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Be Ye Thankful

This year has been very difficult for almost everyone. In my own case, at the beginning of the year, my own family suffered a very personal loss of a dearest loved one. I am not alone in that, I know, as many others have faced the same trials and have not even been allowed to put them to rest as a family. We have faced government supression of worship and people are now afraid of one another because the government and news media have stoked a unreasonable fear of a virus that has a ninety-nine percent survival rate. As lockdowns persist, depression and suicides are up and alcohol addiction has increased. We have faced killer hornets and a near collision with an astroid. Our political system is in an uproar, cities are burning and we may well be on the verge of another civil war. How can we be thankful in the light of all these calamities?

Each of us, if we examine our lives, will still find many things for which we can be thankful. We can be thankful for our portion of health. Do you have vision? Have you enjoyed a beautiful sunrise or sunset lately? Be thankful. Do you still hear? Have you heard a little, innocent child laugh or heard someone say “I love you?” Or have you heard a beautiful piece of music? Be thankful you have your hearing. Do you still enjoy good food? Did you enjoy a good Thanksgiving meal? Be thankful for taste. Do you have money in the bank? Be thankful? Do you have a family who cares about you? Be thankful. Do you miss someone very badly? Be thankful they were in your life and filled your life with love. On and on the list could go of simple things that are truly great blessings.

Yet life can be cruel. We all face trials. My trials may be different than yours but it is just as great a burden on me as yours is on you. Nevertheless, James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations knowing that the trying of our faith worketh patience (James 1:3). In fact, Peter tells us we should rejoice that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings (I Pet. 4:12). Early Chritians rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). The Lord said they are blessed who are reviled for the name of Christ (Matt. 5:10-12). Jesus further said in the world we will have tribulation but that He had overcome the world (John 16:33). So can we because faith is the victory that overcomes the world (I John 5:4). No suffering now is even worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). We may sow in tears now, but we will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).

No matter how bad it may seem, no matter how bad it actually is, there remains hope for the Christian (Rom. 8:20), a hope the world does not have (I Thess. 4:13). That, by itself, is plenty of reason to be thankful.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations (Psalm 100:4,5).

Eric L. Padgett

How Long, Oh Lord, How Long?

We are up against an evil in the United States (and in the world) the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Oh, he has been around for a long time, but he has been subtile in how he worked. He has had his bold moments. In the garden, during Noah’s day. Especially at the cross. But mostly he works subtily and preys on weak minds and sick hearts. He sows the seeds of corruption in the field of righteousness and no one notices until it is too late. He has stolen the hearts of many people, young and old, through the education system and though entertainment media, just like he stole the heart of Eve with the desirable forbidden fruit. He has gotten people to be complacent and at ease with prosperity and distracted many with social media trivialities.

Now he is out in the open, brazenly attacking truth, and goodness, and decency. He has gotten many people to believe they never had to speak out or to speak up or to stand up. Soon they won’t be able to. If you think the censorship of big tech was bad before, just wait. Just wait. Because you won’t be able to speak out or speak the truth because it will go against the good of the state. You didn’t like the so-called “shelter-in-place” rules but you complied. Now they will control where you go and whom you meet and how many people can meet together. If you preach against immorality, you will be silenced. You didn’t like the mask, but you gave in and wore it. Now you will literally be muzzled. NOW YOU WILL SUBMIT TO THE STATE! Don’t think for a moment this is an exaggeration. If you think that, then you are like the frog in boiling water and can’t see how far along you’ve been cooked already.

However, perhaps this is happenning “to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17). We have demonstrated that we, as a people, cannot be responsible with God’s blessings and have given them up for pleasure and convenience. We knew God, but glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in our imaginations and our foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21). The world has been turned upside down. Men call evil good and good evil. We have professed to be wise and have become fools. Instead of building the walls with a sword in hand ready to fight, we have laid down the sword because we didn’t want to offend. We have sheathed the Sword of the Spirit, we have taken off the whole armor of God and held hands with the devil and swayed to music of tolerance and sang Kumbaya, thinking we could appease him. We have fallen asleep in the lap of Jezebel and soon our strength will be cut off. We think we are at peace but we are dying in our sleep and our peace is an illusion. And the devil laughs. When will we wake up? Or is itoo late? I wonder.

I hope and long and yearn for the return of the Lord “when He shall have put down all rule and authority and power” (I Cor. 15:24). I am tired. I am sick and tired of the devil’s lies and wicked ways winning all the time. I am sick and tired of warning and crying out only to be laughed at or patronized while we continue to see sin and wickedness advance and grow stronger every day. I am ready, Lord, for it to come to an end. I am ready, Lord, to see that old serpent and death and hell cast into the lake of fire. “O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever” (Psalm 74:10)? How long oh Lord, how long? But until then I will fight and I will speak out with what little voice I have. As long as I have breath, I will fight the battle for the mind and soul for myself and others, if they will hear. I hope you will too.

Eric L. Padgett

The Color Of Jesus’ Skin

In recent days some have called for all images and statues of a white Jesus to be removed because, they say, it promotes “white privilege.” Shaun King, in particular tweeted “All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda. They should all come down.”

Shaun King is a civil rights activist and writer associated with such groups as BLM. He has also been embroiled in controversy with various fund-raising schemes he started and then ended abruptly. Some have claimed that the objects of his fund-raising charities never saw any of the money he raised. It is also quite interesting that Shaun is very light skinned black man. Some have even questioned his status as a black man since the people on his birth certificate designated as his mother and father were both white. He claims, however, that his real biological father was a light skinned black man.

I never knew who Shawn King was until his recent tweet garnered so much attention. Others have tried to make the same argument, namely that Jesus was not white and specifically that He was black. I want to address this issue here.

The Bible does not explicitly give details about the color of Jesus’ skin, but there are things we see in the scriptures that give us some clues. First, we know that Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was neither African nor European. Therefore His skin was neither African black nor European white. His skin was the color of the Jewish people in the first century. What was that color? Let us examine some scriptures.

As we begin, we must understand that all people today have descended from Adam and Eve. Adam was the first man and Eve was the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). Therefore, all the variety of skin colors in the world have their origin in the genes God gave in creation to Adam and Eve. In a very real sense, we are all brothers and sisters by creation. The apostle Paul stated it this way, that God had made of “one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).

It is also the case that 1,656 years after Adam and Eve were created that there was a genetic bottleneck of eight people during the time of Noah and that we are all also descended from Noah’s three sons. The table of nations found in the book of Genesis (chapter 10) shows that Noah’s descendants re-populated the earth. Shem gave rise to the Semitic peoples of the middle east. Ham gave rise to the black peoples of Africa and Japheth gave rise to the European nations.

Given the fact that their genetic material provided for all the skin variations in the world, Adam and Eve’s children could have been born with different colors of skin. However, it is also possible that as people moved into their respective locations in the world, the genetic material was isolated and differences, including skin color, facial features, body sizes and cultural differences, began to appear between those groups. In any event, the differences between us are real and tangible.

Now what do we know about the skin color of the Jews? The Bible tells us that Moses married an Ethiopian woman (Num. 12:1). The word translated “Ethiopian” comes from the word for Cush. Cush was the son Ham who was Noah’s son. The name Ham is derived from a word which means “hot,” “sunburnt” and “black.” The name “Cush” means “black.” So Moses married an Ethiopian woman who was black skinned. Miriam and Aaron used this issue to condemn Moses, though their real problem was jealousy of his authority. The objection to Moses’ marriage to a black skinned woman was just an excuse. But the fact that they used the color of her skin is significant because it shows there was difference between the skin colors of Moses, Aaron and Miriam and Moses’ Ethiopian wife. Jeremiah also draws a clear line between the color of the Ethiopian’s skin and the skin of the Jew when he writes, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jer. 13:23). From this we surmise that the Jew’s skin was not black like the Ethiopians.

Another interesting fact about Moses is that when he was just a babe his mother put him in an ark of bulrush and left him at the edge of the river where Pharaoh’s daughter could find him. When he was found and Pharaoh’s daughter opened the ark, she immediately recognized the child as “one of the Hebrews’ children” (Ex. 2:6). There evidently was something distinctive about the child which revealed his nationality. It likely was not his clothing for a babe that young probably had little clothing to identify it.

In another instance we find one of Solomon’s wives being described as black (Song 1:5,6). Notice that she defended her skin color by saying that she was “comely” and that the sun had burnt her skin. But the significant point here is that she was of a different color than Solomon so that she was compelled to address that issue. Solomon did not share the same color skin as this black woman. In fact, in the Song of Solomon, Solomon is described as “white and ruddy” (Song 5:10). This accords with the description given of Solomon, and ultimately Christ, as the white lilly of the valley and the red rose of Sharon (Song 2:1). This red (or ruddy) and white are often associated with one another.

“Ruddy” is the expression that is used to describe two other people in the Bible. First, Esau was described as coming out of the womb “red” or ruddy and hairy (Gen. 25:25). Then David, Solomon’s father, was also described as “ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (I Samuel 16:12; 17:42). The name of the first man, “Adam,” of course, means “ruddy” or “red clay” (cf. Gen. 2:7).

The word “ruddy” is defined by the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary as “(of a white person’s skin) having a red color, often suggesting good health.” Collins English Dictionary defines this word as “(of the complexion) having a healthy reddish colour, usually resulting from an outdoor life; 2. (Colours) coloured red or pink: a ruddy sky” (Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991). Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines it as “a healthy, reddish color. In two places in the Bible the word refers to the rosy complexion of vigorous health (Song 5:10; Lam. 4:7). As a boy, David was also described as ruddy (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42). Some scholars believe the word in this case may mean that David had red hair” (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). The King James Version Bible Dictionary defines “ruddy” as “redness, or rather a lively flesh color; that degree of redness which characterizes high health; applied chiefly to the complexion or color of the human skin; as the ruddiness of the cheeks or lips.).” A 1742 dictionary defines ruddy as “of a blood-red colour, flesh coloured.”

In describing the state of God’s people during the captivity, Jeremiah states that before the captivity “her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire” (Lamentations 4:7). Later, however, because of the hardness of their lives, “their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick” (Lamentations 4:8). Here we see the natural state was again white and ruddy but because of hardships, their visage had changed.

Clark’s comments on this verse are representative of other commentators and so it is quoted here.: “‘In the first line the whiteness of their skin is described, and in the second, their flesh;’ and as גֶּזֶר‎ gazar signifies to divide and intersect, as the blue veins do on the surface of the body, these are without doubt intended. Milk will most certainly well apply to the whiteness of the skin; the beautiful ruby to the ruddiness of the flesh; and the sapphire, in its clear transcendent purple, to the veins in a fine complexion. The reverse of this state, as described in the following verse, needs no explanation. The face was a dismal dark brown, the flesh gone, the skin shrivelled, and apparently wrapped round the bones.”

These are the indications, then, we get from the scriptures as to the color of the skin of the Jews. It was not naturally black. Naturally, their skin complexion was generally light. This was apparently seen as the idea picture of man. If that were the case for Jews throughout Bible history, should we expect anything different from Jesus of Nazareth? He was, after all, of the lineage and seed of David.

rHowever, in every group, there is a wide variety of colors. There are some white people who are darker skinned and some black people who are light skinned. Such variations exist even within a family. Ultimately, however, it makes no difference at all what the color of Jesus’ skin was. Red, yellow, black or white, we are all precious in His sight, as the song states. No matter what color His skin was He is still our saviour. What is more important is that one day we, who have obeyed His commands, will all be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2).

Eric L. Padgett

Don’t Worship The Image Of Gold

Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold on the plain of Dura. It was commanded publicly that when the appropriate signal was given that all would “fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:5-6). God’s people at this time were in captivity and subjected to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel, and three young Hebrew men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had risen to prominence in those trying times and in those trying conditions (Daniel 1:17-21). It was found that their wisdom and understanding were ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm (Dan. 1:20). These three young men, whose names were changed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, but Daniel sat in the gate of the king” (Daniel 2:49).

These young Hebrew children were also faithful to their God. God had said in His law “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5).

Because they were faithful to Jehovah, there arose a conflict in their lives. Should they obey the command of the King, who told them not to worship Jehovah as Jehovah had said or should they obey their God, Who told them not to bow down to man-made idols? For them, there was really no conflict at all, no trouble in deciding which way they should go. Not even when the king commanded in spite that the furnace to be made seven times as hot as normal (Dan. 3:19).

They responded boldly to Nebuchadnezzar: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Daniel 3:16-18).

There was no compromise on their part, no wavering even in the face of death. No fear of the retribution promised by earthly dignitaries. Only a solemn determination to follow the commands of their True King, Jehovah God. What an example of courage. What an example of faith. Oh that God’s people would have such courage. Oh that they would have such faith today.

These three Hebrew children were not alone. Daniel found himself in a similar situation under Darius the Mede. Daniel was appointed by Darius over all the princes of the kingdom. But those jealous princes connived a way to attack Daniel by getting Darius to pass a law, by playing to his pride, which would have cast into the lions den anyone who prayed to anyone except the king. Daniel knew this law was put into place and yet he chose to obey His God instead of the king. God protected him from the lions when the king reluctantly carried out his arbitrary, man-made laws.

The apostles faced a similar situation when they were commanded by the authorities not to teach or to preach at all in the name of the Lord. What do you think the apostles would do? “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men'” (Acts 5:29).

Brethren, the application of the lesson is clear. Don’t fall down and worship the image of gold. We ought to obey God rather than men.

Eric L. Padgett

HUMILITY

Jesus stated very simply: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Jesus spoke these words when describing the actions of the Pharisees with whom He often clashed. They loved the praise of men, they loved the recognition on the streets of Jerusalem, they loved the power that their position seemingly gave to them. However, in making this statement, Jesus was letting them, His disciples and the multitudes know that you just cannot barge through the pearly gates.

The Christian life is not one to be lived out loud, so to speak, at the top of your lungs. It is not to be foisted upon the masses by coercion. Foy E. Wallace once related that when he went to a town to hold a meeting the preacher there said he boasted that he went through town with a loud speaker attached to his car and preached to all within ear shod. Brother Wallace said, “I told him as lovingly as I was old that he was a public nuisance.” The gospel is spread not by coercion but by persuasion. Paul wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Cor. 5:11). It is not brashness but meekness that wins souls to Christ.

It takes humility to become a faithful Christian. It takes humility to realize that you are a sinner. Paul said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Paul had to humble and abase himself before the Lord and acknowledge that he, himself, was the chief of sinners (I Tim. 1:15). Previously, he had thought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:9). But when the Lord told appeared to him and said “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” he humbly responded, “Lord, what would thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6).

The Lord’s church could do with a bit more humility in some quarters. It could do with more humility starting with her preachers. Some preachers think too highly of themselves and like Diotrephes of old they want to have the pre-emminence (III John 9). They think more of getting a name for themselves than of preaching the gospel. All too often, doctrinal accuracy is forfeited in favor of showmanship. Paul warned young Timothy to war a good warfare with a good conscience (I Tim. 1:18,19).

Because of their position of leadership and authority, elders also need to be humble. Paul warned Timothy that elders should be mature enough not be lifted up with pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (I Tim. 3:7). Paul reminded the elders from Ephesus that he had served the Lord with all humility of mind and warned them that from among their midst some would arise, speaking perverse things and drawing away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:19,29,30).

Christians in general should live quiet and peacable lives for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God (I Tim. 2:3,4). Christian men should be holy and Christian women ought to conduct themselves modestly (I Tim. 2:8,9). God resists the proud but gives grace unto the humble (James 4:6). “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).

Eric L. Padgett

20 / 20 Vision

When you go to an optometrist you hope that he will tell you that you have 20/20 vision. This means that your vision is normal. Sometimes, however, our vision is less than normal and we need to have corrections made so that we can see better, usually in the form of glasses or contact lenses. However, there are many other diseases than can impair vision that need correcting.

Spiritually, we also need to be able to have 20/0 vision. Spiritually, there are “diseases” that can affect our having clear insight into how we live our lives. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, then both will fall into a ditch (Matt. 15:14). We do not want to be spiritually blind. Being spiritually blind is far worse than losing our natural vision. To avoid spiritual blindness we need several things.

First we need to have clear vision. That is, we need to understand things as they really are. The Bible speaks of some ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth (II Tim. 3:7). This is spiritual blindness. One of the great commands in scripture is that we be sober (Tit. 2:1-10). This does not just mean that we drink no alcohol, but that we be clear thinking about life.

Second, we also need to be able to see close up. Some people can see fine far away but have trouble adjusting their eyesight nearer to them. Spiritually, we can also have trouble seeing nearer to us than farther away. Paul warned us to be able to examine ourselves–that is, see close up and personal (II Cor. 13:5). Jesus said there were some that could see the mote in another’s eye but could not see the beam in their own eye (Matt. 7:1-5).

Third, some people can see close up just fine but cannot see far away. Peter said that the man who does not add the Christian virtues is blind and cannot see afar off and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (II Pet. 1:9). Some Christians cannot see the big picture and forget what living the Christian life is all about. Paul said in order for us to live the Christian life acceptably we have to see the great cloud of witnesses and look to Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:1,2).

This year let us have 20 / 20 vision. Let have clear vision, examine ourselves and look unto Jesus.

Eric L. Padgett

CONSCIENCE

Have you ever stubbed your toe? Or, hit your thumb with a hammer? Maybe you burned yourself playing with fire? When you do so, you feel an immediate, unpleasant sensation. It’s that little thing we call pain. This helps you know that something is physically wrong. A good conscience is a little like that. When you do something morally or ethically wrong, a good conscience will cause you a certain amount of moral or ethical pain.

Pain acts like an advanced warning system that protects you from further problems. If you didn’t feel physical pain when you contacted fire, for instance, you could easily burn yourself up before you knew it. But because it hurts, you quickly withdraw yourself from that dangerous situation. In the same way, moral and ethical pain is an advanced warning system that alerts you to moral and ethical dangers.

How many times have you offended your own conscience? That is, how many times have you done something you know you shouldn’t have done and you felt a sense of guilt and shame afterward? That is the part of man that acts as a moral judge that informs us when we have done wrong, the part that we call the conscience. However, this moral pain only comes when the conscience has been conditioned to respond correctly.

The apostle Paul said he always exercised himself to have a conscience void of offense towards God and man (Acts 24:16). Please note that Paul indicates in this that the nature of the conscience is such that it is under a person’s control. We can exercise our conscience, make it stronger and more sensitive. Some people have a weak conscience (I Cor. 8:7). Such a mind and conscience is easily defiled (Tit. 1:15).

Some people have had their conscience seared with a hot iron so that it is without feeling (I Tim. 4:2). When a person sins, if his conscience is good and has been taught well, he feels a sense of shame. One can draw back when this happens and correct his own misconduct. But, if one chooses to ignore the warning signs, the next time he is tempted the sin will be easier to commit, meaning there will be less pain. Each time one gives in to sin, one’s conscience becomes a little more calloused and sin becomes a little easier.

Some people have resisted the warnings of their conscience until they have gotten to the point of being past feeling (Eph. 4:19). These people are really very dangerous. A person who no longer feels a sense of shame or guilt or sorrow, that is, no longer allows their conscience to bother them, will do just about anything. The apostle Paul described such a condition in Romans 1:18-32.

It takes a good, uncalloused conscience to respond to God’s word. When the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman “caught” in the act of adultery, Jesus merely asked them, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her (John 8:7). “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:9). Even these people could not resist the voice of their conscience on that day.

When people hear the gospel, they will only respond to it if their conscience is pricked, just as those on the day of Pentecost responded to the truth because they were pricked in their hearts (Acts 2:37). That is why God calls on us not to harden our hearts (Heb. 3:7-18). When we do respond to the Lord’s invitation out of a good heart or conscience (I Pet. 3:21), we must work to maintain it. We must hold the faith in a pure conscience (I Tim. 3:9).

Eric L. Padgett

WHAT IS WRONG?

What is wrong with our society? We are destroying historical monuments to erase our history. We allow men, dressed as weird, gross caricatures of women, to read to our children in public libraries in order to confuse them about the distinct line between the gender boundaries. We allow men dressed as women, many who are sex offenders, to enter into women’s restrooms. People are mutilating their bodies and claiming to be some gender other than their biological gender. We are legalizing vices that were once off limits to any decent society. What is wrong with us?

What is wrong with the church? We are replacing a thus saith the Lord with movies, theater, plays and exercise classes and other social events. Churches that wear the Lord’s name are using translations that once would have been avoided. Things are happening today, both in society at large and in the church, that we never would have believed could have happened just a few, short years ago. It is as if we are witnessing the methodical and purposeful erosion of our culture. It seems to be spiraling out of control. How could this have happened?

One reason this has happened is that we have seen our society turn further away from God than ever before. A Pew research study released in October 2019 found that only 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christian. That is down twelve percent over the last decade. Is it any wonder, then, that there has been an increase in immoral and godless behavior? Even Richard Dawkins, a well known atheist, very recently admitted that those who believe in God, especially Christians, are more likely to engage in moral behavior. Of course, the Bible is clear about this. When people move away from belief in God they open the floodgates of depravity (Rom. 1:18-32; Psalm 14:1-7).

Not only was the United States founded upon Judeao-Christian principles and values, all of Western culture was, as well. It is these values that have made America the greatest nation, in many respects, to ever exist. Those values have formed the basis of our law and culture and have been a blessing not only to ourselves but to the whole world. But the further we turn from God to a more secular based society the more chaos ensues and the less unique we become. Those on the left criticize traditional values and tout post-modern, liberal culture and consequently are overseeing the dissolution of western civilization. When we turn away from God anything goes and that is exactly what is happening. And we seem to be letting it happen all in the name of tolerance.

Second, there no longer seems to be a concern for truth in our society. According to a recent Gallop poll, nine in ten Americans say they have lost trust in the media to tell the truth. The internet is rife with lies and half-truths. We once taught our children the importance of being honest. George Washington, for instance, was held out as an example of the virtue of honesty. We taught our children he said “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree.” We used to hail the example of “Honest Abe.” Now we teach our children these were lies and encourage them to use lying as a survival strategy.

This all is a direct result of turning away from God. When there is no God there is no objective ground for the truth. Everything becomes relative. It is true that Relativism is not a new doctrine. It has been around at least since the fifth century before Christ. A Greek philosopher by the name of Protagoras said that man was the measure of all things and, in fact, denied we could know that God even exists. But today this view is very pervasive. For example, a child who has a Christian message on their t-shirt is disciplined by a public school but a child who dresses like the opposite sex is protected and even encouraged as brave. Many examples like this could be multiplied.

This became a serious issue in the church, as well, when certain brethren began saying that for all we know we may be wrong about this doctrine or that. Therefore, they said, we should not be dogmatic about any particular doctrine. They took up Protagoras’ view and ran with saying we could not even know if God exists. These men have taken up the relativists banner and changed the truth of God into a lie (Rom. 1:25). But the Bible is clear that we can know the truth and it will make us free (John 8:32).

Finally, because truth is no longer important, westerners are embracing false, eastern religions like never before. Islam, in particular, is making inroads into our culture at an alarming rate. Alarming because their stated goal “in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house” (http://www.theoakinitiative.org/pdfs/teamb/15-Shariah-The-Threat-to-America-Team-B-Report-Web-285-308.pdf). When you read their intent it is alarming to know that, as NPR stated it, “a record number of Muslim Americans ran for statewide or national office this election cycle, the most since the terror attacks pf Sept. 11, 2001.”

What is needed is a modern intellectual, moral and spiritual crusade to take back the values and traditions that are our heritage. We need to give an answer to every man for the hope that is in us with meekness and fear (I Pet. 3:15). Maybe it is because we have not sanctified the Lord God in our hearts that we are unwilling or unable to defend the truth and those values. Many of us will remain faithful to the Lord no matter what happens to our culture but we will have to do it in greater isolation and at greater peril if we do not make up the hedge and stand in the gap now (Ezek. 22:30).

Eric L. Padgett

The Sweat Of Your Face

God created man to work. When God put man in the Garden of Eden He gave him the job of dressing and keeping it (Gen. 2:15). Out of the 290 times the word here translated “dress” is found in the Old Testament, it is translated 227 times as “serve” (cf. Gen. 15:14; Ex 1:11-14; cf. “labor” Deut. 5:13; etc.). Similarly, the word “keep” means “to hedge about or guard.” It is used of the flaming sword which kept the way of the tree of life (Gen. 3:24). It is also used of keeping God’s covenant and law (Gen. 17:9; Deut. 7:11). Thus, man was placed in the Garden of Eden to be its caretaker and keep it.

Now this was before the Lord God cursed the ground (Gen. 3:17). In the garden, man was a caretaker but the Garden of Eden was a lush, rich and beautiful place that freely released her fruits. Eden is described as the opposite of a desolate wilderness (Joel 2:3) and the opposite of a waste and desolate ruin (Ezek. 36:35) where great trees spread forth their branches (Ezek. 31:9, 16, 18) and precious jewels lay strewn about the ground (Ezek. 28:13). Man had work to do but the ground yielded with ease her fruits. After the curse, however, man’s labor was to be multiplied as the earth would no longer yield her fruits without also bearing thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17-19). Man’s work was cut out for him. His work would be in the sweat of his face (Gen. 3:19).

In creating the world, the Bible says that God, Himself, “worked” and then rested from that work (Gen. 2:2). Now we should not in any way suppose that when the Bible says that God “worked” and “rested” that somehow He was fatigued and needed to regain something He lost in weariness. God is omnipotent and there is no end to His power. But that also does not mean that He did not expend energy in creation. Just because I can easily carry a bucket of water from the well to the house does not mean that it did not come without work. God ceased His work and rested from, thus putting an end to, those particular works. Being made in His image we also must work before we rest.

My mom always taught me, “You get your work done first!” To this day she follows this principle herself. Even the creatures of nature teach us this lesson. The Bible commands us, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise” (Prov. 6:6). The ants are constantly working to provide for themselves, as do all the animals of nature. But those who do not work will come to poverty (Prov. 6:11). The lazy always find an excuse not to work (Prov. 20:4). The Bible, however, is clear that poverty comes to those who refuse to work (cf. Prov. 10:4; 13:4; 20:4).

Indeed, it is not only a principle, but a command. Paul said if a man does not work, neither should he eat (II Thess. 3:10). There were some to whom Paul had written that believed the world was going to come to an end soon and, because of this, they ceased to work (II Thess. 2:1-3; 3:11). But Paul said that not even the apostles were exempt from this command to work (II Thess. 3:8). Even though Paul preached the gospel, he worked. His own hands ministered, he said, to his necessities (Acts 20:34). He was by occupation a maker of tents (Acts 18:3).

Whatever we do, we should do our very best and work as hard as we can (Eccl. 9:10). The Lord will bless those that work hard at what they do when it is not wrong or sinful (Ruth 2:12). It is a basic principle of life that the laborer is worthy of his hire (I Cor. 9:9). When we give our all at something worthwhile, we prepare ourselves to succeed and we make ourselves prepared when opportunities present themselves. While the parable of the talents is not about our physical labors, it sets forth a principle that God blesses those that work hard (Matt. 25:14-30).

Even when we are working for those who employ us in this life, we should work with the same intensity and character as if we were working for the Lord (Col. 2:22-24). It does not matter what we are doing, as long as it is within the parameters of God’s word, we should do it heartily as unto the Lord (Col.3:23). This does not allow us to slack up when the boss is away because we are not working merely for a mortal employer but for the Lord, as well.

Finally, since we are working for the Lord, we will be judged by Him according to our works (Rev. 20:13). Not only will our earthly works be judged, but our spiritual labor will be, as well. Therefore, we must be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:11-15).

Eric L. Padgett

Attacks Upon The Family

God created the family and it is a sacred institution (Gen. 2:18-20). God designed man so that he shall leave his father and mother–that is, leave their local, protective care, not necessarily their moral influence–and cleave to his own wife so that they become one flesh and begin a new family (Gen. 2:21-25). It is within the parameters of the marital relationship that men and women are to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:27,28). It is the parent’s responsibility to rear their children in the context of the family in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Deut. 6; Eph. 6:4).

This arrangement is of divine origin (Matt. 19:5). One of the blessings of this order is to provide a protective environment for the rearing of children in the way they should go (Prov. 2:1-5; 22:6). The husband and wife provide moral and spiritual support for one another (Eph. 5:21) and both, ideally, work together in the bringing up of the child (cf. Luke 2:51). The world, however, is hostile toward those who walk in righteousness and this is never more apparent than when seen in the vicious attacks upon the family as God created it.

Historically, in our modern, western culture, the devil attacked the family by attacking the institution of marriage itself. Of course, in ancient times, all sorts of sexual perversions were rampant in the pagan cultures and God’s people were commanded to avoid those heinous sins (cf. e.g., Lev. 18). But since the establishment of Christianity, God’s design for the family was largely followed by those in the west influenced by the Judeao-Christian ethic. The brunt of the attack on the family since was focused largely on promoting illegitimate children and illicit lifestyles.

But more recently, the devil has attacked the family by again promoting the notion of homosexuality as normal. Such sins have always been around, of course (cf. Rom. 1:24-28). But only recently, in our modern, western culture, has it become so out in the open and so flagrant. Up until 1974, homosexuality was treated as and pronounced to be a mental sickness by the American Psychiatric Association. Now you cannot watch a commercial or listen to the radio without first being fed a sickening dose of homosexuality. The propaganda has been so effective that now one is considered abnormal who does not condone such sickening behavior. Those who speak against it are condemned as intolerant.

But since then, the devil has pushed to make it commonplace to see two men or two women acting the part of a husband and wife. However, nature itself teaches us that two men or two women do not go together as husband and wife for they cannot naturally produce children. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, as the saying goes. Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities were destroyed because, among other things, in practicing homosexuality, they were going after “strange flesh” and did “wickedly” (Gen. 19:7). The Lord has condemned homosexuality as an abomination that was worthy of death under the Old Covenant (Lev. 20:13). Paul said by inspiration that these abusers of themselves with mankind will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9,10).

Incredibly, in August of 2016, Barrack Obama “ordered 9,000-plus federal buildings across the United States [to] allow biological men into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.” This came after the Department of Education under the Obama administration had already advised schools to allow “transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite biological sex.” All of this was presumably based on a novel interpretation of the Civil Rights Act. However, it was nothing but a further attempt to erase the God-given design for the family. Sadly, it has literally put many defenseless women and children at risk because they are at the mercy of violent sex offenders and other perverts.

Another sordid and sick attempt to destroy God’s design for the family has been to promote sex change surgery and blur the clear, immutable line between male and female. Bruce Jenner is perhaps the most notable and pathetic example in our time. Men and women are being encouraged to disfigure their bodies chemically and surgically and are being hurt emotionally and spiritually while the rest of society is made to feel guilty for opposing such sick behavior.

Another of the attacks the devil is using to destroy God’s design for the family is to use men dressed as women to read to children in libraries. Actually, when I say they are dressed as women that is quite misleading, for many if not most of these people are dressed as bizarre, even demonic, creatures. Those involved in these efforts specifically target children for the stated purpose of normalizing this bizarre behavior. It is an attempt to warp the mind of the young and get children to accept the idea that God’s way is not right.

Many are the perversions satan is using to destroy the family. It should not really surprise us. The family is a powerful tool to bring up the young in the way that they should go. It is no wonder that the devil is desperately trying to do everything in his power to destroy the family. May we, in turn, do all we can to promote God’s created order in the family and thereby strengthen the church and perhaps save our nation and culture.

Eric L. Padgett