The apostle Paul said to follow (imitate) him as he follows Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 3:17) This is the only safe example; and if we follow this, we can never go astray. 

And yet most Christians today follow unbiblical preachers, evangelists, authors and such, rather than follow the the apostle Paul or the Lord. In fact most Christians today are able to more readily quote from some book that was written by (spiritually) dead men than they can quote God’s word! And this to the Church’s shame! 

And why doesn’t the Church follow the way of the apostles and Christ? Because of selfishness. We want to live our lives OUR own way. But Jesus told his disciples, “…If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16: 24-25) 

The Church today has become an abomination to God! Everyone does what is right in their own mind. The house of God has become a den of thieves, a nest of vipers! And its preachers have become blind guides deceiving and being deceived! We have become like the Church in Laodicea—lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—and Jesus is about to vomit you out of his mouth! (Revelation 3: 14-22) 

Notice that verse 20 is speaking to the Church, not to the unsaved, as many Christians would have you believe. Jesus is knocking on the doors of Christians, asking us—pleading with us— to open up to him that he might come in and fellowship with us. But we will not. Because we believe that we are rich and in need of nothing from him. But until we realize that we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, we will never reach our full potential in Christ. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

“What we need today more than anything else, more even than victory in the war against aggression, are weapons, manpower and strategy to win the war against selfishness.” —Sam Shoemaker, Pastor, author and original founder of AA

God gave us 613 commandments to obey. And most Christians today refuse to obey even 10, or 5, or two! “So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them, will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:19 NLT)  

If the Church today does not live godly lives, if they refuse to obey God’s word, if they continue to follow traditions of men rather than the commandments of God, and teach others to do the same, then all is lost! 

Lord God, I confess that I have not been faithful to seek the lost as I should. I have shed no tears for them. But Lord, I pray that today you give me a great burden for the lost and for your people who are called by your name. Help me to travail in prayer for them. Give me tears for them. Let my heart be broken for them. And I pray that you will raise up mighty men and women of God who are willing to follow Paul’s example of following Christ. And I pray that, like Paul, I will not only be known in heaven, but that I will also be known by the devil and his demons as it was documented of Paul in Acts 19: 13-19. I pray Lord God, that you give me the strength and grace to die daily of self so that many will be saved for your glory. Lord send a revival to your Church now! And let it begin with me.

Amen! 

Spare the rod spoil the child?

The term, “spare the rod, spoil the child” is not actually in the Bible. This phrase is taken out of context and a misinterpretation of Proverbs 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he who loves him chasteneth him betimes.” (KJV)

A better translation is:Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” (NLT)

In any translation, the intent is disciplining children in order to guide them in the way they should go. To put it simply, it is to instill in our children right from wrong. Much in the same way that shepherds use a staff to guide sheep who begin to splinter away from the flock back to safety, the rod of discipline can be used to keep our children safe from outside influences that will lead them down a dangerous and destructive path. 

The most common misinterpretation of this scripture views this as direction to physically punish children as the best—or only, form of discipline, and is the inspiration for other disciplinary tools like wooden spoons, switches or belts. Children never learn discipline from physical punishment—only fear.

There is a big difference between a rod—a physical object, and the rod, which is used metaphorically. In each scripture that describes disciplining a child, the rod is used, not a rod:

Proverbs 13:24 – “Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.”

Proverbs 22:15 – “Foolishness is bound in the heart of the child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”

Proverbs 23:13 – “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” 

There are many who were abused by one or both of their parents and they don’t even realize that they were abused. Some even brag about how they were beaten by their parent and how they were better for it. Sadly, they end up doing the same thing to their own children. 

It’s understandable for a parent to to become frustrated with a rebellious child, but when you allow that frustration turn to physical action against a child, your parenting will eventually render your efforts to raise godly, well adjusted children ineffective. 

Here’s why: The idea of punishment implies repaying someone with what he or she deserves. Physical punishment produces a child laden with guilt and determined to get out from under it, and raising kind, loving, well adjusted children are never the result. An effective parent has to learn the difference between punishment and discipline—and also learn the importance of grace.

God’s grace amid discipline

We love the gospel of grace when we come to God and our sins. None of us wants justice in the sense of God giving us what we deserve. But as much as we love God’s mercy when applied to us, we have a really hard time applying it to others—especially when the “other” is someone who can frustrate us as much as our children can. 

This is grace

I like to retell the story of how God used my son to explain grace to both of us. My son, Sean, who was around 9 or 10 at the time, was playing outside with friends when I told him it was time to come inside. After ignoring me for several minutes I again called him to come inside. After refusing to obey me a third time I yelled, “Sean! Get inside! Now!” He finally came inside in a huff, slamming the door and flailing his arms in anger. In doing so, he knocked over my guitar. (My prized possession) We both watched in horror as the neck of my guitar snapped as it hit the floor.

I looked angrily at my son and in a soft, but firm voice I said, “Go to your room, I’m gonna hurt you.” Flying up the stairs to his room, he was already blubbering, thinking I was going to kill him. Later, after I cooled down, I went up to my son’s room to find him hyperventilating from crying so hard. I said, “Sean, do you know what judgement is?” He answered between his breaths, “N-n-no.” I said, “Judgement is getting what you deserve.” At that moment he broke into his sobs again completely convinced that I was going to beat him. After calming him down once more I then asked him, “Sean, do you know what grace is?” He shook his head, no. I said this is grace. And I put him on my lap and just held him.

That is exactly what God does with us. Although we all deserve God’s judgement, if we trust in the saving power of Jesus, God has mercy on us, forgives us of our sins, and wraps His arms around us and loves us.

Effective discipline starts with us being healthy ourselves. If you had a rough childhood with questionable punishments, you hold the power to change the environment for your own children. You are in charge of them having a better upbringing than you had and a better future. 

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Teach them to your children, speaking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19) 

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath; instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Many of us watched in horror as George Floyd’s life was drained from his body by a police officer as he cried, “I can’t breathe.” Police officers are supposed to protect us, but some have become our enemy out to kill us. Many were outraged at the death of George Floyd and others and have taken to the streets across the globe in protest chanting, “I can’t breathe!” and “Say their name!” Some of the protests have become violent, destroying businesses and other buildings.

I understand the outrage. I understand the protests. I even understand the violence. (Although I do not condone it)

What I don’t understand is how people can remain silent when so many young children are being abused and neglected in their own homes by the very ones who were supposed to protect them. No outrage; no marches; no protests; no media coverage. 

I would even suspect that some of the BLM protesters are guilty of abusing their own children at home. 

Maybe we should begin chanting the names of children who have died from abuse: 

2-year-old Jakobe Chaffin 

2-year-old Ja’hir Gibbons 

8-year old Rica Rountree 

11-year old Heaven Watkins 

3-year old Janiyah Armanie Brooks 

All of them died from blunt force trauma by their caretaker or parent(s)

https://www.localmemphis.com/article/news/investigations/i-team/father-charged-with-murder-child-abuse-neglect-in-death-of-2-year-old-son/522-b34b548f-65e2-4eb3-9f1c-6d20af619eab

https://wgntv.com/news/still-no-charges-in-death-of-2-year-old-boy/ 

https://week.com/2019/05/10/murdered-8-year-old-normal-girl-was-afraid-to-go-home-watchdog-says/  

https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/this-could-have-prevented-the-tragic-death-of-heaven-watkins-virginia-girls-child-abuse-case-prompts-nationwide-legislation/65-c8d210da-3c0c-4966-a88f-2bc921a73c49 

https://www.walb.com/2019/05/19/ga-toddler-dies-after-heinous-child-abuse/

And these are only a few cases that were investigated!

Child fatalities due to abuse or neglect remain a serious problem in the United States. Fatalities due to child maltreatment and neglect disproportionately affect young children under 8 years old and most often are caused by one or both of the child’s parents.There was an estimated 4,136,000 referrals to CPS for investigation in 2017. Out of those referrals an estimated 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect! 

A new report by the Office of the Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services counts 123 children who died within a year of family contact with DCFS. In some cases a state worker, a neighbor or a professional required by law to report suspected child abuse didn’t adequately respond and vulnerable children remained in mortal danger. 

The cruel realization that parents and caretakers can kill their own children is difficult to imagine and accept. And yet, the reality is, is that five children die from abuse or neglect every day at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect them!

And children of color tend to be especially high risk to die from maltreatment. African American and Hispanic children who die from abuse continues to be higher than any other ethnicity. In fact, a new report confirmed that “the risk for maltreatment is particularly high for black children, who had cumulative risk of confirmed maltreatment in excess of 25 percent for many years, and never less-than 20 percent,” the report states. 

Official 2011 data from child protective service agencies puts the overall child abuse figure at 1 in 100 children. But the new research places the figure at 1 in 8, with most of it taking place in the child’s early years. The new study, which appears online in JAMA Pediatrics, uses the same protective services data of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, NCANDS, but measures it cumulatively, including all children under 18 who have been victimized, up to and including the given year. 

Researchers found that by 4 years old, Black children had a 1 in 10 chance of being maltreated. By 10 years old, the risk was 4 in 25. Put another way, that’s at least four students in every fifth-grade class. By 15 years old, Black youth had a 1 in 5 chance of having a CPS file. (https://www.firststar.org/black-children-have-highest-abuse-rates/)

Physical abuse fatalities most commonly involved blunt force trauma or intentional trauma inflicted by a father, a mother or both. Another great percentage of child maltreatment fatalities involved a child with special needs. (ADD/ADHD, Autism, Developmental disability, Downs Syndrome, Drug or alcohol in utero)

The national estimate is influenced by which States report data as well as by the U.S. Census Bureau’s child population estimates. Many researchers and practitioners believe that child fatalities due to abuse and neglect are underreported. Some of the data could be faulty because: 

  • The length of time (up to a year in some cases) it may take to establish abuse or neglect as the cause of death. 
  • Inaccurate determination of the manner and cause of death. 
  • Miscoding of death certificates labeled as accidents, sudden infant death syndrome, or undetermined that would have been attributed to abuse or neglect if more comprehensive investigations had been conducted. 
  • The ease with which the circumstances surrounding many child maltreatment deaths can be concealed or rendered unclear. 
  • Lack of coordination or cooperation among different agencies and jurisdictions. 

A study of child fatalities in three States found that combining at least two

data sources resulted in the identification of more than 90 percent of child fatalities ascertained as being due to child maltreatment.

And yet, those in charge of such data within CPS and DHHS have said:

“We appreciate the partnership and work state and tribal child welfare programs do every day to prevent and reduce child abuse and neglect cases in their area. The report shows us that we are making strides in reducing victimization and deaths due to maltreatment, however, the numbers of victims and deaths are still higher than they were five years ago, which is significantly concerning.” — Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families

“We are experiencing increases in the number of children referred to CPS at the same time that there is a decrease in the number of children determined to be victims of abuse and neglect.” — Jerry Milner, Acting Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau

Almost three-quarters (71.8 percent) of child fatalities in 2017 involved children younger than 3 years old! And children younger than 1 year old accounted for 49.6 percent of all fatalities! 

So what can be done?

Improved training for child welfare workers. Researchers have noted the need for better training for child welfare workers in identifying potentially fatal situations. Current child welfare training curricula do not always address child maltreatment fatalities. A recent study of preservice child welfare training curricula in 20 States found that only 10 States even mentioned child maltreatment fatalities and that only 1 State included a full section on the topic! 

Too many times child welfare workers are overworked and underpaid. So it is much easier for them to underreport abuse or neglect or overreact and place a child in foster care, where the child is more likely to suffer even more abuse and neglect. 

Get help

I know how frustrating it can be when you have a child who is demanding of your time. It can be particularly frustrating when you have a baby with colic that won’t stop crying no matter what you do. We are fostering a baby that at times no matter what we do, she will cry continuously sometime four to five hours at a time and sleep no more than ten or fifteen minutes. If you’re in a situation like this walk away or reach out for help. Call a friend, a relative or contact a 24 hour parent support line. Just remember that getting physical with a baby will not calm them down and only make things worse—For them and for you. 

These vulnerable cannot speak up for themselves so it’s up to us adults to speak for them. Write to your legislators in your state and have them implement changes. Volunteer at one of the organizations that deal with child abuse. Most importantly, when you suspect a child is being abused, say something and do something. A child’s life may depend on it.

 

Resources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/child-abuse-statistics-2633350

https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse/ 

https://www.d2l.org

https://americanspcc.org/child-abuse-statistics/

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/media/press/2020/child-abuse-neglect-data-released

https://www.parentshelpingparents.org/copy-of-parental-stress-line

https://www.boystown.org/hotline/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.al.com/news/2019/05/one-of-the-worst-abusers-an-alabama-case-highlights-the-states-physical-child-abuse-problem.html

My wife and I had the privilege of sharing Passover with our granddaughter last night. 

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) commemorates the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt after suffering over 400 years of slavery. Passover is regarded by many  Christians as a “Jewish only” celebration. Some even claim that Yeshua (Jesus) and his disciples didn’t observe the Passover—even though it states in Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:8, and John 13:1 that they did! 

So why should Christians observe the biblical feasts? My answer has always been this: We don’t HAVE to observe the feasts—we GET to observe them. But the most important reason for us to observe Passover and all the feasts is that God told us to. We show our love for God by doing what He says. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:2)  

In Exodus 12:38 we read that there was also a “mixed multitude” that left Egypt with the Hebrews. They were possibly Egyptians who followed them because of the miracles they witnessed, or were from other countries that the Egyptians conquered and forced some of the people into slavery.

We also need to remember that there were many members of  the 12 different tribes of Israel that left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. Not just Jews. (or the tribe of Judah) You see, every Jew is an Israelite, but not every Israelite is a Jew. And every one of us are descendants of those who belonged to one of the mixed multitude that God told Moses that, “The same law shall apply to the native ‘Hebrew’ as to the stranger.” (or non-Jew) And in Exodus 12:48-49 we read that “The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger (or non-Jew) who sojourns among you.” 

Yeshua said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, (The smallest letter in the Hebrew language) will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5: 17-20) Many Christians claim that everything was accomplished when Yeshua  was crucified and raised from the dead and that all the Old Testament laws were done away with. The only thing that Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection did away with was the sacrificial and ceremonial laws—since he was the ultimate sacrificial Lamb of God. But EVERYTHING will not be accomplished until AFTER Yeshua returns and sets up God’s kingdom and government on earth. 

Yeshua also said “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46) Why would we want to miss out on something that Yeshua said points to him? Besides, throughout the Scriptures we are told that the Passover and other Feast Days and Sabbaths are not Jewish Feast Days and Sabbaths. They are GOD’S. And God said that they are a  permanent statute wherever we live for the generations to come. ( See Exodus 12:14-28; Leviticus 16:29) 

I am amazed that so many Christian pastors and Bible teachers can spend years and years studying in Bible colleges and seminaries and STILL refuse to see this in the Scriptures. And worse yet, refuse to teach God’s truth to their followers! Not only have they rejected God’s Feats Days, but they have replaced them with traditional holy days of man such as Good Friday, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter and Christmas—which none of Yeshua’s disciples, the apostles, or any of the early Church ever observed.  

Remember Yeshua, in verse 20 of Matthew 5 said, “…So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” All my life I have been considered to be least here on earth. I don’t know about you, but I want to be considered great in kingdom of heaven.

The special foods we eat on Passover not only reminds us of the Exodus, but also helps us to focus on God’s love for us. But what many don’t recognize is that every thing in the Passover Seder, and in fact, all of God’s feasts, points to Messiah.  

Remember the words of the apostle John: “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, I know Him, but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:3-6) 

“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” (1 John 5: 2-3)

Observing God’s Feast Days and Sabbaths and obeying God’s commandments has nothing to do with salvation. It has to do with obedience to God out of our love for Him. When my children were young they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed me, or afraid that I would love them less if they disobeyed. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules. 

And in the same way, we don’t obey God’s commandments because we think He will love us more or that we can work our way into salvation. But BECAUSE we love Him we obey His commandments.

At the end of our Passover seder we pray this blessing: 

“Blessed are You Lord G-d king of the universe, for the produce of the field, and for the precious, good and spacious land, to eat of its fruit and be satisfied by its goodness. Have mercy, Lord our G-d, on your people, Send us your New Jerusalem, your holy city, in our days, and we will rejoice in it and bless you in holiness and purity. And remember us for good on this day of the Festival of Matzot. 

And we all end by saying: NEXT YEAR IN NEW JERUSALEM! AMEN!

If a person has been involved in more than one abusive relationship, healing can feel even more challenging. They will often say things like, “How do I keep getting into these situations?” or “What is it about me that attracts abusive partners?” These feelings of self-blame or guilt are normal, and if you’re experiencing them, you’re not alone. However, you definitely don’t deserve to feel this way. Because abuse is never the survivor’s fault and definitely not caused by the survivor. 

There are many people who have never experienced an abusive relationship that feel that those who have been in multiple abusive relationships should have seen the warning signs and should have known better. However, to say that someone chooses to enter into another abusive relationship is not necessarily an accurate description of what goes on in a survivor’s mind and emotions when navigating dating and intimate relationships. Placing the expectation on victims to always recognize red flags for potential abuse is not as easy for them as it is for us who are looking from the outside in.

Trust is an important part of any relationship, and it wouldn’t be healthy for a survivor to go into every new relationship expecting that their new partner may become abusive Especially when there aren’t yet any obvious behaviors that should concern them.

It can also be hard to identify warning signs at the beginning of a relationship because abusive partners are typically on their best behavior until a bond has been established, hiding their controlling and abusive tendencies. How many times have we heard a friend say, “He/she was so sweet in the beginning, and then they just changed overnight”? 

For survivors who experienced abuse in a previous relationship are subject not only to more confusion, but also to the effects of their self-esteem having been torn down by their previous abusive partner(s). And because their self-worth was taken away, they are more likely to believe that they are unlovable. They may believe that no healthy partner will ever want them. Those who have been abused in past relationships may even believe that they deserve what their abuser chooses to do to them. Nothing could be further from the truth! 

Unfortunately, some abusers recognize this, and may seek out to form new relationships with survivors of past abuse to more easily manipulate them. Once they bond to their victim, they will isolate them from friends and relatives, control their phone, emails, and finances so that eventually they have to rely totally on their abuser. (This type of abuse happens more often to women than to men)

If you’ve had negative feelings like these about yourself, you have to understand that feelings lie and emotions are unreliable. Nothing a partner or anyone else chooses to do is ever reflective of your worth or your value as a human being. And you are not responsible for someone else’s decision to control, hurt or manipulate you. 

Society misses the mark when it comes to normal, healthy relationships. Some of us are lead to believe that unhealthy relationships and behaviors are normal—or even romantic. (Especially with young people with no experience in relationships) Constant declarations of love and grand gestures of affection early in the relationship is seen as sweet rather than too much too soon and a possible violation of boundaries. Jealousy may be seen as caring or protective when it can actually lead to controlling behavior. Characteristics such as persistence in the face of rejection may be thought of as cute, but this can also be warning sign of a form of control.

It can be hard to reconcile what we think we should be excited about in a new partner with what may actually be triggering concerns about abuse. When things like open, honest communication, healthy boundaries, equality and trust are not taught as the norm, we can’t expect survivors to identify them as such—especially if they have never been in a heathy relationship where these things existed.

There are some who have been abused for so long that it’s difficult for them to differentiate between a healthy and abusive relationship. Below are a few behaviors that you can look out for: 

  • Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Isolating you from friends and family 
  • Controlling money and refusing to give you any for expenses 
  • Preventing you from working or attending school 
  • Blaming you for the abuse, or acting like it’s not really happening 
  • Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets 
  • Threatening to harm or take away your children 
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons 
  • Shoving, slapping, choking or hitting you 
  • Threatening to commit suicide if you leave 
  • Attempting to stop you from pressing charges 
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to 
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol

There are some who believe that thoughts of low self-esteem and low self-worth are the result of a person’s upbringing. That is true to a point. But outside influences, (school bullying, social media, peer pressure) also play a big part on how a child thinks of themselves. 

1 Timothy 3 in the Bible tells women positive attributes to look for in a man:

He must be above reproach, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not dependent on wine, not violent but gentle, peaceable, and free of the love of money. He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same condemnation as the devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the snare of the devil. Additionally, the Bibles says that they must first be tested. These qualities refer to a leader in the church, but they can also apply to someone you are considering being in a relationship with. 

Therapy and aftercare support go a long way in restoring a person’s self-worth. Many treatment programs discourage people from pursuing romantic or sexual relationships for at least one year. Yes, it may be lonely at times, but with therapy and support you can find many other things to fill up your days. And in the end you will be stronger, healthier, and ready for a heathy relationship.   

If you’re concerned about some of these things happening in your relationship, please feel free to give contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7/365 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat at www.thehotline.org.

This is not the end of your story. You can still be a warrior!

Post Script:

Children are also affected by domestic violence and abuse. It has been proven that children who witness domestic abuse suffer the same trauma as if they were abused themselves. And sometimes will defend the victim of abuse (a parent) as well as their abuser.

That is what has happened in my own family:

In 2013 my wife and I discovered that our oldest granddaughter Seana, was sexually abused by her then step-father, Case Cline, when she was only 11 years old. My wife and I were able to be granted guardianship of her and get her into therapy. We spent most of our retirement savings on attorney fees and therapy for her. My granddaughter is now 20 years old but is still struggling mentally and emotionally. My daughter, Leah Cline, blames us for her ex-husband’s legal problems and her divorce and has not spoken to us or allowed us to see her other three children for almost four years. The only contact we have with her children is through Facebook.

Since then she has had one live-in boyfriend that was on the sex offender registry for having sex with a child. He was later he suffered a tragic brain injury when he crashed his scooter into another car while he was drunk. She is now living with an even more abusive man, Mathew Kochen. 

On April 11, 2019 Mathew Kochen was charged with kidnapping and domestic abuse and using a weapon against another woman. The police said that he told the woman he was going to “bury her in Crescent” (Iowa) after refusing to let her out of his car. Fortunately, she was able to escape. The police discovered later that he was waiting inside the woman’s house, but when he saw the police he ran out the back and was watching them from the nearby woods. That’s where the police arrested him. Then on May 30th, 2019 a Sheriff’s Deputy in Council Bluffs, Iowa was dispatched to the same house and arrested Mathew again for violation of a No Contact Order, and Contempt of Court. He was held in the Pottawattamie County Jail and later released on a $25,000.00 bond. This all happened while my daughter was living with him with her three children! Click HERE: https://dcs-inmatesearch.ne.gov/Corrections/InmateDisplayServlet?DcsId=74185

Mathew also talked my daughter into using drugs. We convinced her to get into treatment, but after only a week, Matthew talked her into leaving treatment. He recently began making lewd comments toward my 13 year old granddaughter, Rebecca Cline, and has admitted to being sexually aroused by her. And my daughter blamed Rebecca because she was wearing shorts! Mathew has been emotionally and physically abusive to the kids too—With my daughter’s approval! 

After seeing Rebecca’s photo she posted on Facebook, I reported it to the Plattsmouth police, where they live now, but they refused to do anything and said that there was nothing they could do unless Rebecca files a report herself. Mathew has isolated Leah her from friends and family. He has made Leah take down her Facebook page because he believed that she was communicating with other guys. He also took Leah’s phone away from her and then pretended to be Leah and texted all of her male contacts asking them if they wanted to have sex! Many of them contacted my granddaughter Seana and asked her what was going on. It’s like Casey Cline all over again—only worse! Because  my daughter has succeeded in turning her three children who lives with her against us by filling their heads with lies about us. All we have ever tried to do to help them and protect them from abuse. But I would do it all over again in order to save one of them from abuse. 

If you have been wondering how and why the church today has become so weak and ineffective, all you have to do is look at what they’ve done over the years.

Churches have repeated the motto: “Every is welcome here.”  This may sound harsh and intolerant, but everyone is NOT welcome into churches! The enemy is very subtle and very seldom plans a direct attack. Like a frog that is slowly boiled in water, he will start so slow so that most will never sense what he’s trying to do until it’s too late.

At first the church welcomed unbelievers into their worship services with open arms. Then in order to make them feel even more welcomed, they allowed them to be part of the congregation by allowing them to join the choir or work in the church nursery. Then they allowed them to teach a Sunday school class. And before you know it, they‘re preaching their unbiblical and humanistic views from the pulpit! 

Haggai dealt with the same problem in his day. This is how he handled it: He asked a priest, “If a man carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does that item become holy?’” “No,” replied the priests. So Haggai asked, “If one who is defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled?” “Yes, it becomes defiled,” the priests answered. Then Haggai replied, “So it is with this people and this nation before Me, declares the LORD, and so it is with every work of their hands; whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:12-14)

I’m not suggesting that we post guards at the church doors and check people for their salvation. But I am suggesting that we become more discerning on who we invite to worship with us. 

Many have told me that they invite unsaved friends and loved ones to join them at church so they can hear the gospel. Then they need to repent of their laziness and share the gospel with them theirself as Jesus commanded! There is not one place in Scripture where we are commanded to invite unbelievers into a congregation so that they can hear the word of God.

Go ahead and check. I’ll wait.

If you wash your hair, shower and put on deodorant, and then hug a skunk, will the skunk begin to smell good, or will you become stinky? If you are in good health and visit a contagious friend in the hospital, will your good health make your sick friend well, or will his contagious disease make you sick? It is the same with sin. As the apostle Paul wrote: Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33—Taken from Deuteronomy 7:25)

This has been proven true time and time again when our teenagers get “mixed up in the wrong crowd” and get into trouble.

It would do us well to remember Psalm 106: 32-43: “…but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them…So the anger of the LORD burned against His people, and He abhorred His own inheritance. He delivered them into the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them.”

The attitude of most church goers has gotten so bad that it’s hard to tell the difference between those who CLAIM to be believers in Jesus and those who refuse to even acknowledge that God exists! 

So many Christians talk about how we are living in the last days before Jesus returns, but we need to remind each other that judgment will begin in the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17) So let us pray for God’s people to repent and return to God, seek His face and obey His word. 

To obey is better than sacrifice

I don’t need your money

I want your life

And I hear you say that I’m coming back soon

But you act like I’ll never return

The U.S. is now less than a year away from the most consequential election, and not one of the remaining presidential candidates has prioritized addressing child sexual abuse (CSA) as a platform issue. 

Many of these survivors of CSA are now adult voters and they aren’t just people looking for services. They are constituents looking for a change to the system. They are working people, taxpayers and consumers who push through their trauma every day— despite being erased by a world that tells them they aren’t as important as the economy and climate change. The MeToo movement began to shed light on the behavior of wealthy and powerful predators, but the media and politicians are more focused on sexual harassment in the workplace than on the sexual assaults on children taking place in our homes across the country! 

If it is traumatic for a grown woman to be groped or sexually assaulted by a man, how much more traumatic must it be for a 7, 8 or 9 year old to be sexually assaulted by someone they know and trust?

90% of victims of CSA know their abuser well. Many of them live in the same home with them. And even when a perpetrator is arrested and convicted, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender. But 23 states in America place no restrictions on child sex offenders. So many of them return to and continue their daily lives without much consequence or repercussions. 

Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13. 

This kind of early childhood trauma has been documented to cause life-long mental, emotional and physical health problems for victims well into adulthood. 

A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can even become suicidal. 

Adult intervention is key to saving children from this kind of abuse and giving them a chance at a healthier, happier outcome. Mandated reporting laws support this type of intervention by requiring certain adults to tell the authorities about suspected child abuse. But many times the mandated reporter is also the perpetrator! 

President Trump recently made animal cruelty a felony. But there is no federal law that places restrictions on convicted perpetrators of CSA. In fact, there are stricter restrictions on those who abuse animals than for those who abuse children!

With no presidential candidate that seems willing to publicly grapple with this bipartisan issue, we must raise our voices and demand that the men and women who want to represent us in the White House, as well as those in local political offices, speak directly to and respond to this national epidemic. And it is especially important that adult survivors of CSA speak out.

Many politicians often say that children are our future. But what kind of future will we have if millions of our children will be wounded adults who struggle with emotional and mental problems because of childhood trauma? 

Mahatma Gandhi once said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” If this quote is to be believed, where does that leave us? We deserve a country that values the safety of our children, since our future well being and prosperity depends on it.

I realize that this may offend some, but I must speak God’s truth rather than continue to promote traditions and myths.

 I am continually amazed at how Christians who claim that God, who loves everyone, believe that this same God will condemn the unrighteous to an eternity of torment in a burning hell.

And why these same Christians become so upset when you show them in Scripture that God will only condemn the unrighteous to the “Second Death”—Never to exist again. Is it any wonder that unbelievers resist and reject anything that these Christians tell them about their “loving God”? 

So if a forever burning hell does not exist, just where did this belief come from?

To understand the source of the idea that people are tortured in an ever-burning hell, we have to go outside the Scriptures. That should send up a red flag for anyone who regards the Bible as his or her only truth and source of belief.

“People are deterred from evil courses when, either through descriptions or through typical representations of objects unseen, they learn of divine punishments, terrors, and threats….There is need of religious fear also, and this cannot be aroused without myths and marvels.” —First-century Greek philosopher, Strabo  

Plato (ca. 428–347 B.C.E.) became a key figure in the development of this idea. His name appears frequently in the writings of Augustine, who noted that the Greek scholar had “perfected philosophy” and that he “is justly preferred to all the other philosophers of the Gentiles.” (City of God 8.4) 

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which describes Augustine as a “Christian Neoplatonist,” remarks: “One of the decisive developments in the western philosophical tradition was the eventually widespread merging of the Greek philosophical tradition and the Judeo-Christian religious and scriptural traditions. Augustine is one of the main figures through and by whom this merging was accomplished.” 

One of the key tenets of Neoplatonic thought adopted by Augustine was that humans possess natural immortality of the soul. This was a critical step in his developing the idea that unbelievers could be made to endure eternal torment in hell.

What does the Bible teach?

Pagan cultures and philosophies have contributed greatly to modern concepts of hell. But what does the Bible itself say on the subject? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word often translated as “hell” is Sheol, though it actually means “the grave.” The Greek word, “Hades” means the same thing as the Hebrew word, Sheol—The grave.

In the New Testament, we find that the the word most often used for hell by Christians is Gehenna, referring to the Gehenna Valley, or the Valley of Hinnom. Just outside the walls of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day it was where the local population dumped and burned trash.  

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that the Gehenna Valley “acquired a bad reputation because sacrifices were offered in it to Moloch in the days of Ahaz and Manasseh. (kings of Judah) The Valley of Hinnom came to be equated with the hell of the last judgment in apocalyptic literature.” In extra-biblical Jewish writings from the second century B.C.  the name Gehinnom thus came to be used for the eschatological fire of hell. In the first century A.D. the term was further extended to cover the place where the ungodly were punished, but this was not so in the teachings of Jesus or the Early Church. 

According to Jeremiah 7, the Israelite inhabitants of the region had erected idols in the temple of God, and in the adjacent valley they had set up altars to these false gods. They had even burned their children on these altars to appease their pagan gods. 

In Jeremiah 19:4–7, the prophet offers this message from God: “‘Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built high places to Baal to burn their sons in fire as burnt offerings to Baal, . . . therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Jehovah, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.” 

This is how Gehenna was known in Jeremiah’s day. In the New Testament, the word Gehenna is generally used in references to the final destruction of evildoers. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”(Gehenna) (Matthew 10:28) 

In other words, people can kill you, but they can kill only the body. Don’t fear them; fear the One who can put an end to you forever. 

Many Christians today might ask, But what about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:41? “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’”? And what about Mark 9:47-48? “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” 

In both cases the eternal fire is used in order to prevent them from wreaking any more havoc on the rest of God’s creation. But the “eternal fire” of hell has been misunderstood by the majority of people for many centuries. Note that “everlasting fire” (Matt 25:41) and “eternal fire” (Jude 7) are from the same original words. It is not the fire itself but its effects that are everlasting as in Jude 7: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” 

Of course, Sodom and Gomorrah are not still burning yet they “are set forth for an example” of the results of a sinful course.

And the “worm does not die” in Mark 9:47-48 is referring to maggots. Maggots do not die. They later turn into flies and make more maggots. And the Lake of Fire will not be quenched, but it will eventually burn itself out—Just as a campfire or a charcoal grill will eventually burn itself out. 

The apostle Peter writes: ”And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly;” (2 Pet 2:6) 

The wicked will be burned completely, not burning forever in an eternal fire. “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal 4:3) It is the destruction, not the process that is forever.

The Bible is very clear about what happens to the unrighteous after the resurrection:

“When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever!” (Psalms 92:7)

“Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalms 104:35)

“A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.” (Psalm 37:10)

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) *Perish, not tormented forever in a burning hell. 

“But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” (Psalms 37:20)

And Psalm 59:12-13 says, “By the sins of their mouths and the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride, in the curses and lies they utter. Consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, so it may be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. Selah” 

There are many more Scripture verses that reveal the truth about God’s loving judgments. And the Bible is always clear when you allow it to explain itself.

So what is wrong with believing in and teaching that there is a forever burning hell reserved for the unsaved if some are saved and come to serve God because of it? Because God has not called us to frighten sinners into repentance. And if a person is only following God out of fear, their faith and love for God is not real. They are only using God as a fire escape. And what trauma this will cause them when a loved one dies without Jesus, and they believe that God condemned them to an eternity in a forever burning hell? How then, can you profess to be a follower of Jesus and “love your neighbor as yourself” and yet refuse to speak the truth? 

Many are wondering why the world has become so ugly and hate filled—even by those who claim to be God’s people. The Bible gives us a very direct answer:

“Where there is no prophetic vision or divine guidance, the people cast off restraint. But blessed is he who obeys God’s law.” (Proverbs 29:18)

What is this prophetic vision or divine guidance? It is “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” (Col. 1:26) If a people do not hear and obey God’s Word, then we can only expect society to break down—even within local churches. 

We see it within our own government officials and throughout the world. With the next presidential election coming up this year we hear all kinds of promises from the candidates: Immigration reform, equality for women, ending sex trafficking, Medicare for all, free college education, higher minimum wage, and taxing the wealthy to pay for it all. 

But do you know what won’t be mentioned in any of the speeches? Human rights for children, how to prevent sexual abuse of children and how to protect children from pedophiles living in their own homes or employed at their schools and daycares.

It was recently reported that at least 56 Nebraska educators were linked to sexual misconduct since 2014! Fifty six! And that’s only the ones who were reported! 

At least 74 students or recent high school graduates were victimized. In some cases, the abuse occurred years before the perpetrators were caught!  

  • In return for pictures of a 14-year-old student’s naked breasts, a Norfolk student teacher bumped the girl’s grade from a 79 to a 95. (He was only sentenced to six months in jail)
  • A Loup City teacher set up a camera in a locker room to spy on high school girls changing their clothes. 
  • An Omaha middle school math teacher groomed and then sexually assaulted a female student in his classroom during lunch.

A national expert said less than 10% of abused students tell somebody about the abuse because of fear, guilt or a misguided desire to protect the educator.

(read more at https://www.omaha.com/news/plus/i-m-really-disgusted-to-see-that-number-nebraska-educators/article_3fd2f36a-d6d2-59ae-baab-74fbb029f90c.html)

While many will be outraged by this, (and rightly so) they may be ringing their hands and asking, “How could this happen?” The truth is the reason there is so much immorality today is because God’s Word is not obeyed. And God’s way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30) But the real danger lies in defiling a holy God by transgressing His boundaries. Our God is a God of justice, and “the ways of man are before the eyes of the Jehovah, and all his ways He observes.” (Proverbs 5:21)

Stories of racism and anti-semitism has been in all of the news outlets lately. I just want to say that I love the people of Israel. But I also love the people of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia—Just as much as I love the mixed people living in the United States. The problem is not the people, but the political and military leaders of these people. 

It is time that the God fearing people in the world today put away their hate, repent, turn back to God and pray for our enemies. Remember: 

“You are far across the ocean in a war that’s your own—And while you’re winning theirs, you’re gonna lose the one at home—Do you really think the only way to bring about the peace—Is to sacrifice your children and kill all your enemies?” — Great American Novel by Larry Norman

 

 

Hanukkah and Christmas are similar in the fact that they both promote false narratives and traditions of men.

The Hanukkah story essentially describes a culture war—Us against them, rather than us against the Greeks and Syrians.The Hellenists were the Jews who had assimilated into the Greek culture, adopted some of the Greek ways of life and incorporated them into the Jewish culture. The group led by the Maccabees resisted any outside influences and not only purged the Greeks, but even their own countrymen. Similar to those in the United States today where much of the population is involved in some sort of culture war and promoting false narratives.

Although the New Testament records that Jesus was at the temple during the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-23) I don’t believe he was there lighting  a nine branched menorah and playing Dreidel. 

The real story of Hanukkah begins with a revolt, for reasons that would resonate to this day—gross inequality, immoral ideology and religious coercion. The truth is, is that Hanukkah originally had nothing to do with a miraculous oil supply or playing Dreidel, any more than the birth of Jesus originally had anything to do with decorating trees and houses, Mistletoe, caroling or exchanging gifts. 

I see nothing wrong with family traditions as long as they don’t take away from God’s truth of  the Bible. 

Since the Bible teaches that we are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 3:16) perhaps we should consider rededicating ourselves to God, just as the Jews rededicated God’s temple. 

For more information see:

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/the-astonishing-real-story-of-hanukkah-1.5296084

https://www.livescience.com/61073-hanukkah-history-traditions.html