted down, ridiculed, or called a bigot racist, or un-American. To challenge some of the absurdity going around today, compare what Holy Scripture’s account of society at the end of time has to say. Romans chapter 1, verses 21-25 states,” Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile( incapable of producing any useful result; pointless) in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…exchanging the truth of God for a lie.”

I am sure that you have your own examples of what the “thought police” are up to, but let me add a few to your list. Janet Napolitano, University of California President and former Obama government official, recently stated that some scientists who do not believe in climate change, were worthy of jail. The California state legislature, is considering a ban on using “Mr. and Mrs.” because the terms create gender bias. A professor at Ball State University was recently banned from mentioning the concept of “intelligent design” because it violates” academic integrity.” A high school track team was disqualified earlier this year because one of the runners made a gesture  thanking God, once he crossed the finish line. A student at Sonoma State University was ordered to take off a cross that she was wearing, because it might offend someone. A teacher in New Jersey was fired for giving his own Bible to a student that did not own one.

The plan is very simple. Silence the American Conscience through intimidation, fear, and ridicule. P.D. James writes,” I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic terrorism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.” Jaacques Barzun added,” Political Correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.”

Glen Beck said it best. ” Political Correctness doesn’t change us-it shuts us up.” I challenge all of us who believe in individualism and freedom of thought to not fall under the” trance of political correctness.” As believers, there are two aspects to keep in mind. First, Jesus told us that towards the end of time and his Second Coming, we would experience unparalleled spiritual warfare, but He promised to be our Strength. Secondly, the church’s greatest moments have come through history, when we have been on the fringe of culture providing restoration and healing for broken lives and hearts. Our culture is in need of cleansing and purifying, and it is the church that can bring that about. This is going to be our finest hour, if we surrender in obedience to His will and calling. It is time for Revival; It is time for the church to go on the offensive because we have the mind of Christ, and our thinking is not clouded by futility. Proverbs 16:3 tells us,” Commit your ways to the Lord and He will establish your thoughts.”

George Orwell might not have been a spiritual giant, but is writings have given us ample warning concerning the times in which we live. The Word of God has given us the antidote for futile thinking, and our Testimony practically challenges the kingdoms of this world. For 2,000 years, the church has never been silenced, and no social or political directive from any worldly system will be able to silence our message now.

The Silencing of the American Conscience

GatehouseSaying the Wrong thing these days can get you in a lot of trouble. To be specific, the Tyranny of Political Correctness is running rampant, denying the freedom of thought, expression, and speech. It is the same tyranny rooted in Marxism and which also began in Germany just before the Nazi reign of terror. In fact it was a precursor to the hijacking of the German Conscience in the late 1930’s-ending in the deaths of millions worldwide.

Let me state up front that I am not a Conspiracy Theorist, but I have experienced up close the insidious nature and end result of government sponsored political correctness. In this, the first of two blogs on this subject, I want to take you with me to Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Eastern Germany. It is April 1995 and I, along with 5,000 ex-prisoners, and 38 former American liberators, were part of a 50 year celebration anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald. Please excuse the length of this blog, but I want you to first grasp the end result of what happens when a nation’s Conscience is silenced by tyranny. Therefore, I am re posting this article which I wrote several years ago.

Jedem das Seine-“Everyone Gets What He Deserves”

It’s as plain as the nose on your face, or so some psychologists say. Smells can bring to mind memories long since forgotten. In fact, various scents have a greater ability to bring about remembrance than seeing an image or hearing a voice. I had no idea how the truth of those words would soon impact my life.

I will never forget the date nor the bone chilling cold that swept across the now barren parade grounds in the early morning hours of April 18th, 1995. As we entered the old barracks with the towering brick smoke stack, it was no longer 1995, but the specter of World War II and the nightmare that was Hitler’s death camp lay before me. There, rising just several yards in front of me, stood four red brick ovens with small black doors that represented Hitler’s “final solution” in Buchenwald for 60,000 Jews, Christians, and other political prisoners. What I was about to experience the next few days, would impact my heart and understanding of the Holocaust forever.

Myself and a friend, accompanied a former Jewish prisoner at Buchenwald, to Weimer, Germany for the 50th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation by American soldiers in April 1945. Buchenwald was located just a few kilometers north of Weimer on a beautiful plateau that overlooked the village below. It was out of our love and respect for our friend Joe, and our desire to share our faith with anyone who would listen, that brought us on this epic journey.

Joe’s experience at Buchenwald and several other interment camps, plus a forced march that had taken the lives of 24,000 fellow prisoners, had deeply scarred his understanding of God as his Heavenly Father. Though he had survived those horrors, the years which followed were a living nightmare. Now we were at the place of his torment, and each visual reminder only added to the internal pain buried deep within.

As Joe and I stood on the parade grounds and viewed where the prisoner’s barracks once stood, he began to tell me his story. He began with the moment he had been taken off the train and walked through the camp’s heavy iron gates engrained with the words, “Jedem das sceine,” or Everyone gets what he deserves.

Joe’s duties included daily collection of dead bodies from the barracks after roll call at 4:00 am and then taking them to the crematorium for disposal. Ironically, standing before us was an old cart identical to the one that Joe had used. He had often thought how lucky were those who died on their beds of straw, because no one could rob them any longer of their dignity and respect.

Early in the morning, just before the ceremony was to begin, Joe and I went back to place a bouquet of flowers in front of the ovens as a tribute to his comrades and friends. It would be a walk that I would not soon forget. As we approached an area overgrown with brush, Joe stopped and stared. In the midst of the undergrowth, was a huge steel cage, big enough to house a large animal. With trembling lips, Joe muttered, ” There’s where dey kept dem damn dogs!” Then, he pulled back his coat sleeve revealing a gaping hole in his forearm. One morning, just for sport, a prison guard had released a German Shepherd from the cage and told him to attack Joe. The damage had been extensive.

A short distance away was a small amphitheater . In chilling detail, Joe explained its purpose. Sunday mornings, after German officers had attended the official government church, they would gather in the amphitheater at Buchenwald , along with their families and enjoy an afternoon of entertainment at the prisoner’s expense. Just behind the arena, stood several larger cages, and in those cages, were kept giant Russian brown bears, towering nearly eight feet tall. The entertainment was simple- each family was allowed to pick one prisoner to be placed in the center and torn apart by the bears. Nailed to a nearby tree, was a picture of of one of the camp’s bears whose large body and frightening face revealed the terror likely felt by the prisoner’s before their brutal deaths. In addition, each officer’s child was allowed to pick out a prisoner for hanging on the gallows nearby.

Just before we entered the crematorium, a man carrying a Ukrainian flag approached Joe, and both men embraced and began to weep. Fifty years before, they had been prisoners at Buchenwald in the very same barracks and had experienced the horrors together. Now, as free men, both were seeking that same freedom emotionally and spiritually,

Then, another man approached us and gestured towards the giant red chimney. His words sent chills down my spine. He pointed towards the metal ladder attached to the chimney and related how each morning the camp guards climbed the ladder carrying a large basket. At the very top, using a large ladle like spoon, they would scrape the chimney walls collecting human fat that had collected over night. The fat was then placed on moldy bread and fed to the prisoners. I thought to myself– such brutality only resonates from minds that have been numbed to the truth espousing only the party line. 

As we entered the crematorium, the silence was deafening; save for Joe’s murmurings.. It was his first trip back to the nightmare that had robbed him of so much of his youth. Now on this visit, Joe was addressing the demons that had kept him in bondage for so many years. As I walked around the large dark room, I wished that the walls could reveal the hidden secrets of of those brave souls who had perished in Hitler’s ovens. Then it happened. I will never forget the smell. I first convinced myself that it was my mind and emotions playing a cruel trick on me. I took several breaths believing that each would dispel what I was thinking and smelling. Suddenly, the door opened and in walked a man that we had talked with the night before. Jim was one of 38 American veterans who had been invited for the anniversary. He had been one of the first soldiers through the iron gates of Buchenwald during the camp’s liberation– an experience that had haunted him ever since. In the early morning fog, directly in front of him, lay a pit approximately 40 feet across and 20 feet deep filled with emaciated bodies, many dead but some still moving. The night before, Jim had shared his story with us concerning the trauma of that experience. He had been so overwhelmed that neither his parents, nor his wife, had ever known the details. In a small restaurant, in downtown Weimer, Jim released his burden and pain and asked Christ into his life. It was Jim’s time and one Divine Appointment had allowed us to meet.

I walked over to Jim and placed my arm on his shoulder, as tears streamed down his face. He explained that it wasn’t returning to the crematorium that, after so many years, that upset him as much as the smell– the very same smell that he remembered 50 years before. He said that the ovens had been filled with burning bodies that fateful morning and the smell of burning flesh was so strong that he nearly fainted. In some bizarre way, I was identifying with his feelings, because I too was experiencing the same thing.

I cannot say that I fully understand what happened that cold April morning in Buchenwald. But I will add that the smell stayed with me for months after returning home. And even today, at family cookouts, I have a hard time with the smells.

Now, years later, as I look back over my experiences at Buchenwald, several thoughts come to mind. We were, first of all, ambassadors for Christ before Joe. Secondly, through a Divine Appointment, an American soldier was set free from 50 years of emotional torture. But thirdly–we gained a  new understanding of what can take place when a whole nation loses it’s understanding of truth and righteousness. We saw first hand what happens when the conscience of a nation is silenced by the roar of the crowd and the loss of self expression, as well as the ability to think for oneself and express individual ideas.

The killing chambers of Buchenwald will forever make me a witness for the innocent who died there, because for a few short days, I relived their story! Today, from Hitler’s ovens, to the slave labor camps in North Korea and China, to the holocaust happening presently in the Middle East, and to every other place in the world where freedom of speech is being silenced through an aberration called Political Correctness, it is imperative that we stand up for our God given rights so that the German atrocity of Hitler’s Holocaust may never happen again. Remember–we do get what we deserve,and apathy, indifference, or ignorance can never be an excuse!

In 1952, Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson spoke these words. ” A free society, is a society where it’s safe to be unpopular.” Political Correctness is quickly eroding that premise. My next blog will deal directly with the nature of political correctness, and it’s danger to our personal freedom.

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Katharos-” A Heart That is Singular to the Purpose of God”

Twenty Years ago, with the dawning of  “Social Media”, our ability to communicate with one another radically changed in a moment’s time. The vastness of our world seemed to dissolve overnight into a vast array of new terminology. Gone were the days of the telephone hanging on the kitchen wall; replaced by such terms as “Facebook, username, twitter, tags, blogging, cell phones, and the like. And while most of us would agree that our gadgets are quite helpful, the advent of the Internet has brought about a social transformation that has blurred the lines socially, morally, and spiritually of the character and fabric of this great nation.
So then, why do I want to toss my hat into the ring, so to speak, by adding my thoughts through my weekly blog called “Katharos?” The answer can be found in the previous paragraph. From my vantage point of being a “Christ Follower” for nearly fifty years, I want to share the knowledge that I have gleaned from many experiences- good and  bad, that I might help to bring Biblical clarity to those tough issues that we are facing today in our culture. By no means am I claiming that I have all the answers, nor do I expect you reading my thoughts to always agree with me, but it is my heart’s desire that our hearts come in alignment with His and hopefully together that Truth can set us free!
“Katharos”-It is all about our Heart becoming like His. The English translation for this word is “pure”. It means being free from anything that soils or corrupts. The Sixth Beatitude of The Sermon on the Mount is where we see this word used. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” While this verse is often used to denote, “one who is free from the pollution of guilt and sin,” the term “heart” in both the Old and New Testament sense refers to man’s innermost soul. Simply stated then, the eye of those pure in heart becomes free from anything that would cloud or impede it’s understanding in the pursuit of truth, which in turn brings clarity of thought and purpose. Within this sermon, Jesus explains the pure in heart as the eye single to the truth. And if the eye is single towards the truth, the body is full of light and the confusion and blurred lines cease!
My Purpose therefore, is very simple. I want to encourage each of us to develop a heart that is single to the truth of the Gospel by unraveling complex issues clouded by our present culture and media bias, and growing us in obedience to hear that clarion trumpet sound and discerning His voice over the roar of the crowd . Hang with me; I’m not sure of where He is taking me on this journey, but one thing I do know is that when we know His Heart on an issue, the blurred lines fade in the face of His justice and truth. My desire is to blog weekly, and I welcome your comments and questions.My first blog will follow soon.Zack Rinehart_00000008Jack Rinehart