Monday, November 17, 2008

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On Being A Teenager

When I was teaching, I often liked to read stories or tell true stories to my students. Some may have just found them entertaining for that moment; whereas; others may have stored them away somewhere to be able to draw upon their wisdom and apply to their own challenges in life. As a teenager myself, even though I led a very sheltered life, I found those years to be some of the hardest years of my life. I felt that I could relate to the constant feelings of insecurity, chaos, and tumultuous emotions that so often characterize that time of life. I would tell them how, when I was a teenager, my mama once said to me, “You had better enjoy these years, as they would be some of the best in your life.” I remember thinking, “If these are the best, I don’t much want to go on any further.” In my head, I knew that there were so many good things in my life. Yet my emotions, doubts, and fears of the uncertainty of each new day seemed overwhelming at times. The whole thing of just trying to fit in, and yet hold on to my own ideas of integrity and values, was a struggle, as each new experience would provide a challenge to my responsibility of having to choose a correct response.

When I was young, I had the support of loving parents and brothers and sisters. Now don’t get me wrong, we did not have a perfect family. I don’t believe that even exists. Our family had its own set of dysfunctional baggage that presented problems on a daily basis. Yet we were blessed with a Daddy who worked hard all of his life to be a good provider. Our Mama devoted all of her time to taking care of the house, kids, husband and all the responsibilities that go along with that role. I did have both parents, a secure home, and was not lacking in the comforts of life. Kids today are exposed to too much too soon. Through no fault of their own, their time of innocence is cut short by outside influences and temptations from the media, use of drugs, and more. It’s no longer cool to strive to be a good student or respectful to your elders. To be taught to behave like a young lady or gentleman is a thing of the past and old fashioned. The media of today seems to encourage girls to dress immodestly and boys to look sloppy and ill kept. Good manners and good grades are mocked and devalued. Both are allowed to use filthy language and none are taught to take responsibility for their own actions. Parents are taught to be so concerned about teaching their children to have good self-esteem, while often neglecting the importance of having reverence and obedience to parents, elders or God. We live in a world where good is evil and evil is good. The world is upside down. Faith in God is thought of as a crutch for the weak rather than the source of true wisdom, strength, and redemption.

Reaching out to my students through stories was my way of trying to share a different point of view for them to consider in responding to the challenges in their daily lives. All too often, a person’s first response may be to resort to either physical violence or verbal abuse. Some of my favorite stories were from my life or the lives of my children.

My son Rickie was always very good about calling us to let us know where he was or where he was going. Because he accepted that responsibility, he spared us from worry and gave himself the freedom of staying out more with his friends. It is not something that we had to nag him to do. He was putting into practice a simple way of demonstrating consideration of others and self discipline.

When Rickie was 16 years old, we offered him the choice of going out somewhere special with one of his friends, or having a party for his birthday. He chose to have a birthday party. He helped in the cleaning up and preparations for the party. Finally, when the night of the occasion was upon us, the kids seemed to just pour in. Before long, I noticed that several were leaving until there were only about a dozen left.

Also, when I went in the room to replenish the supply of snacks, I found a number of them sitting on the floor. Later, I asked Rickie the reason for both of these things. He said that several of the kids had wanted to use alcohol or drugs. When he told them no, their first reaction was to say that they would just go in and out of the house. His response was that there would not be any use of alcohol or drugs anywhere on the premises. If they could not accept that choice, they were free to leave. As to the choice of some to sit on the floor, for those who chose to smoke, he set the boundaries of sitting of the floor with an ashtray. This was to prevent any accidental cigarette burns in the furniture. We later found out that when he went to parties at the houses of others, he would first approach the host of the party to ask if alcohol or drugs were acceptable. If the answer were yes, he would politely leave. If the answer was no, he would volunteer to give the ones who indulged in those things the choice of stopping or leaving. Hopefully, as his parents, we had helped influence the establishment of these values within him. However, the application of them was in the realm of his choice. Knowing this about him, made it so much easier for us to place trust in him.

It is not always easy to know the parents or kids with whom your children will be associating. Rickie was always told that if anything negative happened, no matter what time of night, to call us and we would come pick him up. He would have reason to choose to call us for that reason upon more than one occasion. I remember one time when his Dad picked him up about two or three in the middle of the night. He had called us because the boy’s Mom was doing drugs and inviting him and her son to join her in the activity. Now I’m sure that these choices may have limited his acceptance among some of his peers who may have accepted this behavior as being “cool” or “popular.” Fair or not, we are often judged by the company we keep. His actions were a demonstration of the value of giving no appearance of evil and removing oneself from the presence of evil. How many times, we get ourselves into bad and dangerous situations simply because we do not adhere to these simple and important guidelines.

One summer, we placed him in a school for academic help. The purpose of the school was supposed to be to meet the needs of those who had the ability to succeed, but were not doing so for some reason. It was to give him a chance to catch up so that he could be better prepared and move on to the next grade. After placing him there, we discovered that many of the students were from backgrounds where they may have been involved in the juvenile criminal system for one reason or another. When I picked him up at the end of the first day, he said, “Please don’t make me go back there. I’ll do anything, just remove me from it.” Of course, my first heart felt reaction was the desire to rescue him from, what appeared to be, a possibly dangerous situation. But I knew that we had prayed about this, and believed that if we truly wanted to help him, we must be strong and trust in the Lord to protect him. We explained to him that he was there for the purpose of having a chance to be built up academically. Also, this may give him a chance to be a light to shine in the darkness and even effect the life of someone else there. As it turned out, Rickie was the star pupil there that summer. Not only did he advance academically, but also, the teachers were so caring and supportive that they were able to build up his self-confidence. In addition, from time to time they would have group therapy discussion sessions. When other kids would say that their only choice was to do drugs or alcohol during their free time, Rickie was able to present ideas of healthier and happier activities in which to get involved. Of course, his favorite outlet for his feelings and emotions, happy or sad, was to ride his bike, practice tricks, and take part in BMX bike racing events.

Shawn often exemplified the use of humor and intellect, to respond to what could have been volatile situations. A person in anger gave the ugly middle finger sign to Shawn. Instead of responding in a like manner, he simply said, “Nice finger!” This brought a response of laughter from observers and gave Shawn an admirable way out of the situation. Another time he accidentally bumped into a girl in the hallway. He told her, “Excuse me.” She must have been carrying a chip on her shoulder about something, as she promptly slapped him hard right across the face. This created a tense moment and those around him expected him to react in like manner. He retained a cool and collected manner while calmly stating, “You’re lucky that I have been taught to treat a lady like a lady, even if she doesn’t act like one.” Thus, he diffused the moment when everyone expected a fight and gained respect of others around him.

When Rickie graduated from high school, we decided to buy an eighty-eight acre farm in Ohio. Lisa was in seventh grade then, and Shawn was in the fourth. We had not been there long when her teacher called us in for a conference. To our amazement, it was to let us know the basis of some problems that she was experiencing. Unfortunately, we had unknowingly moved into probably the worse county in Ohio for “outsiders.” We were informed that Lisa had three strikes against her in the sight of the other students:

(1) She was pretty, (2) The boys liked her, (3) They thought we were rich. While we lived there, there was a group of girls that would continually try to start fights with her. One of the high school teachers later told us that we should be glad that she was not in the upper grades for there were some girls that would have beat her up for no reason at all just because she was new there. We had always taught her not to fight. When the threats continued from one girl in particular, we told Lisa to tell her, “I’m not allowed to fight in public, but if you insist, my parents said they will bring me to your house. Then your parents and mine can be present to observe the consequences of your choice.” Well the girl must not have taken her seriously, for she continued to try to instigate violent actions. We thereafter, took her to the girl’s house. Someone was home, but would not come to the door. A few weeks later at the county fair, this same girl (who was twice Lisa’s size) started knocking Lisa around, pushing her down over and over again and would not quit. Finally, Lisa had it, and beat the tar out of the girl. She came to us to let us know what had happened. We reported the incident to the police at the fair and then went to the girl’s parents to inform them they needed to keep their daughter away from ours. The Dad was known as being a bully and bar room brawler. My husband was expecting the man to start something when he confronted the parent about the on going problem. However, the man demurely answered that he would take care of the problem and that was it. Then as Rick turned and started walking away from the man, he noticed that three big strapping farmers (friends of ours) had been standing behind him all along to back him up just incase the man started something. The Lord looks after us for sure.

Lisa has always had a caring and gentle spirit when it comes to people with disabilities, mentally or physically. When she was only in the eighth grade, she was given the opportunity to help care for a child that was confined to a wheel chair. He also had a tracheotomy, which had to be kept free and clear of any debris. When others may have felt this to be repulsive, Lisa was willing to serve. She made the child feel loved and Lisa was blessed by that love being returned to her. Then too, I had occasion to be with Lisa when mentally retarded persons would approach her. She never made them feel as though they were different from any one else. I was in awe of how she treated them, even at her young age. She was kind and talked with them with the same acceptance as if they had no handicap at all.

Shawn was having problems with kids trying to put him down for having things they didn’t because he was a “rich” kid. He finally responded to them, “If want things maybe you should get a job and pay for them like I’ve done.” You see, Shawn and his Dad were in the business of raising and selling rabbits to meat markets. His Dad was on the road a lot, so Shawn had to go out to the barn, no matter how cold, early, or late, to feed and care for them. Shawn shared in the profits. He saved his money and bought things like video games, etc.

Living on our farm had its positive points. Having the land was great. Lisa had the opportunity to have her own horse. She also raised a bull one year to sell at the county fair as her FFA project. Rick, her Daddy, was going to be out of town at the time when we were going to have to transport the bull to the fair for its entrance procedures. She and I went to the place to see what was involved in the process. Our eyes popped out as we saw big strapping men trying to lead these bucking animals through the process. All we could think of was “Oh my Lord, how are the two of us going to handle this?” The day arrived and some neighbors loaded her bull, Buddy, onto their truck. We followed behind. I was watching from the sidelines as one ornery bull after another nearly threw their owners around while trying to get them through the different stalls. Now it was Lisa’s turn to lead Buddy. I wish I had had a camera. She took Buddy by his rope, and he walked behind her like an obedient little puppy dog. I guess I really should not have been surprised. She had raised him from a baby and really worked with him. Besides that, Lisa has always been blessed with a special relationship with animals. Once, she rescued a chipmunk from the mouth of one of our cats. She brought it in the house with it snuggling calmly in her hands while she petted it. It looked so tame and cute, so I asked to hold it. No sooner had she placed it in my hands, it became the wild little creature it was and bit me. She took it back, returned it to the wild, and did not receive one bite.

Too bad the location of our farm had to be in probably the worse county in all of Ohio. Shortly after we moved there, Johnny Carson, of “The Late Show” on TV, was heard to say, “If you want to have some one murdered and get away with it, just go to Morgan County, Ohio.” I’m not saying that there were not any nice people there. That would not be true. However, there were people who had lived there for over 25 years and were still considered to be “outsiders.” One person, born and raised there, told us there should be another sign placed above the entering “Morgan County” signs saying “enter at your own risk.” Finally, I could no longer take it and determined to at least get my kids out of what I perceived to be a painful and destructive atmosphere. We placed our kids in a school system only thirty minutes away, and from day one they were made to feel accepted and welcomed into the community. Lisa and Shawn wound up having the opportunity to be in the musical play, “The Sound of Music.” Lisa was given the lead role of Maria, and Shawn was one of the children of the VonTrapp family. They both had the opportunity to let their talents shine. I was so very thankful for the difference that was made in all of our lives. We eventually sold our farm and moved to that little town, where we lived for the next three years. I hoped to encourage my students to do all they can to develop and use their special talents. Some may have been “encouragers,” or “servers” and never realized that it was a special talent.

We later moved to Lakeland, FL. I taught sixth grade there from 1994-2006. I would tell these stories and many others to my students over the years. One of my favorite books to read my students was “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.” In addition, I accumulated other short stories that were given to me by students to add to my collection.

I taught Geography of Eastern Civilizations; thus, I was able to use the lives of many to help teach values. One movie that I would always try to show was Gandhi. In the dialogue of the movie, Gandhi himself introduced the teachings of Jesus. Without being out of bounds, I was able to make references to these to encourage my students to always try to do their best, never look down on others (like the Untouchables of India were treated) and never to base ones opinion of others on their social or economic standing. It is not the job that you do that is important, but that you do your job well with honesty and integrity. For instance, the school janitor who does his job meticulously and conscientiously is more admirable than the dentist who does his job in an incompetent and sloppy manner.

Whenever possible, I would use any spare moments to read to them from these life lessons. It was a wonderful way to build a closer relationship with my students each year. They would open up more to me and provided an atmosphere to learn more about their personal lives and needs. I hope this enabled me to give them more to remember than just the academics of life. I pray that somehow I was able to enhance their lives then and in their future. Those moments provided me with some of the most rewarding times of interaction with my students.

Ginger Rahn

Saturday, November 8, 2008

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Pluralism Vs. God Our Father

Suppose Moses went before the Supreme Court of the United States to present a defense for faith in the God of the Bible. The prosecutor represents the gods of Pluralism, and why it (Pluralism), should be the basis of religion. The assumption is that all evil could be expelled if only the God of the Bible, and those evil and dangerous God people, could be banished from the Earth. Does that seem to be a far-fetched probability to you? Within our country, there is an ever-increasing aversion to the Almighty God, our Heavenly Father. It is not an aversion to “religion,” but only to the Judeo-Christian God. Why is that, I puzzled? I once heard the following question presented to an unbeliever. “If a person has faith and believes in God, why is it that unbelievers can not let him have that faith without trying to tear them down, ridicule, mock, and isolate them?” The unbeliever gave the answer, “I don’t care what they want to believe in. They can believe in the god of jello or the god of trees, or whatever. It doesn’t matter to me.” But that is exactly the core of the problem. Belief in pluralism, or belief in any and all gods, is okay because they are viewed as different paths that man can take, for they all lead ultimately to the same destiny. But is that really true?

I would like for us to imagine that we are in the Very Supreme Court of God for a moment. His Omnipotence calls upon the Holy Spirit to come forth to enlighten our understanding. The Holy Spirit takes the stand. As He does, He says, “For all those who want to receive this word of knowledge, which I have inspired, I give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to perceive and understand.” Some choose to receive this equipment, but some will not. It is the free-will choice of each one present. He then says, “I wish for each of you to turn to the book of Deuteronomy 4: 14-19. First, read it silently. Next, read the Ten Commandments in Chapter 5: 7 – 21. I urge you to be vigilant in guarding your faith from idolatry, or belief in other strange gods. Now lets return to Ch. 4: verses 14-19.”

(As a witness of the Lord Jesus, I give you a further reminder of the importance of being a doer of the word. We are encourage to walk according to the new wisdom that we have been given lest we forget what we have learned and be led astray. I repeat, now that we have read (seen with our new eyes), listened (with our new ears) and understood (with our new heart of understanding). We have been given instruction from the Great I Am (the Ten Commandments) that we might do them in our new land of understanding. Remember these things to do them and keep them in our hearts that we may be protected against deception.)

The Holy Spirit speaks further from the word that He has inspired:

Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude (image) on the day that the Lord spake unto you…in the midst of the fire {in other words, they could here God’s voice but not see any image of Him, as He spoke through the fire)

Lest ye corrupt yourselves (cause yourselves to do wrong), and make you a graven image {an idol or symbol to worship), the similitude {image} of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

I, as a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, once again interrupt here, to speak a few words in connection with the above word of the Lord. As I understand it now, I am to guard against worshipping the things that were created instead of worshipping the creator who hung the sun, moon, and stars above the Earth. Neither am I to worship the elements in the Earth such as wind, fire, money, my job, or other gods as in Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Islam, etc. In other words, I am not to put anything, not even my family, above my obedience to the Lord my God. Have I got that right? If so, why is it that the Great I Am desires that of me?

The Holy Spirit speaks further from the word He inspired: (Deuteronomy 5: 32, 33)

Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you; ye shall not turn aside to the left hand or to the right. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

(The scene of the court room fades out, and I am returned to sitting in my office at my computer once more. I contemplate upon my new instructions and try to apply them to my life today.)

I can foresee the establishment of a one-world religion in the not so far away future. Lets call it the “United Paths to God Religion.” Within this church the basic premise would be the supremacy of the brotherhood of man. It presumes that man is basically good, has no need to repent of any sins and thus, has no need for a savior. Each man would only be held to the one doctrine of “do as you may, as long as you cause no harm.” Reason and intellectualism are the cornerstones of this religion. The people come together to join in the worship of Mother Earth. After all, the earth, wind, fire, stars, moon, earthly creatures, etc. can then become the gods that reign alongside of the latest teachings that man presumes to submit as avenues of reaching a “higher consciousness”. The gods of intellectualism and reason are presumed to enable man to eventually reign as his own god having no need of any higher power. You will even be allowed to bow your knee in the name of Buddha, Hinduism, Paganism, Islam, Marxism, Secularism, Humanism, and any other “ism”. This of course, within time, leads to a land of utopia where all would live together in peace and harmony with one another and with the earth. Or would it?

What is it about the God of the Bible that is so threatening and offensive to the natural man (one without faith in the great I AM)? I believe that it is man’s desire to be free of any authority in order to be his own god. It is the arrogance of pride that leads to a rebellious spirit within man. It is so evident in the behavior of children. They constantly exhibit that stubborn and rebellious nature, constantly striving against parental control. Man is just like that. We are like spoiled little children who seek to get our own way, whether it is good for us or not. Even as believers, we are constantly warring within ourselves; “Am I going to yield to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and do what is pleasing to God, or ignore his leading and instructions and do what is pleasing to myself?”

God is a jealous God. I wondered what that might truly mean. To my way of thinking, I believed that He had taught me that I was not to have jealousy, or feelings of envy toward something or someone, in my heart. Yes, in that context jealousy is a sin. But then I learned that jealous can also mean, to be solicitous and vigilant in maintaining or guarding something. It now made sense to me as to why a loving God would be a jealous God. We can perceive why an earthly father, who loves his children, would endeavor to guard, discipline, instruct, and protect them from paths of destruction. How much more so does our Heavenly Father love us, and desire to keep us safe? He gives us His statutes and judgments, not to have despotic rule over us, but to deliver us from the paths of evil and destruction.

(Deuteronomy 5: 32, 33) “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you:
ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left {not turn away from the line of obedience}.
Ye shall walk in the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.”

Now I could understand why God would not want me to worship other things like the Earth, wind, fire, or other strange gods. Were they going to have the power to guard me jealously and keep me safe and secure? No, they are only the things that He created, the works of His hands. He is the one that loves us and deserves to be worshipped. He is the one that gives me my very life.
One may ask why a loving God would then even allow evil to exist. The world was not originally made with corruption, but man made the choice to disobey; thus, sin was brought into the world. God provided the propitiation, or payment, for sin when He sent His only Son to pay the price and take upon Himself the sin of the world. Through man, Adam, sin came into the world, and through man, Jesus, sin was taken away for those who would believe upon Him. Well then, why doesn’t God just save everyone no matter what, or who, they believe in? God does not wish that any would perish, but that all would come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, God is a gentleman. He is not a tyrant, and is not going to force Himself upon anyone. He will not enter where he is unwanted. He gave us free will choose good or evil, right or wrong, light or darkness, life or death, to accept Him or reject Him. He has provided the gift of salvation through His only Son. The choice is ours to accept the gift or refuse it.

(John 14: 6) Jesus said, I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life; no man comes to the Father but by me. The natural man does not like to be encumbered by the idea that he has need of anything or anyone outside of himself. The rebellious nature of man will eventually lead to a hardened heart, which then seeks to do only that which pleases him self. Can’t you just hear our voices raised in pride and arrogance saying, “You don’t own me. I’m as adult and I can do anything I want. No one can tell me what to do!!” And that is so very true, for He gave us free will to go our own way or submit to His Lordship in our lives. So Jesus is the stumbling block. The natural man says in his heart, “Take your God, and don’t bother me with your faith, for my own intellect and ability to rationalize is far superior to your silly faith. Keep your faith to yourself. Hide it away so I don’t have to be offended by it. My faith in my own abilities and opinions are superior, and your faith only tries to enslave the rest of the world.” The natural man thinks in his heart, “ The sooner that you God people and your God are banished into silence, the sooner we, the superior man, can get own with our lives in peace.” The god of this world has closed your eyes, ears and hearts to the light of the Lord, and you are lost in the darkness of this world. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

(John 3:18, 19) He that believeth on Him (Jesus) 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. And
this is the condemnation, that the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3: 3) “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

It seems to me that pluralism is pleasing and comfortable because it offers man an avenue to make up his own faith, thereby freeing him from compliance to any true statutes, commandments or judgments. He can just make it up as he goes along based upon his own opinions, and what “feels” right to him in any given period of time. This kind of faith is not threatening to the secular humanist in any way, for it does not hold him accountable to any one or any thing but himself, or to any real set of absolutes about right and wrong, good and evil. The God of the Bible threatens him, because God sheds light into the world and exposes sin and darkness. Satan is the god of this world. He loves to slink around in the darkness and seek whom he may devour.

When a person has faith in the one true God, then he realizes that when he does wrong he is going to be under conviction have need of asking forgiveness to restore himself to a right fellowship with the Lord. There is a one-on-one relationship between God and each individual believer. In my own life there are many instances that I can relate to my earthly father about this need for forgiveness and fellowship with him. One time I told my Dad that I was not going to return to college. He flew into a rage with me. Was it because he hated me, wanted to control me, or wanted to wield his power over me? No! He could see the big picture that I could not see at the time. I could not bear to disappoint my Daddy, or have him angry with me. Therefore, in less than ten minutes, I yielded to his will in my life, said I was sorry, and that I would do as he wished. Thank the Lord for my Daddy’s wisdom. My life, and the life of my husband and children would have been far different if I had not yielded to him. Because of him, I earned a college degree, which enabled me to help support my family when the need arose.

Lets turn that story around a bit. Suppose instead of going to my Daddy that I had gone to several friends with the same idea of not going back to college. This time one may have agreed with me, another may have suggested that I go straight to work, while still another might have suggested that I just stay home and live off of my parents. None of them had any absolutes about right or wrong. The options they presented were merely “relative” to their own ideas, which could change from one moment to the next. Each of these could represent the many voices of the gods of Pluralism. None would have held me accountable for my own actions and choices. None would love me enough to “convict me of my sin,” and protect me with statutes and judgments that were unchanging and forever true. None would protect me and keep me safe as a “jealous loving Father.” I hope that makes my case clear.

I write this not in judgment of others, but rather out of personal knowledge of the lure of the ways of the world. I am not perfect, for there is none perfect except for Jesus. I constantly have to fight against doing that which I know to be wrong, and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to change me more into the image of Jesus Christ my Savior. I am saved, not because I did anything to deserve it, but rather because I serve a God who loved me so much that He sent His only Son to die for my sins. No, being a Christian does not mean that life is then a bed of roses. God tells us there will be trials and tribulations in this world. But He also tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. He sends His Holy Spirit to live within us to comfort, guide us, and deliver us from evil. The grace of God our Father is awesome to behold. I know that what He has done for me, He will also do for you. The gift of faith in God is so very precious. If it were possible, I would wrap it up and give it to everyone. But God has already done that. He gave His only Son to you and me. He stands at the door of your heart. Please, wont you invite Him to come in, and receive Him as your Savior?

Ginger Rahn

Friday, November 7, 2008

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Christians Must Pray For Those In Authority

The 2012 Presidential election has come to an end; Obama has won. It is now up to all Christians to pray even more for all in positions of authority. Since Jesus Christ is not a candidate, it is our duty to vote for those we believe will be more likely to support the morals and principles of God. Once we have done so, the outcome is then in the hands of the Lord. Though we may disagree, even vehemently, with the policies of the person in authority; it is not for us to question the will of God. His ways are higher than ours. He will use that person to accomplish His will. (Prov. 21: 1) “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.”

When those in authority seem to do all they can to replace God’s ways with secular humanist ways, our prayers are that much more urgently needed and necessary. Our nation will reap the consequences of our lawless and unrighteous ways. God will not be mocked. Therefore, our prayers should be that the Lord may bring situations and peoples into their lives that would turn the heart of each person in authority towards the Lord, that they would not be stubborn and rebellious in the sight of the Lord.

It is written:
(Romans 13:1, 2) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:”
(I Tim 2: 1 – 6) “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

I caution each of us as Christians, that the future of freedom in our nation is directly dependent upon our obedience to the one true and living God. The more we ignore God as a nation, the more we bring condemnation upon ourselves and destruction to our nation as a free country. (II Cor. 3: 17) “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The more we accept ungodly morals and principles into our personal lives and our entire culture, the more we turn our backs on God. What we sow, we will reap. We live in the end times. Time is growing short; today is the day of salvation. Pray for others, including our president and others in positions of authority that all will come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ before it is too late.

Salvation is offered to all, but not all will receive it. Is it not written? (Romans 10: 8 – 13)”But what saith it (the righteousness of faith)? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which I preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall
not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

I bring to our remembrance that when Moses was given every opportunity to obey the word of the Lord, given through Moses, he continued to stand firm in the arrogance of his own opinion, exalting it over the word of God. In doing so, he brought the wrath of God, not only upon himself, but also upon his entire nation. Israel was given every opportunity to turn back to God, but being a rebellious people, they too brought destruction to their nation and the peoples were disbursed into foreign lands. God’s promises and covenant with the Jews as being His people still stands, for God does not go back on His promises. However, history has taught that any nation turning its back on God, including our own nation, will reap destruction. How is it that we have become so blind that we can not see that the elements of our destruction have come about, not from foreign powers, but by the seeds of destruction planted by our own hands from within?

Christians, we must stand in the gap and intercede for our President that he may turn his heart to the Lord; that he would have the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do it, standing firm on the word of God that he might not be deceived. Our refusal to do so places a significant portion of blame for our demise squarely upon our own shoulders. We can not continue to be apathetic, but must arise and take a stand to be true soldiers in the army of the Lord.

It is written:
II Cor. 10: 4 – 6
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience; when your obedience is fulfilled.”

It is written:
II Chronicles 7: 14
“If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Ginger Rahn

Thursday, November 6, 2008

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Where the Spirit of the Lord Is, There Is Liberty

“Where the Spirit of the Lord Is, There Is Liberty

I Corinthians 3: 17


            Recently I was watching the Mike Huckabee Show on TV.  One of his guests was the actor Richard Dreyfus.  I have admired Mr. Dreyfus as an actor for many years.  He has become a voice and political activist for the Democrat Party.  In addition, he has also expressed a great interest in the importance of teaching people, especially the student of today, about civics.  As a teacher of Social Studies myself, I found that there was much ground that we could agree upon in spite of our political differences.  I was so impressed with his point of view I decided to take notes and use them as a platform to present some further ideas of my own that, for me, expose a great flaw in the basis for his format about what ideas of civics should be taught to our people, and students in particular. The following are the notes that I took.  I tried to be very precise about presenting his ideas with accuracy.



Huckabee’s Question: For our people, especially students, what needs to be done to prepare them to be good citizens?          


America is the greatest system of governance ever created.  It’s the only one that requires some involvement of the civic body.  It’s the best answer to the question of “How can people live together in some sense of decency and freedom, and opportunity and mobility?”  There has never been a better answer than the United States.  We Americans don’t know that any more.  We don’t teach it to our children.  We wouldn’t know the whys and wherefores as to how we got to this point in America as a nation.  The rest of the world does know this, and that is why they want to come here.

            There is a curse that mankind has lived with for twelve thousand years.  It is known so well that nobody has to talk about it.  The curse is (the idea) that “ you and yours will always be a serf with my heal on your neck, and you will never rise.”  Then America came along and said, “If you can get here, if you can take whatever stuff life throws at you, if you work hard and are lucky, you might rise.”  This is the most important political message in twelve thousand years, and we don’t teach it.  We are a country not bound by any religion, ancestry, location, sect, place, or people.  We are only bound by a set of ideas.  If we don’t teach those ideas, then we are no longer bound.


            Huckabee’s Question:  “How do we get the people, especially students, to appreciate the gift of citizenship in this country?”


            You have to get people to fall in love with America, and the America of idea, because America is the suspense novel of victory of light over dark (when the stats are 98% dark and 2% light).  In the history of mankind, light has won very few times.  America is the actualization of what is called The Enlightenment where reason, logic, scientific deduction, and intelligence was considered better than religion, faith, hope, and zealotry.  It was a window that was opened and is closing.  Its enemy is darkness.  The darkness means that sooner or later thinking makes your heard hurt.  And that is true of all of us.  We do not train our “sovereigns-to-be”, our future, how to be a sovereign that can reason, have logic, how not to listen to the voice of the guy who may be whispering things in your ear that may serve only his interests, and how to do basic things that they need to do.    We now have technology that has removed the element of time, time for thinking.  Science has removed time from the process of thinking and decision- making. 

            Now we are in a state of fear and terror.  We see the towers fall and in an instant we see our worst enemy and are not told all the facts.  If corralled by the wrong people, we may make the wrong decisions.  Now, because of technology we, we do not have the “time” to reason things through

before decisions are made.


            The flaw in Mr. Dreyfus’s premise is summed up fairly precisely in the following comment:

America is the actualization of what is called The Enlightenment where reason, logic, scientific deduction, and intelligence was considered better  than religion, faith, hope, and zealotry.

The Age of Enlightenment, also referred to as The Age of Reason, was a period in history from 1648 – 1789.  Enlightenment thinkers reduced religion to those essentials which could only be "rationally" defended, i.e., certain basic moral principles and a few universally held beliefs about God. Aside from these universal principles and beliefs, religions in their particularity were largely banished from the public square. Taken to its logical extreme, the Enlightenment resulted in atheism.  The age of Enlightenment is considered to have ended with the French Revolution, which had a violent aspect that discredited it in the eyes of many.                                                                                                                 

It is this manner of thinking that has led to revisionist history.  Secularists today would have us believe that America was not founded as a Christian nation.  At the most, they would have our children believing that the founding fathers were all deists. They endeavor to wipe out all references to the original papers of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, or even George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s personal letters that contain many references to the belief that the only way our constituion and democracy could ever continue to remain strong is through faith in God.

In 1620 while still on the ship, when the Pilgrims landed in America, they wrote the Mayflower Compact.  It begins with the words: “In the Name of God, Amen…Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the Northern parts of Virginia.” America’s first complete constitution, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written in 1639, states:  “Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we ,,, enter into combination and confederation together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 Yes, it is important for students to be taught the processes of crtitical thinking.  I do not attempt to diminish the necessity for a good soveriegn to know, understand and use the proper tools for decision making.  However, when God is taken out of that process, man is left with only the rudiments of faulty thinking which can only lead to his eventual downfall.  The word of God is truth.  God will not be mocked.  Jesus is the basis of the principles of tolerance and freedom.  If our students are not allowed to be taught the part that God has played in the creation and development of our country, then our future will be truly lost. 

Our Declaration of Independence states, “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.”  If this statement is not true, then those rights are not inalienable.  Without God, we are only left with the state.  The state can give and take rights as it sees fit to do so.  Without God, we are left with the state as the sole source of those rights and liberties which gives it total authority over man.                                                                                                                     

If any one takes the opportunity to look within the many buildings of importance within our nations’ capital, one will find the Ten Commandments, Moses, and numerous references to God.  Yet within the classroom today a teacher is not allowed to even exhibit those commandments, much less teach them, though they are the very basis of our Bill of Rights.

  The Judeo-Christian tradition built this nation in a very unique way.  Mr. Dreyfus is right that our country is built upon and bound together by a set of ideas.  But he wants to leave out the most important ideas of all.  Removing our past roots can, and is, removing the intended purpose for our nation in the future.  If we stand by, while others are endeavoring to remove our Christian roots, we will not only forget our past but we will have no future.  America, as we once new it to be, is slowly but surely being changed into something so different that soon, it may not even be recognizeable.  As individuals or as a nation, God does not force us to believe in Him.  He leaves that choice up to us.

“Historically, our nation honoured God, His Word, and His Son. In 1892 the Supreme Court issued the famed Trinity decision.  The justices spent ten years studying every document having anything to do with the foundation of America.  In a unanimous ruling they declared, “We find everywhere a clear definition of the same truth …. This is a Christian nation.”

Mr. Dreyfus is of Jewish decent, but from his remarks about religion, I doubt that he is a believer in Judaism.  It seems possible that he may fit somewhere in the realm of deism (the belief that God created the world but then took a hands off policy), or atheism.  Enlightenment presupposes that man’s intellectualism and ability to rationalize are far superior to any idea of faith. Humanism, secularism, progressivism, communism, and anarchism will all find support within this kind of framework.  Though few within these confines would admit it, each of these is a religion in itself.  This line of thinking supports the basis for man to think of himself as his own god; thus, “freeing” himself of the “unnecesary shackles” of any need for God.  Whether it is called humanism, secularism, Marxism, socialism, or “power to the people,” it is a self-destructive flaw in the human system that causes such deceiving ideas to allow governments to gather power unto itself and use it to control people despotically.

Yes, there is a contrast of light and darkness in the world.  According to those who follow the same thought as Mr. Dreyfus, the light of the world is the intellectualism and rationalizism of man;

whereas, darkness is a result of religion, faith, hope, and zealotry.  If it had not been for faith in the Almighty God of our founding fathers, our country would not have been based upon Judeo-Christian ethics, and the atmosphere of liberty and tolerance that is afforded to citizens of this country would not be in existence today.  We have not been a perfect country, yet we have been a country of greater liberty and freedom than had thus far existed.  I argue that freedom within our country is reduced in proportion to the reduction of our faith in God.  Thus, our social systems, which includes our educational system, is reaping the destructive consequences of our diminishing trust in God.  The Word of God states, (Psalm 119: 105) “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  (Proverbs 1: 7) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  (John 1: 4, 5) “In Him (Jesus) was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  God gave us His statutes and judgements not to have despotic rule over us, but to protect us from the darkness of the powers and principalities of this world.  (Deuteronomy 5: 32, 33)  “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you; ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.  Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.”  Our country is in the throws of a battle for survival between darkness and light, good and evil.  God will not be mocked.   

Is there any wonder that our people of today are not prepared to be good sovereigns and appreciate the rights and liberties of citizenship in America?  If one is not allowed to know the true roots of his past, how can he possibly understand the destiny of his future?  Without God there is no true freedom or liberty.  We are left then with only a symblance of freedom and liberty that is never absolute and permanent, but is transient and forever changing with every whim of man’s ideas of what is right at any given period of time.  Man’s ideas are relevant and forever changing.  God’s ideas are the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  True liberty is found in God who does not demand His own way, but gives man free will, the opportunity to choose.   (II Corinthians 3: 17) “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”                 

“Upon this Rock (Jesus), I take my stand, All other ground is sinking sand.”

Virginia Rahn


April 3, 2009 I was researching for more in depth understanding of the fullness of the scripture

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.  I found the following sermon by C.H. Spurgeon.  May it impart wisdom, discernment and understanding to the reader and increase the numbers of those who will choose to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and thereby enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Spiritual Liberty

February 18th, 1855

     "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."- 2 Corinthians 3:17.

Liberty is the birthright of every man. He may be born a pauper; he may be a foundling; his parentage may be altogether unknown; but liberty is his inalienable birthright. Black may be his skin; he may live uneducated and untaught; he may be poor as poverty itself; he may never have a foot of land to call his own; he may scarce have a particle of clothing, save a few rags to cover him; but, poor as he is, nature has fashioned him for freedom—he has a right to be free, and if he has not liberty, it is his birthright, and he ought not to be content until he wins it.

Liberty is the heirloom of all the sons and daughters of Adam. But where do you find liberty unaccompanied by religion? True it is that all men have a right to liberty, but it is equally true that you do not meet it in any country save where you find the Spirit of the Lord. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Thank God, this is a free country. This is a land where I can breathe the air and say it is untainted by the groan of a single slave; my lungs receive it, and I know there has never been mingled with its vapours the tear of a single slave woman shed over her child which has been sold from her. This land is the home of liberty. But why is it so? I take it, it is not so much because of our institutions as because the Spirit of the Lord is here —the spirit of true and hearty religion. There was a time, remember, when England was no more free than any other country, when men could not speak their sentiments freely, when kings were despots, when Parliaments were but a name. Who won our liberties for us? Who have loosed our chains? Under the hand of God, I say, the men of religion—men like the great and glorious Cromwell, who would have liberty of conscience, or die—men who, if they could not reach kings' hearts, because they were unsearchable in cunning, would strike kings low, rather than they would be slaves. We owe our liberty to men of religion, to men of the stern Puritanical school—men who scorned to play the craven and yield their principles at the command of man. And if we ever are to maintain our liberty (as God grant we may) it shall be kept in England by religious liberty—by religion. This Bible is the Magna Charta of old Britain. its truths, its doctrines have snapped our fetters, and they never can be riveted on again, whilst men, with God's Spirit in their hearts, go forth to speak its truths. In no other land, save where the Bible is unclasped—in no other realm, save where the gospel is preached, can you find liberty. Roam through other countries, and you speak with bated breath; you are afraid; you feel you are under an iron hand; the sword is above you; you are not free. Why? Because you are under the tyranny engendered by a false religion: you have not free Protestantism there; and it is not till Protestantism comes that there can be freedom. It is where the Spirit of the Lord is that there is liberty, and nowhere else. Men talk about being free: they describe model governments, Platonic republics, or Owenite paradises; but they are dreamy theorists; for there can be no freedom in the world, save, "where the spirit of the Lord is."

I have commenced with this idea, because I think worldly men ought to be told that if religion does not save them, yet it has done much for them—that the influence of religion has won them their liberties.

But the liberty of the text is no such freedom as this: it is an infinitely greater and better one. Great as civil or religious liberty may be, the liberty of my text transcendently exceeds. There is a liberty, dear friends, which Christian men alone enjoy; for even in Great Britain there are men who taste not the sweet air of liberty. There are some who are afraid to speak as men, who have to cringe and fawn, and bow, and stoop, to any one; who have no will of their own, no principles, no voice, no courage, and who cannot stand erect in conscious independence. But he is the free man, whom the truth makes free. He who has grace in his heart is free; he cares for no one; he has the right upon his side; he has God within him—the indwelling Spirit of the Holy Ghost; he is a prince of the blood royal of heaven; he is a noble, having the true patent of nobility; he is one of God's elect, distinguished, chosen children, and he is not the man to bend, or meanly cringe. No!—sooner would he walk the burning furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—sooner would he be cast into the lion's den with Daniel, than yield a point of principle. He is a free man. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" in its fullest, highest, and widest sense. God give you friends, to have that "Spirit of the Lord;" for without it, in a free country, ye may still be bondsmen; and where there are no serfs in body, ye may be slaves in soul. The text speaks of Spiritual liberty; and now I address the children of God. Spiritual liberty, brethren, you and I enjoy if we have "the Spirit of the Lord" within us. What does this imply? It implies that there was a time when we had not that Spiritual liberty—when we were slaves. But a little while ago all of us who now are free in Christ Jesus, were slaves of the devil: we were led captives at his will. We talked of free-will, but free will is a slave. We boasted that we could do what we pleased; but oh! what a slavish and dreamy liberty we had. It was a fancied freedom. We were slaves to our lusts and passions—slaves to sin; but now we are freed from sin; we are delivered from our tyrant; a stronger than he has cast out the strong man armed, and we are free.

Let us now examine a little more closely, in what our liberty consists.

I. And first, my friends, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" from the Bondage of Sin. Ah! I know I shall speak feelingly to some of you when I talk about the bondage of sin. You know what that misery means. Of all bondage and slavery in this world, there is none more horrible than the bondage of sin. Tell me of Israel in Egypt preparing their tale of bricks unsupplied with straw; tell me of the negro beneath the lash of his cruel task-master, and I confess it is a bondage fearful to be borne; but there is one far worse—the bondage of a convinced sinner when he is brought to feel the burden of his guilt; the bondage of a man when once his sins are baying him, like hounds about a weary stag; the bondage of a man when the burden of sin is on his shoulder—a burden too heavy for his soul to bear—a burden which will sink him for ever in the depths of everlasting torment, unless he doth escape from it. Methinks I see such a person. He hath ne'er a smile upon his face; dark clouds hath gathered on his brow; solemn and serious he stands; his very words are sighs; his songs are groans; his smiles are tears; and when he seems most happy, hot drops of grief roll in burning showers, scalding furrows on his cheek. Ask him what he is, and he tells you he is "a wretch undone." Ask him how he is, and he confesses that he is "misery incarnate." Ask him what he shall be, and he says, "he shall be lost in flames for ever, and there is no hope." Behold him alone in his retirement: when he lays his head on his pillow, up he starts again: at night he dreams of torment, and by day he almost feels that of which he dreamed. Such is the poor convinced sinner under bondage. Such have I been in my days, and such have you been, friends. I speak to those who understand it. You have passed through that gloomy Slough of Despond; you have gone through that dark vale of penitence: you have been made to drink the bitter cup of repentance: and I know you will say, "Amen" when I declare that of all bondage this is the most painful—the bondage of the law, the bondage of corruption. "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me" from it? But the Christian is free; he can smile now, though he wept before; he can rejoice now, whereas he lamented. "There is," he says, "no sin upon my conscience now; there is no crime upon my breast; I need not walk through the earth fearful of every shadow, and afraid of every man I meet, for sin is washed away; my spirit is no more guilty; it is pure, it is holy; there no longer resteth the frown of God upon me; but my Father smiles: I see his eyes—they are glancing love: I hear his voice—it is full of sweetness. I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven! All hail, thou breaker of fetters! glorious Jesus! Ah! that moment when first the bondage passed away I Methinks I recollect it now. I saw Jesus on his cross before me; I thought on him, and as I mused upon his death and sufferings, methought I saw him cast a look on me; and when he gazed on me, I looked at him, and


"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly."

He said "come," and I flew to him and clasped him; and when he let me go again, I wondered where my burden was. It was gone! There, in the sepulchre, it lay, and I felt light as air; like a winged sylph, I could fly over mountains of trouble and despair; and oh! what liberty and joy I had! I could leap with ecstasy for I had much forgiven, and now I was freed from sin." Beloved, this is the first liberty of the children of God. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" from the bondage of sin.

2. Liberty from the Penalty of Sin.—What is it? Eternal death—torment for ever—that is the sad penalty of sin. It is no sweet thing to fear that if I died now I might be in hell. It is no pleasant thought for me to stand here and believe that if I dropped down I must sink into the arms of Satan and have him for my tormentor. Why, sirs, it is a thought that would plague me; it is a thought that would be the bitterest curse of my existence. I would fain be dead and rotting in the tomb rather than walk the earth with the thought that I might suffer such a penalty as this. There are some of you here who know right well that if you die hell is your portion. You don't attempt to deny it; you believe the Bible, and there you read your doom, "He that believeth not shall be damned." You cannot put yourselves among believers. You are still without Christ. Have any of you been brought into such a condition that you believe yourself so full of sin that God could not be just if he did not punish you? Have you not felt that you have so rebelled against God by secret crimes, ay, I say, by secret crimes, and by open transgression, that if he did not punish you he must cease to be God and lay aside his sceptre? And then you have trembled, and groaned, and cried out under the fear of the penalty of sin. You thought when you dreamed, that you saw that burning lake whose waves are fire, and whose billows are ever blazing brimstone; and each day you walked the earth it was with fear and dread lest the next step should let you into the pit which is without a bottom. But Christian, Christian, you are free from the penalty of sin. Do you know it? Can you recognize the fact? You are free at this moment from the penalty of sin. Not only are you forgiven, but you never can be punished on account of your sins however great and enormous they may have been.

"The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified God;
His pardon at once he receives,
Salvation in full through his blood,"

and he never can be punished on account of sin. Talk of the punishment of a believer! there is not such a thing. The afflictions of this mortal life are not punishments for sin to Christians; they are fatherly chastisements, and not the punishments of a judge. For me there is no hell; let it smoke and burn, if I am a believer I shall never have my portion there. For me there are no eternal racks, no torments, for if I am justified, I cannot be condemned. Jesus hath suffered the punishment in my stead, and God would be unjust if he were to punish me again; for Christ has suffered once, and satisfied justice for ever. When conscience tells me I am a sinner, I tell conscience I stand in Christ's place, and Christ stands in mine. True, I am a sinner; but Christ died for sinners. True, I deserve punishment; but if my ransom died, will God ask for the debt twice? Impossible! He has cancelled it. There never was, and never shall be one believer in hell. We are free from punishment, and we never need quake on account of it. However horrible it may be—If it is eternal, as we know it is—it is nothing to us, for we never can suffer it. Heaven shall open its pearly portals to admit us; but hell's iron gates are barred for ever against every believer. Glorious liberty of the children of God!

3. But there is one fact more startling than both of these things, and I dare say some of you will demur to it; nevertheless it is God's truth, and if you don't like it, you must leave it! There is liberty from the guilt of sin. This is the wonder of wonders. The Christian is positively not guilty any longer the moment he believes. Now, if Her Majesty in her goodness spares a murderer by giving him a free pardon, that man cannot be punished: but still he will be a guilty man; she may give him a thousand pardons, and the law cannot touch him, but still he will guilty; the crime will always be on his head, and he will be branded as a murderer as long as he lives. But the Christian is not only delivered from the bondage and from the punishment, but he is positively absolved from the guilt. Now this is something at which you will stand amazed. You say, "What? is a Christian no more a sinner in God's sight ?" I answer, he is a sinner as considered in himself; but in the person of Christ he is no more a sinner than the angel Gabriel; for snowy as are angelic wings, and spotless as are cherubic robes, an angel cannot be more pure than the poor blood-washed sinner when he is made whiter than snow. Do you understand how it is that the very guilt of the sinner is taken away? Here I stand to-day a guilty and condemned traitor; Christ comes for my salvation, he bids me heave my cell, "I will stand where you are; I will be your substitute; I will be the sinner; all your guilt is to be imputed to me; I will die for it, I will suffer for it; 1 will have your sins." Then stripping himself of his robes, he says, "There, put them on; you shall be considered as if you were Christ; you shall be the righteous one. I will take your place, you take mine." Then he casts around me a glorious robe of perfect righteousness; and when I behold it, I exclaim, "Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed, with my elder brother's garments on." Jesus Christ's crown is on my head, his spotless robes are round my loins, and his golden sandals are the shoes of my feet. And now is there any sin? The sin is on Christ; the righteousness is on me. Ask for the sinner, Justice! Let the voice of Justice cry, "Bring forth the sinner!" The sinner is brought. Who doth the executioner lead forth? It is the incarnate Son of God. True, he did not commit the sin; he was without fault; but it is imputed to him: be stands in the sinner's place. Now Justice cries, "Bring forth the righteous, the perfectly righteous." Whom do I see? Lo, the Church is brought; each believer is brought. Justice says, "Are these perfectly righteous?" "Yes they are. What Christ did is theirs; what they did is laid on Christ; his righteousness is theirs; their sins are his." I appeal to you, ye ungodly. This seems strange and startling, does it not? You have set it down to hyper-calvinism, and you laugh at it. Set it down for what you please, sirs. God has set it up as his truth; he has made us righteous through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. And now, if I am a true believer, I stand here freed from every sin. There is not a crime against me in the book of God; it is blotted out for ever; it is cancelled; and not only can I never be punished, but I have nothing to be punished for. Christ has atoned for my sins, and I have received his righteousness. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

4. Furthermore, the Christian man, whilst delivered from the guilt and punishment of sin, is likewise delivered from the dominion of it. Every living man before he is converted, is a slave to lust. Profane men glory in free living and free thinking. They call this free living—a full glass, a Bacchanalian revel, shouting, wantonness, chambering.—Free living, sir! Let the slave hold up his fetters and jingle them in my ears, and say, "This is music, and I am free." The man is a poor maniac. Let the man chained in his cell, the madman of Bethlehem, tell me he is a king, and grin a horrible smile; I say, "Ah, poor wretch, I know wherefore he counteth that he is a king; he is demented, and is mad." So it is with the worldling who says he is free. Free sir! you are a slave. You think you are happy; but at night, when you lay yourself upon your bed, how many times have you tossed from side to side sleepless and ill at ease; and when you awaked have you not said, "Ah! that yesterday—that yesterday !" And though you plunged into another day of sin, that "yesterday," like a hell-dog, barked at you, and followed at your heels. You know it, sir,—sin is a bondage and a slavery. And have you ever tried to get rid of that slavery? "Yes," you say, "I have." But I will tell you what has been the end of it. When you have tried, you have bound your fetters firmer than ever; you have riveted your chains. A sinner without grace attempting to reform him self is like Sisyphus rolling the stone up hill, which always comes down with greater force. A man without grace attempting to save himself, is engaged in as hopeless a task as the daughters of Danaus, when they attempted to fill a vast vessel with bottomless buckets. He has a bow without a string, a sword without a blade, a gun without powder. He needs strength. I grant you, he may produce a hollow reformation; he may earth up the volcano, and sow flowers around its crater; but when it once begins to stir again, it shall move the earth away, and the hot lava shall roll over all the fair flowers which he had planted, and devastate both his works and his righteousness. A sinner without grace is a slave: he cannot deliver himself from his sins. But not so the Christian! Is he a slave to his sin? Is a true-born heir of God a slave? Oh, no. He does not sin, because he is born of God; he does not live in uncleanness, because he is an heir of immortality. Ye beggars of the earth may stoop to deeds of wrong, but princes of heaven's blood must follow acts of right. Ye poor worldlings, mean and pitiful wretches in God's sight—-ye may live in dishonesty and unrighteousness, but the heir of heaven cannot; he loves his Lord; he is free from the power of sin; his work is righteousness, and his end his everlasting life. We are free from the dominion of sin.

5. Once more: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" in all holy acts of love—liberty from a slavish fear of law. Many people are honest because they are afraid of the policeman. Many are sober because they are afraid of the eye of the public. Many persons are seemingly religious because of their neighbours. There is much virtue which is like the juice of the grape—it has to be squeezed before you get it; it is not like the generous drop of the honeycomb, distilling willingly and freely. I am bold to say, that if a man be destitute of the grace of God, his works are only works of slavery; he feels forced to do them. I know before I came into the liberty of the children of God, if I went to God's house, I went because I thought I must do it; if I prayed, it was because I feared some misfortune would happen in the day if I did not; if I ever thanked God for a mercy, it was because I thought I should not get another if I were not thankful; if I performed a righteous deed, it was with the hope that very likely God would reward me at last, and I should be winning some crown in heaven. A poor slave, a mere Gibeonite, hewing wood and drawing water. If I could have left off doing it, I should have loved to do so. If I could have had my will, there would have been no chapel-going for me, no religion for me—I would have lived in the world and followed the ways of Satan, if I could have done as I pleased. As for righteousness, it was slavery; sin would have been my liberty. But now, Christian, what is your liberty? What makes you come to the house of God to day?

"Love made your willing feet
In swift obedience move."

What makes you bend your knee in prayer? It is because you like to talk with your Father who seeth in secret. What is it that opens your purses, and makes you give liberally? It is because you love the poor children of God, and you feel, so much being given to you, that it is a privilege to give something back to Christ. What is it that constrains you to live honestly, righteously, and soberly ? Is it the rear of the jail? No; you might pull the jail down; you might annihilate the convict settlements; you might hurl all chains into the sea; and we should be just as holy as we are now. Some people say, "Then, sir, you mean to say that Christians may live as they like." I wish they could, sir. If I could live as I liked, I would, always live holily. If a Christian could live as he liked, he would always live as he ought. It is a slavery to him to sin; righteousness is his delight. Oh! if I could but live as I list, I would list to live as I ought. If I could but live as I would I would live as God commands me. The greatest happiness of a Christian is to be holy. It is no slavery to him. Put him where you will, he will not sin, Expose him to any temptation, if it were not for that evil heart still remaining, you would never find him sinning. Holiness is his pleasure; sin is his slavery. Ah! ye poor bondsmen who come to church and chapel because ye must; ah! ye poor slavish moralists that are honest because of the gyves, and sober because of the prison; ah! ye poor slaves! We are not so; we are not under the law, but under grace. Call us Antinomians if you will; we will even glory in the scandalous title; we are freed from the law, but we are freed from it that we may obey it more than ever we did. The true-born child of God serves his Master more than ever he did. As old Erskine says:—

"Slight now his loving presence if they can;
No, no; his conquering kindness leads the van.
When everlasting love exerts the sway,
They judge themselves most kindly bound to obey;
Bound by redeeming love in stricter sense,
Than ever Adam was in innocence."

6. But to conclude. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" from the Fear of Death. O death! how many a sweet cup hast thou made bitter. O death! how many a revel hast thou broken up. O death! how many a gluttonous banquet hast thou spoiled. O death! how many a sinful pleasure hast thou turned into pain. Take ye, my friends, the telescope this morning, and look through the vista of a few years, and what see you ? Grim death in the distance grasping his scythe. He is coming, coming, coming; and what is behind him? Ay, that depends upon your own character. If ye are the sons of God, there is the palm-branch; if ye are not, ye know what followeth death—Hell follows him. O death! thy spectre hath haunted many a house where sin otherwise would have rioted. O death! thy chilly hand hath touched many a heart that was big with lust, and made it start affrighted from its crime. Oh! how many men are slaves to the fear of death. Half the people in the world are afraid to die. There are some madmen who can march up to the cannon's mouth; there are some fools who rush with bloody hands before their Maker's tribunal; but most men fear to die. Who is the man that does not fear to die? I will tell you. The man that is a believer. Fear to die! Thank God, I do not. The cholera may come again next summer—I pray God it may not; but if it does, it matters not to me: I will toil and visit the sick by night and by day, until I drop; and if it takes me, sudden death is sudden glory. And so with the weakest saint in this hall; the prospect of dissolution does not make you tremble. Sometimes you fear, but oftener you rejoice. You sit down calmly and think of dying. What is death ? It is a low porch through which you stoop to enter heaven. What is life ? It is a narrow screen that separates us from glory, and death kindly removes it! I recollect a saying of a good old woman, who said, "Afraid to die, sir! I have dipped my foot in Jordan every morning before break fast for the last fifty years, and do you think I am afraid to die now ?" Die! beloved: why we die hundred of times; we "die daily ;" we die every morning; we die each night when we sleep; by faith we die; and so dying will be old work when we come to it. We shall say, "Ah, death! you and I have been old acquaintances; I have had thee in my bedroom every night; I have talked with thee each day; I have had the skull upon my dressing table; and I have ofttimes thought of thee. Death! thou art come at last, but thou art a welcome guest; thou art an angel of light, and the best friend I have had." Why, then, dread death; since there is no fear of God's leaving you when you come to die! Here I must tell you that anecdote of the good Welch lady, who, when she lay a-dying, was visited by her minister. He said to her, "Sister, are you sinking?" She answered him not a word, but looked at him with an incredulous eye. He repeated the question, "Sister, are you sinking ?" She looked at him again, as if she could not believe that he would ask such a question. At last, rising a little in the bed, she said, "Sinking! Sinking! Did you ever know a sinner sink through a rock? If I had been standing on the sand, I might sink; but, thank God I am on the Rock of Ages, and there is no sinking there." How glorious to die! Oh, angels, come! Oh, cohorts of the Lord of hosts, stretch, stretch your broad wings and lift us up from earth; O, winged seraphs, bear us far above the reach of these

inferior things; but till ye come, I'll sing,

"Since Jesus is mine, I'll not fear undressing—
But gladly put off these garments of clay,
To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing;
Since Jesus to glory, though death lead the way."

And now, dear friends, I have shown you as briefly as I can the negative side of this liberty. I have tried to tell you, as well as I could put it in a few words, what we are freed from. But there are two sides to such questions as this. There are some glorious things that we are free to. Not only are we freed from sin in every sense from the law, and from the fear of death; but we are free to do something. I shall not occupy many moments, but shall just run over a few things we are free to; for, my brother Christians, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" and that liberty gives us certain rights and privileges.

In the first place, we are free to heaven's charter. There is heaven's charter—the Magna Charta—the Bible; and, my brother, you are free to it. There is a choice passage here: "When thou passest through the river I will be with thee, and the floods shall not overflow thee ;" thou art free to that. Here is another: "Mountains may depart, and hills may be removed; but my lovingkindness shall not depart:" you are free to that. Here is another: "Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end." you are free to that. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Here is a chapter touching election: you are free to that if you are elect. Here is another, speaking of the non-condemnation of the righteous, and their justification; you are free to that. You are free to all that is in the Bible. Here is a never-failing treasure filled with boundless stores of grace. It is the bank of heaven: you may draw from it as much as you please without let or hindrance. Bring nothing with you, except faith. Bring as much faith as you can get, and you are welcome to all that is in the Bible. There is not a promise, not a word in it, that is not yours. In the depths of tribulation let it comfort you. Mid waves of distress let it cheer you. When sorrows surround thee, let it be thy helper. This is thy father's love-token: let it never be shut up and covered with dust. Thou art free to it—use, then, thy freedom.

Next, recollect that thou art free to the throne of grace. It is the privilege of Englishmen, that they can always send a petition to Parliament; and it is the privilege of a believer, that he can always send a petition to the throne of God. I am free to God's throne. If I want to talk to God to-morrow morning, I can. If to-night I wish to have conversation with my Master, I can go to him. I have a right to go to his throne. It matters not how much I may have sinned. I go and ask for pardon. It signifies nothing how poor I am—I go and plead his promise that he will provide all things needful. I have a right to go to his throne at all times—in midnight's darkest hour, or in noontide's heat. Where'er I am; if fate command me to the utmost verge of the wide earth, I have still constant admission to his throne. Use that right, beloved—use that right. There is not one of you that lives up to his privilege. Many a gentleman will live beyond his income, spending more than he has coming in; but there is not a Christian that does that—I mean that lives up to his spiritual income. Oh, no! you have an infinite income—an in come of promises—an income of grace; and no Christian ever lived up to his income. Some people say, "If I had more money I should have a larger house, and horses, and carriage, and so on." Very well and good; but I wish the Christian would do the same. I wish they would set up a larger house, and do greater things for God; look more happy, and take those tears away from their eyes.

"Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less."

With such stores in the bank, and so much in hand, that God gives you, you have no right to be poor. Up! rejoice! rejoice! The Christian ought to live up to his income, and not below it.

Then, if you have the "Spirit of the Lord," dear friends, you have a right to enter into the city. There are many of the freemen of the City of London here, I dare say, and that is a great privilege, very likely. I am not a freeman of London, but I am a freeman of a better city.

"Saviour, if of Zion's city,
I, by grace, a member am,
Let the world revile or pity,
I will glory in thy name."

You have a right to the freedom of Zion's city, and you do not exercise it. I want to have a word with some of you. You are very good Christian people. but you have never joined the church yet. You know it is quite right, that he that believeth should be baptized; but I suppose you are afraid of being drowned, for you never come. Then the Lord's table is spread once every month, and it is free to all God's children, but you never approach it. Why is that? It is your banquet. I do not think if I were an alderman I should omit the city banquet; and being a Christian, I cannot omit the Christian banquet, it is the banquet of the saints.

"Ne'er did angels taste above
Redeeming grace and dying love."

Some of you never come to the Lord's table; you neglect his ordinances. He says, "This do in remembrance of me." You have obtained the freedom of the city, but you won't take it up. You have a right to enter in through the gates into the city, but you stand outside. Come in brother; I will give you my hand. Don't remain outside the church any longer, for you have a right to come in.

Then, to conclude, you have the freedom of Jerusalem, the mother of us all. That is the best gift. We are free to heaven. When a Christian dies, he knows the open sesame that can open the gates of heaven, he knows the pass-word that can make the gates wide open fly; he has the white stone whereby he shall be known as a ransomed one, and that shall pass him at the barrier; he has the passport that shall let him into the dominions of Jehovah; he has liberty to enter into heaven. Methinks I see you, ye unconverted, in the land of shades, wandering up and down to find your portion. Ye come to the porch of heaven. It is great and lofty. The gate hath written o'er it, "The righteous only are admitted here." As ye stand, ye look for the porter. A tall archangel appeareth from above the gate, and ye say, "Angel, let me in." "Where is thy robe?" Thou searchest, and thou hast none; thou hast only some few rags of thine own spinning, but no wedding garment. "Let me in," sayest thou, "for the fiends are after me to drag me to yonder pit. Oh, let me in." But with a quiet glance the angel lifteth up his finger and saith, "Read up there;" and thou readest, "None but the righteous enter here." Then thou tremblest; thy knees knock together; thy hands shake. Were thy bones of brass they might melt; and were thy ribs of iron they might be dissolved Ah! there thou standest, shivering, quaking, trembling; but not long, for a voice which frights thee from thy feet and lays thee prostrate, cries, "Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." O dear hearers, shall that be your portion? My friends, as I love you,—I do this morning, and hope I ever shall,—shall this be your lot? Will you not have freedom to enter into the city? Will you not seek that Spirit which giveth liberty? Ah! I know ye will not have it if left to yourselves; some of you perhaps never will. O God, grant that that number may be but few, but may the number of the saved be great indeed!

"Turn, then my soul unto thy rest,
The ransom of thy great High Priest,
Hath set the captive free.
Trust to his efficacious blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee."

Provided by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 314
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: and
Online since 1986