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The Pope Has No Answer! (Standing Watch) 11 min. video

What Not To Wear (Sabbath Meditations)
I heard a comedian joke the other day that, when it comes to clothing style, we men are hopeless. Basically, most of us pick out a point of time in our lives when we felt at the top of our game looks wise, and whatever style we were wearing at that time we just ride out for the rest of our lives. You can walk down the street and see a guy over 40 and pretty much pick the year: 1968, 1979, 1982. It’s funny, but true.
There was a time when you probably would look at me and say... “ahh...1986.” But that all changed when I came home from work one day to find my closet empty and all of my clothes sitting in garbage bags on the floor in our side entrance. To my dismay, while I was at work, my wife and daughter had performed a ‘What Not to Wear’ on me. Frankly, I was a little distraught. Gone were my pleated, cuffed dress pants. Gone were my favorite mock turtle necks. Gone were my sear sucker sport shirts. And gone was my collection of beloved sweaters and sweatshirts I’d accumulated over the years. All gone.
Admittedly, I wasn’t all that much into fashion. In fact, for the most part I really could have cared less. But, even so, I was shocked at how my self-image took a hit that day. I really didn’t think I had looked that bad. In fact, I kind of liked the way I dressed. The 1980s were good years.
It took me a while to recover from the shock. Any confidence I had in my ability to dress myself went immediately down the drain. For some time after that I was afraid to leave the house without first getting the thumbs up from one of my two self-appointed fashion consultants.
Now, in looking back, the whole thing makes me laugh. I’ve come to appreciate the women in my life, who love me enough to make sure I don’t look like a throwback from the 1980s.
As Christians, living in this physical world, focused on physical things, it’s easy for us to get a little too wrapped up in maintaining a certain image sometimes. We walk around wearing remnants of the old man, focused on self-image, self-preservation and self-promotion. Remnants of pride or human fearfulness at times cause even converted people to go to great lengths to cover up their blemishes, to dress up their faults, to maintain the image they want others to see. Publicly hiding behind facades of wholeness, they privately nurture areas of brokenness and pain.
James 5:16 instructs us to “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
I Thessalonians 5:10 tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
This Church thing that we are a part of isn’t some spiritual fashion show. It’s not so we can parade around displaying how put together we are. God put us in the body to do just the opposite. It’s a place where we share our hurts, we share our weaknesses and our burdens, so that we might together find strength and encouragement to overcome and grow up into Him, Jesus Christ, in all things. We can’t do that if we are protecting an image.
You know, it might not be a bad idea, if, as Christians, we all did a spiritual ‘What Not to Wear’ on ourselves once in a while. In fact, occasionally going through our spiritual closets and cleaning out some of the outdated remnants of the old man is something scripture tells us we are supposed to do from time to time.
Romans 13:14 encourages us to put off the remnants of the old man and to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are to put on the attitude, the heart and mind of our Savior, who we are told in Philippians 2, “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!”
If only we as His disciples could lay aside aside our facades, lay aside our pride and be clothed with the kind of humility that would allow us to share our weaknesses, to carry one another’s burdens, rather than hiding and shielding them from others. God could and would use to help us to heal. How much more powerfully could God’s Spirit work among His people to grow us and mold us into His image? If only we had the courage to open up our spiritual closets and start tossing.
When I came home to find my clothes in garbage bags, I have to admit that I did rummage through to reclaim a couple of my favorite old sweatshirts. I only got away with it after promising my two fashion consultants that I wouldn’t wear them in public. It was a small price to pay to hang on to some sense of my former identity. Now, they too, have found their way to the garbage. I’ve finally let go of the 1980s and moved on.
My spiritual wardrobe is still a work in progress. There is still some cleaning out to do. I know the same is true for all of us. The more we strive together to put on Christ, in humility sharing, encouraging and building up one another in Him, the clearer we will see to discard the remnants of our old man. Clothed with His heart and mind, we’ll never have to worry about going out of style.

Ungodly Wilderness (OzWitness)

I’ve just spent some time in the Snowy Mountains National Park in New South Wales, and I have to admit that the only parts which I found attractive (along with all the other visitors to the park, by their presence) were those parts which were not wilderness.
Those huge areas were trackless, inaccessible, and densely tree covered, which no one could realistically visit, much less enjoy. They were only attractive when they were in contrast to the cleared areas for skiing and tourism, and once beyond those areas and faced with endless bush, I found myself turning back because it was so featureless and boring.
So, I was quite pleased to read that in a draft revised management plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness Area, the Liberal government there is to rezone the area to pave the way for increased tourism, including cruise ships stays and hut developments, while allowing the logging of some timbers previously banned, contributing to the prosperity and wellbeing of the Tasmanian community.
Actually, this would be a return to the philosophy of long gone days when the Tasmanian aborigines burned off areas to clear them for grass, which would attract the animals they hunted for food, making the ‘wilderness’ productive, with open areas that permitted access for hunting and travel, while at the same time establishing a more attractive environment. The Wilderness Society will be jumping up and down at this downgrading of the concept of wilderness and that is because most of them are either atheist or ignorant of God’s instruction to mankind at Creation.
Genesis 1:28, 2:15, ‘God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” ‘The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’
Let me say that I am much in favour of National Parks, but not wilderness. It has been a shame that ignorant extremists have controlled our National Parks for so long, ideally hoping to exclude people altogether. They seem apparently unaware of the beautiful National Parks in Europe, Britain and the USA, which include managed agriculture, forestry, tourism, fisheries etc. and are the more visited, productive and enjoyably accessible as a result.
In the near future, after Christ’s return, there will be a return to the philosophy expressed in the above scriptures, where virtually all the earth will gradually be made to serve mankind, rather than being preserved as wilderness.

Love and Law (New Horizons)

Since man’s creation Jehovah has had those who worship and serve Him in accordance with His prescribed form of worship, have conformed to His Laws and whose heart is right with Him. Even in the dark depths of Israel’s depraved idolatry there remained ‘...seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal’ (Romans 11:4).
The Old Testament records that many in Israel worshipped Him joyfully, influenced by His holy spirit. But on His prescribed days, at the times and place He had revealed, and in a right spirit of repentance and awe. The book of Psalms reflects this. Yet by New Testament standards they had not been ‘converted’, with God’s Spirit implanted in their mind.
Paul reminds us that: ‘Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which does those things shall live by them’ (Romans 10:5, Leviticus 18:5). Perfect life-long obedience to the whole Law has abundant rewards, but however feasible, that doesn’t happen! And even if someone were to achieve such a perfect life (Adam didn’t!), God says: ‘...by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight’ (Romans 3:20). For, ‘...by the law is the knowledge of sin’. The Law just points out what sin is, so we can work to change our thoughts and actions.

So, is someone who diligently and daily applies the Law to his or her life as best they can necessarily a true child of God? Do you need God’s in-dwelling Spirit to observe it? (There are, for example many Law-abiding men and women in the Jewish community.) The example of those seven thousand belies this! Remember that at that time ‘The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory’ (John 7:39).
As Paul states ‘...love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Romans 13:10). Certainly, the preeminent fruit of the Spirit is love. Perfect love is a fruit of the indwelling Spirit in the believer, and means we do from the heart all that God’s Law requires of us. Because we may obey God’s instructions doesn't mean we truly love! A change of heart is central.
Each of us is judged by Jesus Christ with compassion, with regard to our level of understanding, with mercy. For, ‘...we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4: 14-16).
As writes the apostle Paul: ‘... be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God’ (Romans 12:2).

Go Ye Therefore Into All the World”

(Lacee Hilgen, Volunteer Instructor Legacy Institute)
I know this scripture was directed specifically to the apostles, and Jesus Christ wanted them to be the ones to preach His truth. But what does it mean to those who aren’t ministers? What does it mean to children and young adults? What does it mean to women who don’t have a speaking or ministerial role in the church? Does that mean that we can’t go and preach the gospel? How can we preach without preaching? I have been asking myself these questions for a while.
Jesus tells the apostles to GO OUT. He doesn’t tell them to hang out where the truth was already stable and flourishing. There were already churches that were able to function on their own because of Christ and the apostles preaching. Their job was done and they then left those congregations in the hands of faithful and devout men. He told them to leave the foundation that they had built together and go find somewhere new. He told them to go and find new people to preach to and to share God’s plan to other willing hearts and ears.
I look at a map and see just how huge this world is. I see how many places that the gospel could potentially be preached to. I know it is all up to God. The men and women who dedicate their lives to live in a different country (or preach in another country and travel tons) in order to build up a strong, faithful and unified congregation are now one of my greatest respects. They have been chosen by God to uproot their stable and comfy lives in order to create a stable and comfy church for brethren that couldn’t possibly have it without help from a more blessed nation. Those that accept the challenge are my heroes!
I am a 25 year old lady-girl (saying lady is weird and saying girl is weird because I am technically an adult… and woman makes me sound extra adult) with little travel experience. I have traveled all over America and into Canada and Mexico a few times, so when I felt God pushing me to come to Thailand, I resisted at first. I actually resisted for a whole year. It was a very scary thought, but thankfully I accepted the challenge and here I sit in Mae Sa, Thailand… a small and peaceful village 20 minutes outside the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai. At this moment I am witnessing God’s endless miracles, blessings, compassion and His holy spirit working in amazing ways. Legacy continues to get money from donors from other countries and we all are very pleased and ridiculously thankful. Without those donations, Legacy wouldn’t exist anymore. Legacy couldn’t have a school, couldn’t feed the students, couldn’t house the students and most importantly, the church in Burma would lack leaders who will one day be leaders in that church. My point here isn’t to advertise the fact that Legacy needs to continue to have donations; it’s the fact that what I see is a church that is truly working! God is calling people! They LOVE God’s word and they thrive on it. They want more and more. They constantly want to learn. God’s congregation in Burma (which I get to visit in April for the Holy Days, God willing) has 25 families. Families have children, lots of children! Will those children have a future? Will they know God’s truth and live a life for Him? Will they live lives free from the war and upheaval that exists in Burma? It’s crucial that our small congregations all over the world remain intact. It’s our job and our responsibility. It’s important that they are well sustained and cared for. It’s important that each congregation has well trained leaders, who love God first and their brethren second. It takes time to train leaders to be in charge of a church community, and that’s what Legacy is here for.
If we aren’t trained ministers, how can we “Go therefore into ALL the world?” I have a few ideas. We can donate to these small churches that need our help to build a church, a house, to have clean water and food daily. We can sponsor a young adult to go and serve in countries who need our help, encouragement, resources and EXAMPLE. Go visit during the Feast of Tabernacles and Days of Unleavened Bread. (Your life will change) If you are on vacation or a business trip in a foreign country, go and stop in on the Sabbath. I think the most important job that we all have is to PRAY. Pray that all the places that God is seeking out and calling people that He will call on special people to take on that job and duty to be there for that church community. Pray that these people will answer that calling and they are willing to give up their life for serving God and His people. Times are changing everywhere on the globe. Life is getting harder and the world is getting more evil and God has many people on this earth with eager ears to hear His word. Those of us that are blessed to know God’s truth already… well we should try to listen to what God wants us to do for Him through our lives in order to help others join us as FIRST fruits in His Kingdom.

Throwing It All Away (First Century Christianity)

I saw Franklin Graham on the TV the other day defending Christmas, and a break up song from the late 1980s came to mind. The song is ‘Throwing It All Away’ by Genesis. It’s not religious at all, but the chorus of that song has been resonating in my head lately as more and more formerly Protestant ministers show up on TV returning to their Catholic roots.
We are now in the season for Chanukah, which is a season of revival. The Jews had been occupied and oppressed for so long that many of them turned into Greeks. Many did things to hide or reverse their circumcision, so they could wrestle nude in public arenas called gymnasiums. They had fallen away incredibly far.
One Levite named Mattathias witnessed the defilement of the altar and snapped. He killed the man who defiled the altar and then had to flee to the hills, which started a revolution that allowed Judea to ultimately become autonomous and peaceful again, with a fully restored and cleansed temple. This reformation lasted until the temple was destroyed in AD 70.
The work of the Christian Reformation in the 16th century, where hundreds of thousands threw off the pagan traditions and oppression of the Roman Catholic Church, held until, well, now. We are living in a period I like to call ‘Post Protestant America’. While the reformers did not return to Torah, they did return to fundamental truths and a great many shed Christmas and Easter, paying for it with their very lives. The leaders who trace their faith today to the reformation, what is now called ‘Evangelical’ rather than ‘Protestant’, are throwing it all away.
Rick Warren, a fabulously popular Baptist preacher (Baptists, from the Anabaptists, some of the most strident Protestants in history), is actually evangelizing for the Catholic Church.
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, and Robert Jeffress, also Baptist preachers with large followings, frequently defend Christmas on the Fox News Channel, even though they know both that Yeshua was not born in winter and the true pagan history of Christmas. Kirk Cameron has even made a movie defending Christmas, while publicly stating that Christmas is in opposition to the Bible and pagan in nature.
The Seventh Day Adventists, the largest Sabbath observing group on earth at over 18 million members (there are only 13.5 million Jews on earth), is throwing it all away with widespread observance of Christmas (unthinkable just twenty years ago) and now entertaining the ordination of women as well.  This is particularly bizarre because the Seventh Day Adventist Church views Ellen G. White as a prophet and she refused ordination on the basis that ordaining women is not supported by scripture.
The Seventh Day Adventist church is a strident observer of the 4th commandment and they have been blessed with private schools and hospitals on at least three continents because of their obedience. The Baptists have also been rewarded lavishly for their faith with enormous congregations, hospitals, and the ability to do good works on the order of rebuilding entire countries. The successes these and many other groups have today are because of the strident faith of their predecessors displayed through works. Why are the leaders of these organizations so willing to throw it all away? It is a shame. It has been prophesied, so it must happen, but it is so difficult to watch.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7
This falling away is made even more bizarre because the motivation simply cannot be about wealth. The Baptist preachers named above are but a handful of Post-Protestant ministers who have made enormous amounts of money giving sermons. The Seventh Day Adventist church is simply going to disintegrate, or at least split and become smaller if it continues down a similar path as the Sunday keepers, because it is composed of conservative people.
There seems to be no good reason why the spiritual leaders are so cavalierly willing to ‘throw it all away’. But let us take solace that there is coming a time, quicker and quicker by the day, were every tongue will confess and every knee will bow to the One True God and His Son.

Hirelings (Children of God)

When I was young there was a saying: ‘The captain always goes down with his ship.’ It went unsaid that the captain would do everything possible to save all hands from drowning.  But times have changed.  Recent news stories report on how captains today are sometimes the first to abandon ship in order to save their own skins. That is because they are hirelings.
A hireling just works for a wage – without being fully vested in a major enterprise. God uses the analogy of a hireling for the purpose of showing whose heart is in the right place. Someone who does all the receiving in any relationship is like a hireling. The point is this: as Christians, we have the opportunity to be altruistic and unselfish as Jesus was in laying down His life for all others. Jesus tells the story:
“The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep.” (John 10:10-13)
Jesus did not leave us or forsake us – but gave His life for us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus tells us that the sheep can be scattered at the hands of a hireling, because a hireling’s first concern is not for the sheep. When we look at a minister, we cannot tell just by looking at him if he is a fine pastor or if he is a hireling – because those things are only spiritually discerned.
There was a time in the Church of God when men looked to God and trusted in God to provide. Have you noticed the not so subtle change in what the church organizations are doing today? You would think that their every waking moment would be consumed in preaching the Gospel to all of creation… and that is often what they claim to be doing, when in point of fact they are busily growing their congregations.  Now they would argue that it is first necessary to have large numbers of members, so that they can have the cash to be able to do the work. But for nearly two decades they have not mounted a large scale effort at getting the gospel to the world, because they felt that it was necessary to first get their own retirement house in order.
Have they forgotten the precept of stepping out in faith and waiting upon the Lord to furnish the means for the Gospel? Let’s not forget that this is not man’s work but the work of God.
“This is the work of God that ye believe on Him [Jesus Christ] whom He [God the Father] hath sent.” (John 6:29)
A hireling is a person who works for material reward instead of devotion to a principle he believes in with all his heart. They send out supposed religious materials, but when they do there are pages and pages of nothing but committee meetings and decisions to be made about title changes for their publications and how to better ‘get people interested in their own organization’.  They make a short reference to religious sounding ideas, but in the next paragraph they go back to discussing yet another committee to be set up to determine which way to look best for possible newcomers.
They believe that, if their sales pitch is the best and most colorful, people will respond and become Christians. Brethren, it does not work that way. Not one person has ever been ‘talked’ into becoming a true Christian. The Truth of God need not be embellished. It is God who touches the receptive heart.
Certainly there is a job for preachers to do. The Gospel must be preached to the world so that those whom God will call can respond to the Truth.
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
But, let’s be clear: It is not the preachers who grow the church membership. It is God, Himself, who gives the increase and adds to the Church (1 Corinthians 3:6).
“The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Time to Stop Praying? (Morning Companion)

One time God told Moses to stop praying. If we accept that prayer is a good thing, why would God tell someone to cut it out?
“Why are you crying out to me?” (Exodus 14:15). Given the circumstances, I would think the question should be, “Why not?”
Here’s the story. Moses had just led Israel out of Egypt. Through his hand God had turned the Nile into blood, brought many plagues on the Egyptians, and with boldness he had led the nation to freedom. Now, shortly after this triumphant march from slavery, Pharaoh has a change of heart and decides to chase down the fleeing masses with his infantry and chariots in order to drive them back to their former state.
Why shouldn’t Moses cry out to God? Why would God object?
In this is a lesson about prayer. The newly freed Israelites had already cried out to God (verse 10), after which Moses tells them to do something: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (verse 13). There are indeed times when all we can do is stand still and wait. As the old saying goes, “Let go, and let God.” But in spite of appearances this was apparently not one of those times.
Thus God says to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me?” And then he says, “Tell the children of Israel to go forward” (verse 15). It is time to get off your knees and into your hiking boots. Tell the people the time for standing still is over. Now is the time to do something about your situation.
We can make two grave mistakes regarding prayer. One is to think that we can get along just fine without God’s help. If we just work hard enough, sweat hard enough, and think clearly enough, we can make all the right things happen. I can put on my boots and fight my own way through the wilderness.
Or we can make the other mistake. There is something to be said for waiting on God, “standing still”, shall we say. It’s true that in some circumstances God’s strength is revealed through our weaknesses. But simply sitting in our pajamas while waiting for God can be just as bad as thinking we can do it all on our own. Most of the time God expects us to be actively involved in carrying out his will. “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”
God could not have led them through the Red Sea had they had just stood still and waited.