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  • Nov21

    The clearest job description for Christ followers is found in Matthew 4:19“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

    Worthy leadership flows out of faithful followership

    • In order to lead well in any capacity (our homes, at work, in the community), we must stay anchored to Christ.
    • Identify one specific way you plan to clearly follow Jesus Christ today. Some examples to consider:

    - Meditating on His Word first thing in the morning

    - Having a tough but important conversation with a friend

    - Denying your own “rights” for the sake of another

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Aug10

    One of the greatest tragedies in modern evangelicalism is the compartmentalization of truth. Sadly, we have narrowed where we believe the truth ought to go and what we ought to say largely because we seek unity within the Body of Christ, and acceptability outside of the Church.

    Unity without Truth is Sentimentality.

    Another major flaw in our theology is our misunderstanding of “law.” In most cases law is lumped into one general category and is usually defined, or least insinuated, as something punitive, restrictive and with inhibiting rules and regulations. After all, we are not under Law but under grace, and the implication is that the law has no real voice for us today. This is, however, incorrect. The word Torah means not only “law” but, “instruction” and “teaching.” The Torah was given as an instruction manual from the God of heaven as to how to live a godly life both individually and collectively. This instruction was expansive, liberating, informative, and consisted of commands for God’s glory and our success.

    In many respects, what God gives us in pages of Scripture can be likened to a comprehensive legal system. With 613 laws addressing every arena of life ranging from taxation to immigration, business operations to criminal justice, sexual behavior to the military, and of course so much more. The Scriptures are extremely wide-ranging and practical, which is no surprise. While 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that God’s Word is inspired, or “God-breathed,” verse 17 indicates that He gives us His Word so that we as believers can be “equipped for EVERY good work.” In short, the Bible (and of course the Old Testament, which Paul had in view when he wrote this) holds answers for every aspect of life and living.

    For the modern church, the reality of Hosea 8:11 (KJV) is applicable and a sober exhortation to go after knowledge and apply it to our dual citizenship as being both members of God’s Kingdom and the United States.

    “I have written to him the great things of my law, [but] they were counted as a strange thing (something alien NIV)” – Hosea 8:11 KJV

    Because God’s Word provided such thorough guidance in so many areas,[1] citizens regularly went to ministers during the founding era rather than just attorneys for guidance on laws. This is certainly not the practice today, but it definitely was during the time of America’s founding. As early historian J.T. Headley explains:

    “The patriotic clergy of the Revolution…were the soundest statesmen of the time.” – J.T. Headley

    Listen to the role of pastors (or priests) in regard to their “knowledge” of the law:

     “The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. 7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he [is] the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 2:6-8 KJV

    Friends, when I first read these verses and they began to sink into my heart, I actually broke out in contrite confession over my sin of neglect. For too many years I too have been too quick to segregate OT teachings (laws) from NT instruction.

    The far larger and more concerning issue is that because of years of neglect concerning the proclamation of the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) from the pulpits of America and from many Christian Leaders, we have lost our voice into the defining issues of our day. In many cases we don’t even know what the Biblical answer is to these topics, much less how to address them.

    By in large we have developed a theology of non-engagement so we continue to be relegated to the margins.

    Secularists are content with us as long as Christians remain in their churches, bible studies and seminars. They are also satisfied because many of us do not speak up into the challenges of the day.

    You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.” – Philippians 1:7

    Secular people are also content when our primary outreach to the world is providing food for the poor, shelters to the needy, and keeping our message to love, grace, mercy and compassion. The sobering reality is these messages and actions by themselves are good and right, but also incomplete!

    Christianity is declining in America at a radical rate,[2] and if we keep doing the same things over and over but expect different results we are bound to lose our saltiness (Matthew 5:13).

    What is so wonderfully powerful is that we as Christ-followers have answers! We have the WHOLE BIBLE to give us clarity and we can be people of courage who actually influence our culture for righteousness’ sake.

    Even in these last few weeks as I see the huge challenges of our country and world, and several topics and pertant Scriptures come to mind:

    • IMMIGRATION

    The Founding Fathers established the method of legal immigration found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution based on Leviticus 19:33-34.

    • HELPING THE POOR

    The Puritans and the Founding Fathers knew that the importance of caring for the poor meant that the poor were always obligated to work. They based this on Deuteronomy 24:19-21 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

    • THE CHARACTERISTIC SPIRIT OF RADICAL MUSLIMS

    The nature of the present radical Muslims and their desire for world conquest by the sword, as well as their propensity to fight each other is found in Genesis 16:10-12. With the intensity of ruthless Muslims in the Middle East we can see why the Apostle Paul told us to pray for each other and those who are in authority!

    I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 KJV

    When we look at the pastors in the beginnings of our nation, they were engaged in the political process and often participated in making laws.

    For example, the Revs. Joseph Montgomery, Hugh Williamson, James Manning, John Zubly, John Witherspoon, and many more pastors were members of the Continental Congress. Noted historian, Alice Baldwin confirmed, “the Constitutional Convention and the written Constitution were the children of the pulpit.”

    American ministers were intimately involved in every aspect of introducing, defining, and securing America’s governmental and legal system. So if a citizen of America wanted to know something abut the law, or a particular issue impacting our country, he could go to a minister of the Gospel, just as God’s ancient Hebrew people had gone to the priests in their day to understand the “instruction “ and “teaching” from the Word of God. Then, this minister would seek to clarify and give an understanding about how a society ought to operate and what His covenant keepers ought to do.

    President James A. Garfield (a Christian minister during the national revival know as the Second Great Awakening) succinctly reminded Americans:

    “Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation with a great and worthy Congress, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” – James A. Garfield

    As believer-priests (see 1 Peter 2:9) let us study the magnificent “law” of God so that we may be equipped for EVERY GOOD WORK in EVERY ARENA OF LIFE!

    An Action To Take: Please purchase several Founders Bibles and give them to people, read the information out loud to your family, lead a Bible Study with it reading selective articles and discuss the ways you can influence those around you.

    An Action To Take: Purchase the Christian Voters Guide at: www.oregonfamilycouncilvotersguide.org and give them out to 15-20 people prior to the next election.

    In Christ,

    Dale


    [1] For example, topics such as which crimes require restitution; marriage and family laws; abortion and the unborn; inheritance policies; agricultural practices; employment contracts; business loans and interest rates; etc.

    [2] For an amazing commentary on this truth, I recommend you check out John S. Dickerson’s The Great Evangelical Recession.

  • Aug6

    The Nation’s first Chief Executive took his oath of office on April 30th, 1789 in New York City on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at Federal Hall on Wall Street.  George Washington had been unanimously elected President by the first electoral college and John Adams was elected Vice President.  Robert Livingston, Chancellor of New York, administered the first oath of office.  At the end of the oath, George Washington closed his eyes, bent over the Bible and kissed it, then uttered the words that  are now part of every Presidential oath – “So Help Me God.”  Livingston then shouted, “It is done! Long live George Washington, the first President of the United States.”

    The Traditional Legal oath taking place in America has followed the same general format for four centuries:

    1. Raising the hand—the right hand
    2. Saying “So help me God”
    3. Placing a hand on the Bible
    4. Kissing the Bible after the oath

    Many aspects of this American oath have their origins in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 26:3, God tells Isaac: “I will establish the Oath which I swore to your father Abraham.” God used an oath. Concerning an oath, God declared: “I also raised My Hand in an oath…” - Ezekiel 20:15 NKJV. The Scripture further tells us that “The LORD has sworn by His Right Hand” - Isaiah 62:8. And when God’s people were instructed about how to take an oath they were told: “You shall swear by His Name” - Deuteronomy 10:20, which is what we do today when we use the phrase “So help me God.

    Five locations in the U.S. Constitution address oaths to be taken by public officials; and the Founding Fathers and those who framed the Constitiution, unanimously affirmed that the taking of any oath by any public official was always an inherently religious activity:

    “An oath—the strongest of Religious ties.”

    - James Madison, Signer of the Constitution

    “In our laws…by the oath which they prescribe, we appeal to the supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths. The pagan world were and are without the mighty influence of this principle which is proclaimed in the Christian system.”

    - Rufus King, Signer of the Constitution

    There were some in America (especially Quakers) who, on the basis of Matthew 5:33-37, “swear not at all”, objected to taking oaths. Most people today understand the passages in Matthew are not forbidding the taking of an official legal oath, but only oaths made in common speech (“let your Yes be yes and your No be no.”) It had become a social trend in Jesus’ day for people to assume that the bigger the oath they swore, the more likely they were telling the truth. This is the reason Jesus references not to be swearing by heaven, earth, God’s footstool, or by Jerusalem. Such oath-taking suggests that the person’s word cannot be trusted.

    Jesus reduced it to simply keeping one’s word, always telling the truth under any circumstance. Period. (See also Matthew 12:36).

    In a legal setting, however, an oath not only reminded individuals that they would answer directly to God but also provided a legal course of action if perjury was committed; that is, if someone did lie under oath, they were subject to specific criminal laws.

    George Washington, in his famous Farewell Address at the end of his presidency pointedly warned Americans to never let the oath-taking process become secular:

    “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths…”

    - George Washington

    Oath-taking is one more example of how Religious Consciousness has been sown into the fabric of our nation.

     

    An Action To Take:

    Ask someone to explain why they think it is important to say the words, “So help me God,” when giving a formal oath. Also, ask the person to explain what Jesus meant in regard to “swearing by heaven, etc.”

    In Christ,

    Rick Hennessey and Dale Ebel

  • Aug4

    When was the last time you heard an evangelical pastor teach about the command that Jesus gave to His disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword?

    “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” – Luke 22:36 NLT

    (Pastor Dale has written over 50 teaching articles on daleebel.org  The articles from March 15 and April 1, 2013 –  All This Talk About Gun Control Parts 1-2

    An ethos is a characteristic spirit of a particular person, organization or society. Patrick Henry (1736-1799) had a strong, assertive ethos.

    Patrick Henry was born in 1736 in Virginia. His power of persuasion was shown early on when, at 10 years old, he convinced his family he was not following his father as a farmer, but his future was in getting an education.

    After schooling, Patrick’s first business failed forcing him to file bankruptcy. Assessing his skills, Henry got a law degree and opened a practice in Virginia. His courtroom prowess quickly spread and often led to packed courtrooms of admirers just wanting to hear him speak.

    Many historians have compared Patrick Henry to an Old Testament prophet, and for good reason. His bold denunciation of corruption in government officials and his articulate defense of the colonists’ right to declare independence from England are legendary.  During the critical years of 1765-1776, the American colonies were forced to endure a long list of abuses—taxation without representation, search and seizures without probable cause, the confiscation of firearms, and on and on. Despite the fact that most of the colonists and their representatives still favored seeking reconciliation over independence, Patrick Henry was one of the most passionate and fiery advocates of the American Revolution and republicanism. It was his influence that roused Virginia, the largest of the thirteen colonies, into military preparedness.

    On March 23, 1775, with the British troops posted throughout the colonies and warships in America’s harbors, Patrick Henry rose up during the Second Virginia Convention’s debates on whether to declare independence or negotiate with the British. He declared:  “Should I keep back my opinions at such a time… I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthy kings.”

    Then he called upon his fellow colonists to trust God and use the entire means that He had placed in their power: “The three million of people, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send us. Besides, sires, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

    Patrick concluded his argument with a passionate call:

    “Gentlemen may cry, ‘Peace, Peace’—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

    Other Founding Fathers understood the importance of bearing the sword and demonstrated a strong ethos in regard to protecting what was right and just:

    Richard Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration and a framer of the Bill of Rights said:

                “It is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

    Thomas Jefferson similarly advised,

                “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. … Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”

    “A well regulated militia, composed of the whole body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.” – James Madison 

    Even Jesus Christ had a strong ethos about the role He played in confronting and protecting oneself from evil. So much of our Christianity defines Jesus in this tender, sensitive, loving demeanor.

    But Jesus words are almost shocking for our feminized version of Christianity today:

    “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” – Matthew 10:34 NLT

    (See Dale’s teaching article,  A Strange Jesus from 1-17-2013, and you will see a different side to Jesus!)

    In one of Henry’s early law cases he took up a battle of ecclesiastical arrogance supported by British power that supported it, against the injustice to the common folk. Henry’s victory led to him being carried from the courtroom and forever impressing on his heart the cause of common people.

    Fighting against the Stamp Act in 1765, he was one of the first people who helped form the battle cry of, “No taxation without representation!”

    Henry was one of the Founding Fathers that confronted Thomas Paine when he published Age of Reason, a work not only revealing his (Paine’s) deistic religious beliefs but also attacking the Bible and Christianity.

    Patrick Henry was a strong critic against the Constitution because of his fear of yet another tyrannical government. Because of his strong argument, after the Constitution was passed, Henry was one of the key people writing the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights safeguards our individual rights and freedoms against an over reaching centralized government.

    Patrick Henry will forever be remembered with the Bill of Rights and his willingness to fight for the rights of the little guy against an oppressive government.

    Henry was no summer soldier or some sunshine patriot. Proverbs 28:1 tells us: “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

    At a time when others were shrinking back or vacillating between two opinions, Patrick Henry, with the boldness of an Elijah, the fearlessness of an Amos, and the voice of one crying in the wilderness, like John the Baptist, had developed a decisive roar and emerged as a firebrand; a blazing torch for the battle of liberty!

    Don’t you want to have this type of ethos: strong, assertive, and courageous?

    Don’t you want your community group, your Bible study or your church to have this type of ethos? Be a CULTURE CREATOR!

    An Action To Take: Ask several people in your webs of relationships what they think Jesus meant by “sell your cloak, and buy a sword.” Ask their opinion about gun control and explain what the Bible says about it. You will need to reference the two teaching articles: All this talk about Gun Control

    Also Exodus 22:2-3 is quite clarifying!

    Sincerely,

    Rick Hunt and Dale Ebel

     

     

  • Aug2


    By Rick Hunt and Dale Ebel

      “So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” – Acts 4:18-20 NLT

    George Mason (1725-1792) was a good friend with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison.

    He was educated in law and quickly became a wealthy plantation owner. He worked hard on the Constitution but refused to sign it because of two reasons: Firstly, it did not abolish slavery and secondly, it did not adequately protect the rights of individual citizens and states from the federal power.

    While he was a slave owner, Mason strongly opposed slavery and Virginia law forbade him from releasing his own slaves. This was also the case with Thomas Jefferson who inherited 187 slaves at the age of 14. Virginia law was rigid in its pro-slavery laws and had been so for more than a century before Jefferson. As early as 1692 it began placing significant economic hurdles in the way of those wanting to emancipate slaves.

    The primary assumption of the general public, and especially in our classrooms,  is that the Bible condones slavery as we have come to understand it in American history. In actuality, American slavery was called kidnapping in the Bible and in Exodus 21:16, under the judicial law of the Hebrews, we see that it was was punishable by death.

    The type of slavery the Scripture condones was much like the indentured servant system that provides protection and provision for those who were either poor or that were loaded down with debt.

    The oratory skills from law served George well as he pursued politics. But his writing skills proved to be even more impressive. Mason’s drafting of the Virginia Constitution in 1776 became the template for his colleague Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.

    The Declaration of Independence declared our freedom from the tyrannical central government of England. The Bill of Rights (the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution) declares the rights and liberties of individual U.S. citizens and states from the same type of overreaching central government of the U.S. and it’s newly empowering Constitution.

    Mason served in the Virginia House throughout the Revolution and then was sent as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. George Mason worked on the US Constitution in 1787 but refused to vote for it unless a Bill of Rights accompanied it.

    Four years later, the Bill of Rights was voted into law. Known as the Father of the Bill of Rights, he declined a position as one of Virginia’s first two U.S. senators in order to retire to private life.

    So on the 4th of July, while we celebrate Thomas Jefferson and his Declaration of Independence from England, it would also be most fitting to acknowledge George Mason and the Bill of rights that declared our freedoms and liberties from our own federal government.

    For a great overview of the Bill of Rights refer to, “A Scriptural Bill of Rights” in The Founders Bible, pages 1717-1724.

    The appearance of the first two amendmentsthe freedom of religion as the first liberties set forth in our Bill of Rights, is no accident. Securing such freedoms from civil government interference is the first business of any civil order. As James Mason wrote in his famous Memorial and Remonstrance:

    “Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Great Governor of the Universe…”

    In order to acknowledge God’s exclusive sovereignty over man’s duty toward God, freedom of religion requires jurisdictional immunity from the power of civil authorities. It is unfathomable to hold otherwise. When Jesus said, “Render to Caesar,” He clearly reserved a necessary prerequisite: “Render …to God the things that are God’s” – Mark 12:17. The Scriptures declare that the entire “earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” – Psalm 24:1. That our Creator owns all creation and that all men are first subject to God, who gives us all we have and upon whom we are dependent for every breath we breathe, is given. It is an immutable (unchanging) fact.

    By retaining the people’s sovereign right to change the form of government, our Bill of Rights reminds us that government officials are servants of the people, not their lords and benefactors as Jesus reminded His disciples that leadership tyrants are opposed to the principles of God the Father (Luke 22:25-26).

    Even though we are called to be submissive to “government authority” (Romans 13:1-7) we are never called to submit to tyrannical commands of any leader that promotes rules that oppose Scripture (Acts 4-5). Even great heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11, like Rahab, Moses, Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach) and Azariah (Abednego) declared their willingness to be civilly disobedient against such tyrannical authorities.

    Here is a list of the 10 Amendments to the Constitution, or The Bill of Rights:

     

    Bill of Rights

    Amendment 1 Freedoms, Petitions, Assembly

    Amendment 2 Right to bear arms

    Amendment 3 Quartering of soldiers

    Amendment 4 Search and arrest

    Amendment 5 Rights in criminal cases

    Amendment 6 Right to a fair trial

    Amendment 7 Rights in civil cases

    Amendment 8 Bail, fines, punishment

    Amendment 9 Rights retained by the People

    Amendment 10 States’ rights

     

    An Action to Take: Ask a Christian – or non-Christian – if it is acceptable to stand up against a government that opposes ones personal moral belief.

    Sincerely,

    Rick Hunt and Dale Ebel