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Freedom OF Religion, Not Freedom FROM Religion

The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution do not abandon religion, they embrace it. They do not, however, require that Americans believe in God, nor punish them for failing to do so.

Central to the liberties enshrined in these documents is the belief that they come from a higher power and America exists because of that belief. Without it there would have been no America. There are those among us who insist that, as a nation, we abandon faith in God and, if we do, America will cease to be a power for good in the world.

First-Amendment-Religious-Freedom-610x400When Thomas Jefferson presented the Declaration to those who would pledge their lives and their sacred honor to achieve independence from England John Adams asked that it include the words “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” after the phrase “all men are created equal” and Benjamin Franklin agreed, suggesting that “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” be added as well.” In their 2004 book, “Under God” by Toby Mac and Michael Tait, said “The changes demonstrated Congress’s strong reliance upon God—as delegates added the words “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions.”

Aware of the dangers inherent in a state religion, the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” followed by freedom of speech, the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance.” There is no state religion in America, but reflecting the values that created it, its leaders have always acknowledged a greater power than government, the belief in God.

There would be no America if the Pilgrims who established Plymouth, Massachusetts had not left England in the quest for their right to worship as they wished, reflecting the Protestant Reformation. Another early settlement, Jamestown, was a business venture by investors to obtain wealth. Jamestown failed and Plymouth is with us today.

I am not a religious person per se, but I do believe in God. Always have and always will. I don’t insist that anyone else has to and neither do our founding documents. They do, however, acknowledge God and sought His protection to create a new nation; a republic with clearly stated protections for all its citizens.

There are, however, those who insist that any reference to God be removed from public documents and recognition. The leader among them is the Freedom From Religion Foundation and their most recent lawsuit is against the U.S. Treasury Department claiming they are discriminating against non-believers by including the phrase “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency. Their claim is that the government is prohibited from endorsing religion over non-religion.

“In God We Trust” on U.S. coins was first approved by Congress during the Civil War in 1864. In 1956, Congress passed a resolution to recognize the words officially as the national motto, replacing the de facto phrase, “E Pluribus Unum” and it has appeared on U.S. currency since 1957.

The Foundation’s intention is to make any acknowledgement of God illegal by any public institution. If that is true, then we might was well tear up the Declaration and Constitution. Atheists are not content to not believe in God, they insist that everyone else not believe as well. That is a form of tyranny we must not permit to exist in America.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation specializes in lawsuits to advance what it calls the separation of church and state, but this principle is enshrined in the Constitution along with the right to freely exercise one’s faith. Its lawsuits are designed to destroy religion in America. In 2012 the Foundation had total contributions of $2,726,316. Nearly 90% was devoted to its attack on the freedom of religion.

In 2013, the Huffington Post reported that in the past six years the Foundation’s paid membership had increased 130 percent. It was estimated at “nearly 20,000” members. Its co-president, Laurie Gaylor, said that recent high-profile legal victories had increased the foundation’s popularity.

There is still strong support in Congress for the freedom of religion. In 1993 it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. It was signed into law by President Clinton. In 1997 the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional if applied to states, ruling that it was not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. It does, however, still apply to the federal government. In response, some states passed their own religious freedom restoration acts.

The Act was recently cited by the Supreme Court that ruled that closely held companies may be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives in employee health insurance coverage if it contravenes their belief in the sanctity of life.

There are millions more Americans who belong to various religious faiths and who believe that America must protect their right to exercise their faith. A relatively small Freedom From Religion Foundation will continue to use the courts to impose their atheistic views on any public institution. They must be resisted if America is to remain a citadel to the world as a place where people of faith can live together and exercise the tolerance that the atheists will not.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Bullwhips and Churches!

Bullwhips as a ministry tool?  What would Jesus do?  Hmmm… seems like he put a whip to good use on one occasion. After being told I should be more Christ like, I find a very interesting story about Jesus.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/hTf8VKbBUGI[/youtube]

 

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of ThoughtsPrayersandSongs.com.

Why Jesus’ Name? Why Not Allah When People Curse?

This is An Answer to World Net Daily’s Editor Joseph Farah’s question: What if filmmakers used ‘Allah’ as a curse word? Editor Joseph Farah cites Ray Comfort who interviewed people on the street, asking if they ever cursed using Jesus’ name? Most have, but they deny using Allah’s name that way. Why?

Farah acknowledges a historical figure that Christians know as Jesus Christ. They believe he fulfilled Bible prophecy to die the death that we deserve in our place to reconcile us to God who loves us and forgives our sins when we accept His love and plan of salvation that includes seeking His help to live for Him and truth as we progressively understand it.

But why do people, who don’t even believe in Christ, use his name to curse or swear? We might consider the Bible teaching that as humans, we wrestle against powers of darkness—demons who seek to control us. It’s not hard to find examples of some who have given the control of their lives to demonic forces in areas of alcohol, drugs, appetite, sex, perversions, crime, greed, gambling or hatred.

That’s a reality of life in this world, but why is the name of Jesus connected to a loss of self-control? We are not to take God’s name in vain. We have heard others say, God damn it, vainly asking God to forbid what just happened.

Actually God is a generic word translated from the Hebrew word, El, Eloha,  or Elohim meaning God. But “God” is not a name. According to Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian,  in his classic book, Wars of the Jews, the “sacred name [engraven on the High Priest’s golden crown]…consists of four vowels.”

This impacts our topic of Christ’s name, because Christ said, “I am come in my Father’s name and you receive me not. If another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.” John 5:43.

If the Father’s name was Zeus, then Italians say it right as they pronounce Christ’s name as Yea Zeus! In Latin America they pronounce the Savior’s name as Hey Zeus. We say Gee Zus!

But the Father’s name was not Zeus. Zeus was the savior god of Greek mythology who saved everyone who appealed to him with no need of repentance. Philosophically, this idea appeals to most people in our world and is why, in the end-times, “when another shall come in his own name [Zeus], Jesus will be personated by the devil who will sit in the [rebuilt] temple and claim homage from the whole world as 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 supports, though it does not mention the name.

God’s plan of salvation is not based on a simple appeal and claim in the name of Jesus. It is based on “a deal” we make with Christ to give him our lives so that he becomes Lord as well as Savior. Many don’t understand it that way, but in the end, we must repent of our way of doing things and choose his ways, not living in sin, but saving us from it. A life of repentance is proof of God’s power to save.

Because there are demons struggling for the mastery of every human being (Ephesians 6:12), when we lose self-control and exclaim, Jesus Christ! or God damn it, we may be reflecting a demon force that  acknowledges his master as an odd form of praise.

Moishe Rosen is author of Y‘shua the Jewish way to say Jesus. Why is it a “Jewish way to say Jesus”? Because Jews know the real Messiah could not have been named Jesus. There is no J letter or sound in the Hebrew language. Jesus is a translated name, but names (proper nouns) should not be translated. They should be transliterated to give the same sounds. President Bush was not called “little shrub” in China. They called him Bush so he would recognize his name.

Oddly enough, Christ said “Not one yod” should pass from the law (which had God’s name) but translators removed God’s entire name which began with a yod. As the introduction to the Goodspeed Bible says, Wherever we see LORD or GOD in all caps, translators removed God’s name (four vowels). Can we see a problem for those who think the King James Bible is perfect?

Jerusalem

Jerusalem burning.

The apostle Paul encountered the Greeks on Mars Hill who had many gods–they even had one image to the Unknown God. Paul wanted to tell them about God and he later commented, “the times of this ignorance God winked at, but commands everyone to repent in a time of judgment.” Acts 17:30,31.

When we know better, we should go by the best information we have. This is safe. God knows our intent, and the times ahead will test our willingness to suffer for His name when the vast majority will acclaim the name of Jesus when the savior is impersonated by one working miracles on the throne in Jerusalem. When it happens, the biggest clue to his identity will be his name, a derivative of Zeus.

This is not an issue now, but it will be then, or why would God have taken the trouble to encode the true name of the Savior in the Old Testament prophecies in equidistant letter sequences as explained in a book titled Yeshua Is My Name by Yacov Rambsel? This is explained by Grant Jeffrey in his book, The Signature of God on Jeffrey’s website, though Jeffery does not understand Jesus and Yeshua are not equal, though they are treated as equal for now by those who don’t understand the above issue.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Onderwijsgek. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Netherlands license.

Has God changed from when He asked men, like Noah, to do strange things?

“As in the days of Noah,” God asked him to become the laughing stock of the world. But on Father’s Day, we might recall Noah was a better Dad than most other great men–he saved his whole family!

Abraham is another person who was willing to do strange things for God. He left home and all that he knew because he heard a voice? Later he accepted circumcision as a token of his faith, that even if amputated, he would still have children. His name meant “father of many.” And he insisted his servants be circumcised too–before the days of anesthesia! Embarrassing, but he was willing to be a fool for God.

Moses also heard voices, and life became harder for the Israelites—they had to make bricks without straw. Maybe they hated Moses with the frogs and lice, and then he asked them to kill a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts. Bizarre?

All of the above must have seemed weird. Looking back, we understand the reasons, but could God want us to do something strange?

Israel celebrated the Passover, the greatest event of Old Testament history, by eating the lamb and staying awake all night. We no longer need to kill lambs, but Christ asked His disciples to “watch and pray.” Those words are repeated throughout the New Testament and if we did them on the eve of Passover, it would commemorate the greatest events in Scripture.

Maybe Ellen White had that in mind when she wrote, “As [Christ] ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice.”1

We know it as “the Lord’s Supper” and we celebrate it as communion, but we haven’t done so “in its place.” on Passover. And because we don’t, we could be missing an important part that’s still enjoined, ”Watch and pray.” We spiritualize the word watch and think it means to be aware.

The Greek word for watch is gregorio, and it means to be awake. Paul wrote, “let us not sleep…let us watch.”2 and the context has several clues suggesting Passover.

  • Verses 1,2 imply a time we [should] “know perfectly.” Perhaps we’ve misunderstood something. Paul referred to the holidays like Passover as “shadows of things to come.”3
  • Writing of those times that we “know perfectly, the day of the Lord” comes as a thief. “The day of the Lord” is the Old Testament apocalyptic term and it’s linked to Passover as “the day of the Lord’s sacrifice” in Zephaniah 1:7,8 where God will punish “the king’s children clothed in strange apparel.” No wedding garment? Each wedding parable has Passover imagery, like the midnight cry in Matthew 25:6 and also in Exodus 12:29-30.
  • That cry was also the cry of childbirth. At Passover, God brought forth “my son…my firstborn.”4 “The day of the Lord comes” as travail on a woman with child and we are to know “perfectly.”

Paul kept Passover with Greek believers in Philippi and Corinth and he said, Follow me as I follow Christ. 5

Ellen White cited Christ’s death at Passover and said, “In like manner [at Passover?] the types which relate to the second advent must be fulfilled at the time pointed out in the symbolic service.”6

Perhaps we should see Passover also as when God said, “I will execute judgment.”7 Seventh-day Adventists believe in a pre-Advent judgment, but it may have three components:

1.  “the time of the dead that they should be judged”8

2.  “the nations were angry” (the rider on the red horse takes peace from the earth—a time of judgment for the living when they face life and death situations as in Daniel 1-6. “Daniel” means “God is my Judge.” But the book of Judges shows judges as deliverers, and God may deliver us as the three Hebrews who also said, “But if not…we will not worship…the image”9

3.  “thy wrath is come” on those who worship the beast or his image.10

The point is, just as Adventists believe #1, the judgment of the dead, began on the Day of Atonement, perhaps we should consider that when judgment is executed, it could begin on Passover, as in the type.

If God isn’t going to do anything without revealing it,11 shouldn’t we consider it revealed and try to understand when?

Christ’s disciples were probably thinking of Passover as a time of judgment for those events in Matthew 24,25 when He said, You don’t know the day or hour.

We overlook the meaning of the Greek word, oida—be aware, consider, understand. Christ was saying, You don’t understand, and each time He said it, He gave an example that fit a provision in their law for Passover a month later, “as in the days of Noah.” But how much “as”? Could it include timing?

The Flood came with Passover timing. Noah entered the ark on the 10th day, the same day that the sacrifice was selected in Exodus 12:3, but it was the 2nd spring month because Noah had to bury Methuselah who died as a sign of the Flood. His name meant, at his death, the sending forth of waters.12 That delay of one month is specified in Numbers 9:10,11 as a reason to observe Passover later.

Again, after five women missed the wedding, Christ said, Watch (a word linked to being awake at Passover), for the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country.”13 Israelites didn’t travel in winter, but if they took a long journey in spring and couldn’t get back for Passover, they were to keep it in the 2nd month as specified in Numbers 9.

Could it be significant that Christ punctuated His two parables in Matthew 25 with instruction to watch and a qualification of when to watch, if we understood their law better. And didn’t Christ say, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law”?14

Could we be the “goodman” who doesn’t know when to watch [be awake] so that our house is broken by the thief? The King James has only one reference to goodman in the Old Testament. A harlot says, “The goodman…is gone a long journey…and will come home at the yom kece [full moon]. Passover comes on a full moon, but “long journey” means 2nd Passover.

Christ said, “If you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief.” But there’s Good News as well…

“Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He comes shall find watching [another link to Passover] Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself and make them sit down to meat and come forth and serve them.” Girding Himself and serving us is also Passover imagery—the Last Supper.
If we are “so doing” when He comes and “knocks…He will make [us] ruler over all that He has.” So much to gain and so little to lose!
Why we should do so this year is beyond the scope of this article, but this year, 2nd Passover (“as in the days of Noah,” falls on Wednesday evening, May 14. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our churches were filled with members seeking communion on the authentic time for Christ’s return from “a long journey”?

Our favorite author said those seeking the Lord’s return should be found in prayer meeting. Why not on May 14? We have many reasons for all night prayer vigils. “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones…If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.” Why not share this article with your pastor and ask if we could do something crazy?

References:

1    The Desire of Ages, p 652

2    1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

3    Colossians 2:16,17

4    Exodus 4:22

5    Acts 20:6; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 11:1

6    The Great Controversy, p 399.9

7    Exodus 12:12

8    Revelation 11:18

9    Daniel 3:18

10  Revelation 14:9,10

11  Amos 3:7

12  Genesis 5:21, King James, margin

13  Matthew 25:13,14

14  Matthew 5:18

[1]   Proverbs 7:19,20

[1]   Revelation 3:3

[1]   Luke 12:36,37

[1]   Luke 12:43-48

[1]   The Desire of Ages, p 83

The Robertson Family Official Statement: We cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm!

The Robertson family issued their official statement on the Duck Commander website:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

Glenn Beck has offered the Robertson’s a place on his TV channel. “[All the other networks] will fold to pressure,” Beck said. “They will all fold to sponsors. They will all fold to money because they are all in over their eyeballs are debt … the only reason why Phil was put on hiatus and not the rest is because it is a money-printing machine.”

He said the Robertsons would likely end their involvement with A&E over its treatment of the family patriarch, and he suggested they each call GQ with a simple message: “I agree with Phil.”

I am sure others will as well. The Robertson’s will continue to be successful because of their beliefs and values. They are what makes America great!

Duck Dynasty’s Robertson Angers Alcoholics, Philanderers

Phil Robertson’s recent controversial comments have drawn criticism from a wide spectrum of offended minorities.

Most inflammatory in his remarks was this infamous passage: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

First to weigh in was Patrick O’Malley of the Alliance of Alcoholics and Philanderers. “What is wrong with this man?” asked an astonished O’Malley between sips of whiskey. “Everybody knows this nation was built on alcohol and infidelity. I was hurt more by his comments than my wife when she found out about my 11th affair. I can’t help it if I was born adulterous, and along comes this bigot acting like it’s a choice and a wrong one at that. We have no place for judgmental people like that in today’s society.”

phil robenson suspendedO’Malley’s sentiments were echoed on MSNBC by former president Bill Clinton, who said, “As a fellow Southerner, sportsman, and Christian, I am deeply disappointed by Phil’s hurtful rhetoric. There are serial rapists and adulterers out there who feel really marginalized by this kind of exclusive language. I’m here to tell them that I feel their pain.”

Speaking from the Senate floor this morning, Harry Reid commented, “I especially take offense at his comment that the greedy and the swindlers, and I quote, “won’t inherit the kingdom of God” end quote. Just what authority is he claiming here? One higher than the Senate of the United States? I urge my Republican colleagues to join me in a bipartisan effort to support a bill repealing I Corinthians 6:9 and assuring swindlers their place in Heaven.”

Achmed al-Tikriti, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Muslims (GLAM) spoke out passionately on the Piers Morgan Show: “As a member of the most progressive and tolerant religion on earth, I urge Phil Robertson to reconsider his damaging statements and to declare jihad on his bigotry. It was enough that A&E would not ban “in Jesus’ Name” at their unclean mealtime prayers, but this, this is more than we can bear. By the prophet, the pain is so hurtful! Make it stop!”

A message released by A&E’s Department of Tolerance stated, “We have long been strong and proud supporters of adultery, bestiality, idolatry, drunkenness, greed, slander, and swindling. We deeply regret Mr. Robertson’s slanderous libel against our minority citizens and urge him to shut up until he learns a little tolerance.”

Completely unrepentant, Mr. Robertson says he’s “happy, happy, happy” to take a stand for Christ.

EDITORS NOTE: The column originally appeared on The Peoples Cube.