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Are we defenceless against nuclear attack? (Standing Watch)
min. video)

Its Not About the Toaster (Sabbath Meditations)
The Days of Unleavened Bread. A toaster’s day in the sun. Only during these days does a normally mundane appliance get thrust center stage in the relentless endeavor to purge out the leaven from every corner of our homes.
It’s a ritual re-enacted every Spring by those of us who take seriously the command to keep the annual High Sabbaths, given by our Lord in the Old Testament and observed by Him, and His Church, in the New, reminding us of His sacrifice and the covenant relationship we have entered with Him.
Our toaster is of course not the only item in our home that gets the attention of our vacuum cleaner. In our valiant effort to eradicate every vestige of the symbol of sin from our dwelling, no appliance, no couch cushion, no cupboard is left untouched. But our toaster, being perhaps the greatest potential carrier of the sin virus, has typically commanded the top spot. We’ve fretted about it, inspecting it with the intensity of police dog sniffing for narcotics, meticulously scouring every last nook and cranny where a wayward crumb or runaway piece of crust might linger, no matter how minuscule or incinerated it might be. In short, for a brief period every spring, our toaster became a rock star.
If our family toaster could speak, it would probably tell you that the last few years in our house it’s begun to suffer from an identity crisis. It just hasn’t been treated like the rock star that it once was. Oh, it’s gotten some attention, but it’s commanded nowhere near the spotlight it held back in the glory days. Why?
Well, our family simply came to the realization that these days of Unleavened Bread, for lack of a better way of putting it, are not about the toaster.
In Colossians 1:26-28 we read, “...the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Above all things this season is to teach us is that it is His life, living within us, that is the hope we have of salvation. While Passover reminds us that we are justified by His blood, Unleavened Bread reminds us that we are saved by His life, the “Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth” living within us, continually covering our sin.
There is a reason these are called the Days of Unleavened Bread rather than the Days of De-leavening. The primary focus is on the putting in, not the taking out. We take in of Jesus Christ, the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth, for seven days. In the Bible the number seven represents completion. The symbol of taking in of His life, His nature, for seven days pictures the completeness of the work He is doing in His people.
De-leavening in this context becomes, then, a symbol, not of my efforts to become sinless, but of my becoming de-leavened, sinless through the cleansing sacrifice of our Lord. I put the leaven out, not to symbolize my struggle to overcome sin, but to symbolize what He has done through His sacrifice for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not among those who believe Christ has done it all so there is no need to obey. We do need to overcome. We do need to strive to become like our elder Brother. We do need to struggle against sin. But the season of our overcoming, of growing up in Him in all things, is more appropriately pictured after, not before, the Festival of Pentecost, picturing the giving of the Holy Spirit which helps us in that process. The period between the Spring and Fall harvests represents a time of growth. Just as the crops, having been planted in the Spring, are allowed to grow to maturity and produce their fruit, so you and I grow to spiritual maturity and produce spiritual fruit prior to the return of our Master, Jesus Christ.
These Spring Harvest festivals, Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, are awesome pictures of the love He has showered on those He has called to be the first fruits of His harvest. It is right that our focus this season be on Him, not on ourselves. He gets all the glory.
The truth is that, no matter how clean I get my toaster, or anything else in my home for that matter, no matter how determined my effort to make myself spiritually clean, I fall miserably short of God’s standard. My righteousness before God is as filthy rags. It’s His life continuing to live in me that makes me worthy, that allows me to be in relationship with the Father. “We who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Jesus.” That's the awesome lesson of these days.
Yes, my toaster might be feeling a little more lonely this Spring, but it will just have to get over it. It’s not as if it’s getting completely ignored, it’s just not the rock star it once was. That spotlight is shining elsewhere, off of the toaster, and onto the Master.

A Worthy Passover (Children of God)

We are to make a survey of our spiritual lives in order that we might take Passover in a worthy manner. Do we pat ourselves on the back and give ourselves a passing grade with flying colors? Are we absolutely certain that we meet that criteria – in other words, are we as ready and prepared as we can possibly be? It behooves us to heed the words of Jesus Christ in Revelation 3 with regard to the state of the brethren at the very end-time.
“There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12).
Strong words of disapproval. That certainly is not the attitude we should have as we come close to Passover. Let’s be frank with one another. After years of Christian living sermons explaining how we must let our light shine, the fruit of our lives is hardly distinguishable from those in the world. Do we have the eyes to see that over the last few decades, the Church of God has slipped terribly away from the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude :3)?  As we prepare for Passover, we need to be thinking about what it would take for us to be pure in God’s eyes. Paul wrote it so clearly:
“Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [irreverently], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily [irreverently], eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
We have only a short time to prepare. The Church of God is not ready to take Passover in a worthy manner. The seventh doctrine of Jesus Christ is, “Go on to perfection;” which is what we must be doing (Hebrews 6:1). Anyone who assumes that they have attained to the perfect measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, underestimates the supreme perfection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13). To what degree of excellence must the Church brethren attain in order not to take Passover unworthily? What can we do to ensure that we will take it in a reverent manner? There is precious little time remaining for us to get ready.
Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet, and why did He tie the footwashing command to the New Testament Passover? What spiritual lesson should we draw from the footwashing? When Jesus said, “You also ought to wash one another's feet,” He was giving us a most important command (John 13:14). Why must we wash the feet of others? The footwashing means much more than merely humbling ourselves by washing the feet of others.
By His example, Jesus was teaching us to serve others just as He has served us. The footwashing is about learning to serve one another in a spiritual way. It’s serious. Jesus said that, if we do not learn the lessons, “thou hast no part with me.” (John 13:8) The footwashing, when performed in the spirit in which Jesus established it, assures our place in the Body of Christ, the Family of God, the Kingdom of God and eternal life.
Though we were once washed at baptism, the footwashing symbolizes our renewed commitment to walk in the newness of life. Because we are yet sinners, the yearly footwashing indicates our desire to ‘clean our slate’, so to speak, in a reaffirmation of our baptismal vow. But, this explains only having our own feet washed. We must wash the feet of others to learn a vital lesson (John 13:12-15).
In the same way that we want to be pure before God, He requires us to help other brethren to be clean before God in our common spiritual quest. This is where we come short, because there are many brethren in other organizations that we totally forget about.

We must think that Jesus taught, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for [some of] his friends. [while having nothing to do with those in other groups]” (John 15:12-13)

Jesus laid His life down for us, so we must be willing to lay our lives down for all others. This is a perfect example of the spiritual application of the footwashing which defines our relationship with God and our fellow brethren. We need to think of all the brethren, not with regard to the organization they attend or the man that they follow, but as a part of the one Body of Christ – with Him as the Head of the Church.

Divided Kingdoms (New Horizons)

Three of the Gospels record these words of Jesus: ‘if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand’ (Mark 3:24-25). It’s a statement borne out by the facts; for we see nations torn apart by civil war, and we see families ripped asunder by strife.
Sadly it is, too, a fact of life within the world’s religions. The various Islamic sects in the past - and even now, today - are at each others’ throats, sometimes literally. In Christianity denominations arise and over time divide as internal factions arise. History tells us that the latter has at times resulted in hot wars between branches of their faith.
It is a fact of life that this division has infected our Sabbatarian churches. There have been splits - often amicable. But a few factions act as attack-dogs regarding the ethical or doctrinal stance of other groups - even to the extent of branding them as unchristian, and ‘headed for the Tribulation’. Or, ‘damned to destruction’ and may ‘lose eternal life’.

It is worth recalling the letters Jesus wrote to the seven individual churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3). Despite their clear heretical tendencies in some, Jesus still recognizes each of them as his church, though in need of a clean-up. Critics fail to note that Jesus is the Head of the Body, and that he alone judges - and, when necessary, corrects his church. Or removes them.
It is true that the ethos of any one congregation affects everyone in it - Laodicea is a prime example. A whole assembly - indeed a whole world-wide denomination - can depart the ‘faith once for all delivered’ by the apostles.
Salvation, however, is personal, and individual Christians within a failing assembly may well remain as humble servants of the Saviour, despite what comes from the pulpit (Revelation 3:20)! The Father deals with each of us personally, lovingly (though it might hurt! Hebrews 12:5-8), shepherding us towards the formation in us the image, the holy character, of Jesus. After all, He chose us to serve Him throughout eternity. We are not ‘yellow pencils’!
The New Testament pattern for organization of the church was that each individual assembly was autonomous, independent - rather, inter-dependent. They were not tied to the strings of a denominational label - but simply addressed as ‘the church of God in [location]’. They worked together, not in competition.
Individual local assemblies welcomed visiting teachers - but carefully weighed their message. They initiated country-wide evangelistic outreach. They supported needy brethren in distant assemblies, and emulated their faith. They saw to the material needs of roaming apostles and evangelists, and provided prayer support. They shared written communications from authentic recognized leaders. Above all they were in tune with the Head through the leading of his Spirit (eg Acts 13:2).
Those Revelation letters also indicate diversity of doctrine and behaviour (good and bad!) in individual assemblies. But note that, within each of those assemblies taken to task by Jesus, there were faithful brethren who resisted the negative influences.
Unity, then, is not subservience to a unitary remote and uncaring headquarters. It is a unity of spirit, a shared desire to work together to further the work of the Gospel of Christ and the spiritual nourishment of the saints to Christ-like maturity. A divided kingdom won’t last.

Free Speech - for Good or Evil? (OzWitness)

The Australian Prime Minister, in a speech on National Security, warned that the counter terrorism challenge evident in Australia and across Europe and in the USA is a terrible fact of life which faces all our governments. Essentially, he said that in the need to counter violent extremism we had, in the past, given terrorists the benefit of the doubt, let them take advantage of our hospitality and generosity, let bad people use our good nature against us, and they have taken us for mugs. He continued, that organisations that spread discord and division and those that vilify, intimidate or incite hatred or violence against innocents, will no longer be tolerated.
It is good to hear such a stand against evil, but therein lies a problem. Today we have lost sight of the difference between good and evil’.
Isaiah 5:20, ‘How terrible it will be for those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute what is bitter for what is sweet and what is sweet for what is bitter!”
Consequently, there is a danger that those who speak out the truth about evil, could find themselves accused of vilifying or inciting hatred, unless the laws are framed to protect those whose plain speaking actually seeks only peace, and the removal of those who seek to take advantage of our freedoms to attack our way of life.
It is an undeniable fact, for example, that Islam is a big source of trouble worldwide. It is found behind almost all terrorism. Muslims apparently cannot live peacefully side by side with others of differing religions without strife, unlike any of the other religions. Islam leads to oppression or strife wherever it is found, which is why Muslims flee to non-Muslim lands. Almost all terrorist organisations worldwide are Islamic.
Could a crackdown on vilification prevent this truth being stated? Muslims could say it inspires hatred to speak this truth, but the truth should be admitted even if it is not politically correct.
Zechariah 8:16, ‘These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts.’
The truth is that Muslim extremists have taken advantage of the West’s ‘free speech’ to incite hatred and violence within our lands, because we have forgotten to apply the guidance of God’s laws when we frame the laws of our lands regarding what is permissible in speech.
Ephesians 4:31, ‘Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.’
If we would do that and allow for the truth when we frame the new laws that the Australian Prime Minister has mooted, the condemnation of Islam’s encouragement to violence against non-Muslims could not be claimed to be vilification because it is both true and without malice to those who seek only peace.

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.

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.