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17. Poems, Songs & Sermonettes

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3. God's Requirement
4. Need for Perseverance
5. Spiritual Dynamics
6. Fellowship
7. From Twelve to Sermon
8. Jesus in Galilee
9. Judea thru John's Gospel
10. Key OT Teachings
11. Hermeneutic; Definitions
12. Ecumenical Monotheism
13. History of Beliefs, Part 1
14. History of Beliefs, Part 2
15. Moral, Political and Doctrinal Issues
16. People and Isms
17. Poems, Songs & Sermonettes
18. Miscellaneous

Both Secular and Spiritual

Poems and Songs

“From Paul to the Proud”

 (A poetic paraphrase of RM 1:1-2:9a) 

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,   An apostle—called by the Lord,

Chosen to preach the gospel, foretold   By prophets in the Holy Word.

Jesus was born a descendant of David,   But rose from the dead as God’s Son,

An act of great power to prove Him divine—   From Him I received a commission . . .


To lead all the world to believe and obey   Including you living in Rome,

Whom God also loves and calls to be saved,   And with Jesus to make your new home.
 

  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ   Grant you peace and grace.

I thank them for you, because the whole world   Is hearing that faith you embrace.
 

The God whom I serve with all of my heart   Is witness that when I pray

I always remember you, hoping that He   Will let me come see you some day.
 

  I long to be with you and share by the Spirit   The faith that will help us be strong.

My brothers, how often I’ve planned to come,   But something has always gone wrong.


How eager I am to evangelize you   In fulfillment of my obligations
To preach the good news to all kinds of people   In all of the Gentile nations.

For I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,   Which has the power to save
All who believe, whether Gentile or Jew,   Though once of Satan a slave.  

It is written, the just shall live by faith,   But the wages of sin is death,

Which is poured out on all who deny what is plain:   That God has given them breath. 

 
God punishes them because they are evil   And blind to what clearly is true—

The fact of creation confronting them always   No matter what they say and do.

They think themselves wise, while in truth they are fools   And have no excuse at all.

Refusing to honor the power of God,   They stumble in darkness and fall.

Exchanging the truth about God for a lie,   They worship and serve only dust

That is made in the image of man and machine,   Perverting true love into lust. 

 
Burning with passion and shameful desires,   Consumed by unnatural sex acts,

Men still choose to suffer and torture each other   Rather than face the facts. 

 
And yet God allows them to break all the rules:   To murder, to hate, and to lie.

They invent new sins, while all the time knowing   That demons deserve to die.

 
Do you, my friend, think you’re less to blame,   While sitting in judgment on others?

Surely you see God’s mercy is meant   For those who become Jesus’ brothers.

 
But you, hard-hearted, closed-minded and proud,   Will one day God’s justice be meted.
When eternal life is awarded believers,   Damned will be those He defeated!

 

“Wouldn’t It Be Fine?”

 

Wouldn’t it be fine if we made time
To sing a song for everyone.
But men are different; its one big if.
 
Wouldn’t it be good if someone would
Make one world from every word.
A book so nice would be worth reading twice.
 
If I chose the perfect dance,
Would you walk with me for long
Or long for some new way to move?
 
Wouldn’t it be fine if passing near
The king of chaos were to hear
The sound from earth of one good time?
 
If the world went simply round
With purring sound, I think we could
See good from wrong and sing one song.
 
A trio rhymes in harmony
Like rivers flowing to the sea.
If love is such a happy tune
Everyone should soon sing along
But what’s wrong with you and me?

 
“Until Set Free”
 
Sound of feet along the street,
Shadows everywhere,
And through the night a ray of light
Reveals a lady fair.
So fine is she, for all can see
The jewels in her hair.
 
Lovely dress and all the rest
Are priceless to be sure,
For what the cost when love she lost
And cannot buy a cure.
The heart when sold for want of gold
Can never more be pure.
  
For the warmth she needs, her hunger feeds
Upon the lips of men.
They praise her face and pretty lace,
And they even praise her sin.
They call her good and wish she would
Allow them to come in.
 
On a fateful day she walked away
From what she would not be.
Now the one who would have done her good
She never more will see.
For the choice she made a price she paid
Until she is set free.



 “Once Upon a Time”

Once a tiny thread appeared
Way down inside my head.
I thought she may have come to stay,
But then she blew away
Like a wisp of hair to someone new.
 
"Girl, I love you,
You send my mind spinning round and round."
These are words I often hear,
But I know they aren’t sincere.
When the show is over I go home and read the news
Of another star’s divorce.
 
My mind is in confusion,
Her image shattered now.
Still I struggle hard to see
Beyond the disillusion.
 
"Girl, I love you,I live only for you.
Girl, I’ll always love only you."
These are words I want to say
Unless it's just act one in a play,
Just a passing interlude in a world
spinning round and round.
 
Her picture now is faded,
My letters sent in vain.
All is dark around me,
And all inside is pain.
Girl, I loved you
(once upon a time).

 
  “Someday”
 
Sleepy, I’m so sleepy,
Let me rest on your shoulder.
Peacefully, you close by me,
Until the night is over.
And dream we will come
To the garden someday.
 
Someday, I will leave you,
Don’t say, “It’s not true!”
Remember the good times,
Not the things we didn’t do.
The past is behind us,
The future soon, too, someday.
 
Someday, maybe soon,
You will love again.
If you cry my name in your sleep
Just say, I was a friend.
For if he knew how close we were,
It might hurt him.
 
Though time will tell us when to go,
We never will know why
We wander far away, girl,
Through clouds that mist the eye.
Physicians and politicians
Can’t save their pawns’ souls, someday.
 
So, stay by me a little while,
And let me see your pretty smile
As I drift off, away from you...

 
“When You’re Alone”

Rushing rivers and flashing floods
Race to the sea,
But if they want an easy journey,
They won’t follow me.
 
I’ve wandered far away,
Searching for a reason to stay,
Hoping I might find someone
Who will share their peace of mind.
 
The storm comes; people hide
Inside before too late,
But since I can’t escape my dreams,
Night is a much worse fate.
 
I’ve wondered what is love,
Is man created or God above,
Hoping I might find answers,
But fearing I will search ‘til the end.
 
Sadness is when you’re alone,
Where you don’t belong.
Sorrow is even in a throng
When love is gone.
 
Time passes, children grow,
And old lovers die,
But since I’ve never lived,
Death might as well pass me by.

 
 “The Power of Love”
 
Before you came I was swallowed by caverns of darkness.
Hiding from reality, I did not even seek a reason to live.
Lips so silent, but eyes so wild,
My insides were ripped into pieces of fire.
Flames formed one torch,
Troubled waters came to rest in your smile.
 
Have you ever dreamed ten thousand times?
Loud, but shy, you laugh and stare,
Wanting to talk with someone who cares,
Not just to be one of the crowd.
 
Many so wise told of glory in smoke and in tablets.
Dreams freer than peace of mind, hell had my soul.
Then one night in the clouds I breathed,
Your hand cooled my head, woke me from the dead.
And I turned from a sunless freedom to fight
For love seasoned with sweat and trued with tears.
 
Through the clouds of death,
I see you standing there;
I kiss your shining hair;
You lead me to a hidden garden
Full of flowers, where, touching,
We tremble all over
In wonder at the power of love.

 
“Late Last Night”

Late last night a young girl dreamed
Her love would grow forever,
Then a wise man, who from ages long ago seemed
Took her to a state of never-never,
And he told her everything he’d learned,
Taught her how the silver cord to sever,
But they stumbled and fell into hell.
 
Every song has now been sung,
The last wedding bell has long since rung,
And the prisoners have all been hung.
 
There is nothing more to create,
The universe is man’s estate,
The name of it is hate.
 
There is no new game to try,
No new name to love or cry,
No reason to laugh or die.
 
No new dreams are born within,
And all that will ever be has been.
There’s no new way to sin.
 
Each of us is god and so
There is nothing more to know,
No new place to go, 
Not even in your mind,
For that was left behind.
 
Late last night a madman died,
An obvious case of suicide
So they laughed at his graveside,
 
Saying, “What’s the use to be blue?
There’s nothing that we could do.
Thank God that he’s dead, too!
 
For the last rites have been said,
The prophets are now all dead,
And their gravestones have not changed to bread.”
 

But there was a young child,
And a sage with long gray beard,
Who knew Satan’s priest should tell them—warn them
That his spirit had reappeared.
 
Each of them had seen the light
Flashing far away in the night
To return when the time is right
Some day beyond the end
To start the world spinning again.

 
   “Young Woman”
 
 Young woman, pretty virgin lady,
What fire makes your face so radiant? 
Is it the admiring glance of Apollo’s fading rays,
Or the spirit of love and joy within you,
Or is it the way you smile? 
Whatever it is, it magnifies your charm,
And your warm, softly sweatered breast
Covers a tender heart.
 
Young woman, pure in mind and body,
What god made you sweet and innocent?
Whoever he is, I praise him for your charm.
And your long, softly-flowing hair
Whispers to my trembling heart.
I love you, Eve at dawn in Eden.
Thank God, that He made young woman.


"The Perfect Pet"

Her hair was long, fair as the sun;
Her lips were pink and shiny,
And her skin was pure, like a young babe's.
 
Her eyes were blue, they sparkled like dew;
Her form was thin and curvy;
Her lashes had curls, her teeth were like pearls.
 
She was so fine--proud she was mine,
Yet to myself I wondered,
Was she a dream 'neath make-up and cream?
 
Then came the day that proved my worst fears,
For much to my chagrin,
Last night while out on a date, the rain
Washed away her perfect skin,
Her eyebrows, eye lashes, and then,
 
Her golden hair, fell on the floor,
A lens popped out of one eye,
The poor girl's figure came all unglued--
Her legs burst out of her hose,
And pimples appeared on her nose!
 
So disillusioned was I then, it nearly broke my heart;
Rather than seek another love, I decided to play it smart.
I pawned her picture to buy a pet rock,
And though it is not nearly the same,
At least I'm fairly sure, I guess,
The rock won't dissolve in rain!

 
"Born to Lose"
 
I loved a gal; her name was Sue.
When she cried, she went "boo-hoo".
Nothing wrong with that I know,
But she married my friend, Joe.
 
Born to lose, but I don't care;
If I did, I'd have gray hair.
Born to lose, but I don't mind;
May sound crazy, but that's my kind.
Born to lose, but that's okay,
Don't need to win to like to play.
 
I had a dog, his name was "Noodle";
He liked a short, black-haired French poodle.
That dog was NOT my best friend;
Noodle and the poodle left last weekend.
Born to lose...
 
I made my last payment on a new used car;
I washed it and I waxed it, and I didn't drive far.
I loved that car, I was proud to say,
But a semi ran it over on the north freeway.
Born to lose...
 
I had a gal, her name was "Mary";
Not a bad looker, quite the contrary.
I lost her in the month of June,
And just now I lost the tune--
Born to lose...
 
I found ten dollars on the street one day,
Just as a pretty girl was walking away.
I caught up to her and held out the money;
She kicked me in the shin and said, "Don't be funny!"
Born to lose...
 
I've never won a prize and never won a race;
I've never kept a job or kissed a pretty face,
But another type of life, I would not choose.
I guess it's just a habit I'll never lose.
 
Born to lose, but I don't care;
If I did, I'd have gray hair.
Born to lose, but I don't mind;
May sound crazy, but that's my kind.
Born to lose, but that's okay,
Don't need to win to like to play.

 
"Dairy Queen"
 
Gentlemen, beware.  This tale I tell is true,
And if you don't take care, the same might happen to you.
 
Now I've traveled here, and I've traveled there.
I guess I've been 'most everywhere.
I've met many girls, some kind, some mean,
But none like the girl at the Dairy Queen.
 
Say, little Dairy Queen, are you kind or mean?
And what is your name? (For that is why I came.)
 
I was passing through a very smallish town,
Seeking a place not to settle down.
Saw a girl in the Dairy Queen just my style;
The only problem was--she wouldn't smile.
 
Now, one, two, three cherry cokes, or four;
Still no smile, so I drank some more,
And then a date I tried to arrange,
But all I got was a nickel in change.
 
Hey, stubborn Dairy Queen!  Are there teeth to be seen?
Then why won't you smile?
My breath is nice, and I use Dial.
 
I ate one big burger with unpeeled fries;
I tried to eat without killing flies;
Got full and rested a little while,
For still there was no service with a smile.
 
I stayed in that town for a couple of days.
I tried to meet her in a dozen ways--
I grabbed her hand full of change one time,
But she scratched my arm and kept my dime.
 
Dang!  Little Dairy Queen, you are kind of mean.
When will you love me--in a year or three?
 
I spoke to her softly, sweetly and all that;
Meanwhile, I was getting much too fat.
I made her wealthy buying shakes and malts;
If she can't smile now, it's not my fault!
 
Say, little Dairy Queen, you are rich and I'm cleaned.
At last I saw you smile... which makes it all worthwhile--
Now you're my little Dairy Queen! 

 
"Dear God"
(based on the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”)
 
1. Dear God, sometimes I’m bad;    
take my sad song and make it better.
The minute I let you into my heart,
then I can start to make it better.
 
2. Dear Lord, give me your love;
teach me compassion for all my brothers.
The minute I let you under my skin,
then I’ll begin to love them better.
 
 And anytime I feel the pain, I’ll call your name,
 Why carry the world upon my shoulders.
 For now I know that it’s a fool who plays it cool,
 Ignoring your peace, your love, the gospel.
 
3. Jesus, I won’t let you down;
you have loved me, now I will love everyone.
The minute I let you into my heart,
then I could start to love them better.
 
I’ll put hate out and let love in, Jesus, begin,
I’m waiting for someone to perform with.
And don’t you know that it’s just you, Jesus, you’ll do;
The moment you came loving had meaning.
 
4. Dear God, I’m no longer sad;
got your glad song, and I feel better,
The minute I let you under my skin,
then I began to make it better, better, …
 Da, da da, da da da da,...   Dear God.  (repeat and fade)

 

"Where Do You Fit?"

(based on The Who’s “And They Say We are in Love”)

 

1. Where do you fit in the history of sin,
 with lust in your eye, and a passion for gin?
  And how do you feel when the new day comes,
  Does it matter one bit if you see her again?
   And you say it’s love,  but who do you love?

2. Look how you walk, full of hatred and pride;
 Your money buys much, that can’t be denied,   
But tell me right now, don’t put on your act:
  Is your life worth two cents;  are you happy inside?
You say you love God, but who is your god?
 
3. You never think of the future or past;
 The time that you get, you’re spending too fast.
  Like a woman in childbirth, you think that your pain
 Will be over soon, it surely can’t last.
 You say Christ was good, but who nailed Him to that wood?

 Yes, Jesus loves you, but do you love Him, too?


“You Wanted Me”

(based on Anne Murray’s “You Needed Me”)

 

1.      I cried a tear, you wiped it dry; 

I was confused, you cleared my mind.

            I sold my soul, you bought it back again,

            And held me up, and gave me dignity--

            Somehow you wanted me.

 

2.      You held my hand when it was cold;

When I was lost, you took me home.

            You gave me hope when I was at the end, 

            And turned my lies back into the truth again—

            You even called me friend.

 

3.      You gave me strength to stand alone again,

To face the world out on my own again.

            You put me high upon a pedestal, 

            So high that I can almost see eternity—

            You wanted me, you wanted me.

                       

4.      And I can’t believe it’s you;  

I can’t believe it’s true:

            I needed you, and you were there.

            And I’ll never leave; why should I leave? 

            I’d be a fool!

            “Cause I’ve finally found someone who really cares.

           

            You wanted me, you wanted me.


 

“Do You Believe in Jesus?”

 (based on The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe in Magic?”)

 

  1. Do you believe in Jesus in a young girl’s heart?

And how Jesus can free her to make a new start,

And it’s wonderful, if you let him inside you,

He’ll make you feel happy, like you always want to.

Tell about Jesus and the freedom he’d give,

It’s like trying to tell a dead man about how to live.

 

2. Do you believe in Jesus--either way you choose

Whether Jesus or Judas, rejoicing or blues,

But just listen, open up your ears,

Why not wipe off your frown, throw away your tears,

And start your feet tapping to the music of love

In rhythm with the Drummer, with the God above.

 

3.      If you believe in Jesus, come along with me

And we’ll go dancing for eternity,

And maybe, if our faith is right,

We’ll move that mountain that hides the light,

And then just maybe everybody will see

Lord Jesus in you, and Jesus in me, yeah.

 

4. Do you believe in Jesus, yeah

Believe in Jesus with all of your soul,

Believe in Jesus more than rock and roll

Believe in Jesus who can set you free, oh

I’m talking about Jesus,

Do you believe like I believe in Jesus.

 

 

“Pyramid Logic”
 
I believe
In the power of the pyramid:
If God is the apex
And we are around its base,
Then the closer we get to God,
The closer we will be to each other.

 
"The American Colonies Song"
(Tune: "Old MacDonald Had a Farm")
 
1.    Listen while I sing about American History.
It started a long time ago—12,000 B.C.           
Early Americans came ‘cross the Bering Strait           
Then went south eastward to Mexico and Yucatan,
Settling there and Peru, too—polytheists all three.

2.  Then Columbus sailed the blue in 1492,
Followed by conquistadors of Mexico and Peru:           
Cortez captured Montezuma the Aztec;           
Pizarro in Peru conquered the Incas next;
Colonized the American host,
but smallpox killed the most.
 
3.  After Spain the Frenchmen sought a northwest passage route
Through Canada and the Great Lakes, then down the Mississip’.           
LaSalle claimed the whole river valley for France,           
1682, down the river in canoe,
Trading with the Indians,
guns and beads for furs.

4. Meanwhile the English arrived in 1607.
At Jamestown, Virginia they lived, led by Cpt. John Smith.           
At first they did starve, but then tobacco           
Sold for cash, profit crop, so the colony grew;
Elected representatives
to the House of Burgesses.
 
5.  1620, Pilgrims sailed to Plymouth Colony,
Went seeking freedom from the Church of England ‘cross the sea.           
Came the Puritans to Massachusetts Bay;           
Roger Williams, Rhode Island, befriended the Indians.
Hooker at Connecticut,
then New Hampshire and Maine.

6.  In the Middle Colonies the Dutch settled New York,
Then William Penn the Quakers took to Pennsylvania.           
They were pacifists, Philadelphia,
Delaware, New Jersey, had two ports on the sea. 
Diverse cultures learned to live
in peaceful harmony.
 
7.   Maryland was founded for Catholics to be free.
The North and South Carolinas grew rice and indigo.           
Oglethorpe founded Georgia for debtors,           
Plantations wanted slaves imported from Africa,
And the planters passed slave codes cruel to the Blacks.

8.  England had a belief called “mercantilism”,
So Navigation Acts it passed, taxing the colonies.           
French and Indian War caused some big war debts,           
Sugar tax, the Stamp Act, and the Quartering Act,
Then the Boston Massacre and the Tea Party.
 
9.  The Coercive Acts were passed in 1774.
Finally, the Quebec Act “broke the camel’s back”:           
Samuel Adams led the First Continental Congress;           
                                          Paul Revere, Minutemen, Lexington—the first shot.

This is where my song does end:  the American Revolution.

Sermonettes 

"Who Will Answer?"

 

“If the soul is darkened by a fear it cannot name,

If the mind is baffled when the rules don’t fit the game.

Who will answer…?  Hallelujah…!”

 

            [A commentary based on “Who Will Answer?” by Ed Ames.]  This song from the Vietnam Era hits home with me.  Let us see if we can answer the question it asks.  The first verse says:  “From the canyons of the mind we wander on and stumble blindly through the often tangled maze of starless nights and sunless days, while asking for some kind of clue, a road to lead us to the truth, but who will answer?”

            The apostle Paul encountered people who were confused and searching in Athens.  In ACTS 17:23, Paul says that he even found an altar with this inscription:  To an unknown God.  He told the people, “What you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”  [Read ACTS 17:24-31]  Notice that this passage teaches God created human beings so that they would seek him and find him.  As HB 11:6 says, “God rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  And Jesus said in MT 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find…”.  Also notice that Paul quotes from Greek poets or philosophers who said “We are his offspring”, which illustrates using God-given logic to discover the truth, applying the words of 1THS 5:21, “Test everything; hold on to the good.”  This is because God is the Spirit of truth, and all truth is God’s truth, even in cultures that are not Christian.  So, "who will answer" or lead us to the truth?  God, perhaps by means of teachers who have

His Holy Spirit.

            The next verse asks:  “Side by side two people stand together vowing hand in hand that love’s embedded in their hearts, but soon an empty feeling starts to overwhelm their hollow lives, and when they seek the hows and whys, who will answer?”  Many children are raised by parents who have hollow lives, whose hearts are not filled with the love of God, who do not teach them by word and deed what to believe and how to behave, nor do they participate in a church where their kids will have Christian friends who will not pressure them to experiment with drugs and sex or to listen to ungodly rap music and watch pornographic movies.  Then these parents wonder why their children become friends with kids who do these things, become involved in gangs and become enslaved by drugs and worship the idol of fornication.  And who will answer them?  God answers in EPH 5:18, “Do not get high on drugs, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit and enjoy sexual communion with your spouse in a wonderful life-long relationship.  And again in 6:4, “Parents, do not exasperate your children [drive them away from the Lord]; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The third verse asks:  “On a strange and distant hill a young man’s lying very still; his arms will never hold his child because a bullet running wild has struck him down and now we cry dear God, oh why, but who will answer?”  It is not just on foreign hills but also in American cities that bullets strike people down, including children.  Why?  Because of reasons I have already shared in connection with the first two verses.  A movie entitled “American Me” portrays very well the decadence and downward spiral of our society, and where we are headed if we do not repent or turn to God and have spiritual revival.

The fourth verse asks:  “High upon a lonely ledge a figurine is near the edge, and jeering crowds collect below to egg him on with ‘Go, man, go!’  But who will ask what led him to his private day of doom, and who will answer?”  Jesus foretold in MT 24:10-11 that before the end many people will become atheists, hateful and wicked.  People will even hate themselves and become so depressed or misguided that they will commit suicide, because they do not obey the commnds to love oneself, each other and God in MT 22:37-40.  Instead, they turn to drugs, sex, greed and other idols, which do not satisfy the need for God in our hearts.

Verse five says:  “In the rooms with darkened shades the scent of sandalwood pervades the colored thoughts and muddled heads reclining in rumpled beds of unmade dreams that can’t come true, when we ask what we should do, who will answer?”  Muddled heads is what Paul seeks to prevent when he says in EPH 4:14, “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth [or muddled] by every wind of teaching…”  How is this prevented?  Verses 11-12 say by pastors and teachers preparing God’s people for works of service, or in the words of 2TM 3:16-17, “[God's Word] is able to make you wise… and is useful for teaching… so that [a person who learns God's Word] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Verse six speaks of the threat of nuclear war:  “Beneath the spreading mushroom tree, the world revolves in apathy, as overhead a row of specks roars on drowned out by discotheques, and if a secret button’s pressed because one man has been our guest, who will answer?”  It was the apathy of Europe in the 1930s that allowed Hitler to gain power until he almost conquered the world.  Yet, rather than learn from the mistakes of Hitler, western civilization again was apathetic as Osama bin Laden planned its destruction, and still people are blind to the threat of terrrorism.  May God open their eyes so they can see that we are God’s answer for the salvation of the world!  If we do not liberate people so they are free to become Christians, Armageddon is assured.

The seventh verse asks:  “Is our hope in walnut shells worn ‘round the neck with temple bells, or deep within some cloistered walls where hooded figures pray in halls, or in some books on dusty shelves or in our stars or in ourselves.  who will answer?”  It is amazing to me that people will reject the loving God of the NT and seek the answer in astrology or idolatry or philosophy or mystical cults or superstition.  Then they may think they have found the answer and stop asking the question.

 

“If the soul is darkened by a fear it cannot name,

if the mind is baffled when the rules don’t fit the game,

Who will answer…?  Hallelujah…!”  God will—and has!


"In Honor of Martin Luther King"

The Bible speaks of nations rather than ethnicities.  The New Testament speaks of Jews and all other nationalities or ethnicities, which are termed Greeks or Gentiles.  And in GL 3:28, Paul says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, there is no biblical justification for racial prejudice and slavery.  These are sins and NOT examples of working faith or faith cooperating with the working of God’s Holy Spirit.

 Our nation honors the memory of Martin Luther King, the leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1960s before he was assassinated, by observing his birthday on January 21st.  His most famous speech was delivered in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  It is entitled, “I Have a Dream”, and I would like to quote the last part of it, noting in various places that he was speaking of applying working faith or faith that works or expresses itself through love (per GL 5:6).

 

{There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.  But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.  [IOW, the end does not justify the means.]

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.  [We are all members of the one body of Christ.]

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.  [AM 5:24; i.e., until working faith yields sufficient good deeds.]

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. [Note specific reference to working faith.]

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.  I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.  I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.  [IS 40:4-5, which speaks of preparing the way for the Lord.  MLK is applying this passage to working faith as well as to saving faith.]

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.  [Note again the specific references to working faith.]

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."  [I.e., let working faith produce political freedom.]

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!  Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.  When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"}

Amen.  And in the words of Paul in GL 4:31-5:1&13: “(Therefore) Brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.”  May we honor the memory of two great Christians, Paul and MLK, and follow their example and cooperating with their teachings inspired by Christ by doing just that:  freely exercising working faith in God’s Word and “serving one another in love”, remembering that so-called “faith” that does NOT produce loving spiritual fruit is NOT genuine saving faith (JM 2:17, MT 7:21, GL 5:6&22-23, 1JN 4:20).

 

"God's Requirement for Salvation"

 

            Because the Bible does not provide a definitive statement of God’s requirement for salvation, we must compose a creed by compiling and harmonizing all relevant statements.  Only belief in this creed or primary doctrine should be viewed as a test for orthodoxy or heresy, and any judgments should be made with humility (MT 7:1-2).  Conversely, judgments concerning a person’s spiritual orientation or ultimate destiny should not be made on the basis of secondary doctrines.  A major reason many Christians throughout history have not manifested the love and unity of God’s Spirit (EPH 4:3) as well as they should is because of failure to realize this truth, which frees them to fellowship without animosity or getting unduly upset about relatively minor issues.  Then they receive God's blessing as peacemakers, who draw inclusive circles around people based on the creed rather than divisive lines between them due to differences about secondary issues.  The points of Christian orthodoxy implicit in the New Testament’s normative way of denoting the creed (“accept Christ Jesus as Lord”, as in 2CR 4:5 & CL 2:6) can be explained or elaborated as follows:

 

1.  There is a/one Lord or God (DT 6:4), who is both able (2TM 1:12) and willing (1TM 2:3-4) to provide all morally accountable human beings salvation or heaven—a wonderful life full of love, joy and peace forever (GL 5:22-23, JN 3:16)—because God is all-loving and just (JN 3:16, 2THS 1:6).

2.  Human beings are selfish or sinful (RM 3:23, 2TM 3:2-4, CL 3:5), miserable (GL 5:19-21), and hopeless (EPH 2:12) when they do not repent of rejecting God’s gift of salvation (JN 3:18).

3.  Jesus is God’s Messiah/Christ or the way (means of providing salvation) that God has chosen (JN 3:16, ACTS 16:30-31, PHP 2:9-11), although God is just (2THS 1:6) and must provide a way for pre-NT truthseekers to learn the gospel and attain heaven (GL 3:8, 2PT 2:9).

4.  Thus, every person who hears the gospel needs to accept God in Jesus as Christ/Messiah the Lord or Supreme Commander (LK 2:11, JN 14:6, ACTS 16:31), which means trying to obey His commandment to love one another (MT 22:37-40, JN 13:35, RM 13:9)--forever (MT 10:22, PS 113:2).

5.  Then God's Holy Spirit will establish a saving relationship with those who freely accept Him (RV 3:20, 2CR 9:7) that will eventually achieve heaven when by means of persevering in learning God's will everyone cooperates fully with His Word (RM 8:6-17, GL 6:7-9, EPH 1:13-14, HB 10:36).

 

       A person's decision to accept Jesus as Lord is defective if it is not meant to be forever.  Jesus said, "He who stands firm to the end will be saved" (MT 10:22), and Paul urged Timothy "to continue in what you have learned" (2TM 3:14).  This is why the NT conceives of saving faith as a lifelong commitment analogous to that which God desires for earthly marriages (MT 19:3-9). This aspect of faith is called perseverance (HB 12:1, JM 1:2-4), which is necessary in order to keep on learning and growing spiritually until the day we die physically.  Thus, a person who does not "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (MT 5:6) or want to learn "every word that comes from the mouth of God" (MT 4:4) fails the self-examination Paul commanded (2CR 13:5).

 

"All Saints cited in Hebrews 11"

 

            This is an All Saints Day message.  The word “saint” means “saved sinner” or “one who is set apart from unsaved humanity to serve God”.  The verb form is “sanctify” (as in JN 17:17).  Let us consider the OT saints cited in Hebrews 11.

            11:1-4, The story of St. Abel’s sacrifice is found in GN 4:2-7.  Abel’s saving faith is indicated by his offering the firstborn of his flock, which signified that he was offering himself to God, who told Cain that his offering would also be acceptable if he did what is right.  What is right is taught by Paul in RM 12:1-2, “Offer your bodies [selves] as living sacrifices, holy [sanctified] and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship…”  Worship is “24/7”, not merely an hour on Sunday.  May we always be like Abel, who served God cheerfully from an attitude of gratitude, rather than like Cain, who pretended to love God and outwardly obeyed His commands, but begrudgingly and half-heartedly.

            11:5-6, St. Enoch is described in GN 5:21-24 (KJV) as a man who “walked with God”.  In the NT John describes the right relationship with God as walking in the light (1JN 1:7), in truth and in love (2JN v.4&6), because God is spiritual light (1JN 1:5) or truth (1JN 5:6) and love (1JN 4:8).  In other words, we worship God as we learn His word and cooperate with His loving will or Holy Spirit.  May we always walk with God in this manner.

            11:7, The story of St. Noah is in GN 6-8.  It serves as a parable that teaches us to have “holy fear” or remember that our life has ultimate meaning because God will judge our attitudes and actions.  Of course, if we love God, we need not fear His judgment (1JN 4:18).

            11:8-12, The story of St. Abraham is especially relevant for us in Bucca, because we are not far from Ur, where Abraham began his spiritual journey to the “promised land” or heaven.  The detainees in the TIF may very well be physical descendants of Abraham through Ishmael. May we remain faithful and receive the blessing God promised to Abraham’s spiritual heirs.

11:17-19, St. Isaac’s near sacrificial death is the first prophetic portrayal of Messiah’s role. (GN 22:8)  We now know that all people who have Abrahamic faith are spiritual Jews and God’s chosen people. (GN 15:6).  The descendants of Ishmael and Isaac should accept God’s Messiah. (GN 16:12, cf. 1JN 4:1-3), if they have the opportunity to hear the gospel.  This is God’s plan for peace in the Middle East and the world. 

11:21-22, The story of Sts. Isaac, Jacob and Joseph tells how God’s plan of salvation is portrayed by the history of Israel or the Jews.  This story culminated with their physical salvation when Moses led the exodus from Egypt.  May we look forward to our exodus from this life, when we will be free from tribulations on earth experience the joy forever in heaven.

11:23-29, The story of St. Moses contains at least three important lessons for us:  First, God is “I AM” or creator of existence. (EX 3:14); second, God requires moral perfection (EX 20:1-17, etc.), and third, normal human adults have free moral will. (DT 30:19).  The rela-tionship between the Mosaic Old Covenant and Jesus’ New Covenant is explained in HB (7-10).

11:30-31, The story of St. Joshua and the conquest of Canaan is frequently cited by skeptics as portraying God as demonic, because even children were killed.  As we seek to understand problematic passages such as this, we should “triangulate” or get our bearings from NT teachings that God is all-loving and just (1TM 2:3-4, RM 3:26&5:6-8).  Thus, the teaching points we should take away from Joshua are these:  God will save everyone who cooperates with Him (JSH 6:25, 9:24-26), and each person must choose whom he/she will serve. (JSH 24:15)

11:32-40, The writer of Hebrews did not have time and we do not have space to discuss the saints who lived during the period of the Judges (Gideon, Samson, Ruth, etc.) and Kings (Samuel, David, etc.).  May we follow the example of these who walked by faith (2CR 5:7).  The cycle of apostasy and revival recorded in the book of Judges illustrates the importance of teaching each new generation the truth about God. (JDG 2:10).  The story of St. Ruth portrays the fact that—like marriage—the essence of friendship is loyalty or spiritual commitment. (RUTH 1:16-17).

11:32b-33a, This speaks briefly of the period of the kings.  King St. David, sinful as he

was, is called a “man after God’s own heart” in ACTS 13:22 (cf. 1SM 13:14).  Why?  I think it is because of the attitude expressed in PS 51 & 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity” (like Adam and Eve attempted to do), which is the OT equivalent of 1JN 1:9.  The Davidic covenant reiterates the Mosaic covenant in terms of the future Messianic kingdom. (2SM 7:12-16)

            11:33b, This alludes to the saving faith in God by St. Daniel in the lion’s den (DN 6:16-22), whereby God viewed him as innocent and having the righteousness of Christ in the same way as Abraham.  As Paul says in RM 4:9&16, “Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness…”  The same is true of Daniel and all saints.

            11:34-40, These verses might refer to various persecutions suffered by the early Christians.  Hebrews does not mention the significance of some of the OT saints, such as Job, Solomon and the various prophets, but let us conclude with an important truth taught in the story of St. Elijah (1KG 19:11-13:  Godliness is manifested by the gentle whisper of truth and love rather than by miracles (earthquake) or emotionalism (fire), which might or might not manifest God’s Spirit or power (MT 24:24, 1CR 14:1, 19, 33).  May we always be sensitive to the still small voice of God within us (1SM 3:10), so we will not be misled by superficial emotions and shallow teachings (EPH 4:14).  We walk with God by faith in His Word, not by sight or miraculous proof (2CR 5:7)  May we remain content with this and avoid the temptation to prove our faith, as the devil tempted Jesus to do by turning the stones into bread and by jumping off the highest point of the temple (MT 4:3&6).  But Jesus said, “No, we live by every word that God speaks (MT 4:4).