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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Men With Broken Hearts

You'll meet many just like me upon life's busy street
With shoulders stooped and heads bowed low and eyes that stare in defeat
Poor souls that live within the past where sorrow plays all parts
Where a living death is all that's left for men with broken hearts
You have no right to be the judge to criticize and condemn
Just think but for the grace of God it would be you instead of him
One careless step a thoughtless deed and then the misery starts
And to those who weep death comes cheap these men with broken hearts
Oh so humble you should be when they come passing by
For it's written that the greatest men never get too big to cry
Some lose faith in love and life when sorrow shoots her darts
And with hope all gone they walk alone these men with broken hearts
You've never walked in that man's shoes or saw things through his eyes
Or stood and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside you dies
Some were paupers some were kings and some were masters of the arts
But in their shame they're all the same these men with broken hearts
Life sometimes can be so cruel that a heart will pray for death
God why must these living dead know pain with every breath
So help your brother along the road no matter where he starts
For the God that made you made them too these men with broken hearts

Writer--Hank Williams, Sr., published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why I Stand with Israel

A definite rift has occurred in the Christian community with regard to Israel. Conservative Christians tend to see the issue from a purely historical-Biblical perspective in which the nation is described as 'God's chosen people.' Moderate or liberal Christians tend to discount such a designation, leading some, such as former President Jimmy Carter, a liberal Baptist, to openly support the 'Palestinians' while denouncing Israel.

Other than the fact that politically and strategically Israel is one of our closest allies (she is the ONLY western-styled democracy in the entire region), from a spiritual point of view I cannot support Israel-bashing or minimizing the importance of the nation in God's plan for the world.

Israel was chosen to represent God's message to the world in ancient times. The land she occupies was given to the Hebrews (Jews) by God many centuries before there was any such thing as Islam. And the Bible never withdrew her designation as God's chosen people, even though she rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Even when they were wayward, God considered her to be His, and that included those times she was punished for her infidelity.

There is a long history of suffering on the part of the Jews. Throughout her history she has been overrun by enemies, her citizens taken as hostages and slaves to foreign lands--IF their lives were spared. Such was the case when the Roman Empire took over the region, although the Caesars allowed the Jews at least some freedom in governing themselves, under the careful supervision of local Roman Governors.

The Jews remained a people in exile, a people without a country, until 1948 when the newly-formed United Nations, under intense pressure from President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, restored Israel as a legitimate, viable nation of the Middle East.

Truman believed that the Bible teaches that the land belongs to Israel and that this land had been stolen from them over 2000 years ago, which, according to the Bible, is true. Truman also believed that God's ultimate will was that the Jews be provided a homeland to which they can return--restoring Israel to its former occupants, as foretold in the book of Revelation.

Yet from the time this decision was made, controversy has dominated the region, often erupting into violence. Islamic forces in the region claim that ALL of the land is theirs, although the religion was not even started until nearly 2000 years after God first gave the Hebrews the land.

Prior to the restoration of Israel to the Jews, Muslims dominated the area from around 650 A.D. until 1948 and prevented Christians and Jews alike from gaining access to their most holy sites in the area of Jerusalem known as 'old Jerusalem.' The proposals made by such terribly misguided politicians such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even George W. Bush would return old Jerusalem to Muslims, where once again Islam would no doubt prevent Jews and Christians from accessing their holy sites.

The oft-misnamed 'Palestinian people' are a red herring--a ploy of Islam to seize control of all the land and eventually destroy Israel as a Jewish state. The original 'Palestinian state' is Jordan. Is that not enough? Why is a 2nd 'Palestinian state' needed?

A look at the region, making a comparison between how much land Israel possesses with how much land Arabs and Muslims possess will reveal a shocking fact. Muslims begrudge Israel's control of a tiny strip of land in the middle of a vast ocean of Muslim nations.

And Islam is well-known in the Middle East and beyond for violence against non-Muslims. They kill Christians and Jews, and burn down their churches and synagogues. This is pure evil. And Christians must stand against it.

That is why as a Christian I support Israel. Jesus was a Jew, and as a former professor of theology told me while I was working on a post-graduate degree years ago, "Christians are Jews first. We share a common heritage and history."

Thus, Jimmy Carter is flat wrong. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush are flat wrong.

And the Bible makes one thing perfectly clear--those who would oppose the chosen people of God are opposing God Himself, and such a thing is evil and carries dire consequences. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mystery and the Majesty

Good afternoon, my friends! I hope you are well this fine day. I am truly thankful for my wonderful friends who faithfully read and support this ministry.

Today I wish to discuss with you an issue of vast importance to your spiritual development and growth. It is vital that we recognize that God works in mysterious ways and that people are often used of God to do good things, even when they are totally unaware of it, and surprisingly, even when they fail to recognize that God is a part of anything they do.

For Christians, this comes as no surprise. We were taught from childhood that God uses people for various things, often without their knowledge. In the Bible there is a wonderful passage where Jesus describes the faithful when they get to heaven. The Christians, once they enter the heavenly realm, are told that they are welcome in that place prepared for them, for they had fed, clothed, visited, and helped Jesus himself as an outgrowth of their Christian faith.

But the faithful were shocked when they heard these words. They had no idea that they were anything special or had done anything so wonderful and helpful for Jesus. That is just how humble and self-effacing they were. And they asked, "Lord, when did we do any of these things?"

It was then Jesus said that "insofar as you have done these things for the very least of these my brethren (other people), you have done them for me." They 'fed the hungry, helped the poor, visited the sick and the imprisoned,' and went about doing good as a clear outgrowth of their Christian faith.

Christians are often unaware of just how vital their actions have been in showing other people how much they are loved and cared for.

This being true, it is also true that God uses unbelievers for His purposes as well.

The Bible presents many examples of this fact. The Pharaoh in Exodus who held the Hebrews in slavery was described as an instrument of God in bringing judgment to God's wayward people, and later, to be the stooge proving that God is much greater than any human authority. In like manner, Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus into the hands of His enemies, was described as the one who would be used to accomplish God's will in bringing about the scenario where God's only begotten Son would die on the Cross for the sins of the world.

But God is also using non-malevolent forces for His purposes.

In the follow-up film to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' the character played by Tom Hanks was an unbeliever who was indifferent if not antagonistic toward the Catholic Church. Yet, in the end, he wound up helping save the Vatican from sure destruction.

Unaware that he had done anything noteworthy, the Dean of the College of Cardinals told Hanks at the end that God has used him to save the church. Hanks protested, stating that he didn't think God had anything to do with it. The elderly Cardinal placed his hand on Hank's shoulder and said, "My son, of course He did."

These things only serve to remind us of the richness, the mystery, and the majesty of almighty God, who "moves and works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Recovery Begins With the Individual

I was listening to one of my favorite radio shows the other evening, Dave Ramsey, who teaches people how to manage their money, and he said something that I had never before considered.

It was an 'epiphany' of sorts. A light went on in my head, and his statement resonated with something deep within me, telling me that what this man was saying represents ultimate truth.

Let me explain.

We all know how tough the economy has been on so many people. Many of us have suffered indescribable difficulties as a result of the collapse of 2008. For me, I was selling real estate at the time, and as you all know the real estate market was hit first. My income suddenly plummeted to ZERO. I lost just about everything, including my home.

I had to scramble to address the dire circumstances. In doing so I was forced to work 3 jobs, which I continue to do today. Even so, I have trouble making ends meet. I don't make much money from any of the endeavors I have begun.

Complicating the issue is the health problem I developed 3 years ago. Or I should say health problemS--plural. First, I began having severe eyesight problems due to an underlying inflammatory condition I didn't even know I had. Then, that inflammatory condition made itself known in a major way, which has definitely effected my ability to do certain things.

I cannot, for example, work a job that requires being on my feet for hours on end every day, five days a week. Manual labor is impossible now.

Thus, my choices when it comes to employment are limited by the circumstances.

Yet, hope springs eternal, and I keep pressing on praying and hoping that one or more of my 3 endeavors will take off and fly, enabling me to make a decent living.

And this brings us back to Dave Ramsey's statement.

He was speaking about the economy and the difficulty the nation has experienced in sustaining a recovery. He stated that in the final analysis, however, what the country is experiencing is not the issue. The issue is ME. The issue is YOU. The individual. Economic recovery begins with the individual.

What kind of initiative are you taking to address whatever financial difficulty you may be having?

I did not wait for the economy to improve. I direct music part time for a church. I started writing for a living--a meager living at best, but I still make a little money. And I started this ministry. Admittedly this ministry has made no money whatsoever in the 9 months it has been in operation. Everything has gone toward expenses. But I keep pressing on with the hope that things will change just around the corner. What else can I do? 

Ramsey suggested that now is a good time for persons to look into starting a business--one that has very low start-up costs and can be operated on a shoestring budget.

Risky? You bet it is! But it is better than sitting at home twiddling our thumbs in anxiety and despair wondering what we're going to do. Getting active in your own endeavor is a good way to avoid despair when the job market has dried up.

Jesus said, "By faith you can say to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea, and it will be done."

Those mountains he talked about are not the physical mountains such as Everest, or Shasta, or Hood, or McKinley. The mountains Jesus had in mind are those large obstacles that stand in our way, preventing us from moving forward.

My economic recovery began the moment I decided to work 3 jobs, even if the pay is dismal. Your economic recovery will begin the moment you look at that mountain and say, BE GONE!, and then launch into something, anything, that you can do to keep yourself afloat financially.

One famous preacher used to say, "If it is to be, it is up to me."

I have one I like much better. "God plus the individual is always a majority." If God is for us, who can be against us? Together, you and God, can overcome obstacles. So get moving!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christians Form a World-Wide Fellowship that No Government Can Squelch

One of the things that I love about writing/blogging is that I never cease to be surprised by some of the things I discover. That is particularly true when you start a site that caters to the Christian community.

This site--Martin Christian Ministries--reaches people all over the world in some unlikely places.

I was struck by this over the holidays as I did some monitoring of where the majority of my readers live in the world. As expected, most are in the United States. But I was surprised by the fact that Germany comes in second. Brazil and the UK are next.

But one stat amazed me. It was one that I did not expect. I have a significant number of readers in Russia.

On one day in particular, I got over 100 readers from Russia alone.

As I pondered over how surprised I was to discover this, I began to note that this should not really come as a surprise at all. Despite being held by the grip of heavy government oppression from 1917 until the early 1990s when Communism was dismantled, Russia has always had a vibrant Christian community, albeit underground.

The old Communist USSR did not permit Christian churches except in a limited way, and then it had to be the 'approved' Russian Orthodox variety, which the government could easily control. But as for the millions of Christians who were not Russian orthodox, they were forced to smuggle Bibles, meet in secret, and place their lives in mortal danger simply for doing so.

You see, Christianity teaches that no government has the final say over the human conscience. Only God has the ultimate authority over right and wrong, and that includes government. God sits in judgment of government, not the other way around. And when governments require human beings to go against the clear will and plan of God, only a fool would suggest that we must go along with such tyranny because 'the Bible teaches we must obey the law.' Fools distort the truth, and this is a distortion.

The Bible actually teaches that when governments are consistent with the plan of God they are to be obeyed. But when governments require its citizens to disobey God by restricting their capacity to follow God's will, then government MUST be disobeyed. Only a fool would claim otherwise.


Think about it. Had our Christian forebears, including Jesus Christ himself, obeyed the government authority, we would have no Christianity today. Christianity itself was born out of disobedience to the authority of man. Jesus disobeyed. Peter disobeyed. Paul disobeyed. This cost them dearly, including their very lives. But look at what their sacrifice brought about--a movement that spread like wildfire that no man, no government could ever stop.

Governments are scared to death of people like us. So be it. They should be. We will NEVER obey a government that loses its moral authority to govern. Our only Lord is Jesus Christ--not some self-appointed dictator, not a President, not a Congress, not the Supreme Court, not a 'ruling Party.'

If we bow to any of those things, it is tantamount to bowing to Satan himself.

This we will not do. This will cannot, MUST not, do.

So, God bless the faithful Christians brothers and sisters in Russia who hold firm to the truth of the Gospel. I am glad you read these pages. And you have reminded me that the Christian community is a world-wide family of faith, a universal communion of believers who are united by one faith, one Lord.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year Begins

We pray that the Lord will grant His richest blessings to each of us individually during 2012.
God bless each of you who follow and support this ministry.

For all the blessings of the year
For all the friends we hold so dear
For peace on earth both far and near
We thank Thee, Lord.