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