Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WMDs in Syria?

In early September, the Israelis secretly took out Syria’s nuclear project, which was contracted with North Korea and affirmed by that country’s loudest objection. Israel’s swift and evidently successful strike was tacitly allowed by the U.S. and most of the international community (who viewed it) as buying time against nuclear proliferation and an alert to nuclear-inclined nations that dangerous nuclear capability development will not be tolerated.

Syria borders Israel and is a conduit for Hezbollah supplies into Lebanon from Iran. According to a former Iraqi Christian general, it is also host to WMDs flown out of Iraq in the waning days of Saddam Hussein’s regime. In his book Saddam’s Secrets (Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, TN 2006), Georges Sada writes, "…I know the names of some of those who were involved in smuggling WMDs out of Iraq in 2002 and 2003. I know the names of officers of the front company, SES, who received the weapons from Saddam. I know how and when they were transported and shipped out of Iraq. And I know how many aircraft were actually used and what types of airplanes they were, as well as a number of other facts of this nature." (page 252)

Under the guise of aid to Syria when an irrigation dam collapsed, "Eventually there were fifty-six sorties. Commercial 747s and 727s moved these things out of the country…. Instead of using military vehicles or aircraft which would have been apprehended and searched by coalition forces, Sadddam had used the civilian airlines." (pg. 259)

Support for Israel is a serious Biblical mandate outlined in Genesis 12:3. "I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you shall all the families of the earth shall be blessed." It is also support for our most dependable ally in the Middle East and appears to have bought precious time for the entire world in defusing Syria’s nuclear development and keeping Iraq’s loaned storehouse of WMDs out of service.

David Virkler

What’s bugging you?

That old colloquialism has new meaning since the mechanical dragonflies started buzzing. Harvard University admits to bug spy research, and the U.S. government is strongly suspected of also developing this new snoop technology.

A new tiny, flying spy technology can buzz in and out of rooms and dart among crowds transmitting vital information to waiting analysts. This is really a "fly by night" breakthrough that is no flight of fancy, and it gives new dimension to the phrase "just wing it."
Several years ago, these gadgets were proposed as futuristic thinking. Evidently, the future is now.

Recently, some protesters in New York and Washington reported these "insect" gadgets flitting about and buzzing the crowds like Lilliputian aviators.. Hovering, swooping and darting like those skittish summer dragonflies, they looked a bit more mechanical than their living counterparts.

And if that’s not the real stuff of science fiction, word is out that real moths may be implanted with tiny transmitters in the pupae stage. When fully emergent, they could be programmed to fly where human or larger mechanical snoopers find access impossible.
The positive side is that these gadgets or insects could penetrate buildings or inaccessible cavities to aid is rescue operations.

No matter what the truth or how weird the devices, freedom of personal privacy is shrinking dramatically. Electronic eavesdropping can pick cell phone message out of the wireless air. Credit card sale patterns and records can be routinely tracked for commercial analysis. Static listening devices are old stuff now; nearly invisible transmitters can be sprinkled around anywhere, while GPS tracking could locate anyone.

God, however, has prior claim on secrecy probes. Ecclesiastes 10:20 warns, "Do not curse the king even in your thought; Do not curse the rich even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter." (Remember Mom saying, "A little birdie told me?")

But there are no secrets with God. "Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You" (Ps 139:12). God asks in Jeremiah 23:24, "Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? … Do I not fill heaven and earth?..."

A day is coming "…when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel" (Romans 2:16). Christ warned the hypocritical Pharisees, "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed; nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops" (Luke 12:2-3).

That’s scary! But Christian witness deals with that future issue now since God’s present spiritual probe under Gospel preaching is more effective than any technological dragonfly. "And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you" (1 Corinthians 14:25).

God’s full disclosure is a blessing—the vestibule of forgiveness. In knowing all about us, He can forgive every sin. Psalm 139:23-24 invites total soul exploration. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting."

Jesus paid it all! "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12).
Believers need fear no stealth spying. In short, our lives are to be an open book.

David Virkler

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Worrying Ourselves to Death?

A recent article in the New York Post revealed some enlightening and troubling statistics about Americans and stress. According to the American Psychological Association, a full 48% feel they are experiencing more stress than just five years ago. Many find they lie awake at night and some report drinking too much to help cope with life.

Nearly 75% of the study's 1,848 participants cited finances and work-related issues as the main culprits, with paying rent causing anxiety for over half. The report also found that stress caused family fights, smoking, divorce, and numerous health-related issues. Experts added that the stress likewise may bring fatigue, overeating, obesity, and eventually life-threatening heart disease.

Life in modern America is, in some ways, a two-edged sword. Citizens enjoy a quality of life never before known in human history. But with that can come a living nightmare as they strive to gain, or maintain, the "American Dream".

During the earthly ministry of Christ, the Lord spoke of dealing with worry and stress, and that was during a time when life was far slower paced and less complicated than today. But knowing of man's universal struggles in any era, He stated in Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He elaborated further on the subject in Luke 12 beginning in verse 22: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing." This was quickly followed by a simple yet profound directive for fully dealing with life's many stresses and strains. Verse 31 reads, "But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you."

Finally, the Apostle Paul lends his weight to the Lord's words in Philippians chapter 4. In verses 6-7 he reveals to the Christian facing stress what he should do and also what he may then expect in return. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

The times are indeed hectic and pressure-packed, and they show no real signs of easing up. But anyone who has experienced peace "with" God through saving faith in Christ, likewise has access to the peace "of" God by way of a supernaturally guarded heart, even in the midst of life's most stress-filled days.

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, October 29, 2007

What is the real value of a single life?

President Bush has presented the nation’s highest military honor to the family of a Navy Seal killed in the line of duty. Lieutenant Michael Murphy lost his life while serving his country in Afghanistan in 2005. The family of the 29-year old hero was given the highly prized Medal of Honor, just the third such award given out since the official start of the war on terror.

While commanding a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines, Murphy’s team was betrayed by local goat herders who gave away their secret location. Soon after that, the team was hopelessly pinned down by a heavy coordinated assault from nearly 100 insurgents. Although wounded himself, Lt. Murphy moved out from behind cover while attempting to gain a clear radio signal for a desperate rescue call. Despite being shot several more times in the back, he somehow completed the call and even rejoined the battle. When the dust settled and the incident was over, just one man of the Seal team would survive. The event became the worst single day of casualties for Naval Special Warfare since World War II after a Chinook helicopter, carrying 16 soldiers for the rescue mission, was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The ‘heat of battle’ tends to bring out either man’s very best, or sometimes his absolute worst. And many wonder how they might react when faced with an event like this or like the one on 9-11 where selfless men and women gave their lives to take control of an aircraft while trying to save people they never knew nor would ever get the opportunity to do so.

The Bible speaks of the “Son of Man”, Jesus Christ, who voluntarily, lovingly, and single-handedly faced the fury of hell itself to redeem a race who had fully rejected Him. These truths are clearly presented in the book of Romans. In chapter 3 verses 10-11, the Apostle Paul writes, “As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.”Then God’s overwhelming and overpowering love for a helpless and hopeless race is seen just 2 chapters later in Romans 5:6-8. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners , Christ died for us.”

Just one survived that brutal attack back in 2005. And there are some in the media still questioning whether or not it was worth the great sacrifice. But those who do not understand the value of a single soul also do not know the heart or motives of their own Creator. Matthew 18 makes that abundantly clear beginning in verse 11. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

God has made clear through both His words and actions the real value of a single life in John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” And all those who know and love Him will recognize their precious opportunities to serve Him by at least their willingness do likewise.

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Social Agenda?

J.K. Rowling, author of the best selling Harry Potter series, has hit her eager readership with a post-publication bombshell. Rowling announced that Dumbledore, headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, is gay.

Responding to a question about the apparent lack of normal romance in Dumbledore’s life, Rowling shocked her Carnegie Hall admirers by flatly stating, “Dumbledore is gay,” adding that his attraction was toward a bitter enemy in a previous wizard war.

Some are shocked, and others are enthused, with readers divided along the lines of their previous moral convictions. The books are part of fantasyland, but millions of young readers likely have trouble sorting fact from fiction.

On her U.S. book tour, Rowlings stated that she sees her books as a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and has urged her fans to “question authority.”

So now we know. The Harry Potter books really have a social moral agenda that is far wide of traditional Biblical truth. Parents should reevaluate their approval of their kids’ reading and pay more attention to the cautionary voices. Rowling’s gay character announcement coming just before Halloween should give us all pause to review the entire field of occult supernaturalism.

God’s Word says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them, for it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret” (Ephesians 5:11 & 12). Witchcraft is roundly condemned in Scripture (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10; II Chronicles 33:6; Malachi 3:5; Galatians 5:19-21). Now, with one of the fictional characters in the popular, record-setting Potter series being announced to be homosexually inclined, it’s a worse perversion.

A story my 6th grade teacher told is vital in this case. She said, “A man was found to have stolen an old, rotten rope from a farm. He was caught, tried and imprisoned for his crime.” And then she waited for the obvious comment from a student. “Teacher, wasn’t that a harsh punishment for so minor a crime?” “Oh, I forgot to tell you,” she replied, “that tied at the end of the rope was a valuable race horse.”

In the case of Harry Potter and so much other literature that shows a moral agenda, we must ask ourselves, “What’s tied to end of the rope?”

David Virkler

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jury Duty Anyone?

Jury duty. It seems to be one the most feared issues of American life, and most everyone is likely to come up sooner or later.

My name came up, and last Monday, after a long and busy weekend preaching, I sat in the big room, listened to the orientation, settled back for a day of catch-up reading and looked forward to late afternoon when I could go home having met my jury obligation for another few years.

By about 3:00 PM, two judges had decided they didn’t need a jury. But I wasn’t home free. The third judge called the jury room attendant and requested about 40 prospects. At the very end of the list I heard my name called. I queued up and trailed a long solemn line—a cultural cross-section—to the court building and into a trim but tight room where bright lights contrasted with sober folks awaiting the worst. A few opening comments by the judge outlined the basic case going to trial, a calendar of possible days to try it and information about poor eyesight, hearing and other physical limitation disqualifiers, and the process was underway.

Before asking the many general questions of the group, the judge launched into a patriotic speech about how constitutional this all was, how jury duty is the highest civic duty of any American, and how our system was the best in the world. My resistance to jury service dramatically faded.

Out of the random computer list came the names, until seven were seated and asked a long series of questions. Interspersed was a trickle of people with personal reason to be excused quietly whispered to the judge, who let them all go. The pool was getting smaller but I thought, "I’ll not get called." Then the lawyers removed some who had been seated, and I heard my name called.

Surely they won’t want a minister? My questioning began, and I became Juror #6. One more juror was replaced, and then seven of us heard both lawyers say, "We accept the jury as it stands." That was it. I was trapped—for seven days if necessary, eight for a long trial.

But I was doing my highest civic duty in the best judicial system in the world. That was great, except for a couple of things. I had meetings and responsibilities that would terribly crowd those dates, and when I arrived back in the ministry office, I was reminded of a meeting ON one of the trial dates. I must have been tired not to remember when I could have asked to be released.

My challenge had been to honorably fulfill my civic duty and also discharge my ministry responsibilities. With pressure and weariness I did essential broadcast preparation before and after jury duty. I was tired, but I hoped for unique opportunities.

About 12 years ago, I sat in another jury pool. As the morning dragged on, I noticed a man next to me reading his Bible. "That’s a good book you have there," I said. After finding our mutual faith in Jesus Christ, I learned he listened to our local Christian radio station … and my program … and he enjoyed it. Neither of us was called to jury duty, but that newfound friend began financially supporting our ministry and still does with a gift each month.

On the second day of the recent trial, a fellow juror and I chatted at lunch. He was a Christian I discovered. He asked, "What do you really do?" I explained about being in evangelism and radio broadcasting and that the broadcast used to be heard over our local Christian station. "What was it called?" he asked. "The Word And the World, and my name is David Virkler." A broad smile spread across his face. "I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. I listened all the time, and I think I sent for one of your special offers." As we parted he said, "You have made my day. You have just made my day." Actually, he made mine more than I made his.

During breaks in the jury room, he and I had stunning opportunities to witness for Christ to the others. Hopefully, we planted seeds that will result in some accepting Christ as Savior.

On the third day, the parties settled, and we all went home. I had the time to minister, and dates are no longer in conflict. I had witnessed for Christ, and I had made new friends. I had fulfilled my personal constitutional civic duty as an American citizen and as a Christian.

Luke 20:25 says, "And [Jesus] said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God’s." In that day, Caesar was the highest authority. In the United States, the highest authority is the Constitution! Colossians 3:23-24 says, "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."

Jury duty—a blessing in disguise!

David Virkler

A Perfect Season?

They are daring to think beyond winning and even the coveted Super Bowl ring. The buzz in New England, and now around the rest of the National Football League, is perfection. It does seem a bit premature to some when considering that the schedule is only 7 games in and considering that the last flawless season was way back in 1972 when the Miami Dolphins became the first and only NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated. They went on to beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

But the Patriots are simply dominating their opponents in a way that makes a flawless season more than a mere dream. One only needs to see the amazing 433 points of total offense, an average of nearly 40 points per game, to comprehend all the hype. Last year’s Indianapolis Colts also had a shot at NFL perfection until Christian Coach Tony Dungy made a hard decision to rest some crucial starters in preparation for the playoffs and to have a better chance of getting to the Super Bowl. It is hard to say whether the ensuing single loss would have come either way, but the team’s victory in the NFL’s big classic was the priority and the convincing result.

Wikipedia says this concerning perfection. "Things that are complete - which contain all the requisite parts; things that are so good that nothing of the kind could be better, and things that have attained their purpose. The genealogy of the concept of ‘perfection’ reaches back beyond Latin, to Greek. The Greek equivalent of the Latin ‘perfectus’ was ‘teleos.’"

Few things can claim true perfection in a badly blemished world. And even this year’s mighty Patriots could be as close to an imperfect season as a few key and untimely injuries. But there is an area of life where absolute perfection was demanded and fortunately achieved. The Bible uses the Greek word "teleos" in John 19 when speaking of the sacrificial death on the cross by God’s Son for humanity. Verse 30 begins, "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."

When the price of sin was fully paid for, and God’s wrath fully appeased, Jesus cried out using that term "teleos". His agonizing, but victorious, cry signified that His death meant that sin’s payment was fully finished, completed, and could not be improved upon in anyway or by anyone. As the perfect God, and also fully man, He alone could offer forgiveness of human sin.

Christ’s unique qualification is offered in the book of Hebrews in Chapter 4 in verses 15-16. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." And earlier in chapter two we read more of Christ’s special position in God’s redemptive plan. "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

Salvation in Christ is perfect. It perfectly repairs man’s broken relationship with his Creator. And it fully and perfectly prepares believers for a glorious and heavenly future. But it also allows something crucial in this present time. Hebrews 4:16 teaches that those "in Christ", through personal faith, can be prepared for living a victorious and joy-filled life now even in a very difficult and imperfect world. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

God’ redemptive game plan for this life, and the next, is simply staggering in that it is fully perfect in it’s effectiveness in that it delivers exactly what God’s Word has promised. It simply does not, and cannot, get any better than that.

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Can the “thought police” get you?

It’s called “Hate Crimes” legislation. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act offered by Senator Ted Kennedy has nothing to do with national defense but everything to do with stifling expressions of traditional family values. Analysts say it goes way beyond mere hate crimes to thought crimes, where motives and intentions could be illegal and subject to punishment. What is proposed can make the old moralist the new criminal. Simply holding out and, of course, speaking out for the authority of Scripture and its moral guidelines could be a “hate crime.” Pluralism and political correctness are being potentially used to silence critics of immoral lifestyles.

Actual Christian love is being reinterpreted to be hate speech or even hate thought. “Oh how I love thy law,” as Ps. 119:97 says. Paul said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). That will be increasingly hazardous unless our Christian voices are safeguarded.

As the country becomes more secular and accepting of immoral lifestyles, Bible believers will be more criminally suspect. Unless these freedoms are safeguarded by our legislators who reflect citizen demands for free Biblical speech, Christians will be legally oppressed and perhaps subject to fines and imprisonment, as is now the case in Canada. Tax-exemption for churches and Christian organizations will be jeopardized or even removed and will be viewed as a license to say only certain things in certain ways. National Religious Broadcasters has warned its members, “Christian broadcasters and communicators could lose their right to speak out biblically if this bill is signed into law, as has happened in numerous other nations where ‘Hate Crimes’ legislation has been passed.” Freedom to sin will trump our freedom to object.

Paul asked the church in Galatia, “Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). He wrote regarding a local church conflict, but when it came to worshipping only God instead of Caesar, it cost Paul his life. John the Baptist lost his head when he spoke out against Herod’s adultery (Mark 6:18-25).

Some think we live in a Roman Empire situation, which is far from the political truth. Christ directed people to render to Caesar the things that were his (Luke 20:25). For citizens of the Unites States, that’s involvement in the political system. Our “Caesar” is the Constitution, which makes the people the government. That means voting, perhaps personally running for office and, in the case of “hate crimes” legislation, voicing concerns to elected representatives to head hate criminality off at the pass.

Political and religious freedom is like the daily manna in the wilderness. Use it or lose it.

David Virkler

Winning happens behind the scenes

The Cleveland Indians’ dramatic first round ALCS play-off win over the New York Yankees has an interesting sidelight. The Indians are called a “family,” and this warm relationship is credited in part for their season’s success.

Evidently, this family thing extends beyond the players to their spouses. Team coaches sought advice as to how their players could maintain focus and win—a focus often marred by mundane distractions like friends clamoring for tickets. The advice was that the players be free from all non-essentials. The wives got together and agreed to assume all those distracting responsibilities and even mostly keep out of sight to allow their men total game concentration. Is that sexism, or is it a model of perceptive family members putting responsibility ahead of personal preferences and rights? It was a winning formula, and the Indians handily eliminated the Yankees 4-1 in the series.

Success in team sports goes way beyond the public figures. It’s the same in Christ’s Kingdom advance. Support personnel are so strategic, but they are often obscure or even invisible. Effective preaching in the pulpit is a reflection of praying in the pew. Front-line soldiers are vulnerable without the quiet logistics, supply lines, cooks, planners, funding and all the encouraging folks back home. And yes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Some years ago when I spoke at a state Gideon convention (the people who place Bibles in motel rooms and thousands of other places), I learned of their Women’s Auxiliary. They have a stirring motto: “We stay on our knees so our men can stay on their feet.”

In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas departed on the first foreign missions trip of the early New Testament church. After prayer and fasting, “They sent them away” (Acts 13:3). This was beyond formal commissioning which was done by the Spirit sending them away as found in Vs. 4. “Sent” is from the Greek word meaning “to release.” The church literally “released them away.” They removed all distractions, perhaps even the nagging pressure of finances. Notice that Paul and Barnabas never voiced funding problems all the while they were away.

When Paul and Barnabas returned, they reported on all their successes before the supporting hometown crowd (Acts14:27). It was a common victory celebration, and I believe God’s spiritual rewards were evenly distributed. The Biblical precedent is found in 1 Samuel 30:24-25 where King David declared, “‘But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.’ So it was, from that day forward....” It’s true in baseball, and it’s true among believers.

David Virkler

The 2008 Election – A Dire Decision for Dedicated Christians ?

Some in the Christian Right are not happy with politics as usual. Most everyone today, from the candidates themselves to those who enter the booths, know the crucial importance of every voting block as extremely close elections have shown. To lose any significant group is to lose the election. It is that simple. In recent days, some leaders of the so-called “Christian Right” have begun to speak out about what seems to be a departure by their supported party relating to certain crucial moral issues.

Recently a group met in Salt Lake City to discuss the possibility of supporting a third party candidate should the Republican party nominate a candidate that is not fully pro-life and solidly behind traditional family values. This past week, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on The Family was interviewed on national radio by Fox commentator Sean Hannity. The subject was the election. The two men, who usually agree on the issues, were at odds on the subject. From the opening moments Dobson made it clear that he would never support any candidate who was not pro-life and who did not fully support the one man – one woman definition of marriage. He went on to say that a third party candidate was not out of the question should Republicans (or Democrats) not come up with what they deem a proper nominee.

In response Hannity, speaking of candidate Rudy Gulliani, referenced the former Mayor’s abilities pointing specifically to his leadership on 911 and his cleaning up of New York City, a place that was once said to be almost ungovernable. He stated the nation’s number one priority is having a President who understands the war on terror and that failing to do could well mean the literal downfall of the nation itself. Then Hannity also pointed out the obvious. When a third party candidate competes, that will drain votes from one party or the other and can virtually assure victory to the very side they hoped to defeat. In reaction to Hannity’s valid points, Dobson responded stating “I sorry Sean, but if I support any candidate that does not support Godly principles, then I am no longer me.” Dobson continued that his Focus On The Family organization has proclaimed and protected family values for his entire adult life. And for him to now support anyone who opposes or trivializes those values, despite other admirable traits, would mean that he would no longer be able to even define who he is or what he is about.

The upcoming election may well determine the rescue or downfall of America on numerous levels and the question now for committed Christians to ponder is this. Will placing a leader who is strong on national defense, or one who is strong on Biblical values, best ensure the prosperity and survival of the nation? The Old Testament shares many examples of God’s undertaking for Israel against all human odds. In I Sam 17:33 the reaction of Israel’s leaders to a young shepherd boy’s willingness to face mighty Goliath is seen. “And Saul said to David, You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." While his analysis was accurate, he failed to grasp that this young shepherd boy was not relying at all on his own great skill or strength. The King was looking at all the human factors which all had overwhelming merit on the surface. But he somehow overlooked the fact that David’s plan and confidence stemmed from obedience and trust in his God and not in the seeming hopelessness of the task before him. His unlikely, but highly efficient, battle plan is spelled out in verses 45-46. “Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand.”

Being able to elect those who will determine the laws of the land is one of America’s special blessings and one that has not come without a great price. But in the final analysis, there needs to be a blending and practical application of that amazing process with the reality spoken of by that same brave young shepherd who later in life wrote in Psalm 20:7. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” Every presidential election is historic and has great impact on the present and future of the nation. But the upcoming 2008 vote may be, in some ways, more profound than ever before. This time, Christian voters may have to pray about and decide in their hearts who they will support, or not support, based upon factors they have never been forced to face before.

Bill Breckenridge

The Efforts are Paying Off

It is sometimes referred to as simply the “C” word. It has been the source of great fear and the focus of endless medical research. It knows no favoritism and few of us have not been at least indirectly affected by it on some personal level. It is, of course, Cancer which presently causes about 13% of all deaths.

The battle to cure this scourge has been long and expensive. But now the Herculean efforts seem to be paying off. According to HealthDay News, reports now show rates beginning to shrink nationally. The recent statistics now reveal that, among the top 15 cancers for men and women, the overall death rates are declining. Dr. David Espey of the U.S. center for Disease Control, and an expert on the subject, calls the new findings “very encouraging”. And Dr. Corey Langer of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia said, "It's the first glimmer of hope in a long time."

We all pretty much know what cancer is and what it can do. But few of us ever stop to consider why it exists in the first place. The short, but profound, answer is simply human sin. Those who know and believe the Bible as God’s inspired Word know well the story of Genesis. They know how the first man and woman were handed a perfect body and world without the curse of disease or death.

But that blessed existence came to an abrupt end with the failure to adhere to just one specific requirement. Just one single act of disobedience brought catastrophic results. When God revealed in Genesis 2:17 that a failure to obey Him would bring death, he meant far more than what so many understand or care to believe. Along with a physical decline it meant the death of the soul forever. It meant something infinitely more terrible than all the diseases ever unleashed can bring. It meant a permanent separation from God and a punishment beyond our ability to fathom. But just after man’s tragic blunder, God speaks of a miraculous cure for sin and the devastation it brought.

In Genesis 3:15, speaking to Satan, He describes the brutal battle, but subsequent victory, of a coming Savior who would offer the ultimate remedy for a helpless and hopeless race. The impact of that prophetic verse can be seen in Romans 5:12-17.

Physical death is terrible. The Bible freely admits that. But those same Scriptures offer a hope beyond the grave irregardless of how well or difficult our physical life goes or ends. Speaking to a grieving sister who had just lost her brother, perhaps to some terrible disease of that day, Jesus said in John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Believing who Jesus said He was, and in what His sacrificial death achieved on the cross, can deal with a need far more dangerous and deadly than even the “C” word. Christ alone can address the “S” word. His cure repairs forever the effects of ‘Sin’ - the deadliest of all scourges and the one which destroys man's precious relationship with His Creator. In 1 John 5:11-13 the Apsotle wrote, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,”

The impact of saving faith in Jesus Christ is not just some incremental improvement, encouraging trend, or slice of potential hope. It is facing the events of life and the reality of death under the competent and blessed care of the Great Physician.

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Limbaugh speaks against "Phony Soldiers"

It’s all about phony soldiers or calling them that. It could be the biggest tempest in the biggest teapot ever—the torrid verbal clash over Rush Limbaugh’s remark referring to fake war heroes or impugning all dissenters, depending on whom you believe. In every war, there will be turncoats, those who go AWOL and veterans who bloat their heroics.

Believers are exhorted to “fight the good fight of faith, laying hold on eternal life,” as Paul declared in I Timothy 6:12. Paul paid for this fight with his life saying, prior to his execution, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: and the victor’s crown awaits me” (2 Tim. 4:7 – paraphrased). For years, soldiers of the cross have laid down their lives, overcoming in the Satanic battle through Christ’s blood and their true testimony, loving not their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11). Phony mortal soldiering is sad, but shrinking from spiritual warfare is worse. So let us join ranks, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (I John 5:4).

David Virkler