News Commentary: Mr. Frank Vennes Jr. Indicted- An Exposed Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

         Soon after this blog was started the Tom Petters ponzi scheme was exposed.  One of the individuals involved in the scheme was Frank Vennes Jr. a professed evangelical who had ties to Teen Challenge, a prison ministry called Charis, and Northwestern College in Minnesota.  The initial article[i] called Mr. Vennes Jr. to task for being a wolf in sheeps clothing and those who knew and supported Mr. Vennes confronted this writer for jumping to conclusions and passing judgment without facts on Mr. Vennes. I recognized that my initial response did come from some anger, but the anger was related to what appeared to be blatant deceit.  The anger was recognized leading to a published apology.[ii] In January of 2010, this writer wondered what did Mr. Vennes actually know and commented about how we all need to stand for truth[iii]. See Mr. Vennes friends and voraciously defended the man and his reputation that doubt was caught on the initial impressions and anger.  It turns out the impression and anger was righteous and justified.

            His friends pointed out the fact that Mr. Vennes was not indicted no did he seem the target of the investigation.  It was that one fact that led to questions. Well, now there are questions no more.  As. Mr. Vennes has now been indicted. Apparently his finances had long ago been seized in relation to the fraud.  Sure, an indictment is not “proof” but the points of the initial articles were relevant and on target. See the question was always whether Mr. Vennes was a man conned, or an integral part of the con.  The current allegations point to his being an integral part of the con.  The Star Tribune article[iv] states that Mr. Vennes is on tape stating the empty warehouses will cause the scheme to “implode” and that the whole thing is “a little paper manufacturing plant.”

            See this shows appearance can be deceiving.  It illustrates that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. If you think you know a person, even had his deep faults confessed, he still can be seeking after that which is crooked and deceiving.  And Mr. Vennes is not really any different that any of us.  Each of us are capable of deceit and betrayal.

            In retrospect, there are lessons to be learned. While caution is always in order, there is righteous judgment and discernment.  The truth can be known without evidence of all the facts. Mr. Vennes is alleged to have actively conned others, and this writer believes that to be true.  He put both Teen Challenge and Northwestern College in positions that impacted them and threatened their existence. The root of the actions and deception was all in order for a handful of people to make a lot of money.

            Another point is no matter how well hidden things seem to be, sooner or later all the deeds in darkness will be exposed. Some, like the Petters scheme will be exposed in this life time before all. But when Jesus returns, every little evil will be brought into open. Nothing hidden! 

            It is also worth noting how easily any of us can be if we operate based on experience.  We think we can know a person, view their actions and conclude they are seeking after pure motives. Yet, there are many like Mr. Vennes or Ananias and Sapphira, or Judas that more is going on then the initial experience. With the disciples, none but Jesus knew what was in his heart, even when he left the last supper, pointed out as a betrayer, the disciples see were unaware of the darkness in his heart. He followed Jesus.  It is due to revelation of the Holy Spirit that Ananias and Sapphira were exposed and brought to death.  Some think that God is cruel for such actions. But it is that deep deception, the deceitful appearance and heart that God knows impacts and corrupts many. Their death was an act of love and righteous wrath. Now, I hope and pray that Mr. Vennes is not like Judas or Annanias and Sapphira. It is not too late for true repentance. However, the man has conned many for a long time and the veracity of anything coming from the man will need to be questioned.  For it is not the appearance of good works that is the fruit of repentance, it is true surrender to Jesus. Mr. Vennes faked it fooling many, but He has been exposed. The story serves as an example for all.  And if there are friends who still seek to defend the man, take it up with the creator, for Mr. Vennes in my mind is a deceiver and wolf in sheeps clothing that fooled many.

Musing from 2nd day at #AACC National Conference: A matter of refocusing perspectives

Today at the AACC National Conference was a day that broadened perspectives. The workshops attended today were more focused on facilitating change toward particular problem areas.   Skills and knowledge were built upon. Yet, there a was a theme to the day for me.  It started from the first speaker of the day and moved on to the last.  The theme of the day was reviewing perspective.  The perspectives view are about our perspective with God, others, and self.

The thoughts on my perspective with God was a reminder of standing on the rock of God’s truth.  Abiding in His word. It is His word that contains the truth that sets us free.  His word is the foundation upon which we are to act.  It is knowing and acting on His word that gives us the only true and secure base.  Anything else will falter.  No matter what each of us is going through, God and His word are always secure.  So a question for each of us, is how is our attachment to God.  Or as Dr. Tim Clinton would put it, how is our “God Attachment.”  There is not one of us that is does not need to examine our perspective toward God. How is our vision and how can we grow deeper in the limits to our perspective of God. 

As to perspectives of others, the thought in my mind is about we need to at time refocus how we perceive those in our lives both in terms of our family, our community, and those brought to our lives. There are people like myself whose vocation is to help those hurting and needing help.  The starting point is to continually evaluate my own perceptions of those who come to me for help. It is easy to develop perspectives on clients that create negative mindsets. There are particular diagnoses that bring negative reactions and actual resistance to providing sound counsel.  So there has to be a perspective that no client is hopeless and all are capable of help and change.  Now there are ways to restrict clients to assure working with a particular class the generates a sense of productive help. It does take work and changing perspectives and finding solutions to help facilitate change.  And the goal is to facilitate change, which an also be related to helping people see things in their life differently. Finding different options other than doing things they have always done. This can involve building skills and helping them make changes to their perspectives.  In essence, changing perspectives is all about helping them find their way. What is there view of what life stressors and how to get them to view broader in ways not examined.  It is broadening and focusing perspectives ultimately that help generate change, as a person is ready.

Lastly, the thoughts went to focusing on my perspectives of myself.  What are the lies I hold to?  What are the distortions of God I hold?  How is my perspective limited? What do I oppose? What do I fear? Where is my faith? Is my perspective on this world or on eternal matters?  This challenging of the perspective of self comes during an interesting time. The Jewish calender has already started a several day celebration of Sukkot, “The Feast of the Lord.”  It is a day focusing on the ultimate victory and a move from the temporary to the permanent.  Is my walking in this temporary tabernacle one that is continuing on the path set before me or is the things that draw my attention and attract me to places dark. 

So today was about building up skill in part, but it really was a day of perception checks.  Where is the focus.  Tomorrow is the last day of the conference.  The progression as a flow to it so it will be interesting to see where my thoughts go tomorrow.  Yesterday it was about reviewing foundations and ultimately going deeper. Today it is about refocusing perspectives, tomorrow has yet to play out.  Praise God for the works he is doing, not just in the life of this man, but all who are here.

The best way to end this article is a quote from Dr. Ken Nichols of www.aliveministries.net “God’s word influences my perspective.  My perspective influences how I respond. My response influences the outcome of the situation. 100% of the time.”

Musings on Repentance 1: Glen Beck’s Call for Awakening versus Biblical Repentance

Glen Beck has made the news because of a speech he gave on the Washington Mall on 8/28/2010 which was an Anniversary date of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech.  The speech was part of a rally hosted by Glen Beck that when by the title of Restoring Honor.  The speech made the news because Glen called for the nation to return to God.  The speech garnered varied reactions ranging from unqualified support, skepticism, or criticism. Many Christians were alarmed that such a call came from a person known to be a member of a Latter Day Saints (Mormon) congregation.  Some have spoken with Glen Beck and have come away convinced he understands and embraces the idea of atonement.  Well, given all the reactions this writer decided to listen to the speech and having done so have found it to be quite disturbing.  Yes, Glen Beck calls for an Awakening and a turning to God by acts of faith, hope, and Charity. He spent time pointing at the need for firm reliance on divine providence as written in founding father documents. However, his call for Awakening does not match the Biblical view of awakening or repentance. Let’s examine a bit closer what he stands for as indicated in his speech. You may want to take the time to view the speech for your self before you read the further commentary in this article. The speech can be found at: http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/45013/.

In listening the speech there were four concepts espoused by Glen Beck that do not correspond to Biblical principles or Biblical repentance.  Glen Beck did use some words that have an element of truth, but the truth he spoke simply served as a means of accepting the other content of his message as true.  There are four key message elements of his speech that are in direct contrast to Biblical repentance and awakening. 

The first element that is in contrast to Biblical repentance is that Glen Beck emphasized the importance of self-determination. He opened the speech with a comment “One man can change the world.” “It is you.”  He made frequent references to Moses and his staff.  He encouraged people over and over to “pick up the stick.” Meaning get involved in the efforts to alter the course of the nation. He used the metaphor even of Egypt and slavery to make his point. However, the slavery he refers to is not being involved in political action and having restrains to self-determination.  True, he does reference seeking God and acting in faith, hope, and charity. Yet, it is all for the building up of self.  He even alluded to his being a broken man and having made changes. Yet, he points to political actions to “set people free.” 

The second element that is in contrast to Biblical repentance is that while he hearkens to engaging in prayer and engaging in firm reliance on divine providence, he emphasizes the importance of “America.”  He clearly espouses the concept of America as a “special nation.”  He referred to the documents from the founding fathers of the country as being “American Scripture.”  He indicated that if “America” does not change the course it is on, then there will be no one to step in when the “world” is in trouble. In essence, he elevates “America” to a savior of the world status.  This is elevating the country of the United States to an unhealthy level and looking for human element to saving the world.  The perspective of the Christian faith is that nothing will be made right until Jesus returns and everything will continue to get worse.

Another disturbing element of Glen Beck’s speech was the frequent references to “looking within.” He made comments such as we need to “strengthen our spirits” and we need to explore “inner space.”  The need for such “inner exploration” is not part and parcel to the Christian concept of awakening and repentance but rather calls to finding what you are sure of and finding some form of spiritual guidance for inner strengthening.  And while it was not directly said, it suggests pointing to some inner element of “the divine.” For Glen Beck made constant references of to humility. He even declared God as King, yet he frequently focused on self effort.  Even his push for “faith, hope, and charity” really seem inclined to being found in looking within in and choices made.  Yes,  Glen Beck did proclaim that we need to look to God and look to love, yet the direction he pointed folks to look was within.

The last disturbing element of Glen Beck’s speech  is that  what he pointed to is everyone needs to know what they believe. He indicated that belief is important, he stated truth was important but only as elements of self.  In terms of truth, a person needs to be truthful and have no lies in your life.  He proclaimed  “truth shall set you free” but the determiner of truth is self and what you believe. He emphasized that what was important were the “universal principles” of the varied faiths, not absolute truth.  His embracing nebulous universal truths was highlighted even by his action as he called for a “Black Robe Brigade” of people of varied “faiths” that were standing for advocating political answers with a human moral base centered on universal principles.  This is not by any shape turning to submission to a Holy God and Jesus who is “THE WAY,” rather it is being actively involved and engaged in solutions of this world to change moral behavior and political focus. It is quite different that biblical awakening and repentance.

At the core, Biblical repentance is not turning to self or elevating self with the aim of some political world changing purpose. Biblical repentance is turning away from self-effort and following God’s ways. Yes, that involves loving God and others. Yes, it involves turning to Jesus as King.  But it is something that is not about elevation of self or society but simply doing what is right before God and turning away from that which is self.  The Bible is filled with evidence of what repentance looks like.  The story of the Prodigal son is one example.  It is a coming to an end of self and turning to God.  True repentance will result in a turning to Jesus.  The attitude seen in Biblical repentance is shown in James 4:6-9 (ESV) “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”   There really is stark contrast.  Look at Zacchaeus for a Biblical example of repentance. He was crooked, greedy man. He met Jesus and he changed his life to the point of even returning more than he stole.  He was called and he followed. Biblical repentance involves two actions, a turning from self and turning to God.  It is leaving the old way for a new.

Glen Beck offers ways to arrange the world and life to best accommodate desires. It is holding on own life in a way, it is far different from the self-surrender of scripture.  There is a verse passage in Ephesians that really sums up the difference between what Glen Beck is promoting and the Biblical view.

Ephesians 5:6-17 (ESV) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  

 This passage  exposes those  appear  to proclaim a turning to God yet really are elevating self.  The passage also commands to have nothing to do with those who are deceptive.   For there is always really two ways, the way of God and the way of the world.  There is Godly sorrow and repentance that leads to salvation as those who lose their life will gain it. Then there is the way of the world, the works of flesh, the elevation of self that has no life and leads to death and destruction.  One is real, one is but illusion.  Glen Beck’s call is to that of illusion leading to death. There is no life there.

Memorial Day 2010 Musing

Today was Memorial Day, which is a day to Honor those have died in battle serving the country and serve in the armed forces. It is understandable and respectful to honor and pray for those serving in the military. Yet for Christians the fact is we really do not belong to any country but the Kingdom of God and sometimes we can lose that perspective. Personally, it is a good time to reflect on those who have served the Kingdom of God well. Last year on Memorial Day some specific Martyrs were honored in this thread: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/in-memoriam-christian-martyrs/. This year want to emphasize all those that have gone before us. It is a good time to remember the past and the great crowd of witnesses and use it to inform are present and let us prepare for what is ahead.

The list of those that have gone before us is long and great going back to Abel and way through various people. Many who are well known, many more who are not known. What do they all have in common, the stood firm, they abide in faith, and they serve God’s kingdom well. Take a read of Hebrews 11.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

 

The long list here in Hebrews 11 is just a small portion of the great crowd of witnesses, those who have gone first and stood firm in faith. They are all regarded to be people who walked by faith. They all believed that God exists and rewards. In other words believed God is who He says He is. Now it is important to note that in the list of these people of faith they had not received yet that what was promised. They stood pain, suffering, and torture. Sometimes delivered, sometimes they did not. Ultimately the focus of the faith is not on what they measured or felt but on the surety of God. It was not about what happened in the here and now on this tangible earth. It was not even about nations or places. It was about God. Learn from the great crowd of witnesses, for while they may have stumbled and faltered at times in their lives, they stayed the course.

Examining the great crowd of the faithful, we find encouragement to stand firm. We find direction that informs us of what it takes to stand firm in the faith, to persevere. In this day and age it is easy to get upset over God failing to meet some personal desire in a way or time of your pleasing. We can easily focus on things of self. The focus though needs to be on God and God alone. God does reward; God does provide; God loves us deeply. What helps us to stand firm, today is not losing focus that it is not about us, but about God. It is not about our own ideas, but God’s Kingdom. It will get difficult and hard times are coming. Any one of us is called and marked with a life as a Martyr, and even if not, we will all face pain and suffering. Difficulties are certain. But God’s faithfulness is more certain, for He will turn all things together for the good even if you do not see it.

So upon looking at the great crowd of witnesses and letting it inform our choices, when we look ahead we know that difficulty is coming. The great crowd of witness suffered much we will not be different. So right now it is a time of preparation. It is time to grow in faith and knowledge of God, for there is a time come soon of testing and trial. Deception will be at every turn. Darkness will grow and reign. Good will be called evil, and evil good. Yet, we are to stand firm. We are to be sober minded, alert, and clear. This comes from growing in God and growing faith. You grow in faith through growing in relationship with God. There are many obstacles that come, many traps set, and falling asleep is easy. But God’s call is for us to endure. Perhaps, before the time of trial and the seventh week some who are faithful will be removed and spared further trial, but do not focus on this hope. Prepare to endure till the end. Make your faith and calling sure. Test yourself and continue to root out and discard all that is untrue. Continue to let the Holy Spirit cleanse you and draw you more clearly aware of the ways you fall short in loving God and others in a pure and whole way.

So in summary, in the Kingdom of God learn from those who have gone before, the great crowd of witnesses. Let them shape your step and path today with a call to draw nearer to God and prepare for what is to come. God is in control but victory is already won. God is faithful and His reward is sure. It will be a privilege to receive His reward and then lay it back down at His feet (see a vision reported on this blog.) We serve in surrender to the Greatest commander: the God of Love. And if by chance you do not, now is the time, surrender to the King of Kings.

Video Selection: ¡Alarma!

When I first started writing this blog there was a post about Lakeland and recent events entitled https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/daniel-amos-the-%c2%a1alarmachronicles-prophetic/.   The content of that 4 album series is still appropriate today.  Given the recent post related to “The coin game”, decided to see if I could find a you tube video of the song alarma and was able to do so. It was preformed live at the Cornerstone Music Festival in 2000. 

¡Alarma!from the album “¡Alarma!”

Words and Music by Terry Taylor
©1981 Paragon Music Corp./ASCAP

It’s a brain drain laid down on the reel to reel
The warning of the after life the after birth
And telling how we feel

Alarma, somebody’s crying
Alarma, somebody’s dying
Alarma, somebody’s turning away

Sugar cane in cellophane is playing at the radio station
Laughs out in the gallery believing that it’s all elation

Alarma, somebody’s pleading
Alarma, somebody’s bleeding
Alarma, somebody’s turning away

A wise guy in the sky invites you to a guilty party
Won’t charge you at the door
But sure knows how to get your money

Alarma, he’s pointing a finger
Alarma, he’s such a dead ringer
Alarma, somebody’s turning away
Somebody’s turning away, somebody’s turning away
Alarma, somebody’s turning away
Alarma, somebody’s turning away
Alarma, somebody’s turning away

“The Coin game” A deception into mockery

Recently became aware of a practice that is being declared a “sign and wonder” by some practicing it. The “game” is to ask the Holy Spirit to stick a coin to a wall.  It is referred to as an exercise in fun. It is reported by a practitioner to have developed their faith in God’s ability to do more than they imagine.  Yet, the spirit of the video posted  of “The Coin game” is not that of the Holy Spirit.  Rather, the spirit present is that of mockery.  Even the music chosen to accompany the video is that of a mocking tone.  It is really sad.  “The coin game” is also something that can occur naturally and used by others to “persuade” and influence them emotionally, as I believe the case is here, opening the door for spirits that are not the Holy Spirit.  Please only watch the posted video prayerfully, for it is grievous and stirs within my heart this call: “WAKE UP AND OPEN YOUR EYES.” 

Reflections 8 years after 9-11-2001

 

Well it has been eight years since the collapse of the twin towers in New York City. September 11, 2001 is a day that is now infamous. In terms of reflecting on what to write given this date my mind has been thinking about trials and spiritual warfare. Certainly the content on the blog reflects the reality that trials and ongoing awareness of spiritual warfare and spiritual battles. Certainly like on September 11, 2001 things can come unexpectedly and we can ignore the warning signs of trouble in denial. However, in praying about what to share as a reflection I believe it is time to share what was going on with me and my wife at that point in time. So enjoy this reflective testimonial story.

For us September 11, 2001 was a day not unlike any other day. The wife had called into work sick with a headache. She was still sleeping. I had gotten up and was going through my routine of searching the internet. Generally I was home during the day because I worked evening shifts. I was perusing the free for all section of www.footballguys.net forum. I had noticed there was a thread talking about collapse of two towers. MY first thought was it was a thread related to something to do with basketball. Eventually my curiosity became peaked and I opened that thread and learned of the attack on the Twin Towers and subsequent collapse. I woke my wife and turned on the television and saw the replays of collapse. My wife was filled with a sense of fear and ongoing darkness. Also at the top of our minds was what did God have ahead, would be able to have and raise children. A strong desire we both have to this day.

Well, I worked with finding ways to calm and comfort my wife and suggested we pray over the events and fears and sense of darkness. It was a battle. We sought God and asked him to reveal His love and truth, to perhaps give my wife a picture of God’s love and purpose. I don’t remember how long I prayed with her and over her and sought God. I know there was a deep sense of darkness that the wife couldn’t get through. Well God answered her prayer and gave her a vision. Now I will reveal what I remember of the wife’s report of the vision. Certainly details may be missing because neither of us wrote it down. I know the prayer over and over was to ask God to show her the light, to bring the light.

As praying this the wife said at first she just closed eyes and saw darkness, but eventually she saw light and Jesus came to her with the light. Jesus then took her away from the darkness to a place of light and rest. Most of our family was also there in that safe place of light. I think Jesus gave her direction of just calling on him to bring her to the safe place of light at anytime, but not certain of that as part of the vision at the time. The family that was in the vision included two children, the wife believes they were girls, but it was definitely two children. Then Jesus showed her the people in darkness. The darkness was deep and people were stuck in the darkness. I don’t recall if there were chains or not. I think there was but am uncertain. What there definitely was within the darkness was serpents speaking lies to people. All throughout the darkness were serpents speaking lies. There was directive to bring the light of truth to people. Now there may have been more details that I don’t recall but this was the essential point. The vision contained to things in my mind, a promise to us of two children., a directive that God’s safety and peace is just a prayer away, and that darkness is indeed foreboding and I believe even fueled by the deceptions of serpents in the dark.

We are at an ongoing war, there is always for believers the place of rest in Jesus and is accessed through him. Darkness seeks to engulf all but cannot extinguish the light, because the light is Jesus who can always bring us to a safe place and will take or burdens. Yes, trials come, towers fall, darkness spreads. Yes, evil is at work. Yes there is pain and suffering. Yet, there is not one thing in all that darkness that can overcome the light of the world and God’s love for us. He cares enough even in the midst of a dark time of great fear to give us a promise. Yet, God not only gave a promise but made clear the urgency for bringing the lost out of darkness.

A safe place of light

A safe place of light

Now eight years have passed since that time. We have not reached the point of having children yet and have had struggles and periods of darkness engulfing our marriage. Yet, God’s light remained faithful, even during our times of greatest struggle and darkness, Jesus was ready to bring us into His light. There is always hope in Jesus at the worst of times. The serpents in the dark seek to bring destruction and like Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings say things that blind us to the truth. Jesus cuts through all the fog of darkness with His light. All any need to do is turn to Him in surrender and ask to be brought out of darkness. Jesus is faithful and will gladly take any of us out of the darkness.

Now that does not mean suffering and trials and difficulties won’t happen. In fact they will, not only that but there is an enemy at work looking for any opportunity to bring destruction. We need to not be caught sleeping and ignoring warning signs. The enemy will use whatever weakness we have to bait and entrap and seek to gets us trapped in the dark and off of God’s path. Yet, no matter how deep of darkness we get Jesus can and will bring us back to the light. In fact, as a pastor from my childhood used to say, God sends his sheepdogs after us to bring us back.

April Fool’s day musings

Today, April 1st is recognized as April Fool’s day and is a day where deception is honored. It is not really known when or why the practice of attempting to deceive other people with pranks, gags, and other hoaxes. And amazingly enough, that even though April Fool’s day is known as to when it will happen, still many people are deceived by the assorted hi-jinks that occur on this day. The fact that even with knowledge that hi-jinks and deception may well happen, still deception readily occurs.

One of the main ways people allow themselves to be deceived is by not being aware and alert. Some individuals completely forget that it is April 1st or that the day is one folks try to deceive others. These people accept things at face value, particularly if it comes from somebody they trust. Deception comes easily if you are not aware of they need to be on guard and be attentive.

Even if you are aware and on guard, an individual can still be easily deceived by those that you trust because of that trust. We trust the people we trust for a reason, and as such we can be more easily deceived by those we trust. We can forget that in the name of fun, those we trust can attempt to deviously deceive.

    This day teaches us important things to take into account every day. We need to be alert and aware for deceptions are many. We know deceptions will be coming on April 1st and even then deception can occur readily. How much easier is it to be deceived when we are not alert and aware? Do we simply forget that it is simply very easy to be deceived? Everyone to one degree or another has accepted a lie as true. We face lies and deception every day and often times the deception even comes from our-self. In reality, in order to be able to best avoid deception one needs to be aware, be willing to examine the facts, and have knowledge of what is true and real. So with those musings in mind enjoy some quotes and Bible verses pertaining to fools.

Famous quotes about fools taken from http://www.worldofquotes.com/topic/Fools/1/index.html

The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart. Benjamin Franklin

 

A fool boasts of those who fear him; a wise man’s pride is those who respect him. Philip R. Breeze

 

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln

 

Take all the fools out of this world and there wouldn’t be any fun living in it, or profit. Josh Billings

 

Every fool finds a greater one to admire them. Bioleau

 

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. William Blake

 

Foolproof systems do not take into account the ingenuity of fools. Gene Brown

 

In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause. George Eliot

 

There are two fools in this world. One is the millionaire who thinks that by hoarding money he can somehow accumulate real power, and the other is the penniless reformer who thinks that if only he can take the money from one class and give it to another, all the world’s ills will be cured. Henry Ford

 

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark, or the man afraid of the light? Maurice Freehill

 

No one but a fool would measure their satisfaction by what the world thinks of it. Oliver Goldsmith

 

While intelligent people can often simplify the complex, a fool is more likely to complicate the simple. Gerald W. Grumet

 

He who lives without folly isn’t so wise as he thinks. Francois De La Rochefoucauld

 

Colleges don’t make fools, they only develop them. George Lorimer

 

Don’t approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side. Jewish Proverb

 

Some Bible verses on fools taken from http://www.transporter.com/FatherPeffley/Family/Verses.html

 

ACCUSING
    Do not accuse a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm (Pr. 3:30).

ANGER
    Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret it leads only to the evil (Ps. 37:8).
    Of wise man fears for the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hot headed and reckless.  A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated (Pr 14:16-17).
    A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Pr. 29:11).
   
ARGUING AND FIGHTING
    A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Pr. 15:1).
    A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel (Pr. 15:18).
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him (Pr. 16:7).
    Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out (Pr. 17:14).
    It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Pr. 20:3)
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24).
    All of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1 Pet. 3:6).

BAD COMPANIONS
    He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Pr. 13:20).

BAD LANGUAGE
    Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips (Pr. 4:24).
    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:31).

BITTER SPIRIT
    Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger; brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Eph. 4:31).

BOASTFULNESS
  Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips (Pr. 27:2).

COMPLAINING
    Do everything without complaining or arguing (Ph. 2:14).

CONCEALING SIN
    He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Pr. 28:13).

CRITICAL SPIRIT
    A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue (Pr. 11:12).

DECEITFULNESS
    The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out (Pr. 10:9).
    The noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands (Is. 32:8).
    Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to who we must give account (Heb. 4:13).

DISCONTENT
    Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Tim. 6: 6-10).

DISOBEDIENCE TO PARENTS
    Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you (Ex. 20:12).
    Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck (Pr. 1:8-9).
    Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”which is the first commandment with a promise “that it may go well with your and that you may enjoy long life on the earth (Eph. 6:1-3).
    Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20).

DISORDERLINESS
    But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way (1 Cor. 14:40).

DISRESPECT
    Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves (Rom. 12:10).
    Show proper respect to everyone; Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king ( 1 Pet. 2:17).

FOOLISHNESS
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Pr. 1:7).
    As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly (Pr. 26:11).

GOING ALONG WITH THE CROWD
    My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them (Pr. 1:10).

HATE
    Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs (Pr. 10:12).
    Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him (1 Jn. 2:11).
    If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, how he has not seen (1 Jn. 4:20).

IGNORING ADVICE
    The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice (Pr. 12:14).
    He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored (Pr. 13:180.
    He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding (Pr. 15:32).
    No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11).

SCORN AND MOCKING
    If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer (Pr. 9:12).
    The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures (Pr. 30:17).

SELFISHNESS
    A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Pr. 11:25).
    An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment (Pr. 18:1).
A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him (Pr. 28:22).
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Ph. 2:3-4).
    And do not forget to do good and to share with other, for with such sacrifices God is pleased (Heb. 13:16).

TATTLING AND NAME CALLING
    Whoever spreads slander is a fool (Pr. 10:18b).
    He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends (Pr. 17:9).
    Without wood a fire goes out, without gossip a quarrel dies down (Pr. 26:20).

UNCONTROLLED TONGUE
    He who guards his lips guards his soul, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin (Pr. 13:3).
    A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them (Pr.14:3).
    He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity (Pr. 21:23).
    But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken (Mt. 12:36).
    Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech (1 Pet. 3:10).

UNFORGIVING SPIRIT
    Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Col. 3:13).
    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph. 4:32).

UNGRATEFULNESS
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever (Ps. 118:1).
    Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Th. 5:18).

UNKINDNESS
    A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings himself harm (Pr. 11:17).
    Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
    As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Cor. 3:12).

UNTRUSTWORTHINESS
    As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him (Pr. 10:26).
    Pride only breeds quarrels but wisdom is found in those who take advice (Pr. 13:10).

IMPATIENCE
    The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride (Ec. 7:8).
    The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23a).
    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love (Eph. 4:2).

JEALOUSY AND ENVY
    A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the body (Pr. 14:30).
    For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (Js. 3:16).

LAZINESS
    Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth (Pr. 10:4).
    The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied (Pr. 13:4).
    One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys (Pr. 18:9).
    It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young (Lam. 3:27).

LYING
    Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies (Ps. 23:12-13).
    The Lord detests lying lips but delights in men who are truthful (Pr. 12:22).

PRIDE
    The Lord mocks proud mockers, but gives graces to the humble (Pr. 3:34).
    When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Pr. 11:2).
    Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Pr. 16:18).
    Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor (Pr. 18:12).

RETALIATION
    A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult (Pr. 12:16).
    A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Pr. 19:11).
    Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:17-18).
    Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else (1 Th. 5:15).
    Do not repay even with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9).

REFUSING COMMANDS
    The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin (Pr. 10:8).
    He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded (Pr. 13:13).

REFUSING CORRECTION
    My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the    Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he delight in (Pr. 3:11-12).
    Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning (Pr. 9:9).
    He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads other astray (Pr. 10:17).
    Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he how hates correction is stupid (Pr. 12:1).

Exposing Internet dark places: Pro-suicide support

    Recently the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported an article regarding the suicide of Nadia Kajouji that involved assistance and encouragement from a 46 year-old Minnesotan nurse. The nurse went online, gained her trust, and encouraged suicide.  The nurse’s license has been suspended and he is being investigated by Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.  Sadly, this is just one story in a long list of stories of people who have turned to dark places on the internet and encouraged to take their own life. 

 

     In 2003, the internet Magazine, WIRED, ran a three part series examining suicide chat rooms. (http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/02/57444?currentPage=2, http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/02/57480, http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/02/57548?currentPage=2)  It is a sad but true statement, that you can find whatever you are looking for on the internet.  It is filled with lots of dark corners, and for people who are depressed and hopeless with thoughts of suicide, there are places that will provide a helping hand to push the over the edge to destruction. 

 

     According to www.suicide.org,  in 2001 the number of suicides daily in the United States was about 84 per day.  You start adding in worldwide numbers, and it is even more pronounced.  An examination of headlines related to suicide rates in any search engine will also point out that suicide rates are increasing.  So we have ever increasing information and access to information, as well as increased access to mental health services and medications but yet still more and more people reach the point of hopelessness where suicide becomes the answer. Even more troubling, is that people are out there encouraging suicide as an option. 

 

      In examining these numbers, it really points to a lack of interpersonal peace and an embracing of hopelessness.  It is developing a mindset that the pain and suffering that they experience either real or perceived is unbearable and death looks like an attractive option.  The choice comes to that of facing death or suffering, and many are choosing “death.” 

 

     The sad thing is that the numbers are not devoid of professing Christians.  Far too many people who proclaim Christianity, have not really ever understood or grasped the peace found in Jesus that gives strength in surrender.  Far to many, focus as well on real or perceived suffering and make a choice to embrace destruction.

 

    So what is the answer?  Well, if each person truly understood the love of Jesus and peace that comes with surrender, self-destruction would be greatly reduced.  When one truly grasps the love of Jesus, there is no room for hopelessness. Now, one can still experience all the suffering the world offers, yet the true peace found in Jesus transcends the suffering.  True peace is not about absence of pain or suffering, but is found being able to withstand whatever comes our way. 

 

     Now with that being said, if you encounter a suicidal person, the answer is not just to share the Gospel and point them to Jesus, for the first step should be to maintain safety.  Pointing a person to true peace and walking them through the darkness of suicidal thinking should involve first ensuring safety, and then gently pointing them to the truth of the Gospel, once safety is assured.  Encouraging them to find help for the suffering and woundedness that triggers suicidal thoughts is also important. 

     

    Yet, no one can be truly at peace without surrender to Jesus.  There are many dark and deceptive places that will pave the way for others. There are countless ways we can settle for peace that is not the peace that passes understanding.  There are countless paths that lead only to darkness and death.  Only in Jesus is there truely life and peace.

 

If you are reading this article, find yourself suicidal, seek help and assure your safety first. Suicide is not the answer, it is a permenant solution to what is ultimately but temporary. 

Stories of death compared to the true path of life

We live in tough times. Economic forces ebb and flow. People are losing jobs left and right. Awareness that while the economy has suffered significant setbacks, more difficulty can come soon. Basically where we are at is that the kingdoms people have built around themselves are being shaken. When things are shaken and darkness and corruption brought to light and the weak foundations that personal kingdoms are built on, some people get to a state of complete hopelessness. We may reach a point of complete personal hopelessness that people seriously consider desperate actions such as suicide. In the past month there have been three stories of people choosing the darkness of suicide at the collapse of their personal kingdoms.

Once such story is Adolph Merckle, a German billionaire who ultimately committed suicide after the economic hardships placed stress on his finances couple with a failed attempt to take over Volkswagen. He had dreams, goals and ambitions but yet they came to failure as took an unwise course of expanding his kingdom and met total failure. His personal kingdom collapsed and all that he put his faith in crumble, he chose to end his life in the face of that collapse. He couldn’t bear to lose the fortune or live with the stigma of dealing with a great fall.

Another story is that of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuche, who invested heavily with Bernie Madoff. Not only did he invest in Bernie Madoff’s scheme, but he also used his connections with European aristocracy to get others to invest heavily as well. When Bernie Madoff admitted to having no money and his Ponzi scheme collapsed it caused a collapse of Monsignor’s kingdom of finances and reputation. Monsignor Villehuche built his personal kingdom on lies, and spread those lies to others. He ultimately reached the point where he couldn’t cope with being deceived and deceiving and took his own life.

The third story is far more tragic. It is the story of Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, also known as the Santa Killer. He is a man who defined his own kingdom by his family and the woman he married. He was unable to handle the divorce as the women he loved rejected him and his personal kingdom collapsed. He became angry and killed several people and is reported even to have intended to kill his own mother, and ultimately lost his life in the process.

These three stories are tragic and point to how easy our own personal kingdoms can come to a sudden end. If we place our hope on what we accomplish, our reputation, or our relationships they all are fragile, and easily destroyed. And there are spiritual forces out there working to bring each of us to a point of hopeless despair that only leads to death and destruction. They expanded or held on to what they thought was theirs and the forces of evil used it to draw them into death of self or others. As the bible states in Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)   12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Suicide or murders are only one form of destruction that can occur. Ultimately all forms of building our own kingdoms will result in destruction. Unfortunately, many are headed toward destruction and pay no mind; they are wrapped up in their personal goals and agendas seeking after the things that are desirous, many believing lies and extolling them. We each can be no different than these three men.

There is another path; it is a path of moving beyond self. It is a path of loving others and giving. It is a path that is only found in Jesus. Others will be touting self-sacrifice and sharing and giving to others, being tolerant of their choices that lead to destruction, but it is all empty outside of Jesus. The reason being is there is no righteousness, no goodness, no real reaching out to others outside of surrender to Jesus as Messiah. We are all selfish and the only way to get past the selfishness is through turning our own kingdoms over to Jesus and submitting to Him. There are two choices, the path of destruction, which is very attractive, or the path of life, which does not offer immediate gratification of self or an easy path, but is the only way to true hope and peace.