Category Archives: Christianity

The Great Equalizer – Jesus Christ

October 2019

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:25-26, 28 (KJV)

Many have heard the words that the ground is level at the foot of the cross whether written in an old gospel song or the thoughts expressed in the book of James:

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. Jas 1:9-10 (KJV)

There is no person higher or lower than another person in God’s eyes.  Everyone that comes to the cross of Christ is a sinner in need of a Savior.  Any good thing one may think to boast of is as filthy rags.  The rich man that comes is no better than the staggering drunk.  Jesus accepts all that come to salvation in repentance by His grace regardless of race, gender, nationality or past sin; and they are all accepted as children in the family of God.  As family, they are freely and abundantly loved by the Father; they no longer have to seek love through fame, material things or performance.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9(KJV)  

In the Old Testament, God showed preference for a specific group of people called Israel.  Everyone outside the family of Israel was considered as a heathen or dog (Mt 15:26).  There was a special love and place set aside only for Israel because of Abraham, the patriarch of Israel who chose to believe God.  This special love God bestowed on Abraham’s lineage alone throughout the pages of the Old Testament eventually brought God’s love to everyone through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament.

A world that was engulfed in oppression, bondage and obvious abuse of power toward the vulnerable was the normal way of life in nations before Jesus came.  The rich and powerful exploited the poor and vulnerable because no one dared defy their evil power.  The powerful had the ability to lift up men to places of authority, regardless of their lack of moral character, and bring humiliation and destruction to whomever they chose. God never approved of abusing the vulnerable but the wages for Adam and Eve’s sin brought a curse upon all men everywhere.  Jesus came to break the curse and end oppression.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.   Joh 3:16-18 (KJV)

Jesus died to set all men free.  He left his disciples a commandment to announce throughout the world that now men could come back to God as His children.  Jesus proclaimed for all men that the truth would set them free.  It was not a difficult message and today we have the means to get the message to everyone.  Yet there are leaders ruling as tyrants in places where the first disciples taught about Jesus; and, in our nation, truth and freedom are often manipulated for the benefit of some one’s power. In America, we are seeing men with ill-gotten power change the rules and moral values of the nation while insisting on their right to do so because they are in charge.  Any tyrant or brute can take power from the weak but  righteous authority comes from God.  Righteousness is God’s standard and no leader has authority to change God’s standard. God’s moral law is backed up by His power and it will stand at long as God stands: for all eternity.

Without real Christian believers revealing the Living Christ of the gospel, words are without power to save.  Apostle Paul said:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:13-17 (KJV)

Spirit-filled believers who live and teach the word of God are necessary to persuade all men everywhere that Jesus yet lives. They must do it in the midst of a popular culture with a diluted message of Christ being preached to promote church size and finances.  Erroneous teaching may cause people to lose interest or become lukewarm but the gospel truth preached with power can draw souls back to God.  The gospel message is simple and effective when delivered properly.  The word of God is a transforming message that saves and delivers to set souls free from bondage.

Without faith in Christ our nation would return back to the pagan days of old where corrupt men lord over the people.  Jesus is still reaching out to save souls and save our world.  One believer can turn his world around for God like Paul did, like Daniel did and like Elijah did and, of course, like Abraham did because he believed.  Invested in every spirit filled believer is the same power that raised Jesus up from the grave.  Far too many believers underestimate the power Jesus has given them.

While men of influence are today trying to persuade people of their wisdom because of wealth or position, the believer must remember that all of God’s children are a royal priesthood and have within them the ability to move mountains.  We will all have to give an account for what we have done with our talents and God will require more of those to whom much has been given. Of the utmost importance is what we do with the message we heard about Christ.  That word developed a seed of faith on the inside of us that contains great hope.  The enemy of our soul sets up men of power and wickedness who use threats, fear and intimidation to  suppress righteousness, faith and hope; but the believer in Christ has a new place and source of power:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Eph 2:4-6 (KJV)

The believer in Christ as a child of the Great King with all its privileges and has become an heir of all that belongs to Christ.  This position is available to any person at any level of life who will believe the gospel.  We all must come in the same door through simple faith in Christ’s sacrifice. He died on the cross in your place and in my place and for the souls of the whole world of sinners.  It should have been us who died on that cross for all of our sins; but Christ who knew no sin, died in our place so we could go free.  What a wonderful Savior He is!

What Christ did on the cross leveled the ground for all men to come into equal position as brethren.  Christ, as God in the flesh, called disciples His “brethren.”  We observe in scripture that Christ came in a lowly estate and walked in humility and meekness while administering help to others.  Apostle Paul said: “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (Rom 12:16).”  Our culture and worldly self always want to be exalted or rewarded for every deed but that is contrary to Christ’s way.  It is Christ who examines the life of His disciples and chooses to raise some to higher callings as he did with the first apostles, where they took on additional duties and risks for the kingdom.  Christ gives no place for any legitimate Christian leader to be proud, arrogant, abusive or demeaning. Those characteristics and others listed in Galatians 5:19-21 are traits that help us identify Satan’s servants who connive, bully and cause fear, intimidation or evil deeds to enforce their pretense of superior power.  The God of love backs up the strength of His people and they have the greater power because of son ship with their Great King. That power is not for self-exaltation over others; but we can, by His power, condescend to men of low estate.  The commandment to love our brethren should cause all of us to assist the less fortunate.  Jesus taught that those who desire to be first will be last and servant to all (Mk 9:35). Adherence to such Christian principles is what causes people to consider the needs of the poor and vulnerable of our community.

The power men use to rule over others is power that ultimately comes from God and every tyrant in history has ultimately fallen under the power of God.  Powerful names such as Alexander, Napoleon, Caesar, Hitler, Stalin and others are only a whisper from our past. We are all like pieces on the chest board that are set up and moved at God’s command.  Our very next breath is at the pleasure of God.  Psalms 24:1 states:  “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”  Though mankind may be reluctant to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, He, nevertheless, will have the final word; and He will use His authority to pull down all forms of evil.  The glory that some men have taken for themselves belongs to God and He has said of Himself that He is jealous over His people and that He will not give His glory to another (2Co. 11:2; Is. 48:11).  Knowing that the All-Powerful God demands His glory and is jealous over His people, who would in foolishness dare take upon himself the glory that belongs only to God or harm the vulnerable that is “the apple of God’s eye” that He protects?  Fear of God helps one to stay in a place of humility and obedience because God puts down oppressors and lifts up the meek while He judges the earth and defends His word.  The wise will hear the word of God and believe in God’s power while the unbelieving may choose to learn the sovereignty of God the hard way through experiencing His anger.  The love of God allows everyone the opportunity of choosing to be an equal partaker of His grace.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren…Heb 2:9-11 (KJV)

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. Mat 23:8 (KJV)

—O—

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Leadership by Bully

September 2019

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: …Ex 18:21

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  Act 6:3

God Always Wanted His People Led through Love

Not only is God love but His leadership over us is in love.  Tough love is sometimes dispensed because of disobedience in children but it is still love nevertheless.  Everything in the Garden of Eden was pronounced good and God, Himself, was Lord and Master over His children while they enjoyed the provision and comfort of the Garden.  They had guidelines, choices and direct contact with their Creator.  What else could they have desired?  They picked their food from the trees without concern, had no threat from any animal in the garden, enjoyed perfect climate and fellowship with each other and God.  They were employed where they had appropriate skills and their work was appreciated and rewarded accordingly.  There was no sickness, no house payment and the crime rate was nonexistent.

Sin Brought Corrupt Men as Leaders

When Adam and Eve were obedient they had loving leadership but their disobedience to God put them under an evil taskmaster.  Accordingly, we are dealing with the same consequence today.  God had instructed Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because doing so would cause them to die.  They could eat of any other tree in the Garden.  They had choice.  When they decided to do that which was forbidden their whole world changed for the worst.  They were kicked out of the comfort of their home, lost fellowship with God and had to work in hardship and danger for their food, home and protection.  Instead of Creator God ruling over them with love, help and protection; now they had an evil overlord named Satan who constantly challenged their faith and corrupted every aspect of their world.

We have had extreme violence in the land at times because of the voice man chooses to listen to.  The mercy of God continuously rises up good leadership over people to suit His purpose or because someone cried out for His help.  When godly people do not take charge through God’s power, evil forces by the devil’s influence can take over any place to ravage our communities and cause murder, rape, plunder to terrorize people.  There is a common expression “Let the buyer beware”.  Unfortunately our daily lives consist of buying transactions from when we receive our morning donuts to the job we do, to the home we live in and the government where we submit.  We often get services, rights or goods from some entity that is greater than we and that entity has already worked out the terms for their greater benefit and advantage over the recipient.  That is how they prevail and prosper.  From businesses to churches to government that were established to provide equitable services for citizens, we now see them holding the recipient of their services at their mercy.

In this year of 2019, we see a federal government organized and stacked with overlords who answer to leadership for personal gain of the leader and those aligned with him.  Leadership has flipped from protection as Moses outlined it into an authoritarian overlord demanding his bounty like Caesar.  What we must realize is that Moses’ guidelines are patterned after a caring God, while Caesar and such overlords are patterned after the liar and thief we call Satan.  The difference is the power of a giver and the power of a taker; and our experiences and sense of well being should send off alarms as to which we are experiencing. Are we winning or losing is another measure to distinguish which lord we are under.

Jesus Came to Restore God’s Leadership

From the obedience of Abraham to Moses to David; God raised up leaders to restore justice and peace in the land.  Under the law given by Moses, man had a way of knowing what was good or evil and the consequence of his sin.  The law did not make man better but man was aware again that he had choices and the consequence of those choices.  The law was also given to rule people’s actions and to correct or remove the disobedient from harming the innocence.  God has always made a place of rest for those that walked in his obedience and gave protection from evil overlords.  The Old Testaments prophets were ministers of God intervening between good and evil.  When laws failed to make our communities peaceful God initiated another way to restore man through a new heart that would be made from love. Jesus’ coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament through prophets in the millenniums before it actually occurred and it gave hope to people for relief from oppression.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God provided a way that leaders could be selected from among the people to rule or administer to the people under God’s loving care.  They were to be leaders who honored God first of all and then who displayed truth and honestly before the people.  We saw this type of leadership in King David whom God reigned over with loving guidance and help to rule God’s people with justice and protection.  Even though David committed sin as king, he repented and returned to God who meted out his punishment, but did not abandon him.  David was declared to be a man after God’s own heart because he loved God and confessed his sin when confronted. That is also what God expects of us.  God prefers leadership that is wise, honest, walking in integrity and who would model righteousness before the people they lead.  Leaders should inspire the people under their authority to imitate them.  For a number of years biblical Israel had good leaders like Moses who led them in the right way even when they wanted to defect and follow wrong ways.  God depended on his leaders to keep the people on track so they could enjoy the blessings God had for them.  Moses was a good leader though not perfect.  He led the Israelites from Egypt, delivered to them God’s Law and brought them to the entrance of the Promise Land where he died and was replaced by Joshua.

We Have Choice Again for Whom to Serve and Appoint As Leaders

Jesus was the best model for good leadership and He appointed good leaders to follow Him.  We see Peter and the church elders again stating that leaders should be: “…of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.”  This first century commandment was part of the doctrine of European rule where they fought off Muslim attempts to destroy Christian rule.  Christianity and its principles were the standard for European rule over nations, even when they did not obey them, and that guidance has lasted from the Crusades to the present.  Even when wicked authoritarian kings took office, they still claimed Christianity.  King James authorized the English printing of the bible to make it accessible to English speaking commoners.  The guidance of Christian principles and laws were available for all the people and they still remained in place in Europe when the pilgrims brought those principles to America where they are reflected in our three branches of government and Christian faith.   America has a host of Christian churches from where appropriate candidates can be pulled for sincere and compassionate government service to its people.

Bully Leadership – Our Present Situation is Based on Our Choice

The coming of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for us puts us back in a place similar to that of Adam and Eve.  God is willing to protect, provide for and fellowship with His children again if we choose Him as our God.  If we make no choice at all or choose wrong, the devil will be the overlord over us and our world.  What we are experiencing today is a result of our choices.  We choose who lords over us.  Where we make no choice for God, the devil will lord over people.  The devil is evil and he is a bully.  We can see his spirit in people who lord over people with cruelty and hatred.  Corrosion of Christian values in American churches and its people have brought us all the way to where we are today…being ruled by bullies as church overlords, government overlords and corporate overlords.  They tell us what we had better do or else!  Having well established systems in our nation, it has facilitated leaders who exploit them for personal wealth; and many people do not realize it was their choice through their chosen leader.

Systems that were set up to provide services to and for the American people have now switched over to bully demands.  Our government exploits Americans through unfair taxation laws and corrupt leaders in churches and businesses that operate for their highest profit rather than for any advantage of the people.  We have a lack of leaders of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom today.  Americans are being exploited on every side and God said “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof (Jer 5:31)?  From unhealthy foods and medicines full of unsafe chemical fillers to exorbitant prices of housing and fraudulent financial services, American citizens are paying through the nose to businesses that are not being blocked by our legislators because many of them are receiving their part of the bounty through kickbacks.  When we look at the mandate given to us by God through scripture and then we look at where we are now, our decline cannot be denied.  The problem is though whether or not we will use wisdom to return from our rapid decline to safer grounds or will we go into full decline like so many other nations before us.

What was once being done silently or incognito in past years are now being conducted out in the open with pride and boldness because Satan is receiving his glory.  Leaders are now demanding their profit without shame.  God said through Jeremiah:  “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this” (Jer 5:29)?  We have legal bullies who have free rein to continue because proper authority has been cast aside for profit.  How did we get here?  Lobbyists created rendezvous between business and government where coalitions were being made to profit all involved.  Unfortunately, a seduction ensued for the devotion of church leaders who felt left out of the wealth.  Once they were on board, the people were easily silenced by their leaders.  We got here because from the Christians to businesses to government, responsible people stop blowing the whistle on sin and corruption.  They were told to “be a team player” and everybody thought to speak up was treacherous to the group, never mind the treachery to God.  Leaders in churches, government and businesses went unchecked in power for too long.  Even though God told the people to select righteous leaders to rule over them, celebrity leaders had already sprinkled stardust in the eyes of the people.  Honestly and integrity was substituted for glitter and fanfare.  America learned to put star power above God’s power.  It became established tradition in our churches as Christians learned to hear and follow those religious leaders who came with fame and demands for high monetary benefits…”bring me a thousand…$500 line up over here.”  Exaltation of fleshly leaders turned the tide of respect from anointed leaders to those that tickled our fancy.  Hear the prophecy from millenniums ago:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2Ti 4:3-4

Our preachers were to be stewards over these words and had a responsibility to keep the people in remembrance of what God said but they too pursued their lusts for monetary gains and fame like their worldly idols.  Once the church compromised, there was no framework in place to keep other institutions honest.  It was the churches that originally called America to righteousness from slavery, saloons, whorehouses, many past gambling holes, public lewdness and other kinds of lawlessness.  If you take away those original preachers who steered America in the right direction, we would have been destroyed a long time ago through corruption, lawlessness or civil unrest. God was at every point trying to remind our nation of His first instruction.

I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.  Jer 5:5

I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me.  Jer 35:15

When Aaron gave in to the temptation to make the people an idol god to serve, they were wholly corrupted and set for God’s destruction until their Moses returned and pleaded for God to spare them.  It is God who raised up Himself a prophet for the people to provide a place of mercy for them in times of evil.  But when a people will not hear that prophet, what hope could possibly be left.  Jonah was the last hope to prevent Nineveh’s destruction.

When we see bullies leading us freely, we should all know that we are all in eminent peril.  God is not the God of bullies.  Bullies are an evil force ruling and leading us to oppression and destruction.  Satan is the supreme bully and he sets up people like himself to lead people into hardship and destruction.  That bully spirit is referred to as goats or wolves among sheep in the bible and God curses and denounces that spirit.

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  Mt 25:32-33

Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle. Zec 10:3

Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.  Ezek 22:26-27

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Mt 7:15

People have always had some kind of god that they wanted to serve. When Israel did not want to serve the True God, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were happy to rule them and lead them in service to idol gods. Only Elijah’s service to God saved the people.  Elijah was instructed to cut off idol worship so their leaders had to be destroyed.  Not one was to remain in place to again pollute the people.

We Can Still Make the Right Choice 

Once I made the decision for Christ and received His Holy Spirit I wondered why I was still dealing with that bully spirit wrecking my life.  I searched God’s word to find out where I was missing what God promised.  God began to show me little by little where the devil was eating my lunch.  The devil was still lording over areas in my life through personal decisions I had made. I had to learn what wrong decisions I had made and cancel Satan’s permit.  Lot chose to live in a notorious city called Sodom.   His choice was based on selfishness toward his uncle, Abraham.  The consequences he and his family experienced were based on his wrong decision.  Children do experience the consequences of their parent’s deed.  God reveals in the New Testament that we should consult Him in every decision.  We should preference our words with “if it be the will of the Lord.”  God’s deliverance defeats evil spirits and overlords who have taken illegal places of authority in their lives.  Children of God have a right to be free and enjoy their liberty in Christ but the devil is a thief, using evil overlords of rob God’s people of their rights and privileges. Jesus told us so:  “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (Jo 10:10).”

What is new in our time of Christian faith is a God who will partner with any believer to cleanse his house and life of Satan’s intrusions.  Overlords lurk everywhere to oppress the believer but God has promised to the believer life and that more abundantly.  Our nation can overthrow Satan’s rule through evil and wicked men if we have faith in God and work with Him. God is a very present help in a time of trouble but we must call upon Him and work with Him.  Our leaders should fight against overlords in our communities, state and nation; but if they will not, Christ has invested the power for  an individual to run a thousand and for two to run ten thousand.  Let’s utilize the power of Christ in unity to kick the bullies out!

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  1 Jn 4:4

We Hold These Truths…

August 2019

Pursuit of Power

The intrigue of mankind has caused it to make many great discoveries in the earth but among the greatest is that of the atom that has promoted use for both good and evil.   Still a mystery to some is the question of what great power created the atom.  Surely a greater power than the atom must have created it.  Search for such power has driven men to far shores, extraordinary and dangerous efforts seeking a way to harness such power for advantage over other men.  Explorers have dived into the unknown and gone to the ends of the earth to find out how things work.  They seek an elusive power that is above them and that they have no ability to control.   Men throughout history have sought and claimed the power of an unknown god while some have dared to take on divinity for themselves.  Search for power has driven some men mad as they have sought to manipulate power for personal advantage.  Great power still beacons man because he knows he has a potential for greatness.  But greatness without discipline is very destructive as has been proven through the power of the atom.

Exposure of Illicit Power

The news media in America is reporting at this hour on abusive power by men who have position, influence and wealth above average and who use it to engage in illegal and lascivious acts against the most vulnerable in our society. These men are discovering too that their undisciplined desires have the ability to disrupt their position of power.  And while they should be held accountable for their actions; their position, wealth and power provides them a shield and means of escape from being held accountable to those they consider beneath their status.   Their attempt of a god-like cover of their actions assumes that there is no God watching and measuring their deeds. The media has unveiled for us the illicit sexual exploitation by the hierarchy of the Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Mormon churches.  From the Bernie Madoff and Enron financial debacles to those of present day business leaders, we have seen business leaders corrupt with power and wealth exceed the boundaries of decency and morality.  American government leaders are being exposed daily for corrupt use of government power for personal advancement.  Men of corrupt minds have not only been found to cause unwilling women to submit to their undisciplined sexual desires but the Jeffrey Epstein prosecution reveals that they have gone on to organize hidden groups of the rich and famous where they cause innocent children to submit their deprave desires.  Corruption is so pervasive until these leaders are establishing their own exploits as normal while casting off the guardrails of integrity and truth on which the nation set as its standard.  World history is replete with stories of great military, religious and civil leaders who ruled the world and yet it all tumbled down through abuse of power.  Biblical Moses warned tribes of Israel that if they disobeyed God their sins would find them out (Nu. 32:23).  In the New Testament, Matthew tells us that when one is cleansed of evil but goes back into sin, the repercussions of evil reaped is seven times worse than before(Mt. 12:45).  America is seeing a depravity in leadership because God is exposing it and because America is now imitating the type of sinful autocrats who ruled over peasants in Europe.  America should be moving forward, not backward.  The accumulation of wealth in business, religion and government has caused callousness toward everyday citizens who have little recourse against tyrannical rule, reminisce of European rule over peasants.

Foundation of American Power

The colonists to America and their forefathers had seen tyrannical abuse played out in their lives and were sick of the oppression of overlords who pillaged the poor to fuel their extravagance.  They sought a better life in the New World away from the ruthless power of European kings and kingdoms.  They realized that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Like most things, power can be used for good or evil.  Some European religious believers had caught a glimpse of true greatness in their encounter with God and were willing to pursue it at all cost. (Ps. 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.)  They risked their lives to pursue something greater than the corrupt power of their nation.  They imagined a life where God reigned and where a liberty and freedom they had never experienced could be enjoyed.  While enlightened with this pursuit, they penned these words:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

 “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

The United States of America was established with very noble ideas derived from scriptural convictions and oppressive European experiences.  They had seen the ability of even Christian governments ruled by totalitarian leaders corrupt the very best of intentions by greed.  They, therefore, thought to bind themselves to an agreement where citizens could rise up in protest, denounce and remove corrupt leaders.   It must have been beyond their imagination to foresee a time where a free people would strive to return to the sick society they had fled.  The sorrow of our nation of America is that having found the comfort of this nation, few men will peril their lives like the original colonists who risked life and limb to resist corruption and pursue righteousness at all costs.  Americans believe they have an inherited right to a life of ease, freedom and wealth because their forefathers fought for it, yet Christianity and the law both make us aware of those who would subvert the rights and privileges of others for their own benefits.

Corrupt Power

While men of power in the nation use their position, wealth and authority to overwhelm the rights of everyday citizens, it is true that both the American legal system and Christianity grant liberties to the individual citizen to protest solo or with others and remove corrupt leaders.  The legal system authorizes it and the bible compels it.  The only question that remains is whether or not Americans still have the will to fight against evil.  It appears the seeking of gold has corrupted even the most disciplined mind.  America above every other nation has the tools necessary to insist on truth and integrity in its government, church and business communities; and we must not allow men of power to suppress that right.  God will stand with us if we stand with Him.  Our nation has the witness of corruption in other nations, people and times throughout history as a lesson to avoid the same destructive path.  No other nation has had the opportunity, liberty and knowledge that Americans possess to maintain its freedom as a people.

With a wealth of advantages, Americans have, nevertheless, slipped back into the worse sins of their European predecessors.  That is why the Europeans can look on America with such disdain, because there is no excuse for falling into the same sins.  Britain had already fought wars for the right to be Christian, welcomed ethnic groups and had denounced slavery.  Their great sin was aristocracy, maintaining wealth and privilege for only the few, is the current snare of American elites.

There has always been a temptation and problem of strong and powerful leaders abusing the most vulnerable but the American establishment of democracy for the exercise true liberty and faith in Christ was supposed to change that.  God allowed European peasants to catch a vision of Him, liberty, and a place of freedom but it has quickly been returned to the mire of the past oppression.  Without discipline, a close relationship and adherence to the Lord, freedom turns into lasciviousness.  We saw it displayed at the foot of the Mount Sinai when Moses went up to commune with God.  As soon as Moses was gone, the children began to play and choose other gods.  And now that America has chosen to push God to the background, to serve money and pleasure rather than God, the leaders have decided to give the people a new god and rules like Aaron did for the children of Israel.  But God, who is in covenant with the people of America through signed declarations and prayers, will have the last word.  God directed Prophet Elijah to denounce the false god called Baal who the people had set up as their new god (1Ki 18).  In a test of truth, God was proven All-powerful and all the false prophets were humiliated and killed.  Baal was an ancient god of the biblical Canaanites.  This false god was thought to be a god of fertility and the people offered gifts to Baal to prosper in areas of lack. They did animal and human sacrifice to prosper rather than depending on God for their supply.  Much like today, people are sinning and choosing to serve other gods because they want things God has not yet given them.  The Israelites would choose a false god or gods to satisfy their greed for things and even Christians today are choosing a god of wealth and material things over the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  The name of this new god is called prosperity; new name, same god.  The new Aarons have set up gods to please the people’s lust.  It’s an old story with a familiar ending.  A lot of lives were lost before the people of Israel returned to the True God.  Christ has come so that every individual can be a child of God and inherit the wealth of Father God, their King (Jo. 3:16).  We can expect God to pull down the foundation of lies in America that has tried to take the place of truth and we can expect God to pull down the false god of money that America has become ensnared with.   God has not changed His First Commandment that we should have no other God but Him or bow down to worship other gods.  How long will it take and how many lives will be lost before America returns to her God?

Encouragement to Stay the Course

It is important for America to remember:

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Heb 12:6-7 (KJV)

It is our lust for things God has not yet given us that tempts us to exceed the boundaries of God’s provision but if we obey and wait on the Lord’s timing we can have His favor and those things too.  May God’s mercy and compassion remain with our nation until we willingly return to His grace!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Ps. 33:12)

GOD, THE FATHER

July 1, 2019

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Ps. 27:10

The recent Father’s Day weekend was the time to talk about fathers and I wrote about it but there is so much more to this topic that it deserves much more time.  Much of what is wrong with us personally and in the world can be traced back to the wrong image of the father.  Men in our society as husbands, fathers and leaders are upset because they want to rule our world and they want women to sit down, learn from them and do what they say.  The problem is though if you do not have the right image or relationship with Father God, you are in no position to lead but God is faithful to send leaders help in various forms.  Even though Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, God had already instructed Adam regarding leadership, relationships and authority.  True knowledge comes from God (Pro. 2:6).

The nation of America today is in dire need of the Father’s image and the revelation of His love.  Though oftentimes men believe their problem is the women, they have held the reins of authority for millenniums and yet have produced world wars that destroyed multitudes.  God, as Father, has revealed Himself as, not only strength, but loving, caring, sharing, protecting and sacrificially giving of Himself.  So many men of our generation in top levels of society are reflecting God and authority as the complete opposite of His nature by emphasizing taking rather than giving, abusive of the weak rather than defending them, and demanding respect while revealing contempt rather than love.  Churches with better knowledge and spiritual insight promote a prosperity message with a wrong focus on spiritual leaders gaining their tangible wealth while promising wealth to others. We have a president as the head of our nation who is ill prepared to represent the concepts of fatherhood and family to society.  We have men in politics, businesses and churches who are trying to hold up his position as proper authority because he represents their authority as well; but it is an impossible task.  God is being misrepresented by many men of authority in our society.  How can the world be right if its teachers are in error?  Jesus’ mission to Jerusalem brought correction of the wrong image of God, showed proper authority and revealed the Father in truth.  We have a loving Father who rules in mercy and who Lords over every aspect of our lives with love; and He expects a proper reflection His image.

Our society is full of broken vessels trying to mend others when they do not possess a true image of God, family and wholeness.  God wants to heal the brokenness of leaders before they set a pattern for others.  The image of wholeness, as a person, family and society comes from the knowledge of God who created all these relationships.  When men who lead do not submit to God as their leader and instructor and then fail to receive the help and warnings God sends, that is a recipe for disaster.  Leaders with a broken image of life are still in position to demand conformity to their authority even against the better instincts of those they lead.  People tend to resist that which is unnatural and against their conscience of right and wrong.  This type of conflict produces causes a warring in relationships, families, churches, societies and nations as we are now seeing in our everyday lives.   But “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Pro.16:7).  Man out of alignment with God causes disruptions in our society.

 The cure for what ails us was provided from the beginning. God, who talked to Adam continually about how to be a husband, father and caretaker, has always been available to teach all men.  Men are expected to lay a sound foundation on which a home and family is built.  If the floors sink or the walls lend, it can be traced back to the man who laid a bad foundation.  Brute men may rise up to force their ways upon the weak in society and nations, but God, who defends the poor and needy, intervenes in family disruptions and wars between countries to pull down aggression and restore peace.  God watches over all our relationships intervening when necessary to preserve the meek that trust in Him and His creation.

 What if we understood that this is the missing link?  What if we understood that returning to the knowledge of God the Father would restore things in proper order?  What if fathers got saved, returned home and restored their families.  What if leaders heard the warning God sends and realized that they needed God’s help to lead?  What if we all woke up and experienced a longing to commune with the Father, accepted Christ and sought out restoration?

Do men realize that the longing for sexual love beyond their wives is a longing for the love of God?  Do they realize that their desire for power is a God-given gift to rule their portion of the earth in the right way?  Do they realize that their yearning for more and more wealth is a longing for recognition and approval that only Father God can give them?  Do they realize that the lack of appreciation they experience within the family is a symptomatic of their failure to love with the love only God can give for a reciprocal love?  What if we understood all these things that God, the Father, has been trying to teach us?  What if man, who is the head, obeyed his Head (God) and used authority in a fatherly love?

To broke vessels: God is reaching out to restore wholeness through giving us the right image of His nature.  I was a broken vessel (some may mock that I still am) but one day I met the Master, who has healed my brokenness by revealing Himself as Father.  When I heard God’s message and the sacrifice of Christ for my sins, I believed it.  I took hold of it like a hungry person stumbling across the desert finding a piece of bread. For those who know my life and wondered about certain aspects of it, just imagine again that hungry person and someone try to take that piece of bread away.  Imagine someone trying to take the life raft from someone sinking in the ocean.  God is our life raft in an ocean of trouble and we have to fight against all odds to separate us by holding on to the life raft. 

What’s wrong with the world is that some people are trying to repair it in their own way but have no knowledge of God.  It is very difficult to put a square peg into a round hole but some ministers, politicians, teachers, business leaders and other male leaders are trying to do just that.  They have changed the rules to reflect a wrong image and expect multitudes to follow.  When the head is properly aligned, the body will follow. Because men usually possess leadership positions, oftentimes there is no one able to tell them they are wrong and some leaders lack wisdom to ask or hear godly counsel.  The very natural of men causes them to persist in authority even when they are wrong or ill equipped. Hard-headiness is not the nature of God nor does it reflect leadership strength.  God listened to Moses and changed His mind when He was determined to destroy disobedient Israel.  When those being led rise up in agonizing protest because their lives are miserable, ruthless men try to shut them up.  That is not the way God modeled or designed leadership authority.  Not all men conduct themselves this way but too many do.  Jesus took time to hear, show mercy, instruct, and give examples to clarify messages to his followers.  Jesus is also the answer for followers caught up in bad situations.  I am so glad God restored my image of the Father against all odds.  I am glad I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior despite all attempts to lead me astray.  Father God is invested in us and our success and He will complete the work He has started in us.

Our nation and world is in trouble because of lack of knowledge and relationship with God, the Father.  God has been trying to tell us to turn around and do things the right way but people, set in their own ways, are refusing to hear.  Even the earth is crying out that it won’t work our way.  The nation’s farms, foods harvested from them and the very environment we live in are rebelling against what man is doing in the earth.  Mankind is substituting the artificial for the real to fill in gaps and voids to prolong their own false design that is destined to fail.  What if on Father’s Day men would renew a devotion to following the True Father?

God is still reaching out to all mankind and saying:   

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”  Ps. 32:8 

 Why won’t we listen?  Many people have become tone deaf to the voice of God that is still speaking.  For those that have no teacher, God promises to teach you.  Father God is available to all who will seek Him.  He will put away your sin and cover you with a veil of love.  When you have no father, God is Father (Ps. 27:10).  When you have no one to love you, God is love.  When you are in despair, God will pick you up.  He is the one that will never leave nor forsake you.  He has been trying to tell us individually and as a nation and world that He is still there for us and He loves us with an everlasting love.  He is willing to guide us through the storm and His arms are still wide open to receive us.  There is nothing wrong with the Father or His image but are we reflecting His true image?

And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Co 6:18

GOD ASKS US TO JUDGE OURSELVES BEFORE HIS JUDGMENT FALLS

April 2019

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  1Co 11:3132 

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  1Co 6:2 

In Old Testament scripture, the God of Moses sent commandments to the Children of Israel to follow, where sin and disobedience would be judged with death.  The dire consequence of sin is cleared shown in the story of the rebellion of Korah (Nu. 16:32-33), who defied Moses’ authority and dropped alive with his accomplices into the open pit of hell.  In the recording of the prophetic service of prophets like Moses and Abraham, we see often an appeal to God of leniency for the people and God’s openness to appeal for mercy.  The book of Isaiah shows God’s decision to send an eternal intercessor to man for extension of leniency and Jesus’ ministry established the terms of that leniency.  Unfortunately, many New Testament believers have decided the mercy of God through Jesus Christ allows them to practice sin and receive no retribution for breaking God’s commandments.  They have believed the love of God revealed through Jesus makes God too loving to destroy man. However, God never did away with the punishment of His law against sin; He only allowed exceptions permitted through faith in Christ (Mat 5:17).  Those not found in faith through Christ are also not covered under the grace of Christ (John 3:18) and are still subject to the wrath and punishment of God’s anger (Rom. 1:18) against sin.  One of the failures of Christian ministry is neglecting to help churchgoers understand which group they are in.  One is not under the mercy of God through Christ merely by going to church.  One can be near food and still starve to death. Church is merely a vehicle to get one to the place of salvation. We must each individually take Christ’s hand for guidance.

Knowing that God will deal with sin in people of the world and the church, it is important to know how God deals with people in both environments.  That takes us back to the scenario of Israel’s relationship with God.  Sin will either receive the mercy of God through an obedient intercessor, as in Abraham’s intercession for Lot or Christ’s intercession for believers; or one will experience God’s wrath for disobedience like Korah (Nu. 16:32-33) and Paul’s reference in Rom. 1:18.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousnessRom 1:18 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:23 

Since we know through this discussion and scriptures that God will deal with all sin, it is imperative that we know where we fall on God’s scale of justice.  Americans seem convinced that they cannot come under the kind of wrath that the Children of Israel experienced time and time again for disobedience.  When we realize that our sin is either covered or not, we are able to determine where we fall in our susceptibility to judgment of sin.

   …Blessed are they whose iniquities [sins] are forgiven, and whose sins are covered… Rom 4:7 

There have been many intercessory prayers that add cover to America from the prayer of Solomon that appealed for all believers to Jesus’ prayer for His followers, and that of Christian believers and leaders who have prayed a blessing over this nation.  But there comes a time when all the evil of a people or their descendants excel any appeasement of intercessors as God recounted in the Old Testament.

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble. Jer 11:14 

Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:  Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD. Eze 14:13-14


The grace and mercy we receive under Jesus Christ provides intercession and forgiveness when sincere repentance comes through faith in Christ. As mentioned earlier, this exception from the wrath of God is revealed in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Church leaders and believers are instructed to pray in intercession for one another and those in authority (I Tim. 2:1-2) while reaching the lost with the message of reconciliation.  When the church and worldly government become corrupt, we find ourselves in the position Jeremiah confronted.  Let’s read what God had to say to Israel when no just man stood in opposition to the evil of the land and let’s read it as if it was written directly to America.  “[ ]” added to show references to America.

Jer 4:1-4(KJV) – If thou wilt return, O Israel [America], saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not [be] remove[d].  And thou shalt swear [say], The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.  For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem [America], Break up [destroy] your fallow ground (evil), and sow not among thorns [stop sinning].  Circumcise yourselves to [obey] the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart [repent], ye men of Judah and inhabitants [America]: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. 

Disaster from the North

Jer 4:5-11  Declare and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land [ announce  throughout America]: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go throughout the land.   Set up the standard of righteousness [re-establish the righteous way]: retire, stay not [do not rest]: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.  The lion [the enemy is coming] is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer from the nations is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate[coming to destroy]; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.  For this gird you with sackcloth [so repent], lament [sorrow] and howl [cry]: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king [president] shall perish [faint], and the heart of the princes [government officials]; and the priests [ministers] shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.  Then said I Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people [the church] and America, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword [your wrath] reacheth unto the soul.  At that time shall it be said to this people [to churchgoers and all America], A dry wind of the high places [wrath from God] in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people [toward America], not to fan, nor to cleanse,  Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them [God’s sentence against America].  Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots [warefare] shall be as a whirlwind: his horses [weapons] are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.  O Jerusalem [America], wash thine heart from wickedness [repent], that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts [evilness] lodge within thee?  For a voice declareth from Dan [the forefathers spoke], and publisheth affliction[they warned] from mount Ephraim[the Commandments].  Make ye mention to the nations [tell the nations]; behold, publish against Jerusalem [cry against America], that watchers [prosecutors] come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Jerusalem [America].  As keepers of a field [as divine guardians], are they against her [America] round about; because she [America] hath been rebellious against me [God], saith the LORD.  Thy way and thy doings [America’s evil ways] have procured [brought] these things [evil] unto thee [against America]; this is thy wickedness[reward, punishment], because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart. 

Anguish over Judah’s Desolation {Prophet’s Remorse]

Jer 4:19-31  My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.  Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.  How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?  For my people is foolish, they have not known me [God; they are sottish (stupid) children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.  …  Jer 4:27  For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate (empty); yet will I not make a full end.  For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.  The whole city (nation) shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen (war); they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.  And when thou art spoiled [when punished], what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson [though still symbols of wealth], though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold though thou rentest thy face with painting [makeup], in vain shalt thou make thyself fair [attractive]; thy lovers [your friends] will despise thee, they will seek thy life.  For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion [prophet foresaw the end], that bewaileth herself [America], that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers [sorrow at the end].

There is an evil in the land and there are few that will stand up for right.  Yet God can only be appeased through righteous intercession for an evil land as we saw in Jonah’s intercession for Nineveh whereby they repented.  Even though God said that the intercession of Noah, Daniel, and Job could not deliver some wicked people that He determined to destroy; Jesus is a better intercessor than Noah, Daniel or Job. Father God has chosen to hear Jesus’ intercession for us.  The righteous church should represent Christ’s voice in the world, but many churches have compromised with the world for worldly profit and some are immature.  In our day, believers are required to do more than just pray; we must repent and make change.  This is where we have an opportunity through our faith, prayers and democratic process to appeal to our nation for change.  Jesus authorized the true church to judge sin in the land and bring about change but when the church is corrupt, and unless the people stand up; God himself will judge all sin. 

Paul taught in 1Co 11:31-32 how we could avoid the consequences announced in Jeremiah 4.  Paul said we have the ability and commission to judge ourselves and prevent God’s judgment.  We, as individuals, are to judge our own lives during Christian communion even as we pray for our church fellowship.  As the righteous church, we are to judge our own Christian body first for sin and then we are granted authority to judge the land as Christ’s representative.  Many Christian churches have become corrupt because they failed to judge members or leader’s sin. So how is it that the church has fallen so short that the world has judged the church and found it corrupt and inept to decide the issues of the world?  How can God be pleased with this state of affairs?  It is important for America to know that God’s grace first allows us to be judged by those close to us that love us before He next brings our enemy in to judge us with His wrath, still with a hope for signs of repentance.  If America does not allow the worldly justice of its lawmakers to determine and judge the sin of corruption at the highest levels of our society then God will permit outside authorities, who do not love us, to judge us.  The mercy of God is at the final stage before turning our nation over to our enemies without to punish the evil deeds inside our nation.  Remember that He said, in some circumstances, not even Noah, Daniel or Abraham could intercede for some evil.  So we must, while we still can, judge ourselves and allow our just representatives to judge the wrong before we are turned over to our enemies in God’s destruction because God will not allow America’s sin to further corrupt the world and defame His name.  Judgment of the world always begins with those that claim to know the Creator and His ways.  This former Christian nation must be judged for turning on God.

I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds [corrupt leaders].  Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased [enemies allowed to punish us].  How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses [even the youth are spoiled by their wealth and enjoy worshiping false gods].  They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Jer 5:5-9 

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Joh 3:17-18 

God has shown us the evil of our nation and we have to judge the evil.  When Israel had evil in the camp everyone had to choose a stone and come out into the courtyard before the criminal and throw a stone at the evildoer until dead to put evil out of the camp.  Sounds cruel but evil could not be tolerated or allowed to contaminate and destroy the whole camp.  Righteousness had to rise up against evil and defeat it.  In the New Testament we are still required to put evil to death.  However, for those that accept Christ, God has put Jesus to death in our place. All our sin was rolled onto Christ, judged by authority, sentenced to death and punished on the cross until it was destroyed.  New life could only begin for us after the crucifixion.

America has sinned and corruption and evil runs throughout its body.  Sins of greed, lust, extortion, murder, treachery, pedophilia, pornography, abortion, adultery, lying, apostasy, false religions, political corruption, abuse, sexual dysfunction, rape, unjust laws, discrimination, prejudice, false leaders, witchcraft, false gods, and hatred are found in our nation and must be put to death.  Some have in error called our President a type of biblical Cyrus but rather he, as head of the nation, is symbolic of all that is evil in the body of our nation and his presidency represents the wicked heart of our nation.  Isaiah (1:5) announced “the whole head is sick…” All unlawfulness found and proven guilty in him should be judged and sentenced because it represents the guilt of our nation and our ability to still call sin as sin. Only after our judgment for sin and death can we be born again. Sounds cruel but evil cannot rein over the righteous.  It’s not political; it is law. Grace comes after the law is fulfilled.

No one wants to be the one who throws the first stone.  No one wants to be the one with the hammer or the nail nor the hand that holds it.  Few want to be the lawmaker, lawyer or judge but we all have to play the role God has given us.  Righteousness must always stand against sin, but it was God who sentenced Christ to the cross for sin so we could live.  We all died in Christ. Christ was guilty with our sin even though He was not a sinner.  He bore the guilt and it had to be punished for us to live.  Evil had to be judged.  God’s judgment told through Prophet Ezekiel was to spare only those that angels identified as crying out against the evil corruption of the land.  Every Christian has to acknowledge their sinfulness and that it was nailed to Christ’s cross. We must confess sin because it is our path to righteousness. Only God had the resurrection power to raise up Christ again and only God has the power to raise up America again.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8 



LEARNING THE LESSON

March 2019

While our memories are fresh we should pause as Americans to see what we have learned from our recent political discourse.  But you say, “It is not over yet!”  The ordeal might not be over but the lesson is apparent and ready to be learned.  It is amazing that with the multitudes of professions, spiritual intuition and educational knowledge available in our nation; it was the American media that saved the day.  They called out lies that the politicians, church and government would not.  They were a little slow calling a lie a lie but they finally got there.  Their reluctance in calling false statements as lies was probably due to their professional relationship with morality, whose guidelines for truth is rooted in biblical scriptures.  America has had its debate with truth and truth was tossed out on its ear in favor of public opinion.  Truth does exist, however, even though few public leaders want to validate the importance of truth derived from religious faith as the standard and foundation of our society.  Religious wars were fought and settled in nations before America was established as a God-honoring nation.  America must re-establish this baseline truth. We cannot re-fight religious wars within our borders.  Some things, like math, are universally accepted truths across nations and so must be the truth about God, which America had the most liberty to expound across the world.  Has America come to an epiphany about God and yet reverted back to pagan discourse?  Has the church failed at practicing what it has preached?

Chasing After “Shiny Things”

The media unearthed a truth that revealed people were running around in circles. “Shiny things” was a phrase that was repeated over and over by one media outlet who discovered the enemy was hiding the truth by causing the public to chase after “shining things.”  Little children love shiny things and will chase after them and amuse themselves in play with them all day long.  They can easily be distracted by shiny things.  The media found that they were being pulled off topic and off the scent of their journalistic search by shiny things introduced to lead them astray.  They caught on to the game, called it out and decided to stop allowing these traps to ruin their efforts in exposing real problems.  Would to God we all would learn this lesson and stop running after “shiny things.”

The real question is how we ever got into the mess our political system has fallen into.  It’s appropriate to consider: America loves shiny things!  We love the flashy, the bigness, the loudest, the richest and the most visible things.  We love our stars!  If there is a selection to be made, we want the “most-est” of the bunch.  We are Americans and we want nothing less than the best! So we chase after shiny things because they stand out and must represent the best.  We were groomed to seek after movie stars, celebrity preachers and greatness in leaders. Everything shiny is not the best!  Sometimes it’s just greased up.

Choosing Wisely

What am I talking about?  We, as Americans, must learn from our present situation, while the experience is still fresh in our minds, how to make proper decisions from a wide selection of options.  New elections are on the way!  We will have an opportunity to do it again and leaders can and have been proven to lead the masses astray with smoke, mirrors and flashes of light.  Did we learn the lesson?  If we have not learned the lesson, we are bound to repeat it.  I dare say some are reporting, we are already repeating our previous bad history.  The best leader is not always the best looking, tallest, wealthiest, most smooth-talking, charismatic, renowned person we can find.  Abraham Lincoln is believed to have been one of our best presidents yet his success as the 16th President of the United States was not based on popular criteria.

The best source for guidance in selecting true leadership is found in the Word of God.  If we refuse this sound guidance, we will continue to have more of what we are already seeing.  The devil does not need new tricks; the old ones work just fine.  Church instruction was supposed to teach us how to make right choices.  Our first great leaders were chosen by God and He gave mankind guidelines for selecting good leaders.  Here is some biblical instruction:

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Act 6:3

 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tensEx. 18:21 

 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment. 1Ki 3:28

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Pro 2:6 

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. Pro 15:33 

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. Deu 18:18 

The scriptures above reveal God’s guidance for selection of a leader:

  • One from among us (someone we know and his ways)
  • One of honest report, fears God, Spirit-filled,
  • One who has judgment, wisdom, truth
  • And one who hates covetousness.

Inner-Struggle of Nation

Our nation started out as a God-fearing nation but now mostly choose to disavow God and shun His ways in favor of worldly leadership.  We have compromised our values for the sake of getting along.  The fact that none of us are perfect should not disqualify the guidebook that identifies our shortcomings.  We can see clearly where that has gotten us and we can look back at the list above and realize there is a lack of virtuous traits in our present leadership.  We should not settle for lest of men because we cannot find a perfect human.  We also should not look to man as God, which is idolatry or demagoguery (Suggested audio/video on demagoguery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IaGHbyWf7c.  This is the right time to look back over the last several years to see how far we have gone from God’s original instructions that the founders valued and we should each determine why we find ourselves in this present state.   Some would say we are doing that.  Unfortunately and as previously explained, the expertise of the media cannot produce repentance, which is God granted.  When America chose to refuse the Christian standard, it also refused godly leadership. Without God’s guidance and Christian values, we no longer have a standard on which to judge righteousness or the proper course for the nation.  When biblical Israel became corrupt both leaders and the people were in darkness.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2Co 10:12

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. Pro 26:12 

The very definition of right and wrong has been publicly challenged and debated with vigor while the “Judge” over the debate has been muzzled.  We can continue on the wrong course and become worse and worse or we can stop now, acknowledge we went off course, check the guide book to see our error and be corrected.  It is time to seriously evaluate our experience and extract the lesson.  Without a vision the people will perish (Pro 29:18) and the vision of our nation was God’s direction for the nation.

A list of  worldly characteristics to judge the best candidates are usually: strong vision for the nation; ability to put the times in historical perspective; effective communicator; courage to make unpopular decisions; crisis management skills; character and skills (www.ushistory.org/gov).  Careful evaluation reveals the list was derived from biblical examples but it purposely leaves out God’s Spirit as the source of guidance.  We cannot use God’s wisdom while failing to acknowledge Him as the source and expect to be successful.  Kings, prophets and wise men have acknowledged God as the source of their abilities, whereas modern intellectuals show shame. The very nature of God and His commandments refuse to be ignored and demands recognition for who He is.  If we fail to acknowledge Him, He has vowed to deny us.  We are seeing the results of this denial without realizing the cause as forsaking God.  The nation that denies God subsequently goes into decline before experiencing bondage or destruction.

Many mainline Christian churches surely failed us when they showed a stubbornness toward accepting the spiritual gifts God sent to empower the church at the Azusa Street revival, resisted cross-race fellowship that led spiritually-hungry believers to enticement by celebrity preachers who beguiled seekers with false gifts, false doctrine, pursuit of wealth, abandonment of righteous standards in lieu of worldly fellowship and surrender to political leadership without God.

The first appointed leader over the children of Israel was a man led by God, named Moses.  Moses was given the authority to assign public leaders over the Israelites for service as priests, discipline, judge, worship leaders and social care.  All of these positions are part of our present society that we call community, church and government for the people and they are all derived from the original Lawmaker and Sovereign God, who set up foundation standards for the lives of His people and society.  Where we varied from that direction is the point where we went astray. We cannot allow arrogance due to our wealth, modernization, or intellect to cause us to deny the God who made us. The founders (well-versed in law, science and theology) acknowledged God and established, to the best of their abilities, the pattern they thought their descendants would follow and improve on any shortsightedness.  Rather than improve on what the founders did, America has flipped the script and gone all the way backward, ready to return to authoritarianism, monarchy, church dominance, over-taxation and class-rule.

Correcting the Path

It would be ideal to assume that America has learned the lesson from recent and still on-going errors, but there is still that fascination for stars.  We love our stars!  We want a star in the pulpit and as head of our government. Did we learn nothing from King James I of England, who considered his rule divine and unanswerable to men? Fascination with stars assumes that someone else is better than we, whereas Jesus came to disprove that theory and reveal great potential and the Creator’s power in each of us.  We must learn to look for signs of God’s selection of a leader in those who possess maturity, wisdom, integrity, humility, fear of God, honesty and a servant-spirit.  Those are godly characteristics that protect us from charlatans like those being charged in today’s news cycles. Christian ministers were supposed to teach us to resist looking for the glory of man but rather to give glory to Christ. Many instead taught us to glorify them and look for god in man.  The uniqueness of America is a God who gave a Savior and Lord in human flesh whom we as Americans are free to know, follow and emulate

It is so easy to chase after “shiny things” like children.  We must be more studious in our undertaking for leaders because what we do will affect our destiny, the next generation and the world watching us.  We should not miss the purpose of our faith which was to show forth Christ in all that we say and do.  If our present spiritual, political, and community leaders have failed us; we must not give up on the right path but rather return to the original guide book and pattern.  Once we can see the pattern and have the right model, we can pick up where they left off and continue on course, like Joshua.  No leader is to be set up higher than or instead of Christ. Misguided leadership does not have to be the end. God gave us Jesus walking an earthly path as our example to follow and He warned us of making gods of men.  We all have within us the same potential for greatness because we are all made in the image of the Creator.  We have not yet reached our highest national potential and we can still reject the trap of the enemy.  We have a long way to go still if we straighten out our course and reject tyranny. The enemy of our nation, his plan and false way has been fully exposed in plain sight in a time of weakness but we can still denounce the evil choice.  God has given us mercy at the crossroad of grace and destruction so we should learn the lesson and make the right choice. Let’s choose to reject the wrong path and press toward a better future!

ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM: FOR TRUE UNITY

February 2019

God Reveals Himself

The plan of God to restore mankind back to righteousness is presented through preaching the good news of the gospel.   Jesus Christ both brought this message and was the embodiment of the good news from the Father.  His instruction to his disciples was to disseminate the gospel message throughout the world to bring all people back into unity in God.  Jesus is still teaching His disciples to follow and preach the gospel today; however, some preachers distort His message for their own purposes.  The bible boldly declares there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:5-6).  Everything outside of that truth is a lie spun by the devil, the father of lies.

In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses revealed to the church in the wilderness their God:  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deu. 6:4-5).  God revealed Himself to Abraham and foretold that Abraham would guide his descendants in the fear of God (Gen. 18:19).  God loved and established David as king over His people because David reverenced God with love and worship with all his might (2 Sam. 6:14).  Zechariah prophesied: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zec. 14:9).  Old Testament prophets knew of this one-God truth and Jesus’ ministry confirmed it: “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mar 12:29-30).  Apostle Paul declared the truth of God to the Jews and Gentiles: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1Co 8:6).  Paul taught a message of church unity upon seeing the division in the Corinthian church:

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? 1Co 1:10-13 

Throughout the bible, God declared and revealed Himself through prophets, teachers and nature to those who would hear. Jesus entrusted His message to disciples that would declare it to the world.  His trusted inner circle of followers and disciples received the message and started the first Christian church with this central truth. Even though the same message is written in the scriptures for all to read, it has somehow been distorted and a new message has been written that people are trying to follow.  Not only is God rising up ministers to declare His true message, but some ministers are rising up their own ministers to teach their distorted message.

Union through the Message

Our Christian faith is based on the truth of one God and we are baptized into the body of Christ.  That truth, that faith and that baptism leads us all into the one body of Christ that makes us the family of God.  Everything outside of it is of the world and rooted in the devil’s lie, but Christ is still the door which all people are brought into the unity as the body of believers.

The church, as it is known in America and some other nations, have done an extraordinary job of confusing the people.  Many who would serve God are being delivered a distorted message about the Christian faith.  Leaders, who could not be trusted like Abraham or David, have discipled a group of believers with a false gospel that have brought confusion to the church.  The bible teaches that the devil is the author of confusion and not God (I Cor. 14:33).  The voice of some teachers have invalidated the voice of bible scripture and therein lies the problem.

My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. Jer 50:6 

Paul taught:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom 10:13-15)

God has sent His preachers with the true message; and Satan, as an imitator of God, has sent his false messengers to contaminate the true message of God.  The mistake of some seekers of God is their failure to compare the written word of God to the message of their preachers to see if it is truth.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  Act 17:10-11

God has warned the believer of false teachers and commanded them to study the word for themselves.  There is amazing access to the scripture everywhere in America through libraries, bookstores, braille texts, radio, tracts, CD’s, computers, television and through church and outreach ministries.   Anyone crying out to God can expect a response from God so there is no excuse for ignorance of God in America.  With all the truth that God has given us through prophets, Jesus, preachers, the bible, and the Holy Spirit; the church and the gospel message have still been led astray by false teachings.  It is disheartening to watch some of the things taught by preachers, from snake handling to the “name and claim it” message.  We never saw Abraham, David, Peter or Paul teach some of the things that are being emphasized in churches today.  Paul was not trying to test God’s power when he was bitten by a snake.  He was going about the business of his ministry when a viper tried to abort the mission.   Neither did Abraham, David, Peter or Paul serve God to heap on themselves material things like the televangelists do today.  The early disciples were empowered with God’s ability because of their obedient service to God and their obedience brought the blessings of God into their lives without defrauding the people.  Though Abraham was abundantly blessed, we never saw him pursuing the things.  He refused the spoils of war offered him by Melchizedek, the priest of God. Elijah’s servant Gehazi was cursed with leprosy because of greed in seeking reward for ministry work. The most profound teacher of scripture, Apostle Paul taught more about aligning our lives with the will of God than on exercising faith for things. Jesus actually taught that we should seek God and take no thought about the things of life:

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Mat 6:25, 32, 33

Paul emphasized the Deuteronomy Chapter 28 teaching about obedience reaping good things and disobedience reaping evil.  He also taught about a people “Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator…” (Rom. 1:25).  Man’s religion consists of his idea of serving God but it does not mean it is God’s way.  James taught in the New Testament that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27).  James emphasized love and service to God while loving his neighbor as evidence of pure religion.  The racial hatred, division and community corruption we see in our world today is evidence of a false religion, false worship and false god.  Pure religion will result in love of God and man, where peace and harmony exists in the community and the needs of people are met.

Many of our churches are teaching a “Me” gospel where one seeks to satisfy self with all he desires while preachers illustrate a model of greed that is never satisfied regardless of the multiple houses, cars or planes acquired.  A church focused on things causes disunity because greed repeals while giving draws and promotes love and unity.  Churches are failing to deal with the moral issues of our community while busy reaping material things for self-glory.  The self-sacrificing service and Christian surrender of Acts Chapter Two is visibly missing.

Christ taught the church to be at the forefront and gave warnings of danger and strategies of the enemy.  Here is an Old Testament example of a warning pertinent in today’s society: “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter” (Ecc. 10:20).  That wisdom given to the children of God gave forewarning of days like these where one’s words are carried by electronic devices from the bedchamber to the public arena to be used by an enemy.  Imagine if some of our exposed leaders had heeded that biblical warning!  When the church is caught up in pursuing money, it puts itself in a place of temptation where the enemy lies in wait.  This temptation by Satan for money was one of the first lessons Jesus revealed to us in scripture.  When the church craves money just like the world then the world loses its moral teacher.  With little or no moral guidance, money temptations have led some of our leaders astray from within and without the borders.

The Church’s Responsibility to Unite

At the core of the problems facing America as a nation is a church failing to do its job.  It was given one job and that was to imitate Christ and make disciples.  If you think, “Impossible!” then consider these questions.  To whom did Jesus:

  • Make heir of His power and authority on earth? (Luk 9:1)
  • Give power to declare the message of salvation and loosen captives? (Mar 16:15-16, 18)
  • Assign power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy? (Luk 10:19)
  • Declare that nothing would be impossible to them that believe? (Mat 17:20)

Jesus did not come to Jerusalem to blame the sick people for being sick. He came amazed at finding no doctors to heal them.  If the doctor has no knowledge to operate, he has no business being called a surgeon or going into the operating room.  When Jesus came to Jerusalem there were plenty of surgeons with no power to heal and he called them out for their inability.  God described the religious leaders as: “…dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isa 56:10).  Jesus called Jerusalem’s religious leaders: hypocrites, vipers and serpents.  Marveling over the lack of watchmen or ministers to help the people, Jesus began to heal, deliver and set free those in bondage.

Among my early writings online was an article inquiring of pastors: “How Much Are You Like the Lord?”  That is the assignment of Christ’s ministers: to be like Him.  People looking for Christ should find His ministers doing the healing and delivering that Christ demonstrated.  The healed will then return home witnessing that God still heals and glorifying Jesus, that he is still alive!  Where is that witness to bring glory to God and why are people asking if God is dead?  Jesus called out the Charlatans that deceived the people for filthy lucre who left them broken, hurt and disappointed.  He came to heal the people but he rebuked the leaders who did not know Him or His Father.  God had already prophesied this through Jeremiah: “Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD” (Jer 23:2).  God is requiring a change from the head down because leaders should lead the people in the right way.  That is why God is exposing American false leaders at all levels that have defrauded His people and led them astray.  He is challenging us to look higher than men to Christ.  True leaders are those that know God; they have His power, authority and knowledge to represent Him to the people.  King David was a blessing to the people of his kingdom because of his love for God.  Believers should be able to recognize the difference between true and false leaders: a King Saul compared to King David.  Jesus taught us about a separating of the sheep from the goats. Neither God nor Jesus ever commanded that people had to believe and follow all leaders.  They taught the difference so believers would not be deceived.  Peter taught: “We ought better to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  Jesus taught:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Joh 10:27-28 

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. Joh 10:4-5

True Christian ministry starts with one who has known the Father and His Son through an encounter or intimacy like that experienced by Abraham, Moses, David or Paul and one who goes on to disciple family and the world for the love of God.  “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Rom 10:15).

Christians have one Lord who is Christ; one faith which is the finished work of Christ on the cross and they are united in the one body of Christ.  Christ’s kingdom and church in the earth prevents the rule of the evil one in the earth.   Satan cannot possibly head a true Christian body and certainly cannot come near without sounding bells and whistles; Christ will always rise up His trumpets and trumpeters.  Satan can, however, rise to the head of a false church without any alarms going off because it is his.  Organizations or groups where evil rises to rule as head are void of Christ, even if they once recognized Christ.  True believers will not follow a false lord but will flee from him as Christ taught.  Those religious people who pursue money are actually pursuing a false god, not Christ.    Christ commanded His disciples to follow Him, not things. Jesus Christ is Lord over the Christian church, but Satan lords over many false religions.  The devil has led people astray in church, organizations and government where he lords and is preparing to one day manifest himself as their leader.  Where some people may believe they are too entrenched in certain unions to deny the devil that has them bound, freedom starts by denouncing Satan and professing Jesus Christ as Lord.  Jesus taught the sinner that he must be born again (Joh. 3:7) and He came into the world to save those that were hopelessly lost and enslaved to the devil.  They can be “born again” into the family of God when they receive Christ as Lord. Through faith they become baptized into a new family:  the body of Christ.

The true gospel has the power to put us on the path to becoming one with the body of Christ.  It is the responsibility of Christ‘s ministers to help believers come into full maturity ready to carry out their own Christian witness.  What we have seen too often is Christ giving liberty and then some “churches” bringing people back into bondage to their church rules and guilt. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.  Church rules do not have the ability to unite the body across lines of physical division, but Christ’s power can.   Strong church leaders can lead people into a unity with Christ or to a false god through ignorance and people must know who is lord over their religious fellowship.  Christ has come to set all men free and give us the Holy Spirit who brings union with the body of Christ as one people and one family.  It starts with confession of sin and receiving Christ’s salvation.  Liberty and maturity in Christ leads us into a united body of believers across gender, race, cultural and physical lines.  This is the unity America was destined to display for the nations.  Christ’s prayer to the Father before His crucifixion was that believers would become one as He and the Father are one.  We become one through recognizing and walking in: One Lord, one faith, one baptism that unites believers in the one body of Christ.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (Joh 13:35)