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  • Nov25

     “… Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants…” – Leviticus 25:10 NKJV

    The Pilgrims, in their quest to be stepping-stones for freedom, had almost everything go wrong as they attempted to plant a colony in the New World. By the time they reached the shores of New England in 1620, they were poor, had barely enough provisions for the first winter, and began to die at an alarming rate.

    Pilgrims historian Dr. Charles Wolfe makes the observation that the Pilgrims took no less then “six bold steps to liberty, that these are steps which each generation of Americans must continue to take…resulting from the application of…Christian self-government.” -  Pilgrim Paradigm for the New Millennium, p. 2.

    While the Pilgrims were in Holland, Rev. John Robinson taught them to touch the heart of God, trained them to think the thoughts of God, and helped them to practice the government of God in their homes, churches, and civil compacts.

    At the time they arrived in Cape Cod, even though they were to face extreme hardships, they were prepared mentally and biblically to face the challenges that lay ahead.

    Dr. Wolfe identifies the six steps of Liberty: (The Scripture references are from me.)

    1. Spiritual Liberty — the recognition of personal sin and conversion to the Christian faith (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9).

    2. Religious Liberty — withdrawal from the State-supported Church and the formation of their own church covenant (2 Corinthians 6:14; Isaiah 55:3).

    3. Political Liberty — reflected in the contents of the Mayflower Compact. With no other options and no one else to consult, the Pilgrims did the only thing they knew to do—with the principles of self-government firmly in hand, they wrote up their own governing document. Just as they had done under the leadership of John Robinson when they wrote up their own church covenant in 1606 at Scrooby Manor. In the Mayflower Compact they gave themselves the authority to establish a government for their new civil body politic. The difference was that this civil covenant was for Christians and non-Christians alike (1 Kings 4:25 is a central verse in the Mayflower Compact for it demonstrated self-government).

    4. Defense of Liberty ­— expressed in their willingness to protect their lives by building a palisade wall around the plantation (Exodus 22:2; Zechariah 9:8).

    5. Economic Liberty —the new colony learned after the first year that socialism, (common ownership of labor), which was practiced in England did not work. Also elementary communism (common ownership of land) did not work even among the most godly people (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13).

    6. Constitutional Liberty — the writing of their constitution in 1636, securing protection for the freedom they had begun to practice. (In Acts 15:1-35 the elders and apostles sent a letter clarifying the judgment they had made in regard to the freedom believers have in Christ.)

    At the end of March, the captain of the Mayflower was leaving and pled with them to join him, saying they could all be back in England within a few weeks. Yet not one of them went back. Every one of them stayed, believing that they had come for a great cause and purpose and that was to spread and live the message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

    For Rev. John Robinson, he taught the Pilgrim church to practice Truth in everyday life, and apply that truth to their society, especially to the role of civil government. We also must apply Truth to EVERY ARENA of life and especially the biblical role of civil government and the God-ordained jurisdictions placed on it.

    Happy Thanksgiving! You might consider reading and discussing this teaching around the dinner table with your family and friends this Thanksgiving.

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Nov24

     ”Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10 NIV

    Embrace our culture and unleash His kingdom today!

    Prayer – when coming from the right place – has a passion for God’s glory and purposes. It invites the dynamic rule and reign of God and actively seeks to participate in His beautiful Kingdom! So today, pray these words of Jesus with all sincerity and keep your eyes open for how you can unleash His Kingdom today.

  • 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