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Saturday, March 30, 2019
Adult Sabbath School: Helpful, Useful and Understandable Resources for the Church of God Ministry in a World of Critical Thinkers.
For students, the evolution-creation discussion can be a useful exercise, for it can help develop their critical thinking skills.
No apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.
Based on the Bible, I believe that all the land animals were made on day six, and Adam and Eve were made on day six, and people try to make fun of us for believing that dinosaurs lived with people, but there are a lot of animals living today that evolution says lived with dinosaurs.
Only Christianity and its teachings can explain the purpose and meaning of this world- and also gives the basis for right and wrong, good and evil, etc.
We need to attack the false foundation of autonomous human reasoning that leads to evolution and millions of years, and proclaim that God's revealed Word is authoritative and its history of the world is foundational to Christian morality and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Evolution is a religion; it is not science!”
Place your order soon and you can be the first to have your favorite quote of Herbert Armstrong branded into the leather of the shoe!
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Wimpy Jesus quotes not allowed.
Friday, March 29, 2019
Hiring someone to be your spiritual mentor is a very big deal. After all, you are trusting this person to guide you in the right direction in life. You ask them for counsel, advice, you attend their meetings on a weekly basis. You take every effort to ensure that they are qualified, and that they are who they say they are.
After all, this is your life we are talking about. Not just your life, but the lives of your wife or husband, kids - your whole family. The advice and teachings that this person (or persons) gives can affect every single aspect of your life - depending on just how much trust and how much weight of influence that you give this person. The responsibility of exactly how much weight that you give this person (or persons) is one hundred percent your responsibility, because you are responsible (as is your spouse) for the well-being and care of your family first in every area. This includes physical care, emotional care, well being, mental health care, needs care, and overall general life care. You hire this individual (or individuals) as a service to better your lives in the physical and in the spiritual, believing first and foremost that they are exactly who they say that they are.
Some may take offense by my use of the word "Hire", but in reality, that's just about exactly what you're doing when it comes to selecting a church or pastor. You might hire a babysitter, or a cleaning service. You might even hire a butler or a personal servant, or hired help as a financial or personal manager as a true hire - but you aren't even going to think about paying one of these sorts of hired help anywhere near 10, 20 or as much as 30% of your gross income for these tasks. In this specific group of people associated with the Churches of God as founded by Herbert Armstrong - that's the minimum of what you are paying these people for their services.
In return for a full nearly one third of your income each year - if you make $100,000 a year, that's $30,000 a year - the amount you would pay in full for a decent new car every single year, think about that - or if you make $50,000 a year, that's $5,000 a year - the amount you'd pay for a used car for your son or daughter - you would think you would have expectations for a positive return, wouldn't you? Why, for that amount of money - probably the highest pay you'd ever give anyone for a service, EVER - they'd better be worth the hire.
In the Armstrong Churches of God, however, what kind of servants are many of the ministers of this Church that you've hired as your spiritual advisors?How would you rate them?
Let's put this another way. If you hired a babysitter for your child at a rate of 30% of your annual income, and that babysitter came into your house, and lied to you, talked down to you, belittled your children, claimed that they are in charge and you have nothing to say, and no input whatsoever, took over your household, commandeered your authority as the parent, and completely took over your life - what would you do? Well, first, I am sure that you would never, ever allow that to happen - that's ridiculous you would say. You'd never let someone who doesn't have that kind of authority assert such a claim of authority in your house. That's preposterous! Completely ridiculous.
The problem is - that's almost exactly what has happened with those who claim to be ministers of God in the Churches of God founded by Armstrong. Without qualification, on a bedrock of lies, deceit, and abuse - they have convinced you that they are the ultimate authority of your family, and not you - claiming divine right and calling while you pay them the highest rate for a service with little to no real return. And because they claim to have divine right, they claim bad things will happen to you if you do not do what they say or listen to them - and also use that power to control what others around you do in regards to their relationships with you and your family. This is what makes Armstrongism ministers so dangerous - the power that they convince those they "serve" that they have. In reality, you are paying them the highest possible fee for them to completely control and take over your family while they reap all the financial benefit and feed their unlimited pride and ego with absolutely unauthorized and abusive power that they have never had in the first place.
How do we know that we know that they have never had this power in the first place from the God that they claim that they serve? We KNOW that that is the case because of the scale of historical truth. We can know when they say something is going to happen in God's name - and it does not - that they are wrong and are not of God. We can know when they give advice that you follow in God's name and it turns out destructive or illogical or completely unreasonable - that they are wrong and are not of God. We can know if they are behaving in ways contrary to the fruits of the Spirit that they are not of the Spirit and have not been sent by God. We can know if they have been made aware or caught in illegal or immoral activity as many of them have without removing themselves from their position and without remorse or repentance that they are not of God. We know these things by measuring their claims against truth.
Yet what have they done when the truth has come out against them? They lie. They deceive. They redact. They explain away. They delay. They claim they did not say what they said. They spiritualize it all away. Then, when you show them what truth is, they turn it on you - saying you are the attitude, that you do not get it, and they use guilt, fear, threats, shame, lies, and any deceitful and cunning tactic under the sun to convince you that you are the problem and not them - all while pretending to serve you while taking the highest pay of any hire you could make of a servant - 30 percent of your income. And you say "yes, sir", and slink away, taking your seat, week after week, while your family and you yourself suffer under their umbrella of shackles and chains while they reap the benefits of your labor.
Let's call it what it really is. It's a con job, and if this sounds like something that sounds familiar in your life, and you believe you've been roped in by these slick, cunning, deceptive con-men - it is time for you to step up, take the reins of your family, and fire your so-called "spiritual help" and take back the control of your family that is rightfully yours. It is time for you to end the tyranny, to end the abuse, to end the illegal control and the spiritual extortion that these men have laid over you in God's name while the truth calls them out for what they are - liars, deceivers, thieves and destroyers. It is time for you to take your family back from the con and bring them to Jesus Christ.
"But where else am I going to go? What about my friends? I'm going to lose everyone I ever knew, they won't talk to me." It's a huge life change. It's hard. I know. It's difficult, I know. I've been through it, and I've lived through it. It's not an easy road. But let me tell you this - it's a better road now then if I had stayed on the road I was on for decades and decades to come - with the same lies, the same deception, the same carrot at the end of the stick. Is it really worth the tens of thousands of dollars you're giving them for twenty more years of absolute crap from men of evil? That's your call. That's your decision. That's between you and your God. The decision is hard all the way around. It's up to you in your situation to weigh the balance and to count the cost - and to see truth for truth, lies for lies, penny for penny - through the eyes, heart, mind, and the love of Jesus Christ for you and your family. No one can make that decision for you but you - and Christ, who lives in you, if you believe in Him.
Regardless of what any con-man has told you - Jesus Christ loves you, and wants the best for you and your family. He has dies so you may live, and have life. Jesus said HE is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Jesus said He will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus wants you to talk to Him and His Father about any concerns you have. More than anything, He wants a relationship with you - a relationship that no man should ever try to get between, or usurp, or deny. Talk to Him tonight. And listen to Him. He (not I, not any so-called minister, not anybody) who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
In the book of Jeremiah God said "For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) How much more in this, the age of reconciliation to God through the power of the Spirit?
It's time to talk to God and to stop listening to con-men.
You're paying 30% of your income for a spiritual con-man? I fired their lying butts decades ago, and I'm free of their absolute bull. You can be too. Talk to God. He'll speak.
And HE will break the chains and the strongholds as only He can.
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?... And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
What might this tale be all about? Never mind that no one.in the New Testament Church ever mentions this event again. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing during the second half of the first century AD, produced two major works: History of the Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews. He says nothing about this most extraordinary occurrence. This one missed his attention so he reports nothing of this, and misses an opportunity to interview any of the "many" who must have been around for years after just itching to be asked about how it felt to be resurrected at the time of Jesus death.
Peter never mentions it in all his attempts to convince the masses that Jesus did rise, in fact, from the dead. Paul never mentions this event as proof of Jesus resurrection either. Of course, the Gospels were written long after Paul lived, wrote and died so he never heard the tale in the first place. Paul made a great deal out of the man he knew who was caught up to the third heaven seeing and hearing things that no man was allowed to see or know. You'd think if he knew that, he'd mention risen Saints at Jesus death but he knows nothing of it.
The fact that these risen saints must have lived on and been members of the early Church never seems to come up. You'd think they at least would get to be deacons and elders! Pretty impressive to have you Elder being one of the dead raised when Jesus was on the cross. Perhaps they died, rose and died again the same day when whatever the point that was being made was made but that seems a lotta work for a little benefit since it didn't seem to leave much of an impression on anyone but Matthew.
But there was a problem in the text...
So here we have Jesus on the cross, still alive and distressed that God has forsaken him. At this time it appears, or perhaps by implication, at the moment of his death, the graves of many of the "saints" open and they rise from the dead. Well not quite yet because it appears someone spotted a problem with this verse and added just a bit to make it doctrinally acceptable for future reads.
But first, how can these newly dead, I assume newly because if they had died any further back than one to three years, depending on which Gospel you read as to the length of Jesus ministry, they never would have even heard of Jesus in their first life. (John has Jesus around for three Passovers. The Synoptics only one.) They would not be qualified as "Saints" or even disciples if they had never heard of Jesus.
Aren't saints members in good standing of the Church and converted Christians? Jesus is not even dead yet, or just died! There is no church and certainly no saints unless just following Jesus around as a curious follower the past one or three years qualified one as a "saint." The use of the word "Saints" is an indicator that the story was written by one author many years later when there actually were Christian Saints. It certainly is not an eyewitness account of anything. All four Gospels are not eyewitness accounts of the events they report.
Secondly, it says that it was a resurrection of "many bodies of the saints." Many? What happened to "all." There could not have been too many to leave some behind! Can you imagine the conversations that must have followed in the weeks following this event?
"Hey, Shlomo is back! So, where is your Benjamin? Oh, really? Not one of the many huh? Sorry."
Anyway, it seems that only the many but not the all got raised. I wonder what criteria were used to choose some over others?
Next we have the problem of the graves being opened, but no one being allowed to come out of them until after Jesus personal resurrection. This is where being doctrinally correct comes in.
A later editor spotted a doctrinal problem where the story could not have Jesus being preceded in resurrection, by any, much less, many of the "saints." This would be putting the cart before the horse. Jesus could not be the "first born of many brethren," (Romans 8:29), if many of the brethren had already been up and running from the dead while Jesus was either on the cross wondering why God had forsaken him, or newly dead and not yet resurrected himself. One might also view Lazarus as "the first born of many brethren" but that issue doesn't seem to come up. So the phrase, "after his resurrection" was inserted to make this a doctrinally correct event. Had that phrase, "after his resurrection," not been added, the story would be an unending source of doctrinal problems and a recognition that Jesus was not the first born of many brethren. The many brethren would have been first born before him.
Back to the story...
So here we have these graves opened, but the bodies just lying there, open to view evidently. Then, after Jesus rose, the bodies stood up and went home to see the family and friends. You'd think someone would have mentioned this later, but it didn't make much of an impression on anyone but Matthew it seems. I say Matthew but the original Gospels were anonymous books and the well known names were added much later for credibility reasons. We also have to realize that none of the disciples were witnesses to any of this since they had all fled just prior to the Crucifixion. Perhaps "Matthew" had forgotten this fact, although he mentions it himself in 26:56.
If the graves were opened for three days, would not word get out and the town get about the business of filling them in again? If they were fresh bodies, what a stink and if they were alive, fresh bodies laying low for now, what a scare! No doubt, word would have gotten out in the three days after Jesus death that graves around Jerusalem were open with exposed bodies or living people not yet able to get up. Crowds would have gathered around the graves perhaps encouraging the now risen but not yet raised to be patient for a few days?
Well, it's a great story that no one but Matthew seems to be aware of or use to further the Gospel. Knowing the writer of Matthew, it never happened. Matthew was great at over reaching and searching the scriptures to make a point about Jesus. Matthew could make an Old Testament story mean what it was never meant to mean. All of Matthew's "and thus it was fulfilled" accounts in the birth narratives of Jesus, where he goes back into the Old Testament, "searching the scriptures", to prove everything from Jesus virgin birth to it being predicted that he would be from Nazareth or return out of Egypt after Herod dies, are examples of this over reaching. No one else quite had this way of proving the birth circumstances and drama down pat as well as Matthew. . It would be a bit like me using portions of Lord of the Rings to show how Tolkien prophecied the war in Iraq.
Eventually the Saints rise and able to leave the graves. Off to visit friends in Jerusalem these saints went. But we have no names and no further accounts. We have no stories of happy reunions of the dead with the living. No one seems to write about this in any public records and no one ever after uses this event to further the proof of Jesus resurrection or the power of God. Actually, it never happened in time, space or history. Perhaps the story had meaning to "Matthew." It had no meaning to anyone else in the NT. Perhaps it was someone's "type" of the General Resurrection but creating the story created a future doctrinal problem as shown by a simple insertion of the words "after his resurrection" by a genuine Saint many years later before he died and as far as we know is still dead.