America the addicted society

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I’ve seen firsthand the terrible consequences of drug abuse. My heart is with all who suffer from addiction and the terrible consequences for their families.

Columba Bush

I realize this subject may not mean anything to some because just like death until it hits home we minimize its reality. I was once apart of this mess. I went so far as to allow myself to have a radiometric-addiction to women, blink and money. I used all of them for selfish gain. I see now the destructive nature of all of them without having been educated I was doom to continue in my downward spiral.

When God delivered me from myself I pledged to be an instrument of good and not evil. I want to educate all on these toxic cultures that plague our communities and homes. The silent killer today that leads to all this dysfunction is deception and delusion of ones self.

I hope this article help’s someone or someone’s family member. I hope this visual aid by NAS is not offensive, but educational about all the forms of addictions, foods, medical prescription, out of touch realities such as religions and toxic programming.

English: Source: The National Institute on Dru...
English: Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Image taken from http://www.drugabuse.gov/pubs/teaching/Teaching2/Teaching4.html http://www.drugabuse.gov/pubs/teaching/Teaching2/largegifs/slide18.gif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) released a report on addictions today that is remarkably comprehensive and even more remarkably honest in portraying the virtually utter failure to identify and effectively treat addiction in the U.S.

The report, titled “Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice,” starts with the premise that addiction is a disease. Addiction is not recreational drug use or risky behaviors (like adolescent binge drinking or buying drugs on the street). They focus on abuse and dependence on alcohol, legal and illicit drugs, and tobacco. While the authors recognize a group of addictive/compulsive behaviors, they are not covered in this report.

CASA Columbia is a renowned research center on addiction. For the past five years it brought together a team of addiction, public health and judicial experts, universities, medical centers, and other mainstream officials under the direction of Drew E. Altman, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Family Foundation, to study and survey the field of addiction in order to give us a landscape report of such precision and breadth. Scientific literature was reviewed, extensive surveys were conducted (throughout the U.S. and an in-depth survey in New York State), leading researchers and experts were interviewed, focus groups were held, and state and federal licensing, certification and accreditation rules and regulations were examined. Care was taken to hold to high standards of analysis and evidence. In short, this is one tome we ignore at our own peril.

Their definition of addiction is alcohol and drug (including tobacco) abuse (compulsive use despite clear harm to relationships, work and physical health) and dependence (where the body experiences withdrawal when blood levels of a substance drop).

Their definition of treatment is that of psychological and social therapies (like motivational interviewing/motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy — CBT — provided individually and in groups, the often highly-effective but controversial contingency management approaches that reward abstinence, and family therapies) and medications used to treat additions (like naltrexone, nicotine replacement and buprenorphine — see here and here). They do not include detoxification (typically repetitive, expensive, and often medically-unnecessary interventions that are generally ineffective in promoting recovery), peer- and religious-based counseling, emergency room and prison/jail services. Don’t bother to pick up this 573-page report (more than half of which is appendices and references) if you believe addiction is a failure of will, a form of moral turpitude, or habits where people should “just get over it” (though some future campaign should try to change your mind).

The consequences of untreated addiction, and its predecessor risky alcohol and drug use, are chilling. The report concludes that:

“Risky substance use and addiction constitute the largest preventable public health problems and the leading causes of preventable death (emphasis mine) in the U.S. Of the nearly 2.5 million deaths in 2009, an estimated minimum of 578,819 were attributable to tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.”

The report also estimates the costs of addiction and risky substance use behaviors to government coffers alone to exceed $468 billion annually. Yet, and here is the most important finding of all, only one in 10 people with addiction to alcohol and/or drugs report receiving any treatment — at all. Can you imagine that measure of neglect were the conditions heart or lung disease, cancer(s), asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, or stroke and other diseases of the brain?

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disability in this country. But the catastrophic effects of addiction do not stop there: The report considers car crashes, where 40 percent of fatalities involve someone under the influence; the five-fold increase in prescriptiondrug overdose deaths since 1990, where OD fatalities exceed traffic accidents; increased risk of heart and lung diseases, cancer and sexually-transmitted diseases; and parental substance abuse, which increases the risk of their children performing poorly in school and developing conduct and trauma disorders, asthma, ADHD, depression and, of course, addiction itself. Family dysfunction warrants particular notation, since addiction produces financial and legal problems (property and violent crimes) and increases domestic violence, child abuse, unplanned pregnancies, and motor vehicle accidents.

The report is exhaustive in the ways it considers legal and illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Each section is clear, compelling and exceptionally well-supported with tables and references. A thorough analysis of why we are at this deeply troubling state of neglect examines how addiction has been systematically omitted from medical care, how treatment providers are terribly undertrained to deliver a range of proven treatments, how treatment programs are not sufficiently held accountable for delivering evidence-based practices, and how private insurance payers have eluded the provision of adequate benefits and defaulted payment to the public sector. But what we need to know far beyond the inescapable evidence of how big and bad the problems are is what can be done?

The opening recommendation is a page out of every good textbook of public health. Start by detecting a problem that is — by inattention or aversion — kept out of sight. We do not deal with what we do not confront. More than 80 million people (!) in this country ages 12 and older abusively engage in substance use without meeting criteria for addiction (defined above) and represent an exceptional opportunity to intervene early and effectively, yet this is not happening. Simple screening tests for alcohol, drugs and tobacco exist and can be made standard practice throughout medical care (and in educational and counseling settings). SBIRT — Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment — is a recognized, proven and even reimbursed medical procedure that awaits general use despite the consequences of not using it.

The report offers a set of treatment recommendations and asserts importantly that comprehensive treatment (combining psychosocial and pharmacological interventions) is generally better than reliance on one approach alone. There is an abundance of information on treatment, beginning with stabilization of the disease and continuing on to acute care with therapy and medications. The authors provide critically-important and urgently-needed information about how chronic disease management techniques extant throughout medicine today need to be applied to addiction. Nutrition and exercise are woven into the treatment approaches. AA, NA, SMART and other longstanding and effective recovery programs find their way into the report as “support services,” revealing its particularly medical and judicial framework.

One finding that may pertain to readers of this post, or people they know, is that public attitudes about the causes of addiction “… are out of sync with the science.” Their survey work reveals that one-third of Americans still regard addiction as a “… lack of willpower or self-control.” We can be our own worst enemy, and local and national efforts to change minds and hearts are needed.

Further recommendations are framed as major sections on how to close the science-to-practice gap (to make happen in everyday practice what we know from science that works): commencing a national public education campaign, mandating program adherence to proven practices, establishing quality improvement tools and procedures to steadily and progressively improve program performance, insurance reform, and organizing federal oversight into one agency on addiction.

There is so much more in the report that this summary cannot cover. Among the findings readers may also want to take guidance from are on special populations (from youth to the elderly, and including veterans, pregnant women and those with co-occurring medical and mental health disorders), on parity legislation and the do-or-die role of funding prevention and services, and on education and practice standards. The report serves both as a call to action and an encyclopedic warehouse of information.

The CASA Columbia report’s strengths are its veracity, clarity and credibility, the last based on the excellent science they summarize and the caliber of the report’s authors. A shortcoming is that it was developed by experts in medicine, addictions, public health and jurisprudence; as a result, it does not report on the emerging and abundantly-used field of complementary and alternative approaches to addiction “treatment” (such as yoga and acupuncture) nor dedicate much report real estate to 12-step and related recovery models. Nor does the report consider how making legal substances more expensive and more difficult to get could be used as means of controlling youth drinking and other compulsive habits, though CASA Columbia did consider these interventions last year in a report on adolescent substance abuse (see here and here).

Practitioners, policy makers, educators and responsible citizens should more than consider “Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice.” It needs to become an agenda for action. Not doing so will mean that this country would have decided to continue to neglect its most prevalent, destructive and costly of diseases

America’s history is a weapon

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A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John F. Kennedy

History

2007 $1 Washington coin reverse.
2007 $1 Washington coin reverse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America; the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  A nation that guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  A “shining city” set on a hill with “equal justice under law.”  A “beacon of light” to all mankind.  The bastion of “freedom and democracy.”  “wind swept and God blessed” from “sea to shining sea.”

For over four centuries Americans have  professed and lived these values.  We’re a nation founded by people of virtue, honor, integrity and a deep and abiding love of God and appreciation for the sanctity of human life.  On the base of the Statue of Liberty are the words:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my light beside the golden door

America was the land the world envied and yearned to be a part of.  It was the great experiment in democracy that became the model of freedom for all the world to see.  America was in every sense of the word a land of opportunity and a “Culture of Life.”
It is only in a democracy where the citizens of a nation determine the level of national morality and the type of culture in which they wish to live.  They make this determination first in their own family, then their community and ultimately, through the ballot box, the entire nation.  A look back over the past forty years reveals a lot about the cultural changes Americans have chosen over the past two generations.

Some time in the mid-sixties during the Viet Nam War, drugs were introduced on the streets of our cities in large numbers.  It was not long until this addiction found its way into every community of our land.  As this addiction combined itself with the “sexual revolution”, “communes” and “free love” became a way of life for many.  We also learned the meaning of the word “overdosed.”  A culture of “love and free-living” resulted in a Culture of Death.
About the same time it was determined that prayer had no place in our public schools.  Children who were not taught moral values in the home would no longer be taught them in the schools of America and some who were taught these values at home had them challenged by their teachers, particularly in our colleges and universities.  God became an abstract being and the Bible was reduced to a book of common virtue.  The concept of eternal live and judgment has become a Culture of Death, in which existence ends at the grave.
In the early seventies another term found its way into the hearts and minds of America.  Abortion was determined to be the constitutional right of every young girl who had been released from the moral restraints that had been imposed on her parents. The unborn child was relegated to a non-human status, and could, therefore, be destroyed at the whelm of the parent.  The most dangerous place to live in America became the mother’s womb and to date over forty-five million children have been slaughtered in the name of a “woman’s right to choose.”  The sanctity of human life had become a Culture of Death.
Assisted Suicide and euthanasia found their way into acceptance by much of our population be the late seventies and early eighties.  This was done in the name of “death with dignity.”  The old, the infirm, the incapacitated, and yes, the inconvenient all became subject to legal extermination by one means or another.  The society which for generations had prided itself a protector of the weak, the disabled, and the infirm had become a Culture of Death.

By the early nineties we were introduced, compliments of the homosexual community, to a disease called Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome, or for short AIDS.  Through drug needle sharing and prostitution this disease found its way into the heterosexual community as well.  That which is called an “alternative lifestyle” has also become a “Culture of Death.”
By the year 2000 stem cell research was being promoted as a panacea of cures for all sorts of neurological damage and disease.  This research requires the destruction of embryonic human beings.  Nevertheless, American’s of every stripe are accepting this destruction of human life with no reluctance.  What was once legitimate scientific medical research has now become a Culture of Death.
Since the arriving of the pilgrims four hundred years ago, the traditional family has been the bedrock of American society.  Our government, our legal system and our churches were all designed to protect and promote the welfare of the family.  Today the traditional family is under attack as never before in our history.  The concept of one man, one woman, is being replaced by a system whereby any two or more individuals, regardless of sex, or age may join themselves together be recognized as a  family by our society.
When prayer was in our schools guns weren’t.  Today we are seeing a rash of young children bringing guns to school and shooting and killing their classmates and teachers.  What which was once a climate of education has become a Culture of Death.
Finally, to accommodate all of the above changes, every vestige of God and the Bible is being removed from our public square.  Our Pledge of Allegiance and National motto have been declared “unconstitutional” because they contain the word God.  The faith of our fathers in the blessings and protection of the God who has sustained this nation for over four hundred years is being replaced by a multi-cultural system which denies the God of Heaven yet recognizes and accepts every pagan god and pagan religion professed on these shores.

And what is the result of all these deviations from the American culture that was the light of the world?
As I look at the news on my TV tonight I hear about a pop star and icon for many of our youth who is on trial for sexually molesting a young boy.  I see the stars of baseball admitting to using steroid drugs to enhance their performance on the playing field while thousands of young aspiring athletics mimic these “heroes,” many at the cost of their lives.  America’s favorite pastime has also become a Culture of Death.

I see where nine people are murdered by a teenager who our Supreme Court has determined is mature enough to operate an automobile on our public streets but is too immature to be punished with his life if he chooses to take the life of nine others.
I see the story of a 46-year-old sexual predator, twice before tried and convicted, released to rape and murder a 9-year-old girl in Florida.

And, what is possibly the most heart wrenching story of all, a woman in Florida is being starved to death at the request of her husband, in the name of death with dignity, so he may receive the balance of her insurance settlement to support his girlfriend and their two children.  It is especially appalling that pollsters are telling us that most Americans support his position.
Our media takes great pride in keeping a running total of every single death taking place among our young men and women fighting to bring freedom to others, but where they when it comes to keeping a running count of the millions who have been slaughtered as a result of the cultural values which the same media has promoted?

The terrorist who seek the destruction of America are far less of a danger to our national welfare than the activist judges in the courts of America who have sanctioned, legalized, and promoted the values that have turned our nation into a Culture of Death.
What has happened to my America?  And what is more important, how long will the good people of America remain silent while these evils destroy the moral fabric of our nation today and our very existence tomorrow?

This is the question that our children and grandchildren will look back and ask.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7: 14

There is Dysfunction in the House of worship; Can you make the difference?

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The essential elements of giving are power and love – activity and affection – and the consciousness of the race testifies that in the high and appropriate exercise of these is a blessedness greater than any other.

Mark Hopkins

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.
E. O. Wilson

Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement that developed in the 1830s and 1840s in the Eastern region of the United States as a protest to the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School. Among the transcendentalists’ core beliefs was the inherent goodness of both people and nature. Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—ultimately corrupted the purity of the individual. They had faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent. It is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.

Empiricism, in the broad sense, is the philosophical outlook that stresses the power of a posteriori reasoning — reasoning from observation or experience — to grasp substantial truths about the world. When a priori ideas conflict with the a posteriori, the a posteriori wins, according to empiricism. Empiricism is usually opposed to rationalism — the view that reason rather than sensation or observation is the source of knowledge.

The essence of humanity’s spiritual dilemma is that we evolved genetically to accept one truth and discovered another. Is there a way to erase the dilemma, to resolve the contradictions between the transcendentalist and the empiricist world views?

Living in a world of moral decay and selfishness I have come to realize the importance of self inventory. Issues of abandonment and failure became my reflection. I appreciated the Pastors attempt to educate us on Mental Illness for it is now knocking at my door. Looking at the Donner debacle I was urgently awakened to my need to get help. I thirst to behave honorably, I aimed high when I took my stand to honor the Sabbath, I set a goal to be the best sailor the Navy would ever see. I long to be pleasing to God and help my Ummah and family in the precepts of my God’s standards.

Propelled into destitution and stress and depression I am looking everywhere to find help. I’ve been told that your faith lacks, you are blaming everyone but yourself, you aren’t looking for help in the right places. This movie Called “Silver linings” is a real eye opener for me. While it may seem like a lot to ask of religious leaders, it’s actually easier for young people and adults to get to clergy than it is to get to a mental health professional. According to NAMI, churches, temples, mosques and faith communities reach 70 percent of the American population each month. Clergy outnumber psychiatrists by nearly 10 to one, and are more equitably distributed geographically than health professionals.

Our Ummah’s of faith are seroiusly in need of help, More importantly, religious communities are best-positioned to respond to the faith issues that arise for people who live with and love those who live with mental illnesses. They can tell us that our condition is not a result of angering or disappointing or failing God.

There are many faithful people who live with mental health challenges. Most of the time, we walk amongst the regular praying-public as if we are invisible. But we are in congregations, Bible studies and prayer meetings wondering if there is a place for us there. We wonder if there is room for us to be honest about our struggles. We are waiting to hear our stories from places that we recognize as holy.

We as believers quote cliché’s and scripture out of habit, never really being concerned about the next mans plight, thanking God it’s not mine. We lead one another astray with falsehood and the appearance of love. We all need some type of help with something mentally. I care about myself and really want to care for you as the great commission given to man by the creator of all this beautiful world. He trusted us to steward this life and the nature of creation better that we are doing. I want to partner with you who have been liberated due to education and regenerated by Jesus being the head of our life to help the ones next to us in the pews, our communities,our homes, and our hearts to get above our sicknesses and indifference of caste status. It is my ongoing prayer that God be present with us in this dyeing world.

I want to add another optical point stated by Karl Marx a socialist, His critique of Hegel’s philosophy of rights. he states Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.

Usually all one gets from the above is “Religion is the opium of the people“ (with no ellipses to indicate that something has been removed). Sometimes “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature“ is included. If you compare these with the full quotation, it’s clear that a great deal more is being said than what most people are aware of.

In the above quotation Marx is saying that religion’s purpose is to create illusory fantasies for the poor. Economic realities prevent them from finding true happiness in this life, so religion tells them that this is OK because they will find true happiness in the next life. Although this is a criticism of religion, Marx is not without sympathy: people are in distress and religion provides solace, just as people who are physically injured receive relief from opiate-based drugs.

We as called out of darkness, blood brought believers have to accept the “essential Jesus” redemptive work for the power to remain accountable to Him as chosen instruments to shine as a city on the hill. God is not a Willie Lynch God, a God of the slave or oppressed, He is the “Essential living King of Kings, a Living God, The only wise God, The lifter of our heads who believe. He is not a mystical God nor is He a Jeanie or some sort of get out of trouble-free card. God wants us to ask Him question, Abraham ask Him several times while praying to Him about Sodom and Gomorrah and God used that situation to illustrate to the father of us all that he is real and approachable. He holds us accountable for what we believe and how we act towards mankind. Pray family of faith for Marx and all the other distorted individual of your life. Don’t leave your church because someone is acting with dysfunctional thoughts and action, let go of your hurts and let the “Essential God” reveal Himself to you by way of your beliefs and faith.

(Exodus 34:5-7 NIV) Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. {6} And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, {7} maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

(Numbers 23:19 NIV) God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

(Deuteronomy 3:24 NIV) “O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?

(Deuteronomy 4:24 NIV) For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

(Deuteronomy 4:31 NIV) For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

(Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. {5} Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

(Deuteronomy 9:3 NIV) But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you.

Suffering for “A Crown”

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Memorial to the oldest annual running race in ...
Memorial to the oldest annual running race in Europe. Prague-Běchovice, Czech Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the  goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless  exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Martin  Luther King, Jr.

I am shocked at the way God has turned my life around when it comes to being a made over Christian. In my suffering I and my wife have let go of our old self and been totally transformed by the sufferings and trial we have had to endure. We are still “going through” but God is helping us to believe He is here. We are believing that our faith will get to the light of His presence and hear Him say well done my faithful servant, we are no good on our own, we believe and recieve His will because we want to believe that this suffering is not in vain take heart all and stand head up, chin out, ten toes down, heart fixed on Jesus promises and believing you are victorious even though He slay you BELIEVE…..

God’s Purpose in Suffering

 

I Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

 

God has a divine purpose for the family. God has a divine purpose for friendships. God has a purpose for us even in the workplace tomorrow morning. One of the hardest ways that we discover the purpose of God is through suffering and through trials. We quote Romans 8:28,

 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

 

We know that God has something planned through the suffering, but we still might wonder why He allows the suffering. No matter how great the suffering, God is always at work. The Book of I Peter tells of some principles that we can apply in our lives when trials overwhelm us. Peter was a fiery apostle of Jesus Christ. He was given a second chance after denying Christ, and he was used mightily on the day of Pentecost to preach a message where over three thousand people were saved and baptized. After those first moments in church history, there were some tremendous times of trials and difficulties that came upon the Christians of the early church. The Roman Empire was very unfriendly to Christianity. As those early Christians began to fan out around the world, they found persecution in every city and in every situation. It is recorded in history that there were Christians burned at the stake every night in Rome. We, as Christians, go through little problems and call it suffering. In our eyes, sometimes inconveniences become our trials. Suffering as the early Christians suffered is a far cry from the inconveniences we face today. When those times of trial do come our way, how can we know that God is still doing something in our lives?

 

Our Expectation of Suffering

 

Every Christian should expect some suffering. We should realize that it is a part of life according to the Word of God. I Peter 4:12 says,

 

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”

 

This passage is speaking specifically about suffering for the faith of Jesus Christ. Suffering was common for the early Christians. The early Christians certainly suffered for their faith, and the more America moves away from God, the more Christians will be persecuted for their convictions. At the beginning of recorded history, Job stated in the midst of his trials:

 

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

 

If you study the history of God’s people, there have been trials and persecutions. Suffering is common for all who live for Christ. Anyone who will truly stand up for Christ will suffer persecution.

 

“Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”(II Timothy 3:12)

 

There are some churches that will make it sound like “getting” Jesus means no more problems. God’s true and holy Word says that you can expect some trials if you intend to live for Jesus Christ.

 

Our Example in Suffering

 

If we are going to find God’s purpose during suffering, we must keep our eyes on Jesus Christ.

 

” But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (I Peter 4:13-14)

 

Our natural response to a trial or persecution will not be to praise the Lord. Yet James said,

 

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2)

 

How can we keep a positive spirit during suffering? How can we truly rejoice? First of all, Christ suffered for us.

 

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” (I Peter 4:13a)

 

It is through suffering that we get a glimpse and understanding for what Jesus did when He died for us on the cross. We serve a Savior who knows what rejection felt like, who knows what pain felt like, who knows what it was like to be separated from His Father because His body bore the sins of the entire world. Jesus Christ was not a man who became God; Jesus Christ was the eternally preexistent Son of God. Jesus Christ is our example in suffering. Secondly, we can rejoice because we have victory because of His resurrection. The word “revealed” in verse 13 is in reference to that day when Jesus Christ shall be revealed to the world. It is then that we will be glad we were faithful to Him.

 

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” (I Peter 1:6)

 

Peter said that you could still rejoice when you go through seasons of suffering. Dr. Curtis Hutson was a dear friend and mentor in my life. I was able to go hear Dr. Hutson preach his final message in North Carolina. There were about two thousand pastors that gathered in the auditorium that evening. Dr. Hutson, who just a few years prior was such a picture of health and vitality, was helped from his chair and brought to the pulpit. He weighed less than 100 pounds, and had to hold on to the pulpit just to keep from falling. He preached a powerful message entitled, “Things That Are Different Are Not the Same.” The thing that I remember the most about that night was the fact that Dr. Hutson, with his body filled with cancer, sang the old-time chorus, “I ’m on the Winning Side.” It talks of wandering in sin, but then coming to trust in Christ as Savior. His testimony in song during his trial is something I will never forget. If you are in Christ today you are on the winning side. Helen Keller once said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” No one can overcome suffering unless he has the hope of eternal life because he has realized what Christ has done for him. Our example when we are going through suffering is none other than the Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Our Experience in Suffering

 

What is it that God wants us to experience during trials? What does He want to teach us? How does He want us to become a stronger, more mature people in our faith?

 

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (I Peter 4:14)

 

During trials we experience the presence of God. At these times we humble ourselves before God and admit that we need His presence. When adversity comes into our lives, we usually want God to do a removal job, but He desires to do an improving job. In Hebrews chapter 4, He says that He will give us grace to help in times of infirmity.

 

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

God will not always change your circumstance, though He has the power to. He would rather change you.

 

The answer to our trials is not changing addresses, but changing our hearts. Remember that when you get to the end of your rope, Jesus will still be there. Some people try to climb up that rope by manipulating and trying to maintain their pride. It is not until suffering comes that we can really be humbled enough to learn what God wants to teach us in our lives. Through our trials, we are also able to express the praise of God.

 

“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (I Peter 4:16)

 

God says that when you suffer as a Christian, He wants to receive the glory. One of the purposes of the trial that you are experiencing is that people can see that you are going forward for God in your life, and you are doing it through the strength of the Spirit of God. Anyone can be faithful during the good times, but it takes someone with a real walk with God to be faithful during the difficult times. Many of you will recall the tragedy at Columbine High School a few years ago. The tragedy at Columbine seemed to be the pinnacle point of all the shootings in public schools across the country. This seemed to help focus the attention of the nation on the problem. One student, Cassie Bernel, became the focal point of the news reports during the week of the shooting. While veiwing the incident and praying, I imagined many of the teenagers heart condition that knew Cassie Bernel. They said that before Cassie became a Christian she was one of the roughest, wildest teenagers in the entire school. Her parents, as a last resort, sent her to a Christian camp. By the fourth night of that camp she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. The students said that when she came back she was a different girl. She carried her Bible to school and began to witness. The tragic day of the shootings, one of the young gunmen came to Cassie Bernel and pointed his gun at her head. He said, “Are you a Christian?” She replied, “Yes, I am a Christian.” She proceeded to try to tell him about Jesus Christ. The gunman took her life, but God had a purpose even in that tragedy. Unsaved teenagers around Denver and the country began to hear Cassie’s story and get saved. Christians have become more burdened about our public schools. In the darkness of the night God had a light ready to flicker. God is not playing a game with you when suffering happens; God has a purpose and a plan. God wants to draw you closer to Himself so that through your faithfulness in the trial He can receive honor and glory. Maybe you have had some trials in your life. Maybe some unexpected problems came along. You are realizing that you cannot handle things alone –you need God’s help. Turn to Him. Expect these trials to come as you are serving the Lord. Learn from His example. His goodness and love are waiting to be experienced through the trying of your faith.

Thank God for the Boy’s Scout stance on representing “The Real Law.”

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Anti-ACLU
Anti-ACLU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.

Abraham Lincoln

When I began to hash this issue out with myself and others I struggled. Felons break the contract of life when they commit any crime. Gay people break the Law of God and want to be a protected group. How is the Law of the land more important than the Law of God? Whales and other endangered species have rights, but certain human beings created in God’s image, prone to failure can not get any one to speak up for their rights.

I am excited by what I see going on in this world, for I know that it’s not over just because some Judges feel they have the power to render sound decisions, i am glad when I see these things that are against my Lord’s way of doing things, because I am assured of Him coming soon. I know what my bible says and it’s not over my God I am not looking at these injustices as the way they will forever be.

I want to take a look at the literacy of God rites;

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. NIV

Because this passage starts with “…because of this”, we must go back to where this begins at Romans 1:18 to find out what Paul was addressing. From 1:18-23, Paul is addressing that the wrath of God is against…

  • all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness
  • they [who] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him
  • they [who] became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles

Romans 1:29 and on goes on to state that they are

  • filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed and malice
  • full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite
  • they are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God
  • they are insolvent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in the wickedness and rebellious towards their parents
  • they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless

Paganism, sensuality, idol worship, sin and lust were of part of everyday society in ancient Rome and a problem faced by early Christians. Paul’s letter to the Romans addressed the first century realities of Roman idolatry, fertility goddess worship and shrine prostitution. Romans is not theoretical. It is practical and focused on what Roman Christians encountered every day they lived in Rome.

Now, Romans 1:27 is speaking of perversion. What does this term mean? Perverting something is to twist, misuse or deviate from the norm. If one “exchanges natural relations for unnatural ones” or “abandons natural relationships”, it’s basically saying Paul disproved of sexual behavior contrary to a person’s nature. As it is normal for a heterosexual person to be attracted to a person of the opposite gender, it is normal for a gay or lesbian person to be attracted to a person of the same gender. Paul may be considering abnormal sex to involve sexual activity which is in violation of a person’s basic nature – something that goes against their sexual orientation. Or, as As C. Ann Shepherd writes:

When the scripture is understood correctly, it seems to imply that it would be unnatural for heterosexuals to live as homosexuals, and for homosexuals to live as heterosexuals.

The word “unnatural” in verse 26 is the Greek word “phusis”, meaning natural production or extension (i.e. having children) and it is likely that Paul’s concern was that the temple prostitutes who were female, were not getting pregnant (due to bodily damage and syphilis). Many people in the world have sex without the ability to re-produce. We no longer see that as unnatural or a result of sin. The word “natural” (referring to men) is the word “phisukos” and refers to instinct. Paul saw both slavery and sexual abuse of males non-instinctual. But what about gays and lesbians? Same-sex fulfillment is natural and instinctual. The key word is “unnatural”. Roman sexuality did not see same-sex practice as “unnatural”. In fact, to the Roman world it was very, very natural, even a part of growing up.

Over and over again, we see the Bible condemning orgies, molestation or sexual acts outside of a monogamous committed relationship. Who is to say this applies to modern day loving same-sex couples? Because God is the same yesterday and today and forever more.

Boy Scouts Maintains Gay Ban, But Accepts Convicted Criminals

The Boy Scouts of America might be adamantly against including gay members, but convicted criminals are another story.

The Human Rights Campaign recently obtained a Boy Scouts employment application and discovered that a criminal record apparently does not immediately preclude hiring.

“HRC obtained a copy of their job application, which says: ‘The Boy Scouts of America will not employ… known or avowed homosexuals,'” writes HRC. “The icing on top? ‘Conviction of a crime is not an automatic bar to employment’ according to the application. That’s right – a person’s sexual orientation is more of a red flag than their criminal record.”
Now, HRC is asking supporters to send letters to the Boy Scouts board demanding the organization end its policy of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is actually permissible in a number of states across the nation, including many in the Bible Belt — Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, to name a few. No federal law protects LGBT individuals. The Human Rights Campaign notes on its website that, in 29 states, it is not explicitly illegal to fire someone for being gay ; nor is it illegal, in 34 states, to discriminate against an employee over gender identity.

On Feb. 6, the Boy Scouts announced it will maintain the ban on gay members and leaders while it examines the issue ahead a decision in May. The group was supposed to come to a decision in February but has reasoned the delay is due to “the complexity of this issue.”

Gay rights groups are not buying it. GLAAD, for one, thinks the issue is clear-cut: “An organization that serves youth and chooses to intentionally hurt dedicated young people and hardworking parents not only flies in the face of American principles, but the principles of being a Boy Scout,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick in a statement.

I am one that likes to foster beliefs, that drive actions, that produce the ultimate competitive advantage. As we delve into deducing this predicament we will encounter those who feel they are God, but not I,

By considering verses 26-27 in isolation from their surrounding context, we could easily make the mistake of believing that the subject of his message was homosexuality. In fact, this was not the case. When homosex sexual intercourse was mentioned, it was specifically related to his message concerning people who were thwarting the revelation of God by engaging in idolatrous practices.

In verse 18, Paul transitioned into a discussion about a certain group of people against whom God’s wrath was revealed. He described the effects of their sin in verses 19-22, and then identified the group in verses 23 and 25. He was speaking about idolaters—people who changed the glory of God into fashioned images that resembled men and animals. These images are called idols, and it is from the worship of these idols that we get the word “idolatry”. And the worship of idols was exactly what the people Paul was referring to engaged in (v. 25).

Now that we’ve determined the context of Paul’s statement, we’re in a much better position to interpret and apply his words in a manner consistent with the original intent. Ultimately, the accurate interpretation boils down to the answer to a simple question: Does Paul’s condemnation of homosex sexual acts in verses 26-27 apply to any such acts in general (a moral pronouncement that is universally applicable), or does it only apply to such acts engaged in within the socio-religious framework of idolatry?

Most people will be quick to answer this question one way or the other, depending on where they already fall in their theological beliefs concerning homosexuality. They’ll choose to interpret the passage in a manner consistent with their existing beliefs. But, such an approach won’t serve us here because rather than looking to validate existing beliefs, we want to allow Scripture to speak for itself. Consequently, we have to look into the text itself to see if it provides any hints as to the answer to this pertinent question.

Such interpretational problems are a perfect case in point. Scripture is not to be used to validate doctrine. Rather, we should use it to formulate doctrine (2Timothy 3:16). If we start off reading a passage with an absolute certainty of what it means, it is ever-so-easy to read into the text a validation of those beliefs—whether the text itself actually supports those beliefs or not. I strongly encourage you to remain mindful of this when engaging in biblical study, especially when it involves issues with implications as serious as those surrounding sexual orientation.

So, which of these interpretations is correct? The only way a certain answer can be derived is by examining the text itself, as well as related passages, for clues. One very important rule of interpretation is that Scripture interprets Scripture. Let’s employ this rule and determine exactly what Paul is condemning.

The first thing that must be acknowledged is that the subject of this passage was, indeed, idolatry, not sexuality. Not only is this borne out by the verses preceding verses 26-27, but also, Paul made an explicit link between the idolatry that was his subject matter and the homosex sexual activity. In verses 23-24, Paul identified these people as idolaters (verse 23) and then said, “wherefore” (or “therefore”) in relation to God giving them up to sexual uncleanness (verse 24). Clearly, he was saying that their same-sex sexual acts were a result of their idolatry.

This isn’t where the connection ends, though. It’s interesting that people love to read verse 26 in isolation from verse 25; yet the very beginning of verse 26 states, “For this cause” (or “for this reason”). Well, for what reason? Seeing that God gave them over to “vile affections” (which were identified as same-sex sexual affections), what exactly was the reason? Was it because they were born that way? Was it because they were molested during adolescence? What exactly was the reason these people engaged in same-sex sexual activity? Well, if we back up to verse 25, we discover the reason. Paul explicitly told us that they “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” Again, Paul identified idolatry as the cause of their same-sex sexual activity.

I hope I have raised some spark of understanding within you about how awful this thing is in God’s eyes and for us as a nation.

Aaron

A False Representation

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Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we  think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham  Lincoln

2 Corinthians 2:14-17

New International Version (NIV)

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

Have you ever experienced sheer disconnect from your heavenly father? Have you ever failed God by being disobedient while performing an assignment from Him? Have you lied due to fear of being discovered as a Fraudulent individual? Well I must admit I have done all the above and I know of some pioneers that did also.

On one of Christopher Columbus’s voyages, he found that his crew’s food supply was almost depleted. Anchored off the island of Jamaica, he was grateful to be given food by the islanders. But as time went on, the gifts of food decreased so that the crew began to starve.

Columbus knew from an astronomy book that a lunar eclispe would soon occur. He called the native chiefs together and told them God was angry about their selfishness and would blot out the moon. At first the islanders scoffed. But when they watched the night’s silver disc slowly become dark, they became terrified and quickly brought food. Columbus said that if he prayed, the moon would be restored. Though we may empathize with his circumstances, Columbus’s ‘message from God” was dishonest and self – serving. Aware of religious charlatans who “peddled” God’s word for their own desires, the apostle Paul wrote, “We are not, as many, peddling the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God.”(2 Corin.2:17)

At all times we must be on guard not to misrepresent God’s message to acquire what we want from others. With a heart yielded to God, we must honestly share spiritual truths that will benefit those who hear.

Don’t compromise the word of God

Or twist what He has said;

For blessing comes from faithfully

Proclaiming truth instead.

The purpose of sharing God’s truth is to profit others, not to prosper ourselves…

English: Christopher Columbus monument, Denver...
English: Christopher Columbus monument, Denver, CO. Italiano: Monumento a Cristoforo Colombo a Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t know

America’s Moral Decay

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united states currency eye- IMG_7364_web
united states currency eye- IMG_7364_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

A Storm of Wickedness is Raging Across America

There is a storm raging across America. Alcoholism, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, school violence, child abuse, pornography, rape, robbery and murder pervade our nation. America is drowning in wickedness and immorality. By all measures, this storm threatens to erode the moral and political foundations of America.

As God and His principles continue to be systematically and incrementally removed from America, our nation and individuals will continue to experience even greater moral decay.

As George Washington so wisely warned, “… Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle.” (83)

George Mason, the Father of the Bill of Rights, said, “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” (84)

There is good news, even in the face of such moral degradation. Many are seeking answers. Many are yearning for relief and peace in dyer circumstances. Only God’s people can make a difference by pointing individuals and our nation back to God.

The belief that America is degenerating on a moral level is shared by both Republicans and Democrats.  According to a new  Gallup poll, 82 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats say that moral values in the U.S.A. are only fair or downright poor.  40 years ago, only 33 percent of Americans felt that way.

So what’s happened?  First, secular forces have destroyed any rendering of Judeo-Christian philosophy in the public school system.  Many teachers are now ordered not to make value judgments on  behavior and not to push any specific moral standards.  Thus children receive little if any moral guidance in class.

Second, with the rise of single parent homes, more and more American kids wind up unsupervised for long periods of time, left to the television set or the computer, where harmful material comes at them like rain in a thunderstorm.

Third, major corporations now traffic in sex and violence to an extent never before seen in this country.  Americans spend more than $10 billion a year on porn every year.  And violent video games gross billions more for corporations.

Fourth, peer pressure to actually reject immoral behavior is virtually non-existent in many places.  The military criminals at Abu Ghraib never could have committed their crimes if other soldiers did not look away.  The code of silence about bad behavior is an infectious disease among Americans.

And finally, the decline of the Catholic church in America has dramatically harmed the U.S.A.  According to a 1958 Gallup poll, 74 percent of American Catholics attended mass every week.  Now the number stands at 25 percent.  With 65 million members, the Catholic church in America is by far the nation’s largest and used to set a moral tone that was taken seriously by society in general.

That’s over now because of the priest scandals and the lack of leadership within the American Catholic church.

So as it stands, both Republicans and Democrats realize America is lacking a strong moral compass.  Millions of American parents are trying hard to teach their children good values, but are besieged by the terrible influences beyond the home.  The secularists have succeeded in drastically changing the moral tone in this country.  And 80 percent of us see that change as a bad thing.

However, there’s no mass outcry about it.  And until there is,  America will continue its declining moral direction.