Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Can Terrorism Really Be Defeated??

It is one of the primary issues of the hour. And the impact and effects of terrorism are reaching to nearly every part of the globe today. It is a term familiar to most all of us, but exactly how is it officially defined and can it really be stopped?

The simple definition in the Merriam Webster is as follows: "The unlawful use or threat of violence especially against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion." The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as "The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."

Of course the idea of terrorizing is not limited to the large scale kinds of things we are witnessing today. This activity can occur in the home, the back yard,  the school yard and on the job. But presently we are dealing world-wide primarily with the likes of ISIS and others like them. And the source, as we all know, is, for the most part, a form of radical Islam that has reared its evil head yet once again in human history.

The word “terrorism” comes from the French Revolution. The so-called “Reign of Terror” was once used as an instrument of state policy. But the history of terrorism in general is as old as man’s willingness to use threats and violence to pressure others and bend their will or behavior.

But, today, because international terrorism has grown so fierce, sophisticated and pervasive, it has the entire globe on edge and trying to somehow solve the rising menace. It allows small groups, or even an individual, to exert an influence disproportionate to their size. And groups are hard to even find because they do not exist in any one place, at one time or under one government.

Recently, I did a quick search online that revealed hundreds of articles on how to defeat global terrorism. The ideas covered the entire spectrum. But there was but one idea that stuck out as unique. The title read as follows: "The only way to defeat terrorism is the cross". Amazing!

I could hardly believe that someone actually wrote that. I can only assume that, because terrorism is at its root sin, the author believed best way to cure it is to deal directly with sin. It is quite something indeed in today's climate to suggest that what Jesus Christ did on the cross is sufficient to deal with this brutal ideology and practice. And just why would anyone offer such a cure? It is because those who accept Christ are not only forgiven of sin, but, the Bible says, they receive a new heart and can be released from sin's power. They become an all new creation according to according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. This is a ministry of God's Holy Spirit and is known in theological terms as "regeneration".

Political and military solutions are interesting, difficult, costly and just semi-effective at best. But to eradicate terrorism the real way requires that man's inner hatred be replaced by God’s supernatural love and a respect for life - all life. That may sound oversimplified, but it is the truth!

Also, for those today who live in fear of some form of terror attack befalling them, there is a far greater danger according to God’s word. The Apostle Paul wrote these chilling words in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.’" In Matthew 10:28, Jesus Christ shared what life's main concern or terror truly is. "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."  And Hebrews 10:31 adds, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Facing God someday without Christ as Savior is, and should be, the most terrifying and fearful thing anyone can possibly imagine. Actually, it is down right unimaginable!
Terrorism is very complicated in some ways and very simple in others. For those who are the aggressors and perpetrators, and for all of their victims, the solution is the exactly the same – the cross of Jesus Christ! The power and impact of salvation in Christ can defeat the mentality that fuels this wretched scourge while spiritually preparing any caught in its cruel path to face it. Those in Christ have the peace and security that they are justified with God and therefore able to confidently face Him even in a moments notice. Again, both doing terrorism and dealing with terrorism find their ultimate solution in Christ!
"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Single Life of Faithful Service

Author, pastor and prophet Tim LaHaye died of a stroke on Monday, July 15th. He was 90. LaHaye was perhaps best known for his "Left Behind" end-times series with co-author Jerry B. Jenkins. LaHaye spent over 60 years in the pulpit and wrote more than 60 books, many of which revolved around prophetic issues and subjects.

During his ministry he led multiple churches, including Shadow Mountain, which is now pastored by David Jeremiah. LaHaye also co-authored the 16-book "Left Behind" series, which sold more than 80 million copies. The series topped the best-selling lists of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.

For most of his ministry he was married to Beverly Ratcliffe. The couple wed in 1947. Mrs. LaHaye was likewise a giant in the Christian community and founded Concerned Women for America in 1979. It was the nation's largest public policy organization for women with a membership of 600,000. Their work as a team prompted Time magazine to name the LaHayes "The Christian Power Couple" in 2005. He was also listed as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. Wheaton College named LaHaye the most influential leader in evangelical Christianity in 2001 — coming in ahead of leaders the caliber of Billy Graham, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell.

LaHaye also founded two accredited Christian high schools, a school system of ten Christian schools and San Diego Christian College, formerly known Christian Heritage College. In 1972, he co-founded the Institute for Creation Research with the late Dr. Henry Morris. Other ministries that he founded or co-founded include Tim LaHaye Ministries, the Pre-Trib Research Center and the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy at Liberty University.

De. LaHaye is survived by his wife, Beverly, four children, nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, one brother and one a sister.

This man was certainly one of the giants of the Christian faith. The impact he made was enormous and continues on through his decades of faithful service to God. And his full influence for the kingdom will not be realized until it can be seen in eternity. He was a spiritually gifted and brilliant man. But most importantly, he was found faithful!

Few will ever possess the gifts of Tim LaHaye or others like him. That is just the reality. But the Bible does not say we can, or all, should be a Tim LaHaye. Scripture simply confirms that we are to give our best back to God with whatever He has blessed us with to serve Him. That is certainly seen in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. There we read of a man traveling on a long journey and who gave three servants each specific investments to work with and increase upon. The two who were given the most doubled what they had been left with. But the servant given the least simply ignored his share and did absolutely nothing with it. This decision would find him later suffering the wrath of his expectant, but highly disappointed, master.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:3, "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." The Greek word for "steward" is basically a manager of a household or one who is an overseer. And that is precisely the position that every believer in Christ has been given. Some have been given larger areas of service to attend to than others, but that is not the issue. What matters is that each has been granted a gift or gifts from the Holy Spirit that are to be faithfully nurtured, used and invested. They are to never be ignored or hidden away as did the lazy and unfaithful servant just mentioned.

In the parable in Matthew 25, the reward for faithfulness for serving God is also revealed. I’m sure Tim LaHaye has already heard these words or something similar. "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' And if we are to hear the same when we someday stand before God, we must give the Lord our consistent best now being motivated by all that He has done for us!

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ." (Colossian 3:23-24)
Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Honor Your Fathers!

Father's Day in the United States is on the third Sunday of June and celebrates the contribution that fathers and father figures make for their children. Its origins may lie in a memorial service held for a large group of men, many of whom were fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in West Virginia back in 1907.

On this day, many send cards or gifts to their fathers. Often these include things like sports items, clothing, electronic gadgets, and tools for household or automotive chores. Many also make phone calls and gather together to celebrate when possible.

Father's Day is not a federal holiday. Organizations, businesses and stores are open or closed as usual.  Just as with Mothers day, restaurants are typically busier than usual as many take their fathers out for some special meal.

A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd was an influential figure in the establishment of Father's Day. Her father raised six children by himself after the death of their mother. This was uncommon in that day. Sonora was also inspired by the work of Anna Jarvis, who had pushed to establish Mother's Day celebrations. Father's Day was officially recognized as a holiday in 1972 by President Richard Nixon.

Just as with mothers, fathers were designed by God to have special and unique roles within the family unit and in the culture. God made it clear in Genesis that the two were created to help and compliment each other, When one or the other is absent for any reason, and especially when young children are involved, the task of raising a family becomes far more difficult.

Those who have been privileged to have a Godly father have been greatly blessed. That is particularly true when what is taught in Ephesians 6:4 has been the case. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” And there is a promise associated with that seen in Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” But then too, there is a command given to children as far as their side of the relationship. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:2-3, "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:  "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."  

On this Father’s Day, take time to praise your Heavenly Father without whom life is ultimately meaningless and eternity even worse. And be sure to somehow honor your earthly father just as Scripture demands. He may not be perfect. None ever are. That statues is reserved for the Creator alone. But the above verse in Ephesians dose not require our earthly fathers to be to be flawless. It simply reveals for us all what is good, right, and expected by our perfect and loving Father in heaven!

“Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?”  Hebrews 12:8-9

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, June 6, 2016

Victorious Commanders: D-Day's and the Christian's

June 6, 1944, is a day that will live in victory. American air and sea forces landed in German-occupied Normandy, and it was a turning point in World War II.

Lost in most annual D-Day recollections is the stunning stress felt by Allied Supreme Commander General Dwight Eisenhower. As he planned the fateful day, Eisenhower bore the weight of three million troops preparing for a massive assault on the bristling German Fortress just across the English Channel. A war correspondent described him as “bowed with worry, as though each of his four stars weighed a ton”.

One of the three most favorable days for invasion was already lost to the weather. Meteorologists predicted a slight break in the storm on June 6 with conditions deteriorating after that. The next best alternative would be the following month, but the delay would be risking troop morale and secrecy.

As the deadline drew closer, the generals and admirals had their say. The final decision was Eisenhower’s. At 4:15 A.M. on Monday, June 5, after a tense period of quiet consideration, with hands clasped and face ashen, the General said, “I am quite positive we must give the order. I don’t like it, but there it is. I don’t see how we can do otherwise. Okay, we’ll go!” The “Longest Day”—the invasion of Normandy—had dawned.

With the initial commitment made, the grim consequences for the thousands of troops and the entire free world became a frightening prospect. While Eisenhower hoped for the best, he braced for the worst.

In the early uncertain hours of D-Day, he wrote an announcement on a slip of paper—an announcement he hoped he would never have to make. “Our landings in the Cherborg-Havre area have failed to make a foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops... My decision to attack was based on the best available information. The troops, the Air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”

Eisenhower shoved the paper into his pocket where it was discovered after a busy six weeks of successful invasion. By then, it was history that never happened.

In a sense, Eisenhower stood guard over his troops and the free nations they represented. They had received a commitment from him that he would not consent to them living as cripples at the hands of tyrannical oppression. But should the effort fail, he had already declared himself solely responsible if he were brought to trial before the court of history.

The Lord Jesus Christ, briefing His troops for a world-wide, age-long assault upon the Devil’s territory, pledged Himself to accompany them into battle. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15) and "…lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20) have been at once the Great Commission and the Great Comfort. The disciples had been sent to a task for whose victory the Commander had promised to take full responsibility.

When the great missionary David Livingstone, who explored much of Africa sharing the Gospel, reviewed his success, he affirmed the integrity of His Lord time after time. In his diary, when death lurked near, he quoted the Matthew passage and wrote of the calm and comfort Jesus’ promise provided.

When Livingstone returned to his homeland later the same year, the physical marks of illness and injury obvious, he again spoke of the precious promise of Christ. "Would you like me to tell you what supported me through all the years…? It was this: ‘Lo, I am with you even to end of the world!’ On those words I staked everything, and they never failed. ... It is the word of a gentleman of the most sacred honour, so there’s an end of it."

Upon the truthfulness of God’s Word, the success of the Christian mission has always hung.

Dave Virkler (from "Presidential Profiles" and a previous blog post)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memorial Day Part Two!

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5th 1868 by General John Logan. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873 and is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The dictionary says this about the term memorial. It is something designed to preserve the memory of a person. It is Intended to commemorate someone or something such as a memorial service in the dead man's honor. And one of the synonyms for the concept is remembrance.

Those who have sacrificed themselves for the freedoms we now enjoy in America are indeed heroes. They gave their best and forfeited all of the things we sometimes take for granted. And one day certainly does not seem near enough to honor them properly.

But there is another solitary sacrifice that brought about far greater results and occurred on just one day in history. This one impacted both the physical and spiritual realms. That, of course is the voluntary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Through the giving up of His own life, He procured the  forgiveness of sin for mankind and made redemption possible for all who would trust and believe.

And although this eternity altering act  would seem unforgettable to say the least, sometimes even those who have been saved do tend to forget. And that is why we find that all true believers are to observe a periodic and symbolic memorial celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance.

It is found in 1Corinthians 11:23-26 and is typically called communion or The Lord’s Super. There we read the words of the Apostle Paul as he related the Lord's own directive to His people.

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,  Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”

Millions of us today able to pursue our goals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is because of what so many others have done, for so long, to keep us free from tyranny and bondage. But only those who fully understand these two special elements can, and should, participate  in Christ’s special table. In doing so, we are reminded of our priceless eternal liberty and made thankful for the  transforming truth written in John 8:36. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Bill Breckenridge