Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Rules For Radicals- an Overview

          “Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) was an American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing and has been compared in Playboy magazine to Thomas Paine as being "one of the great American leaders of the nonsocialist left."[1]  “Alinsky was born in Chicago in 1909. Hillary Rodham’s thesis is very revealing of Alinsky’s view of American life. It says, “…after graduating from the University of Chicago, Alinsky received a fellowship in criminology with a first assignment to get a look at crime from the inside of gangs. He attached himself to the Capone gang, attaining a perspective from which he viewed the gang as a huge quasi-public utility serving the people of Chicago. ”Alinsky -- in that and other experiences -- became an academic-turned-radical, a personality type first found among the press covering the Russian revolution of 1917-18 and that became much more common five decades later, forming the basis of the Vietnam anti-war movement. He, and others like him, would find America’s adversaries -- within and outside the law -- more attractive than America itself.  Saul Alinsky’s radicalism was expressed in his 1971 book, “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” In that book, Alinsky said, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer.” Alinsky never saw himself as the devil, but as some radical angel who could bedevil “the Establishment” and force it to change to assuage pressures from community organizations.”[2] [3]

          In order to distinguish Alinsky’s own words from mine and others, I have placed them in bold Italics.  Anything that has this distinction will be his direct quotes.  You will be able to verify everything I say, by reading the book.

          In reading Saul Alinsky’s book “Rules for Radicals” I came to realize that he was living in a world of unreality.  He called for revolution and change, but failed to realize that the revolution had already taken place (the American Revolution).  He calls for a utopia that has freedoms and rights already granted in our founding documents.  He expounds on the desires of the founding fathers and what they wanted to accomplish, as if it had not already been completed.  “None is as blind as he who will not see.”[4]  He espouses the Judeo-Christian principles yet fails to see them in action. “The democratic ideal springs from the ideas of liberty, equality, majority rule through free elections, protection of the rights of minorities, and freedom to subscribe to multiple loyalties in matters of religion, economics, and politics rather than to a total loyalty to the state.  The spirit of democracy is the idea of importance and worth in the individual, and faith in the kind of world where the individual can achieve as much of his potential as possible.[5]  He calls for a revolution to set up these freedoms and rights which we already possess.  Where else in the world are these freedoms and rights guaranteed in writing, except for the United States?  The truth is in front of him and he fails to recognize it.  His cry is for the ‘have nots’ to take from the ‘haves’ because he fails to see the opportunity for the ‘have nots’ to make it on their own.  How sad it is to see one so disillusioned that he can’t see the forest for the trees.  That a man such as this could be an icon of the progressive movement is truly amazing.

          He sites projects that were begun with the “best intentions” but in the end were in a worse plight than before such as: government housing, the union movement, Tennessee Valley Authority and the slums of Chicago which were brought from abject poverty into the middle class.  Alinsky asserted that “Today, as part of the middle class, they are also part of our racist, discriminatory culture.”  In other words, every time the Socialist utopia is attempted, it fails.

          He recognizes the duality of good and evil but deems it to be natural instead of spiritual.  He says that everything is relative and fluid.  “One man’s positive is another man’s negative.  The description of any procedure as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ is the work of a political illiterate”.  In other words, there are no absolutes.  “Ethical standards must be elastic.”  Consistency is not a virtue.”  There are others that hold these views of relativity and fluidity.  In 1545, the Council of Trent declared that tradition is of equal authority to the Bible.  Our Supreme Court has determined the precedent is of equal authority to the Constitution.  

          Alinsky describes three classes in our culture: “The ‘haves’, the ‘have nots’, and the ‘have some and want mores’”.  The ‘have some and want mores’ are the middle class.  According to him the greatest achievements come from the middle class.  Can it be that it is because we, in the United States, have the opportunity for upward movement that Alinsky either did not realize, recognize or ignored? 

          He claims that we are a “Judeo-Christian civilization” and that our founders had the right idea, but discredits that we have gotten it right.  If he wants what he claims, why can’t he see that we have it?  We have never been perfect and probably never will be, but we have the best chance to get there. 

          He claims that our Declaration of Independence is simply a declaration of war against Great Britain, who had been so good to the colonists that it amounted to a slap in the face to a friend.  He claims that our founders were dishonest in their presentation to the people for justification of our separation from England. 

          He states that attacks on an opponents personal life is both “loathsome and nauseous” but should be used if expedient.  He states that ‘the ends justify the means’ only applies when “a particular end justifies a particular means”.  Apparently this is decided by the individual on a fluctuating scale.  He stated that if Gandhi had had guns, and the people to use them, he would not have used nonviolence. 

          Revionist history contains just enough truth to make it palatable to those who will not seek the full truth.  One of the pillars of the progressive movement is to discredit our founders and the accomplishments of our country.  I have often been questioned as to why I would read a book such as this.  This is one of the means, among others, to get information on the ‘enemy’[6].  If you don’t know what the other side is planning, you are defenseless against it.  Why do you think the Bible gives us so much information on the devil? 

          You may have noticed that Alinsky’s groups go for mass voter registration in the projects rather than middle class neighborhoods.  The middle class, you see, is more apt to vote against the radicals and their movements.  The radicals would like to eliminate the middle class even though it is the backbone of our nation.  Redistribution of wealth is one of the clarion calls of the community organizers.  The middle class is the target for organization in the future; for instance using stockholders against corporations.  “‘Organization For Action’ will now, and the decade ahead, center on America’s white middle class.  That is where the power is.”  I guess he turned his back on the poor, black, and disenfranchised that was his base.  Wasn’t it the ‘haves’ and the ‘have somes’ that were the problem?  Apparently the ‘have nots’ were a good stepping stone.  Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and way of life of the middle class.  They have stigmatized it as materialistic, decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war-mongering, brutalized and corrupt.  They are right; but we must begin from where we are if we are to build power for change, and the power and the people are in the big middle-class majority.”  The middle class has, today, started using some of Alinsky’s ‘tactics’ but in a much more acceptable way.  The ‘Tea Parties’ are the ‘radicals’ today.  Why do you think the left is so against them?  The ‘tactics’ of the left have been turned against them and it drives them crazy.

          In his training tactics for organizers it is clear he is training salesmen.  I was not impressed with a lot of the sales training I received over my forty years in the sales field.  There were two courses that I walked out on while voicing my opinion they were nothing but mind control techniques.  These are the techniques espoused by Alinsky.  His main instructions are to worm your way into a community and tell them what they want to hear, until you can earn their trust and lead them in the way you want them to go.  In my salesmanship and training of other salesmen, I espoused the following: (1) always tell the truth, (2) never promise what you can’t deliver, (3) never promise what you don’t intend to deliver, (4) never present something beyond its honest expectation and (5) always follow up.  Alinsky said: The function of an organizer is to raise questions that agitate, that break through the accepted pattern”.  [An organizer] “is challenging, insulting, agitating, and discrediting. He stirs unrest.”  It could be argued that reverence for others, for the freedom from injustice, poverty, ignorance, exploitation, discrimination, disease, war, hate, and fear, is not a necessary quality in a successful organizer.”  … the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule.”  “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.  It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule.  Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”  “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.  You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christians can live up to Christianity.”  “An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent; provide a channel into which the people can angrily pour their frustration.”  In his ‘tactics’ he sees nothing wrong with disrupting your life (that really means YOUR life) and your finances, in order to further his cause (regardless of which side you are on).  The more lives he can disrupt, the better.  It is my opinion that he learned this ‘tactic’ of intimidation from his work with the Chicago Mafia.  He doesn’t call for physical harm or murder but mostly threat and intimidation. 
          His method of lying to further his ends reminds me of Islam.  It says that you should never lie to a fellow Muslim (unless he is not a ‘good Muslim’) but it is alright to lie to a non Muslim.  His ‘tactic’ of using the scriptures, to misrepresent what they say or take them out of context, are the same as one of his idols; Lucifer, “the very first radical[7]. 

          Alinsky did get one thing right.  The great American dream that reached out to the stars has been lost to the stripes.  We have forgotten where we came from, we don’t know where we are, and we fear where we may be going.”  We do need to return to the foundations of our nation that have been so long ignored.  The mechanisms are in place; set up by the founding fathers.  All we need to do now is demand that the politicians and judges stick to our founding documents and repeal those laws and regulations that contradict those principles.  “Rules for Radicals” was released a year before his death.  It is obvious to anyone who reads it for what it actually says; he knew he was ‘jousting at windmills’ and was turning his attention to a better way.  It is my opinion that, in his later years, he was turning from being a radical to more of a statesman.

[1] Wikipedia
[2] From Hillary Rodham Clinton’s college thesis
[3] Who was Saul Alinsky? by Jed Babbin
[4] A proverb attributed to John Haywood in 1546, he was paraphrasing Jeremiah 5:21
[5] Prologue “Rules for Radicals”
[6] An Alinsky  phrase, meaning the opponent
[7]    Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins-or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”  Saul Alinsky

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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          “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an oath of loyalty to the national flag and the republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The Pledge has been modified four times since then, with the most recent change adding the words "under God" in 1954. Congressional sessions open with the swearing of the Pledge, as do government meetings at local levels, meetings held by the Knights of Columbus, Royal Rangers, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Freemasons, Toastmasters International and their concordant bodies, as well as other organizations.”[1]

          ‘United we stand, divided we fall’[2].  We were united under one banner as a republic that stands for the rights of man.  Why then “Can’t we all just get along”?[3]  Even from the beginning there has been bickering over the mostly minor points of our government; yet even from the beginning we were a united people as exemplified by our founding documents.  That’s why we are called the United States of America.  The country has veered from the original intent several times and has always returned to its foundations.  We have been in a phase like that for some time now.  The people are once again rising up to set the country back on the right course.  Political affiliation is not the concern, but rather the deviation from traditional values and laws.  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.[4] After reading many books about the founding and foundations of our country, I have come to the conclusion that we are designed to survive under a system of peaceful co-existence.  All of these books would excite the passions of the readers, throughout the spectrum of political leanings.  Not that one view is more important than another, but that compromise is the binding factor. 

          The ‘Natural Laws’; concepts of unalienable rights, inalienable duties, habeas corpus, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, self-preservation, right to contract, protection of marriage and family, justice by reparation, right to bear arms and no taxation without representation were established by Cicero[5] before the time of Jesus.  Although Cicero was unsure who the creator was (God of nature and natural law), he did know there was one being who set up the world as we know it.  The founders of our nation, by and large, believed that ‘supreme being’ was in fact understood to be the God of the Bible, and used synonymously the terms, ‘God’s law’ and the ‘laws of nature’.  It was believed that these laws would bind us together and deviation from them would tear us asunder. 

          “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.   It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[6] Religion, virtue, education and morality were viewed as the foundations of our nation.  “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…”[7]  There were five “fundamental Points” of religion that Franklin wanted taught in our schools: They are:  (1) A Creator exists who made all things and should be worshiped. (2) The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living which distinguishes right from wrong. (3) The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other. (4) All mankind live beyond this life. (5) In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.  In reference to these points, Samuel Adams said these are the “religion of America and all mankind”.  John Adams said these are the “general principles” on which American principles had been founded.  Jefferson said these five basics are the principles “in which God has united us all”. 

          Our founders knew that our country would inevitably go through periods of swinging to the left (tyranny – being controlled by others) and the right (anarchy – no laws).  The balance between these two is what they, and we, strive for.  Monarchy would be on the far left and no restraints whatsoever would be on the far right.  Society needs restraints from both ends of the spectrum, to secure the unalienable rights of the people.  A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”[8]My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”[9]

          A study should be conducted of those politicians who have substantially increased their personal fortunes, while in service to their nation.  Political office, in our nation was intended to be looked on as a duty of honor; not as a means for one to feather his nest.  Many of our founders lost wealth in the service of the nation.  Thomas Jefferson, for example, paid all of the expenses for White House entertainment.  This put him in debt from his presidency.  The large landholders, such as Washington and Jefferson, neglected their holdings while serving and suffered severe loss.  Washington would not accept a salary for his service either as head of the Continental army or as president.  As mentioned, his net worth dwindled in service of his country.  “In America, salaries, where indispensable (for those who couldn’t afford to serve without a salary) are extremely low; but much of public business is done gratis.  The honor of serving the public ably and faithfully is deemed sufficient.”[10]  “Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men.  These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money.  Separately, each of these has great force of prompting men to action; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects.  Place before such eyes a post of honor, that shall at the same time be a place of profit and they will move Heaven and earth to obtain it.”[11]  Substantial numbers of patriots, during the revolution, lost everything they had and never recovered.  Some even died in poverty and debt.  “What is to become of an independent statesman, one who will bow the knee to no idol, who will worship nothing as a divinity but truth, virtue, and his country?  I will tell you; he will be regarded more by posterity than those who worship hounds and horses; and although he will not make his own fortune, he will make the fortune of his country.”[12]

          Suffice it to say, there has always been some form of hatred associated with politics, even from the beginning.  Washington and Jefferson hated the monarchists that had infiltrated the Federalists.  The Federalist hated the Republicans.  For the most part, they respected each other on a personnel basis.  The Lincoln/Douglas race was one of the most vitriolic in our history.  Jackson’s wife was called a whore during his campaign.  The personal attacks and imputations of untruth developed to a large extent in the Jefferson campaign (although personally directed nastiness was always around).  The lack of reconciliation seems to be lacking in today’s world.    Our founders once thought virtue and morality to be necessary.  Today both seem to be diminished in importance.

          An outside view was forthcoming from Alexis de Tocqueville,[13] a French jurist who visited our young country in 1831.  “in France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions, but in America I found they were intimately united.”  [The early American colonists], “brought with them into the New World a form of Christianity which I cannot better describe than by styling it a democratic and republican religion.  This contributed dramatically to the establishment of a republic and a democracy in public affairs; and from the beginning, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never dissolved”  “The sects [different denominations] that exist in the United States are innumerable.  They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man.  Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God…All the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same…..There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.” “In [the schools] in New England every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is taught, moreover, the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution.  In the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon.” “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other…”.

          “In God we trust was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956. It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. The phrase has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957. It was first used as a motto on coinage on the 1864 two-cent coin, followed in 1866 by the 5 cent nickel (1866–1883), quarter dollar, half dollar, silver dollar and gold dollars.  A 1865 law allowed the motto to be used on coins. The use of the motto was permitted, but not required, by an 1873 law. While several laws come into play, the act of May 18, 1908, is most often cited as requiring the motto (even though the cent and nickel were excluded from that law, and the nickel did not have the motto added until 1938). Since 1938, all coins have borne the motto.”[14] If we don’t base our trust in a higher power, what is the basis of our trust?

          All men are created equal.  Since we know that we are all different at birth, in areas such as intelligence, talent, physical ability and inheritance, we are truly only equal in three ways; (1) In the sight of God, (2) In the sight of the law and (3) In the protection of our rights.[15]    “What does it mean to have equal ‘rights’?  The goal of society is to provide ‘equal justice’ which means protecting the rights of the people equally:

At the bar of justice, to secure their rights.

At the ballot box, to vote for the candidate of their choice.

At the public school, to obtain their education.

At the employment office, to compete for a job.

At the real estate agency, to purchase or rent a home.

At the pulpit, to enjoy freedom of religion.

At the podium, to enjoy freedom of speech.

At the microphone or before the TV cameras, to present views on the issues of the day.

At the meeting hall, to peaceably assemble.

At the print shop, to enjoy freedom of the press.

At the store, to buy the essentials or desirable things of life.

At the bank, to save and prosper.

At the tax collectors office, to pay no more than their fair share.

At the probate court, to pass on to their heirs the fruits of life’s labors.”[16]

          Why is it that so many people, from all nations and walks of life, are clamoring to get into the United States?  It’s because they want what you have.  How many people do you know that want out?  No where else on earth do men enjoy the same rights, freedoms, and freedom of opportunity as we do.  Equal rights and equal justice under the law is the attraction.  We all came here from somewhere (yes, even the ‘native American’s originated somewhere else).  The amazing thing about our country is that everyone assimilated to the American culture.  It some times takes generations to accomplish this.  My great grandfather lived In German communities and preached only in German for many years before switching to English (that is the American version of English, which is the American language).  Socialism and Marxism have raised their ugly heads several times since the founding of our country.  Not fully understanding the American system seems to be the reason.  Even Eldridge Cleaver (former Marxist and leader of the Black Panthers in the 60’s) said “I would rather be in jail in America than free any place else”.  He and his wife had learned their lesson by living in several communist countries.

          Equal rights do not mean we are all entitled to the same outcome.  Due to our inherent talents and personal motivation, we make for ourselves the eventual outcome.  “He, who does not work, shall not eat” is stated in the Bible and by the early settlers in Jamestown, Virginia.  “But suppose a kind-hearted man saw that one of his neighbors had two cars while another neighbor had none.  What would happen if, in the spirit of benevolence, the kind man went over and took one of the cars from his prosperous neighbor and generously gave it to the neighbor in need?  Obviously, he would be arrested for car theft.  No matter how kind his intentions, he is guilty of flagrantly violating the natural rights of his prosperous neighbor who is entitled to be protected in his property.  Of course, the prosperous neighbor could donate a car to his poor neighbor, if he liked, but that is his decision and not the prerogative of the kind-hearted neighbor who wants to play Robin Hood.”[17]

          The right to our personal property is the most important right we have and the basis for our other rights.  If we possessed a great plantation or simply the clothes on our back; without the right to property, we have little or no use for our other rights.   Our other rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of petition and freedom of the press can all be used in attempts to get back our property but would be an uphill battle.  Others, who had seized the property, would fight to retain it.  Many of our tax and redistribution laws are infringements of our constitutional rights.  I don’t know how governments could function without taxes, but, all forms of tax should be examined to determine their constitutionality.  Our governmental representatives are, in theory, our employees who will conform to our wishes.  If they do not, the election process can fix the problem.  If your elected officials represent your mindset, fine, if they don’t; it is your duty to do everything in your power to get someone into those positions that does.  Any politician who knowingly votes in opposition to his constituency should be removed from office.  Any politician who knowingly votes for something they know to be unconstitutional should be removed from office.  The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.[18] With freedom and liberty, comes responsibility. 

          Civility is the duty of each of us.  I have been told that I have, at times, overstepped these bounds.  If that is true, I apologize and am truly sorry.  I will, in future, recalculate the manner in which I express myself, knowing that the attributes of honey far outweigh those of vinegar.  I believe very strongly in the things that I write and depend on reason, God’s guidance and the aid of my wife to reign in my passions.

[1] Wikipedia
[2] Esop 620-564  BC
[3] Rodney King
[4] Proverbs 22:6
[5] 106-43 BC
[6] John Adams
[7] George Washington
[8] Gerald R. Ford
[9] Thomas Jefferson
[10] Ben Franklin
[11] Ben Franklin
[12] Ben Franklin
[13] Alexis de Tocqueville’s book “Democracy in America
[14] Wikipedia
[15] W. Cleon Skoucen  “The 5000 Year Leap”
[16] W. Cleon Skoucen  “The 5000 Year Leap”
[17] W. Cleon Skoucen  “The 5000 Year Leap”
[18] Patrick Henry

Saturday, March 19, 2011

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How to Receive Forgiveness And Eternal Life

I John 3: 8-4
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. (Revelation 12:10-11 NKJV)

Jesus Christ gave the following order to the Apostle Paul. Notice the following words:

"open ... eyes", "turn ... from ... to",and "receive ... by faith in Me".

" ...I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:17b-18 NKJV)

1. Realize that, without Christ, we are ALL sinners and separated from God:

"…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV)

"...the wages of sin is death... (Romans 6:23a NKJV)

2. Recognize God's provision:

"...the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b NKJV)

"...God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14 NKJV)

3. Repent, turning from sin to God, and ask Him to save you:

"...everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)

"...if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9,13 NIV)

4. Receive God's gift of forgiveness and life, and rejoice in His love and peace:

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 NIV)

"...in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39 NKJV)

Ginger Rahn

Friday, March 18, 2011

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          I have heard a lot of stories about how people have kept themselves from salvation because they felt unworthy.  They feel that their lives have been too dreadful to be covered by the price paid by Jesus to redeem them.  The reward aspect of Heaven seems to come under the same mode of thinking.  ‘Surely we are not good enough to expect a reward from God for the way we have lead our lives.’  The fact is,” No sin is bigger than the Savior.”[1] There is nothing that can’t be covered by the blood of Jesus.

You have to open your mind in order to grasp the goodness of God because what we see everyday are the troubles of this world.  How can we expect to fathom the depths of the Lord and His Heaven if we close our minds by dwelling on the things of this world? 

          When it comes to imagining how much better things in Heaven will be, our ancestors had the advantage of being here during a time when life was more physically straining.   We, on the other hand, are used to so many earthly pleasures and advantages that we don’t feel the need for a better life (this does not negate those who are truly suffering from lack in our world).  With the blessings of our technology, abundance of food and labor saving devices, we have become complacent in our longings for things for which we have no reason to imagine.

          Whose fault is it if we end up in Hell?  It certainly is not God’s fault.  God set up ‘the system’ to give us the advantage of entering ‘through the narrow gate’ if we just accept His free gift.  I will not attempt to answer the question of what happens to those who never get the chance to accept Christ (this seems to be a stumbling block for some) because I simply don’t have the answer.  That’s not my call; it’s God’s.  I do know that the Jews have some advantage over the gentiles, but I don’t know what that is either.  I know that they are his ‘chosen people’; the vine into which we are grafted when we accept Christ as Savior. 

          I do conjecture that the ‘New Heaven’ and the ‘New Earth’ will be joined together at some point in the future.  I’m not sure if it’s when the ‘thousand year reign’ is set up or after.  I do feel that, if this is true, the ‘new earth’ would have to be a lot larger as Heaven seems to be an infinite place that would have no earthly boundaries.  Perhaps the earth, once renewed, will simply be absorbed into Heaven. 

          I believe that the worst punishment in Hell is the total separation from God.  In my limited walk with the Lord, I have come to expect His presence with me at all times and can’t imagine living without it.  As for the burning and gnashing of teeth, I can’t imagine that being worse than separation from God.  “Abandon all hope, you who enter.”[2]

          I would like to say ‘God, take them all to heaven’ but I know that won’t be the case, because He can’t.  God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He cannot, and will not go against His own word.  The Universalist and collective salvation theories fly in the face of God’s unchanging existence. 

          So often we think of the price Jesus paid for us as just what He suffered on the cross.  We overlook the fact that He left Heaven, the presence of the Father, and suffered to come to earth in human form.  What a let down that must have been.  Those that get a glance of Heaven never want to come back here.  He then had to suffer through thirty three years of the tediousness of man.  We often seem to minimize the tortures He went through, before He wound up on the cross.  Then He had to go to Hell for three days (the place containing Hades and Paradise).  After that, as He rose from the dead, the price was fully paid.  I don’t think I could go through that for you; could you for me?

I have recently read two books on Heaven: “Heaven”, by Randy Alcorn and “90 Minutes in Heaven” by John Piper.  Although I have read similar books in the past, these two had something special.  There is not much teaching available about Heaven itself.  We are told incessantly about our need to get right with God, and our need to prepare for going to Heaven, but not much about what it will be like. 

          While reading “90 Minutes In Heaven” I came across a story of a soprano that died.  I slowly broke into uncontrollable sobbing that I didn’t understand at first.  I came to realize that it was tears of joy, as the Lord let me know that in Heaven I would once again hear my wife sing “The Holy City” as she did years ago ( one of the most beautiful remembrances of my life was when she sang it at the Randallstown Presbyterian Church. She was a coloratura soprano with a range of seven octaves which has been affected by fibro myalgia).  Even if you think that I’m weird or nutty for relating this, I realized it was just another incident where the Lord was reminding me of His greatness and what is yet to come.

          I have trouble with the section in the book “Heaven” where the author talks about an intermediate Heaven as a place where we will dwell with Christ until the final Heaven is established.  This, in my mind, comes dangerously close to false teaching about a place called Limbo.  Since I know that Limbo does not exist, I am doubtful of there being an intermediate Heaven.  I do know that ‘to be absent form the body is to be present with the Lord”[3]  Since we know that the Lord is in Heaven, we must also know that where the Lord is, Heaven is.  This may, however, simply be a misunderstanding of Mr. Alcorn’s reasoning, or perhaps just a matter of semantics.

          It is my determination that “Paradise” no longer exists.  Paradise is the place where Jesus told the thief on the cross he would be with Him that day.  I also believe that Hell was a place where Hades and Paradise existed with a large schism between them.  I believe that the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus[4] is true, rather than a fable told to emphasize a point, because Jesus is the one who told it.  I believe that when Jesus ascended out of Hell, he took the souls out of paradise, but Hades still exists and will until the final judgment.  Abraham told the rich man that even if someone would return from the dead there would be people who would not believe.  I guess Moses is a prophet.

          St. Stephen and St. John, among others, were given visions of Heaven.  Through the years, we have heard stories of some others who have also.  “90 Minutes in Heaven” is the story of one such vision.  Through ‘near death’ experiences, and those brought back from death due to modern medical means, we hear stories of people who went in both directions (Heaven or Hell).  Dr. Maurice Rawling’s book was the first one I read about this.  I have never heard of anyone going to any other place. 

          What can we expect when we arrive in Heaven?  I have never seen a report of anyone who didn’t like what they saw when they arrived there.  The Light seems to be the first astounding feature they notice.  It is a light that apparently emanates from the Lord, which is a pure, bright and all encompassing light.  Some relate traveling through a tunnel to get there while others just show up.  Most say it is indescribable in human terms.  Family and old friends are there to greet and welcome you.  No one, as far as I can determine, saw God Himself.  Perhaps this is because the Bible says no one can see God and live.  This must mean that if you actually see God, you are not able to return to earth. 

          When it comes to our judgment, since our sins have been sent as “far as the east is from the west”, we will not have to give account for them in the same way those that have not accepted Christ will have to do.  What we have done to further the cause of Christ while here on earth will be remembered, and those things that we did not do will be forgotten.  I assume that my writings will, for example, (if He likes what I have written) be put in the plus column while the ones He doesn’t will be set aside.  I can only believe that those things we neglected to do, or what was stupid, or that we were ashamed of here, will not be brought to remembrance.

           The love that is expressed by those that greet us will be beyond calculation.  There seems to be some remembrance of things that we suffered at the hands of nonbelievers, such as persecution and martyrdom, for the cause of Christ.  Reports are that in Heaven, the music and praise of the Lord fill the existence.  We will be so grateful to God that we can’t help but be in a constant state of thankfulness and praise toward Him.  Joy seems to be an understatement.  I can’t imagine what the reward system will be like, as the initial greeting we get seems to be so wonderful.  No one reports being dissatisfied and no reports of animosity have been related.  Those physical disabilities have been made perfect, and physical suffering will be a thing of the past.  The wonder of Heaven seems to be overwhelming, but our capacity for wonder is enlarged.

          I can’t tell if those in Heaven are watching everything we do on earth, though there does seem some acknowledgement.  I am reminded of the Jimmy Stewart movie where a bell would ring every time an Angel got its wings.  I can imagine that there is rejoicing and celebration every time someone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

          Our relationship with God will be a personal one.  The scriptures tell us that He will walk with us and talk with us as individuals.  I know that this is hard to understand because there will be so many of us, but after all, He is God.  We know that He hears our prayers.  That’s a lot of individual things going on at the same time.  I know that this sounds ridiculous in our earthly minds; however, “nothing is impossible for God”.  Do we deserve this – no – do we get this – yes! 

          Are we given knowledge of why things happened on the earth the way they did?  When we wonder ‘why did God allow this to happen’, we will know the reason that ‘all things work together for good’.  Nothing will need to be justified because God is just. 
          I get the feeling that my children, who have gone on before me, will be waiting to explain things to me.  I am thrilled at the anticipation of meeting them (of such is the kingdom of God).  How do I know that I have children in Heaven?  God’s word tells us that He knew us “before” we were in our mother’s womb.  A miscarriage, for instance, is a thing of this world, not of Heaven.  Therefore we know that a child, miscarried, aborted or dying after a live birth was, before our understanding of conception, a person whom God knew. 

          We are told that Christ is preparing a place for us.  The place is described as everything from a room to a mansion.  My impression is that an outhouse in Heaven is better than a castle on earth. 

          It is said, by some, that God would never destroy His creation and start over.  I don’t know how to understand this as there are two things that come to mind which may refute this.  First, a Rabbi friend, and dear brother in Christ explained to me that, in Jewish teaching, in Genesis when it says “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep”[5] there is a gap that indicated there was a former world that had been laid waste and wild (destroyed).  The gap is between creating the earth, and it being without form and void.  Second, when God was talking to Moses, He said he was going to destroy the Hebrew nation and start over again with Moses, in the same way He did with Noah and the flood.  This is just one more thing to wonder about.  Will God simply destroy the present earth and erect a new one?  Will He reclaim the present one?  We simply don’t know.  What I am sure of is that whatever He does, or by whatever means He does it, we will be delighted with the result. 

          When Jesus said for the disciples not to touch Him as His body had not yet been transformed, it must mean that after the resurrection our bodies will be somewhat different than what we have now.   Exactly what they will be like is of little consequence to me, and I know that anything He decides is fine with me.  Transformed or transfigured doesn’t bother me.  It’s the fact that I will be with Him that is paramount in my mind. 

          What can I say about God’s majesty?  What we experience in this life; that is the pleasures that are so great we remember them for a lifetime, are but an insight into the essence and character of God and His Heaven.  These pleasures, which we experience in this life, are just foretastes of what God has in store for us.  As you reminisce about those times in your life when you thought “things don’t get any better than this”, you have to keep in mind, “yes they can”, only not here. 

          I don’t know if there is anything like marriage, as we know it, in Heaven.  I have, at times, thought that I didn’t want this life to end because I couldn’t have my marriage continued in Heaven.  The lifelong pleasure I have derived from my wife and marriage, I now know, is just a taste of what relationships will be like in Heaven.  Our marriage to Christ will be more fulfilling than earthly marriages.  First, because we won’t have the earthly stresses associated with the earthly marriages, such as learning to live together as one, financial stress, illness and the fear of loosing the loved one, and changes in life that may be used by the ‘evil one’ to try and separate you.  There have been times in my life that I wasn’t looking forward to going to Heaven because I didn’t want be separated from my wife.  I don’t know exactly what our relationship will be like in Heaven, but I do know that what God has in store will not only be acceptable but better. 

          As I sit here on my porch, on an early somewhat foggy morning, enjoying watching God’s creation (such as His creatures and magnificent foliage), I yearn for the time when I can personally interact with that creation.  To walk and talk with God, and interact with His creatures, is beyond my ability to comprehend.  Do I deserve the sheer ecstasy of what is to come?  No.  Will I attain it through Christ?  Yes, and so can you.  The gift of redemption through Christ is just that, a gift.  Already prepaid, prepared and waiting for you to accept it. 

[1] Randy Alcorn
[2] Dante, The Inferno
[3] 2 Corinthians 5:8, 2 Colossians 2:5
[4] Luke 16: 19-31
[5] Genesis 1: 1-2