Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Keeping 'Up' With The Kardashians?

Earlier today I opened up my home web page and saw the typical kinds of headline stories there. And on this particular morning one of the big stories was about the highly anticipated name for Kylie Jenner’s new baby. As you might guess, she is Bruce Jenner’s daughter and a part of the whole Kardashian crew who have become household names in America – unfortunately.

But I saw a video link to a newscast on the subject and clicked on it. This is what the broadcaster said and I quote. “The name you’ve all been waiting for is finally here, Yes,  Kylie Jenner announced her baby girl’s name and it is Stormi. The beautiful mogul announced it on Tuesday. “ And for those who care, the baby’s last name will be Webster. That is from the father, Travis Webster, who is Jenner’s rap star boyfriend. Since he is not the legal husband the name had to be revealed.

Then at the same time Kylie’s sister, Khloe Kardashian, revealed that she is expecting sometime in late April. And in her case, it is basketball player Tristian Thompson who is the father. And like her sister, the dad to be is also a boyfriend and not a husband. This is what she wrote to him about their experience so far.

“My greatest dream realized! We are having a baby! I had been waiting and wondering but God had a plan all along. He knew what He was doing. I simply had to trust in Him and be patient. I still at times can't believe that our love created life! Tristan, thank you for loving me the way that you do! Thank you for treating me like a Queen! Thank you for making me feel beautiful at all stages! Tristan, most of all, Thank you for making me a MOMMY!”

So there we have it. Two of the most famous and popular celebrity icons in the nation will be mom’s ‘intentionally’ without  what they must see as the baggage or bother of a legal marriage. I wonder how God’s above mentioned ‘plan’ and His Biblical principles fit into what they have both done? And keep in mind that their famous Olympic athlete dad became a woman not long ago because he must have seen his gender as some sort of unwanted baggage too. And let’s also not forget, or maybe we should, that Kim Kardashian celebrated the birth of her third daughter by posing nude in bed for her 106 million Instagram followers.  Think about that one for a moment. That’s millions! That is close to 1/3 of the American population not including those who were shown the picture in some other way.

Some times it is hard to even put into words, or even comment on, what has become normal in 21st century America when it is actually abnormal. It simply boggles the mind when comparing it all to the beliefs, values and practices that were once the standard in a Christian nation. We have indeed come a very long way very quickly – and mostly all downhill!

But what is also frightening is that these girls, and this entire famous family, are major  media and celebrity superstars. People can’t seem to get enough of the entire bunch. And those who adore them, and hang on their every move, are mainly young impressionable kids and adults. This highly dysfunctional bunch have become huge role models and multiple millions would love to be in their shoes and live life just as they do.
The problem is that many in culture today are doing just that.

But this extended family has found a way to cash in on their immoral lifestyles and much of America have embraced it all and revere them highly. It is both sad and even scary because the Bible is clear on what is and is not proper moral and ethical behavior. And the importance of that is summed up in Proverbs 14:34. “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”  And sin is clearly revealed throughout the Scriptures in passages like Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3. God’s high expectations concerning our conduct is summarized in 1 Peter 1:16. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”  So God’s desire is to have us all strive to live in the manner He has prescribed in His word.  And in a word that is simply ‘Christ-likeness’.

The antics of the Jenner/Kardasian crew, and others who live like them, are most unfortunate. It no longer seems to shock most of us anymore. And that is beyond tragic because it should! And the only way to have this kind of behavior offend our sense of righteousness and decency, and not fall prey to its godless influence, is to be well grounded in Scriptural truth. (2 Timothy 3:16)  King David, who knew something about falling into sin and getting back out. And he put it this way in Psalm 119:9-11.

“How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word. 
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.”

Bill Breckenridge

Friday, December 8, 2017

So Many Christmas Shows

Each and every year, the Christmas season kicks into high gear just as Thanksgiving arrives. In reality, some of the Christmas celebration and landscape transformation comes even before for the big day of thanks rolls around. And without question Black Friday certainly reveals that December 25th is not too  far away.

But one of the signs that the season is upon us is the relentless flood TV of specials that seem to come our way nearly nonstop. Some of these have been around forever and bring back fond memories of our childhood. For instance, the season cannot go by without the airing of classic productions like “Rudolph”, “White Christmas”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Frosty”, “It’s A Wonderful Life” and, of course, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

Then, too, there is a second level of programs, some a bit newer, that have become part of the fabric of the season as well. These would include titles like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Elf”, “Home Alone”, “Little Drummer Boy”, “Muppet Christmas”, “Polar Express”, “The Santa Claus”, and one of my all-time favorites, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”.

Along with these, another large collection of seasonal programming has come into being. This is by way of the Hallmark Channel, which is widely known for family friendly content. The network’s Christmas shows also begin around Thanksgiving and seem to be on the air seven days a week. The story lines are often somewhat predicable. Many seem to end up with a happy and romantic conclusion somewhere out in the country on Christmas Eve as the snow gently begins to fall. Sound familiar?

But as I thought about the large majority of these shows, and even much of the Christmas music we hear, it dawned on me that they have one thing in common. Despite the warm memories they conjure up, and their undeniable entertainment value, they have little to do with the deep significance of the holiday they revolve around. Without question, I adore some of these programs and always will, and I always try to take in my favorites if possible. But how many of them solidly explain, or even make reference to, the coming of the incarnate Son of God in that manger long ago? We can watch the vast majority of these and never hear that Christ came to earth and was wrapped in human flesh in order to have God and sinners reconciled.

So the reality is that watching many of these various holiday programs will better provide a good grasp on the fictional activities at the North Pole each year. As a result, many today can describe what Santa’s army of elves do, the method he transports his goodies about, and can even recite the names of  his famous flying creatures that drag his legendary sled around the entire globe in just one night. This part of the season is not so much wrong, but it just needs to be balanced out with the true historical, spiritual and eternal account of the incarnation of Christ.

But there is just one show in particular that has distinguished itself from the pack. It first aired on December 9, 1965. The format was that of a cartoon, and the budget was a mere $92,000. The voices of the various characters were actually those of the young neighborhood kids of the author Charles Schultz. Many of those who recited their adorable parts were too young to even read at the time. This, of course, is the most beloved holiday show of them all – “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Most know the music by heart and can repeat many of the show’s humorous lines. But it is the profound words uttered near the end that make this program so special and so unique.

Throughout the show, a reflective Charlie Brown is struggling to find inner peace and the true meaning of Christmas. All he sees is massive materialism and consumerism all about him. In a desperate moment, while trying to direct a pageant, he cries out to his very distracted cast, “Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?’  It is at that moment of personal crisis that little Linus slowly shuffles to the center of the stage with his famous blanket in tow. He calls for a spotlight and then proceeds to quote a portion of the Gospel of Luke chapter 2 from memory.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.”

Linus then walks slowly back over to Charlie Brown and gently says, “That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” And, indeed, he was dead right! In this simple, short and very inexpensive program, the true meaning of Christ’s first coming was clearly laid out. And it did so by using only the words of Scripture no less. Christmas is about tidings of great joy! And the source of that joy is the Savior who arrived in Bethlehem but who would one day purchase man’s redemption through His sacrifice on a cross.

There are many wonderful shows and films at this most wonderful time of the year. They inspire and entertain. They make us laugh and they make us cry. And they help get us in the mood for the holidays. But be sure this year to also make the true point  of the season the real focal point of the season as did Linus over 50 years ago. And make sure to publicly give “Glory to God in the highest” and thereby convey to all you meet the true significance of the blessed holiday they may already enjoy.

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Perspective

It is the holiday season once again with the official start being Thanksgiving of course. And it is a holiday that most all observe in some way or other. But there are far fewer who really grasp it on its deepest and most significant level – specifically the giving of praise and thanks to God!

Recent times in America  have been extra difficult and traumatic. This has been seen especially in the area of domestic violence. First, it was the horrific scene at a Las Vegas concert where 58 were murdered and over 500 injured. Not long after that came the brutal attack on a Texas Church that saw some 26 executed by a lone gunman on a Sunday morning. And then shortly thereafter, another gunman went on a rampage in California. His 45-minute attack on random victims took the lives of 4.before he crashed his truck into a school building and injuring a few of the children there.

Perhaps you are wondering why I bring up a rather dismal subject at this particular season? But before answering, first let me state that the loss of every single soul, no matter where or how it occurs, is dreadful beyond words. And that is because every life matters infinitely to God. We are all made in His image according to Scripture.But there are places on earth so brutal as to make America look like Disneyland in comparison.  For example, in 2010 there were nearly 41, 000 murders in Brazil alone. And the same amount occurred in India.  And in places like this, these may well be a conservative numbers.

Yes, pain and agony occur everywhere. But the level of suffering in some places just defies description. And yet living in 21ST century America remains a huge blessing even with the problems that still do occur.  So there needs to be proper perspective, appreciation and a thankful attitude for the many blessings, benefits and opportunities we enjoy in nation still so mightily blessed of God.

In 1Thessalonians we read this. ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give  thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ And the previous verse gives some context to these words. ‘See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone.’ We are told to rejoice constantly even in the midst of hard circumstances. We are directed to remain thankful for our blessings both large and small. And nowhere does it indicate there that we are to do these things only when life is fabulous and when we are not suffering in some way.  Anyone can pull that off with little or no effort. I recently heard someone say, “I guess if you are going to have faith, it can’t just be when the miracles happen, but also when they do not’ 

As Christians, not only do we own the ultimate blessing of salvation through Christ, but we also possess the indwelling Spirit of God. This provides a joy and inner peace that passes all human understanding even when life becomes downright rugged. God's will is that we be thankful for what He has done for us and that we also rely on Him throughout life's many ups and downs.  And I trust this will be our attitude on this Thanksgiving and on every other day of the year as well. 

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

‘Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.’ (Psalm 107:8-9)

Bill Breckenridge

Friday, November 10, 2017

Coaches Told Not To Bow in Prayer

According to a November 8 article featured in, the Coweta County School District in Georgia has issued an edict banning all coaches and other employees from participating in student-initiated or student-led prayer or other forms of worship while acting in their official capacity. This came after they obtained video of a  high school football coach bowing his head during a team prayer.

The complaint originated from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. The group is comprised of  disgruntled atheists and agnostics who have a long history of similar actions especially in small unsuspecting towns all around the nation.  The protesting group then said, "They cannot join hands, bow their heads, take a knee or commit another act that otherwise manifests approval with the students' religious experience." They also said that it is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer because it is unconstitutional  and endorses a  religion when done in an official capacity as a school district employee.

The author of the article then said something quite simple but profound. He wrote, “Professional football coaches are celebrated for taking a knee to protest America, but high school football coaches are targeted for taking a knee to pray with their players. Had Coach Small been taking a knee to protest America, I doubt the Freedom From Religion Foundation would've objected.” He ended his article by saying, “What a mess, folks”  And what a mess this is indeed!

Then add to this kind of nonsense the growing protests to any reference to God anywhere in culture. It is now common even in government circles. A classic example of this came recently when Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Southern California, walked out during a moment of silence held on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for the Texas shooting victims. He stated, “I can’t do this again.  I will not be silent. What we need is we need action, we need to pass gun safety legislation now.” What he was saying was that prayer is useless if not counterproductive. Then also Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, boycotted a moment of silence on the House floor for victims of October’s Las Vegas shooting, calling it “an excuse for inaction.”  And keep in mind that this was over just a moment of  'silence'.

In 2 Timothy 3:12-13 we read these words. ”Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  These conditions seem to be the case today. And it reminds me of the words of Rev. David Virkler who was the founder of the ministry that includes this blog. He said many times, in light of the twisted attitudes seen in recent days, that ‘The old moralist has become the new criminal.” In other words, those who are Godly believers in Christ, and who outwardly promote Biblical truth, have become targets for doing evil instead of being seen as solutions for it. It is a tragic flip flop and reversal of what is good, right and just before a holy God! 

So what should be our response to what we see in this verse and what we are witnessing all about us in these difficult and declining end times? That advice comes in the following words in verses 14 and 15. “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,  and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible predicted what the prevailing attitudes would be concerning  Biblical truth in the days leading up to the return of Christ. So the current attacks and persecution on those of the faith should not be any great surprise. But it should instead be an encouragement to stand strong in the midst of it all  while knowing that to live Godly through Christ is to invite opposition but also God’s special  blessing and favor as well.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matthew 5:11-12)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween Terror In New York

It was not the kind of make-believe horror displayed in devilish costumes that is so commonplace everywhere on Halloween. This time it was all too real and very much deadly. The act was a vicious terrorist attack in New York City – the deadliest there since the events of 9/11. And this time, instead of coming through the air, a man intentionally drove a rented Home Depot truck into unsuspecting cyclists and pedestrians. He killed eight and injured dozens more on a bike path near Styvesant High School located off the West Side Highway of Manhattan. 

After crashing his vehicle, initial reports suggested the suspect was holding two firearms that have since been described as imitation guns by authorities. Police eventually shot the suspect and took him into custody. Some witnesses said that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” ("God is greater") after the attack – a solid hint that his rampage was related to Islamist extremism. The method of using a rented vehicle for this style of attack has reportedly been inspired by ISIS as the group  has suggested such techniques in its own publications. News of Tuesday's attack quickly spread through social media, including pro-ISIS channels on encrypted messaging applications where supporters there reportedly cheered the over the tragedy.

It is hard to even fathom such hatred and cruel actions against innocent people. How can anyone inflict such evil and suffering on those they don’t know and who have done nothing at all to do with them? The answer to that question is sometimes very hard to offer – unless the doctrine of human sin and total depravity is solidly in the equation.

Hamartiology comes from the Greek word hamartos meaning sin. It is therefore, is the study of sin. From a biblical perspective, the study includes how sin was introduced into the world, how it impacts the world today, the solution to the sin problem of humanity, the judgment of sin, and the removal of sin at the end of time.

The Bible speaks to the origin of sin in Romans 5:12 where Paul wrote, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." And in the Old Testament, David acknowledged his own inborn sin in Psalm 51:5 where he wrote, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."

But then in James 1:14-15 we are shown how we are still fully and personally responsible for our wrongful actions. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

It is impossible to see into the heart of someone who commits an act as did this wretched soul on Halloween in New York City. But if we could, one thing is fairly certain. We would likely not see the Holy Spirit of Scripture residing there. The killer may indeed have yelled out “Allahu Akbar” ("God is greater") after his deplorable act, but he was certainly not referring to the God of love, mercy, peace and righteousness as described in the Bible.

The Christian God is not the author of evil and sin. He deplores that in every existing form. But  because He loves every sinner, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die as a man's lone substitute and sacrifice on the cross for us all. This was done so that any lost sinner can come to Him through faith and be gloriously and eternally saved.

The Greek word for this new spiritual birth is soteria, translated as salvation. The results of this great doctrinal truth and blessing means that lost sinners from any background can be fully forgiven and possess an all new heart. And it means, once justified, that they are given a new supernatural ability that allows them to display God’s love and mercy instead of man’s hatred and evil. And only the new birth found in Christ, as spoken of in John 3, can achieve this instant and radical transformation of the soul from the inside out!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:16-18)

Bill Breckenridge