Posts Tagged ‘religion’

In all, only 27 states have rules restricting how close sex offenders can live to schools and other places where groups of children may gather, according to research by the Council of State Governments.

But these laws are based on the myth that there is a stranger who is lurking in the bushes and dark alleys and grabbing children off the street. When in fact, less than 10% of all child sex abuse cases are perpetrated by strangers. Over 90% of child sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows well. And over 60% are committed by a family member. In nearly all cases involving a family member sexually assaulting a child, the perpetrator is only sentenced to probation—And many times is allowed to return to the home where the crime took place!

A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study in 2003, the most recent available, found that 5.3 percent of inmates released from prison after being convicted of a sex offense are arrested for another sexual offense within three years. Although researchers generally acknowledge that the recidivism rate may be much higher because these crimes are often underreported.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) which is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, was supposed to provide a new comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. These Guidelines were issued to provide guidance and assistance to covered jurisdictions—the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the principal U.S. territories, and Indian tribal governments—in implementing the SORNA standards in their sex offender registration and notification programs. But these requirements are only informational in nature and do not restrict where sex offenders can live. (https://www.smart.gov/pdfs/final_sornaguidelines.pdf)

For example, The Nebraska Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. Again, this is a common misperception. The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

That means that someone who has been convicted of sexually abusing a child in Nebraska and is sentenced to probation is free to attend or work in schools, children museums, daycare centers and even live with other vulnerable children!

Many people have been told that if you want changes in laws and policies you need to write to your senator. Well, I have written to over 20 Nebraska state senators, the governor, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and even President Donald Trump, asking them to change the SOR laws in order to better protect victims of child sexual abuse from their abusers. Sadly, most did not respond. And the few that did respond, told me that there was nothing that they could do. Nothing that they could do?!

A senator is called, among other thing to:

  • Represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district.
  • Protect property and persons, strengthen our productive capacity, and create new opportunities.
  • Right injustices involving the public.
  • Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed.

Two senators told me that I should contact the Nebraska Inspector General about the SOR. But according to its website, the OIG does not have the authority or ability to look into complaints relating to the court process, such as decisions made by judges, the conduct of attorneys, or immediate concerns about the safety of children. http://oig.legislature.ne.gov/?page_id=15

I wrote one Senator and asked how I could address the Nebraska Legislature myself on the subject of Child Sexual Abuse and the SOR laws and he responded by telling me:

“ The podium is under the authority of the Speaker of the Legislature…it is highly unlikely that the speaker would approve of such a request.”

If this is true, then why is it that on the Nebraska Legislature’s website it states:

“At public hearings, citizens have an opportunity within the time available to make their views known or have them incorporated into the official committee record. In Nebraska, gubernatorial appointments and most bills, with the exception of a few technical bills, receive a public hearing by one of the Legislature’s committees.” http://nebraskalegislature.gov/about/testifying.php

If a senator is called to, “Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed”, but introduce bills that do more to protect sex offenders than their victims, then the prophecy of Isaiah 5:20 has come true: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

In February of this year Nebraska State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln introduced Legislative Bill 289 that would require anyone trafficking an adult and soliciting a trafficked adult to carry a minimum of a year and a maximum of 50 years in prison. “When you consider the horrors of this crime, probation is nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” she said.

Senator Brett Linstom also introduced a bill that would require non-custodial parents be notified if a sex offender is living with or has unsupervised access to their child.

And yet, neither of these bills does anything to deter those who commit these heinous crimes against children, nor do they do anything to protect the victims. But…they make good sound bites and help them get re-elected.

But it’s not just our politicians who are to blame. There are many who have taken to the streets protesting for the rights of women, for the LGBT community, for religious freedom, and even for the right to spread hateful propaganda. But no one is taking to the streets to protest against the 1 in 5 children who are abused, molested and raped in their own homes every day—Or the judges who only sentence the perpetrators to probation for their crime!

Sadly, there are stricter punishments and restrictions for those who abuse animals than for those who abuse children!

Almost everyone has seen the ASPCA’s heart wrenching TV commercial that portrays abused and neglected dogs and cats. The use of emotion in the commercial is clearly evident. What better way to urge viewers to donate money than by showing pictures of sorry-looking, hurt animals with Sarah McLachlan’s song, ‘In The Arms Of An Angel’ playing in the background? I have to admit that it is a very moving, emotional, (and productive) commercial. The ASPCA garnered over $30 million from that commercial.

Very few people won’t cringe at the sight of the graphic images featuring badly injured animals in crates and cages.

But maybe the next time you see that commercial try to think of the more than 300,000 children who are abused and neglected in the same way (and worse) every year in this country.

Of course if someone made a commercial about abused children using the same method as the ASPCA, it would probably be banned from TV. (If it even was allowed to be aired to begin with)

We have truly become what what described in the Bible as living in the last days:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)

Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) How many sermons have you heard denouncing child sexual abuse?

I for one, will not stop advocating on behalf of those children who have been treated worse than animals. I will not go quietly into the night. I will not turn back. I will continue to be a voice for those who are afraid to speak.

What will you do?

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

Read correspondence below:

Sample Letter to Senators

Response from Sara Howard

Response From Governor

Response From Don Bacon

Response from Brett Lindstrom

Letter to Betsy DeVoss

Letter From Sec. of Ed

Shavuot is a little known holiday among Christians today. It is ironic to me, since it commemorates the single most important event in Judeo-Christian history—the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. And in the 3,300 years since, the Torah’s ideals—monotheism, justice, responsibility—have become the moral basis for Western civilization.

Shavuot (Hebrew for “Weeks”) occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June). Shavuot commemorates the early harvest in the land of Israel. (See Leviticus 23:9-16 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11) It is one of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals. It also commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Since Shavuot occurs 50 days (7 weeks) after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known in Christian circles as “Pentecost,” a Greek word meaning “50 days.” Shavuot, however, has no connection to the Christian Pentecost holiday.

Many people today are taught that after leaving Egypt on the day of the Passover, only Jews traveled into the Sinai desert. And there, God spoke to the entire Jewish nation and  instructed them to keep the Ten Commandments He inscribed on the stone tablets. (See Deuteronomy 4:1-14) So they mistakenly assume that all of the feasts mentioned in the Old Testament are meant only for Jews. But what most Christians fail to understand is that when the Hebrews left Egypt they were also joined by non-Hebrew people. We read in Exodus 12:38 that a “mixed multitude” went with them. Some perhaps, willing to leave their country after it was laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love for the Hebrews and their religion. And the same laws applied both to the native-born Hebrew and to the foreigner. (verse 49) Also, the Bible never refers to the feasts as Jewish feasts, but the “Feasts of the Lord”. (See Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezra 3:5)

How to Celebrate Shavuot

In biblical times, Shavuot was tied to the agricultural calendar. It originally celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest seven weeks after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). Counting the omer between the holidays added an element of anticipation of looking forward to Shavuot and a bountiful harvest. On this pilgrimage feast, Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to offer the first portion of their crops to the Lord in thanksgiving for His provision of food.

Celebrating the Spiritual Harvest

But Shavuot is more than the celebration of the first fruits of a physical harvest. Today, we observe it as the first fruits of a spiritual harvest. On the first Shavuot after Jesus’s death and resurrection, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit that enabled them to speak so that many people in attendance heard their words in their native tongue! Many who heard these messages in their own languages were amazed, though others thought the disciples were just drunk. (Acts 2:12)

Peter went on to explain that Jesus had been raised from the dead and God had poured out His Spirit in fulfillment of His promise through Joel 2:32-33. When the crowd asked what they should do, Peter urged them to turn their lives around and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Then they would be forgiven and would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-39) About 3,000 people were added to the church that same day!

Just as Jesus promised, God sent His Spirit on that Shavuot to enable His people to be witnesses for Him: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Anticipating the Future Harvest

Thus, Shavuot is a reminder that we are living in anticipation of a harvest that is yet to come when people from every nation will be gathered into God’s Kingdom. Until that final harvest time, God expects us to be His witnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to all peoples and nations. And He has empowered us for this task. How we celebrate Shavuot can impact the size of that future harvest as we obey God’s commandments and share the gospel to all peoples, nations and tongues.

True obedience or just looking good? 

“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

In our human attempts to look good in serving God, there is the temptation to perform certain religious duties rather than to truly obey God. Even good activities, such as giving money to charity, attending church services, or praying in public, are not as important to God as obeying His commands. Disobedience is an act of rebellion, disrespects God’s Word, and is based on looking good to other people rather than to God.

Jesus criticized the teachers of his time for similar practices. Matthew 6 notes three religious activities—fasting, public prayer, and giving to those in need. People often use these things to look good in front of other people rather than to honor God. The problem is not our religious activities or good works, but the disobedience of God’s commands and the desire for approval of people rather than the approval of God.

Charles Spurgen once wrote: “The first thing which God requires of his child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor, yet if you do not hearken to the Lord’s precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, come not thou into their secret.”

Many are up in arms after President Trump told Bill O’Riley in comparing the U.S. to Russia, that “America has killers.” Sometimes the truth upsets people. Especially when it’s an ugly truth.

Targeted killing is a modern euphemism used for the assassination (premeditated killing) of an individual by a state organization or institution outside a judicial procedure or a battlefield. According to a senior CIA official, from July 2008 to June 1, 2011, the CIA launched 220 strikes inside Pakistan. The agency said that some 1,400 suspected militants were killed, along with about thirty civilians. The United States government also carried out the “targeted killing” of Anwar al-Awlaki—A United States citizen who was killed without due process. And two weeks later also killed his 16 year old son without any proof that he was even involved in any terrorist activities. Mayor Marion Barry infamously stated, “Washington should not be called the murder capital of the world. We are the targeted killing capital of the world.”

In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.” This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/inside-the-cias-kill-list/

In an interview on ‘Face The Nation’ John Dickerson asked Vice-President Mike Pence, “Do you think America is morally superior to Russia?” Although Pence skirted around the question, the answer should have been an unequivocal NO.

So, do I think America is morally superior to Russia? 

Absolutely not! Not when U.N. workers and military personnel are allowed to rape women and children without any repercussions; or when 1 in 5 children are molested and raped in their own homes and the perpetrators are allowed to walk free; or when people are more concerned about a women’s right to abortion than they are about the homeless; when our children are taught how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STD’s instead of moral purity; and when Bible believing Christians are reduced to name calling and using vulgar language simply because they disagree with someone, then no, we are not morally superior to Russia—or any other country that places human wisdom above God.

When it comes to morals, we have the same age old problem that the rest of the world has: All of us have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And when a nation collectively rejects God and His wisdom, “Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together.” (Micah 7:1)

Every civilization that rejected God’s laws and instead depended on their own wisdom, fell into moral decay and then finally deteriorated into near destruction. So must we remain under God’s wrath? Are we all doomed for destruction? No! There is another way laid open for us. This is the righteousness of God—That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) It is by that faith by which we are delivered and spared destruction. A faith that respects Christ as a Savior, in all his three anointed offices as Prophet, Priest, and King; trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him.

In this way Russians, Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, Mexicans—are all welcome to be partakers of God’s grace through Christ. There is no difference, his righteousness is upon all that believe. It is a free grace; there is nothing in ourselves or our own works that deserve such favor; it comes freely to us. But Christ bought and paid the price for that grace with his own blood.

So let us not trample the blood of Christ beneath our feet by giving in to the temptation to lash out; to pay evil for evil. But instead, let us be a light that will lead the world to our only hope: To repent of our wickedness and return to God’s ways. Remember: “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2 )

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Scream! Kick! Run!

That’s what kids are taught to do when confronted with a stranger trying to harm them. But the advice to “scream, kick and run” doesn’t work with a step-parent or Good ol’ Uncle Joe. It is not the responsibility of children to defend themselves against adults. Adults need to step up and be protectors for children.

Ask nearly anyone and they will say that they would speak up if they thought a child was being sexually abused. Almost no one believes they would knowingly allow harmful sexual behavior to continue if they knew for sure that it was going on. And yet, millions of children continue to suffer from sexual abuse in their own homes. Many of them believe, correctly, that someone else knows, or should know, about their situation. But then little or nothing is done to protect them. Some children tell adults what’s going on; seeking protection and help, only to be met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment.

Approximately 90% of children who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family. Step-parents, family friends, relatives and persons in positions of authority over the child are more likely than strangers to commit  sexual assaults against the child. In fact, a child who lives with someone other than their biological parent is 33 times more likely to suffer from child sexual abuse than a child who lives with biological parents.

One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

These numbers may be even higher because many child sexual abuse victims never disclose their abuse to anyone. Less than 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the police. The average age for first time sexual abuse is 9 years old!

Imagine for a moment that you’re the child who has been sexually abused by someone in the safety of your own home—In your own bedroom! You may feel doubly betrayed by someone’s failure to help. You were in danger, they could have protected you but they chose not to. And to make matters worse, when you speak up to the one person that you trusted to tell, they refuse to believe you or actually blame you! No excuses or rationalizations for their failure would seem acceptable.

Would you feel more anger toward a non-abusive adult who didn’t speak up or toward the person who actually abused you? You may have expected the worst from the abuser, who was clearly deeply disturbed and had little or no concern for you, but you expected better from someone who was supposed to be caring, loving and worthy of trust. And this anger may last for decades.

There are over 805,000 sex offenders living free in the united states today. Texas and California has the most with over 80,000 followed by Florida with nearly 70,000. You can check your own state HERE.

The crime of silence in the Church

The statistics of child sexual abuse are startling to say the least. But what makes this even more heartbreaking is that these statistics aren’t much different in the Church. The apostle Paul spoke against this type of sin to the Corinthian Church: “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do.” (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) He went on to rebuke them for not doing anything about it.

Many in the Church today are guilty of the same thing. But what is even more repugnant is when child sexual abuse is discovered within a church member’s home and many decide to hide it within the walls of their church rather than report it to the police. This is not only ludicrous and unbiblical, it is against the law!

In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul teaches that believers are to be subject to the civil authorities. “For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong.” (Romans 13:1-4) Child sexual abuse has been deemed to be criminal by the civil authorities deserving just punishment. Child sexual abuse should be a matter of public alarm. Not only because of the long term psychological problems it causes for the child, but also because of the ripple effect it causes in countless of lives.

While the right to silence is a right we have in order to guard against self-incrimination, a witness of a crime who doesn’t stand up and testify on behalf of the victim of a crime is held as an accomplice in the crime. (Leviticus 5: 1)

Abuse flourishes when adults do not take responsibility for protecting children. Many Christians would rather avoid this difficult topic, and so they do not understand how abusers operate. Abusers almost always go out of their way to appear trustworthy. They are master manipulators. They disarm with a facade of generosity and kindness. With the Bible so readily available to us, we in the Church should be least likely to fall prey to this, but sadly we do.

So what do we do?

First, adults must own up to the problem of child sexual abuse and accept responsibility for protecting children in their care.

Secondly, we must report suspected child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. Child sexual abuse is a crime, and in many states an adult’s failure to report a reasonable suspicion of abuse is also a crime. Serious crimes should not be addressed with church discipline alone, and there are few crimes worse than child rape and molestation.

Sadly, even when perpetrators are arrested and charged with child sexual abuse, many times they are allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and most judges only sentence them to probation and register as a sex offender.

Sadly, the Sex Offender Registration law in many states does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders.This is a common misperception.The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from entering schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, daycare centers or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. Period!

You can be a voice for victims of child sexual abuse by writing to your senators. Last year I wrote to the Governor of Nebraska and 18 senators, voicing my concern about sexual child abuse and the SOR law. All of them ignored me. So I wrote to two more senators. There are now a few senators that drafted a bill that will do more to protect children from sexual predators. They plan to bring it to the senate floor during the next session. It’s not all that I wanted, but it’s a small step toward it.

I am just one person. Imagine what would happen if hundreds of you wrote the same kind of letters to your senators. Information on how to contact your senator is at: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

We must be willing to openly confront child sexual abuse and give of ourselves so that those impacted by it can experience the healing and transformative power of Jesus.

For decades, adults have put the burden on children to come forward if they are being abused. This status quo has failed. Because abusers spin a web of manipulation and lies around a child, children cannot protect themselves and rarely tell about abuse without another adult’s help. While teaching our kids about their bodies and sexual boundaries are vital, these actions alone cannot keep kids safe. Adults must take that burden off children. The antidote to child sexual abuse is faithful adults working together to create a safe environment for children.

For more information on what you and your church can do to protect children from sexual predators visit: http://byfaithonline.com/key-questions-about-child-sexual-abuse-in-the-church/

 

Update:

I recently received letters from Nebraska senators Sara Howard and Brett Lindstrom who are working to bring bills to the legislature that will provide more protection for child sex abuse victims. Brett Lindstrom has introduced bill LB60 to address custody issues and convicted sex offenders living in the homes of children. It mandates that the non-custodial parent receive written notification when a sex offender is residing with the children or is allowed unsupervised contact with the children. It also clarifies the standard judges must use when declaring their opinions to what is in the best interest of the children and that there is no significant risk to the children in doing so.

Sara Howard has created the Office of Inspector General specifically to provide independent oversight of the child welfare system. The recent report by the Inspector General discovered that at least 36 children in foster care had been sexually abused over the last three years. Sara Howard is on the Health and Human Services committee and will be working with the Inspector General on how to improve the system.

This is not everything I had hoped for, but it’s a good start. Just imagine what would happen if hundreds of people wrote to their senators.

Many Christians believe that God’s Old Testament Laws were done away with and fulfilled by Jesus’ death and resurrection—that we are no longer under the Law, but under grace and we no loner are required to observe many of them—Including the Holy Feast Days.

But whose Feasts are they?

Even before the Old Covenant was ratified and before he scaled Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God, Moses was instructed about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. God told Moses, “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.“ (See Exodus 12:12-17)

Note that in Exodus 12:38 it says that a “mixed multitude” went with them—ie; non-Hebrew people, or Goyim. (Hebrew for other nations) Some, perhaps were willing to leave their country because it was laid waste by plagues; others may have been Egyptian slaves who saw the Exodus as a chance for freedom. And perhaps still others left out of a love for the Hebrews and their religion. The point is, is that there were always non-Jews living among the Israelites.

Concerning these Goyim, God told Moses, “If there are foreigners living among you who want to celebrate the LORD’s Passover, let all their males be circumcised. Only then may they celebrate the Passover with you like any native-born Israelite. But no uncircumcised male may ever eat the Passover meal. This instruction applies to everyone, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner living among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49) In other words, God’s instructions applies to EVERYONE—whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner!

We learn in Leviticus 23 that ALL the feasts of the Bible are “festivals to the Lord.  And each of the seven annual Feast observances, God commands Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (Lev. 23:2) He leaves us with no doubt as to whom these observances belong. They are God’s Feasts—not Israel’s; and not feasts just for the Jews! So Scripture proves that all these special annual festivals and Sabbaths belong to God and are given to those who seek to truly know and love Him.

But where are the Goyim today?

First, we need to understand that all Jews are Israelites; but not all Israelites are Jews. Just like all Navajos are Native American; but not all Native Americans are Navajo. When God called Abraham, He promised him that because of his obedience, his descendants would become a great nation and that in him all nations of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3) The physical blessings God gave Abraham would continue through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, also called Israel, whose 12 sons were the progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel. There was also a spiritual promise that all nations would be blessed through Jesus Christ, who was a descendant of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-34)

The Jews make up the kingdom of Judah and Benjamin, But who are the other 10 tribes of Israel today? Although the Bible does not specifically name the modern nations representing all of these people, there is biblical, historical and archaeological evidence that make it possible for us to positively identify the United States, Britain and many of the nations of Western Europe as the nations where descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel largely reside today.

Although God had promised that He would punish the people of ancient Israel for their sins, He also promised that He would not completely destroy them. Instead, God said He would preserve them as He scattered them among the nations.

Speaking through the prophet Amos, God said: “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the LORD. For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.” (Amos 9:8-9)

The introduction to the book of James says, “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” which confirms that some in the early New Testament Church knew where at least some of the descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel were located.

The Bible also indicates that the ancient Israelites would eventually migrate in a northwesterly direction away from Jerusalem. According to a prophecy in Isaiah 49:6, God will not only “restore the preserved ones of Israel”, but He will also “give light to the Gentiles”. (Goyim) In verse 12 we read that these people will come from “the north and the west” back to Jerusalem.

When the Assyrians conquered Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, they transported many of the Israelites “to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” (2 Kings 17:6) Shortly after the Israelites came into these lands, scholars note the appearance of people in this area called Cimmerians and Scythians.

The Jewish historian Josephus stated that “the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country [Media]; wherefore there are but two tribes [Judah and Benjamin] in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.” (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2, Complete Works of Flavius Josephus)

In addition to biblical and historical evidence, Scythian burial grounds have indicated a connection between these people and those of Nordic ancestry. In July 2006 in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia near China and Russia, scientists made a rare find. German scientists who were part of the discovery team reported that the extremely well preserved mummy of a Scythian warrior was that of a 30 to 40 year old man with blond hair. Blond hair, of course, is a characteristic of Europeans not Mongols. Prior to the discovery of this mummy, artifacts obtained from numerous Scythian burial grounds had likewise indicated that these people were related to Europeans rather than Mongols.

This should prove to anyone with an open mind that the people of the United States, Britain and many of the nations of Western Europe are the actual descendants of the tribes of Israel. Only God could arrange things in order to fulfill His prophecy of Amos 9:8-9 to scatter the house of Israel among all nations! While this historical knowledge is not critical for salvation, it does help one to better understand our connection to Israel and end-time prophecies.

But what about the “New Rules” in Acts 15?

In Acts 15:19-22 we read, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.”

It would seem at first glance that the apostles agreed that the only thing required of the new converts was to abstain from idols, from fornication, from things strangled and from eating blood. But rather than isolate one verse alone and build on that, one must look at the whole chapter. Only in proper context will the meaning become clear. Consider Acts 15:5-11. What group was demanding conversion by circumcision? What was the apostle’s response to this particular group’s demand and why? What does other scripture teach regarding observance for believers—both Gentile and Jewish? Only after answering these questions can one arrive at what this passage is really teaching.

Verse 21 seems to show that while the Torah wasn’t forced on Gentiles all at once, it was understood they would learn it gradually over time, hearing it each week in the synagogues. Just as the Bible isn’t forced on Christians in a day either—they too, receive it over time. The apostle Paul suggested that the new believers be allowed to start off on these four laws so they would have the bare basics to begin fellowshipping with their Jewish brethren and they would learn the rest of Torah each Shabbat at synagogue. Only after pointing out that the Gentiles would learn Torah weekly did it please the apostles and elders to send this letter out to the various churches. (vs 22)

The common misunderstanding.

The mistaken assumption many make is in thinking that all laws in the Old Testament are the same. The fact is, we find five different kinds of law in Scriptures:

  • Spiritual law
  • Civil law
  • Ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial law
  • Judicial-criminal law
  • Natural law

The Feasts (as well as the Ten Commandments) fall into the category of spiritual laws. They reveal the spiritual attributes of God and they transform us spiritually to be more like Jesus when we observe them. They also remind us of how God will always watch over us and protect us with His mighty power.

It was understood by all the apostles that God’s Torah was never changed or replaced. We also know that Jesus considered the “traditions of man” not equal to written Torah, in fact, sometimes the oral tradition (Talmud) violated the written Torah. (Mark 7:7- 9)

The apostles upheld written Torah but frowned on the legalism of oral law. So who is making the demands in Acts 15:5? The Pharisees are. So, Acts 15 is basically dealing with whether Gentiles needed to convert according to Pharisaic tradition; that is, become proselytes to Pharisaic Judaism by circumcision. We know Gentiles could be saved without becoming proselytes—the believing of Cornelius and his family proves this.

Notice that the Pharisee’s complaint wasn’t “we demand that they eat kosher and observe God’s Feast Days and the Sabbaths.” This would be redundant since the Law of Moses already included these individual laws. But circumcision is singled out not as merely 1 of the 613 Pharisaic laws, but instead as the means of making a proselyte to Pharisaic Judaism. That is why Peter argued against this attempt of the Pharisees to put a yoke on the new believers. (Acts 15:7-11)

Note that the oral tradition of the Jews is a burden—Just as some of the oral traditions of the Christian Church is a burden. They are both man’s attempt to enslave others. But in God’s Laws there is freedom. (Leviticus 26:13) God didn’t give us His Laws to enslave us. God gave us His Laws to free us! God’s Laws are never a burden; it is man’s ADDITIONS to God’s Laws that are the burden. (1 John 5:3; James 1:25; Matthew 23:4)

The only laws that were changed by the New Covenant of Jesus were  the ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial laws. The book of Hebrews speaks of that change. (Hebrews 9:9-14)

These ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial laws had been added to the spiritual laws because of Israel’s continued transgressions. (Gal. 3:19) It was imperative that Israel learn the important lesson that sin is a serious thing that separates us from God and requires blood shedding for atonement. But now we rely on the Savior as the ultimate sacrifice, who now intercedes for us as our High Priest. His blood and not the blood of bulls and goats is the only effective antidote to blot out sin. THIS is the change in the law that the Bible speaks of.

We find nothing here or anywhere else in the Scriptures about a change in our responsibility to keep the spiritual laws—meaning either the Ten Commandments or God’s Feast days. Because neither the Commandments nor God’s annual Feast Days are part of the sacrificial laws that were changed with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Did Jesus’ death and resurrection change God’s spiritual laws?

Matthew 5:17 is the scripture that is most quoted in order to show that Jesus did away with the Law. “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.” However, they leave off verse 18 where Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (NLT)

Is heaven and earth still here? Yes! Has everything in God’s Word been fulfilled? No! Is the Law of God still in effect? Yes! Jesus says it is! Jesus continues to explain the laws and commandments of God when he says: “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (v19)

Although the Ancient Israelites understood the physical basis for keeping the law, they did not comprehend the spiritual intent and meaning of the laws and commandments of God. The part of the plan of God for the salvation of humanity called for Jesus Christ to come and explain the spiritual intent and meaning of these laws and commandments. This is precisely what he did.

Many Christians pick out Colossians 2:16-18 and mistakingly believe that Paul is telling us not to observe the feasts: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 

Paul is not telling us not to observe God’s festivals or Sabbaths, he is telling us not to let others JUDGE us when we DO observe them! Because, “…These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

And who are those who would judge us? The legalistic Pharisaic Jews and the worldly Christians who would impose man-made ordinances and rules on us. (See vs. 20-22)

The New Testament Christians obeyed God’s spiritual laws

The Apostle John wrote:

“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6)

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.”(1 John 2:3)

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 John 1:6)

Did the apostle Paul observe God’s Laws?

The New Testament writings raises an important question: Why did Paul observe God’s Feast Days? In Acts 20:6 we are told that Paul observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in Acts 20:16 he observed the Feast of Pentecost. Notice that even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the importance that the apostle Paul attached to keeping a Feast in Jerusalem: “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” (Acts 18:21 KJV) I find it interesting that many Bible translations today have removed the part of that verse that says, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem.” Compare it to the NIV which reads, “But as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will.’ Then he set sail from Ephesus.” Why no mention of keeping the feast in Jerusalem? Could the omission be because it offers such strong support for the validity of God’s Holy Feast Days? If all of God’s laws were replaced at Jesus’ resurrection, was Paul wrong to do so?

Did the 2nd or 3rd Century Church Keep God’s Feasts?

There are at least 5 reasons that it can be concluded that the second century church observed the feasts:

  • Jesus did. (John 2:13, 23, John 7:2–14)
  • The apostles did. (Act 2:1; Acts 18:18-21; 27: 9)
  • They are mentioned in both the Old and New testament.
  • It is a sign of the covenant between us and God. (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:11-13)
  • The symbolism in every one of the feasts all point to Jesus our Messiah.

Passover points to the Messiah as our Passover lamb whose blood was shed for our sins.

Unleavened Bread points to the Messiah’s sinless life

First Fruits points to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous.

Pentecost represents God pouring out His Holy Spirit on His people.

Trumpets represents Jesus’ return for His bride.

Atonement represents when Christ will judge His Church.

Tabernacles represents when we celebrate the wedding feast.

Persecution of Jews and Torah Observant Christians

If God’s laws were not being kept by the early Christians, then certain leaders in the Roman Catholic Church would not have felt the necessity to try to force people not to follow them.

Vatican records declare that millions of people, including Muslims, Jews AND Torah observant Christians were killed by Roman Catholic Clergy and lay-people during 6 Centuries of the Crusades. The Papal inquisition inaugurated the most evil system of extreme tortures, mutilations and deaths lasting up until 1834!

Had Jesus or Paul told us that under the New Covenant we no longer needed to observe the seven annual Feasts, then we wouldn’t have to bother. The reality is, NO ONE in the New Testament said such a thing! In fact, we find a myriad of passages in the New Testament where people intended to keep them and continued keeping them.

Human tradition stops many from observing God’s feasts. Not one professing Christian kept Halloween, All Saint’s Day, Christmas, Lent or Easter until hundreds of years after Christ died. And yet the biblical Holy Days commanded by God have been sadly rejected by most Christians today who instead endorse these pagan practices that were instituted by the Catholic Church.

Let me make myself clear. Obeying God’s commandments and observing His Holy Feast Days have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. But when my children were young, they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed, or that I would love them less if they didn’t. They obeyed my rules BECAUSE they loved me.

I don’t obey God’s commandments because I think God will love me more; I obey Him BECAUSE I love Him!

 

Recently, many have been voicing their fear while comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. This is strangely reminiscent to me of Barak Obama’s run for president.

Comparing someone to Hitler is as ridiculous as comparing someone to the Antichrist.

Every American president since George Washington has likely been suspected of being the one to usher in the end times. FDR, JFK, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have all been named by various individuals and organizations as being potential Antichrists. And it most likely won’t be long before Donald Trump is added to that list.

Anyone who studies the Bible would know that the Antichrist will be not be revealed to the world until a great falling away happens first. (2 Thessalonians 2:1- 4)

One has to ask: What would cause a great many people fall away from their faith?

The apostle John states that if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God and has the spirit of the antichrist, which is already here. (See 1 John 2:18; 4:3)

Just as God poured out His spirit onto those who believed, Satan has also poured out his own spirit on those who have rejected God—the spirit of the Antichrist. And without a true repentance and surrender to God’s will, that spirit will continue to grow like a cancer until it destroys all who it infects.

The result of this spirit is people becoming lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (See 2 Timothy 3:1-9)

But it is not the same with those who profess to be followers of Christ. We are to be submissive to rulers and authorities (provided they do not rule against God’s word), to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray by various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us—not because of good works done by us, but according to his own mercy through Jesus Christ our Savior. (See Titus 3:1-6; Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 2:1-15)

I can’t help but think how it must break God’s heart to watch His people, whom He created in His own image, argue amongst themselves about worldly matters. So instead of verbally attacking others who don’t happen to agree with your point of view and speaking slanderously about someone you don’t really know, perhaps we can follow the advice of Ephesians 4:29-31: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

But this will involve repenting of our own wickedness and turning over our own tables in our lives.

If everyone would do this maybe, just maybe together…we could make our country truly great again.

 

 

Over the past few months I have noticed how many people have been taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the recent presidential campaign and the ultimate election of Donald Trump.

The most disheartening aspect of this has been the hateful language from professing Christians from both sides and their slanderous postings. (Many from fake news sights)

The Bible makes it clear that followers of Christ should not be involved in this type of thing:

Exodus 23:1You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.

Psalm 34:13Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Proverbs 20:19Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Proverbs 26:20For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

When we repeat such reports from one to another (whether true or false) they provoke us to mutual anger, enmity, and contention; but where there is no whispering of rumors and slander, the quarreling ceases. Animosity, hatred, and quarrels will die away—Just as burning coals eventually die out and are no more than cold ashes under our feet.

But at the same time, dead coals laid on burning coals, or wood on fire, increases the heat and flames of contention. All contentions, whether between private persons, families, churches, or nations, are begun and carried forward by pride. And pride can often lead to unkind tempers and provoking words that produce quarrels and enmities, which destroys all peace and embroil people in endless hostilities against one another.

This should not be happening within the body of Christ.

I realize that this election has left many with great fear—fear of the unknown, fear of what will transpire in the next four years and beyond, and fear that our greatest fear will come upon us. (Job 3:25) But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

In Isaiah 41:10 God reassures us to, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

As I was writing this, a heavy wind storm caused some things to crash around outside. When I went out to survey the damage, I discovered that it was just a ladder that had fallen onto my deck. But I was suddenly amazed that my next door neighbors’ trees were being violently tossed to and fro in the wind, but the tree in my back yard was completely still, unaffected by the wind in my neighbor’s yard! Standing there I was reminded of  the verse in Ecclesiastes 11:5 that says, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.”

Wherever we are, whatever is happening in our lives, we can always trust that God is in control—if we choose to do it. But if we magnify every little difficulty and start objections and quarrels, we will never be able to fully trust God. Winds and clouds of tribulation are in God’s hands, designed to test us. And God’s work will always agree with his word, whether we see it or not. So we need to trust God to provide for us and protect us, without our anxious, disquieting cares. For in due season, in God’s time, you shall reap—if you do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Sadly, American Christians have become fat and soft over the years. We have become more dependent on our own strengths and on our political system than we are on God and his system of government.

We claim that our religious rights are being attacked because of some states’ decision to remove monuments of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds, or schools disallowing religious displays, or praying at public meetings, or changing the greeting of “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”.

But right now, Christians and religious minorities around the world are literally facing death, simply for maintaining their faith.

In Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has waged a years-long campaign of violence, mass abductions, rapes and village raids against local communities. In many cases, they’ve targeted Christians, as well as more moderate Muslims. Schoolgirls who have been captured have been forced to convert to Islam before being made to become child brides and even suicide bombers. Videos of public executions of Christians have been posted on the Internet to strike fear in the hearts of other believers. There have been reports of Christian aid workers being publicly beaten and even made to watch their own children being tortured in an effort to get them to renounce their faith, before being publicly crucified.

Do you think that our Christian brothers and sisters in these countries argue amongst each other about their political choices?

Our world is changing. What we see happening in other countries will eventually happen here as well. The apostle Paul writing to Timothy said, “In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

He related his own persecutions and said, “What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (See 2 Timothy 3:1-16)

Even Jesus himself said: “…They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.” (John 16:1-3)

So instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we should be strengthening each other and preparing ourselves spiritually for what is to come.

Because, “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5) In other words, if issues like the banning of public prayer and  Christmas greetings weary you, what will you do when real persecution comes?

As a child of God, we no longer have to fear…Anything!