Saturday, April 28, 2012

Three Reasons I Won't Vote For Obama

Three Reasons I Won’t Vote For Obama

1.   This administration’s sense of entitlement:    

Obama has played over 100 rounds of golf sense becoming president.  He has taken or sent his family on more vacations than we can count.  He has no concern about the fact that he does this on the taxpayer’s tab. 

The General Services Administration threw a $823,000 party in Las Vegas.  It is as if the ‘gods of the marketplace’ believe they deserve these extravagant parties, as if they are perks that go along with the job.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta charges the American tax payer $32,000 weekly as he jets to California for the weekend.

This administration approved a ½ billion dollar gift to Solyndra before it went bankrupt.  When Solyndra went bankrupt the cost was passed on to the American taxpayer.

2.  This administration’s belief that they are above the law:

The U.S. Justice Department approved the sale of guns to the Mexican drug cartels knowing these guns would be used against innocent people.  Obama has no conscience regarding the sanctity of life.  He once said he would rather murder the unborn child of his daughter than punish her with a baby. 

The president, who promised to unify us and bring us together,  is suing the state of Arizona opposing the laws the residents of that great state approved that were designed to protect its innocent citizens from illegal immigrants who might have criminal intent.

Illegal immigration is a federal crime.  This president sends a message that some crime is acceptable and he gets to decide which ones!

Obama is attempting to strong-arm the Supreme Court to support a most unconstitutional measure in Obamacare that would force Americans to purchase something against their will.

3.  This administration’s aura of dishonesty

If the president has nothing to hide, why spend $2 million to cover up his past.  Where are the papers he wrote in college?  Where are his grades from Harvard?  Where are all the classmates or girlfriends who should be lining up for their 15 minutes of fame because they took a class with Obama?

Obama said he was the one to unify us but when have we been more polarized.  He is quick to stir up racial tension when given an opportunity.  He promotes class welfare.  I know, the press wants us to think he has an I.Q. of over 200.  Does it not seem he was lacking in judgment and wisdom when he made a judgment about his professor friend at Harvard before the facts were in and had to hold a beer summit to fix his blunder.  I don’t really see the resemblance of the president with Trayvon Martin.  Obama again became involved in an issue before the facts were in. 

Why so much controversy about his birth certificate?  If there wasn’t something to hide, would this president not have cleared that up long ago?  I don’t want proof that Barack Obama, Sr. is his father. I want proof that Frank Marshall Davis was NOT his real father.

I’m tired of being told what to believe when the opposite is usually true.  Michelle Obama recently attempted to reinforce the messianic traits of her husband.  She boldly declared that he has “brought us out of the darkness and into the light.”  Uh, no, Michelle, that would be Jesus, not Barack!

Memo to Michelle:  He ain’t the Messiah and this ain’t the light!

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"If I wanted America to Fail"

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Bridge We All Must Cross

How can one explain the fascination of western culture with death?  In December of 2007, when the body of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, was transported from the Apollo Theater in New York to C.A. Reid Funeral Home in Augusta, Georgia, the director of the funeral home received a midnight call from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, requesting permission to come by and pay his respects.  Michael Jackson spent the next five hours viewing the body and grilling the funeral director, demonstrating an unusual fascination with the death experience. 

I have been blogging now for several years.  I have written several blogs about death and what happens to people in the afterlife.  These articles are some of the most popular blogs I’ve ever written affirming that people are extremely curious.  What is it that causes us to have a nearly insatiable curiosity about death?  The typical answer to plug in here is that we are so curious because it is in the realm of the unknown.  But, there are a lot of things we have little knowledge about that don’t pique our curiosity at all.  I know nothing at all about ice fishing in Alaska, or how microbes reproduce and I have no curiosity to drive me to learn of those things.

Perhaps our cultural obsession with death is not so much because it is so distant from us, like an older uncle we never met who lives on the other side of the globe.   I believe we are curious about death because it is like the neighbor who lives next door.  We are reminded daily of its existence.  We see death on the obituary page, we see it on television and we are reminded of its perfect record of conquering all life when we see pictures hanging in our home of those who have already succumbed.  For some, a fascination with death can be morbid, it can lead to an macabre obsession that may cause one to lose his sense of the world he presently inhabits.  On the other hand, a balanced consciousness of death can be healthy if it reminds us of how we are to live in this present world and serves to caution us that there is a hereafter to prepare for.

Death is not an ending for the Christian.  Rather, it is a transition into a life more abundant than the one we are now experiencing. Peter ignited this flame of hope in his followers:  “…set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (1 Peter 1:13)  We are but wayfaring strangers passing through an alien world.  We are wanderers unsatisfied until we find the new city whose maker and founder is God.  We revel in this hope within us that is capable of smothering our fear of death.  Those who have not this hope “are of all men most miserable.”  (1 Cor. 15:19)

No onlooker can understand this hope in the breast of every Christian if he cannot understand the work of grace in the Christian life.  Grace is the mysterious favor of God.  A GRACE acronym that summarizes this supernatural work of God is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  It is freely bestowed upon us but it was purchased with the precious blood of a willing Savior.  This grace is the cornerstone of a Christian’s forgiveness of sins in that it satisfies the penalty for our sin.  But grace continues for the true convert in its sanctifying capacity by which a Christian experiences freedom from the power of sin.  A Christian who is entertaining the hope Peter speaks of understands that there is a future demonstration of God’s grace, the glorification of the soul.  Physical death is a necessity before we can experience the grace of glorification, God’s deliverance from the presence of sin. 

The Philippians were encouraged to “work out their own salvation”. (2:12) Our salvation is not just a one moment-in-life experience, it is a lifelong adventure.  We cast off on the seas of salvation when we humble ourselves and confess our sins to Christ.  We then begin a long journey in which we learn to conquer sin through grace which results in the sanctification of our souls.  We must not put limits on how far the grace of God can take us down the stream toward purity.  Paul wrote to the Romans:  “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”  (6:14)  As we drift downstream, there is a shining hope in the distance that grows brighter and brighter, it is the hope that we will one day be glorified.  We will land on the shore of perfection and enter a kingdom where purity reigns and where sin lies defeated at the outer gate.

 In order to enter one gate we must exit another.  The “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and “it is appointed unto men once to die.”  (Hebrews 9:27)  All men, with the exception of only a couple (Enoch and Elijah), have had to die a physical death in order to receive the mantle of eternal life.  Christ’s resurrection stripped the fear of death away and replaced it with the hope of everlasting life.

So what happens when you die?  The body is corruptible and it stays here and decays.  The soul is incorruptible, it cannot be destroyed and it passes on to eternity.  Every man has a soul and every man’s soul, whether it be righteous or unrighteous, sinful or pure, will live on forever.  What we are when we die is what we are for all of eternity.  “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” (Rev. 22:11)

Death for the unrepentant is a horrific and terrifying thing. The wicked will experience a second death.  “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars –their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)  It is a death that lasts for all eternity and this is why the wise man wrote in Proverbs:  “When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes…” (11:7)

“…They will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  (2 Thess. 1:9)  Death to a Christian is the bright and eternal hope of living pure, glorified, and sinless forever in the presence of a holy God.  It is the liberation of the soul from the bondage of a sinful earth to the liberty of a sinless heaven.  Death to the righteous will be a refuge. (Prov. 14:32)  With this hope living within us, we can say with the Apostle Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:21)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Those Who Never Die

Ernest Becker was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction in 1974 for his book, The Denial of Death.  In his book Becker theorizes that man has a dual nature that alternates between his physical life and his symbolic life.  A man defends himself against the innate fear of death by dedicating himself to a cause bigger than himself.  The deeper recesses of his mind tells him that one day he will die so he attempts to give his life purpose and meaning and he stretches for immortality by attempting noble things and this becomes the shield he uses to fend off the Grim Reaper.  Becker was saying that men’s accomplishments become the blocks used to construct great walls around their lives like a castle, to defend themselves against the certainty of death.

Is it possible for life to be prolonged if it is more purpose-driven and full of meaning?  I’ve lived in a military community for over thirty years and I’ve observed a lot of early death among those who retire young.  Is it because a man’s work is much of his motivation to live?  It makes him feel valuable and offers a temporary illusion that he can escape his own mortality.  Isn’t activity the major characteristic of life and inactivity, total inactivity the major trait of death? 

I saw a picture that was making the rounds on Facebook recently.  It was the picture of a very old African-American couple.  He was wearing a grey suit and she a pink suit.  They were holding hands and looked to be going to or coming from church.  They looked very happy, very content.  I read the caption attached to the picture and learned that the gentleman was 104 years old and his young bride was only 101.  They had been married for 86 years.  I stared at the picture in disbelief for a good while.  It was as if they had conquered death. 

Then I remembered the words of Jesus in John 8:51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”  Perhaps the elderly couple had conquered death.  Jesus said that if we keep his commands, if we love him and obey the precepts of his word, we will never see death.

John Piper tells of one of the more harrowing experiences of his life.  James Morgan was Piper’s theology professor at Fuller Seminary.  Morgan’s love for Christ was a great inspiration to John.  Morgan’s students were saddened by his premature death.  He died of stomach cancer at the age of 36.  John  Piper describes, as only he can, the profound experience he witnessed at his professor’s funeral.  Louis Smeeds spoke at the funeral attended by former students, colleagues and Morgan’s wife and four small children.  Louis lifted his voice in one unforgettable, shocking moment and bellowed, “James Morgan is NOT dead!”  John Piper sat stunned in the reality of the moment.

“Truly, truly, I say unto you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”  (Jn. 8:51)

The soul, the immortal essence of a man, lives on forever.  That soul that has submitted itself to Christ takes on immortality at the point of physical death.  There is no hesitation, no prolonged period of sleep or unconsciousness that characterizes the separation of the soul from the body.  A Christian’s soul flees into the bosom of God.  When Jesus hung on the cross he turned to the thief at his side and said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43) 

Ernest Becker’s idea that men dedicate themselves to a greater cause to avoid their own mortality holds merit.  But when they squeeze the last drop from the fruit of their earthly labor they realize they have lived an illusion.  They arrive at the same conclusion King Solomon did, “So I hated my life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  (Ecc. 2:17)  The secret to immortality is not foolishly dedicating oneself to an earthly cause that will one day be eaten away by moths or by rust.  The secret to immorality is to live by the spirit, not the flesh.  “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit are the Sons of God.” (Romans 8:13-14)

Those who are followers of Christ have already died.  Jesus explained this in John 5:24  “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  When we dedicate ourselves to Christ and we experience salvation he bestows upon us eternal life.  His promise of salvation is only fully realized when we enter into the final stage of the process, the glorification of our souls.  We who are Christians have already begun to live our eternal lives.  When we lay down our physical bodies, our souls will pass from death to life.  There is no pause button.  We are immediately in the bosom of Christ, in the paradise or the presence of God himself. 

In the words of John Piper, “We do not experience one millisecond of break with fellowship with Christ.”  This is only made possible to us because Jesus, the Son of God, took on humanity and died on the cross, thereby paying the penalty we all deserve for our sin.

These facts effectively remove the fear of death from those who are Christ-followers.  He paid our penalty, he died on the cross.  He rose from the grave to take away the sting (fear) of death.  “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  (Hebrews 2:14-15)

We conquer the fear of death by dedicating ourselves to a cause larger than ourselves.  We commit ourselves to the Eternal One.  When he says,  “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,”  (Jeremiah 29:11) those plans encompass an eternity that extends beyond what we are able to comprehend.  His plans for his own require their immortality.

Imagine the level of courage one might live by and what might be ultimately accomplished if he lives his life with no fear of death?  A lifelong fear of death is the prison that prohibits a man from being genuinely free.  It is faith in Christ Jesus that breaks our fetters in twain.  This faith will bring us to the same conclusion Solomon arrived at.  If you want to live a meaningful life or if you want to live life without fear of death:  “Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.”  (Ecc. 12:13)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"War is Hell" - Let Military Handle Soldiers Who Took Pictures

Letters to the Editor
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer   April 20, 2012


 Military can handle photo scandal

   The outrage over pictures taken by soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division has gone viral.

   The president has weighed in on yet another matter when he sent his spokesman Jay Carney to address the behavior of the soldiers: “The conduct depicted in those photographs is reprehensible,” Carney said. “Those responsible will be held accountable.” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has made a profuse apology for the photographs.

   I am in full agreement that irreverence toward the deceased is vulgar and inhumane. But I am also reminded of Civil War General Sherman’s quote that emphasized the barbaric nature of war: “War is hell!” Is it fair to apply the same standard of justice and civility for those who are living in this hell? Do the reactions and responses of our politicians indicate that winning a war in which they are willing to sacrifice young lives is far less important than protecting their own political image?

   Have the critics experienced the “hell” that is war? It’s easy to apply a justice system formed for a civilized population and apply it to the savagery of the hell that is war. Perhaps the action of the soldiers was “indefensible” and perhaps they used poor judgment. But a demand for perfect behavior seems unreasonable considering the fact that many of our young defenders are enduring the unbelievable stress of family separation and the horror of watching some of their comrades perish at the hands of an elusive enemy, an enemy they are taught to hate while being limited in their freedom to pursue and destroy.

   I trust the leadership of the U.S. military to discipline its own members when they deem it necessary. I wish our politicians and our press would trust them also.


Again, the actions of the soldiers are unacceptable.  But my observation is that the same people who are criticizing their activity are the same people who will defend the murder of innocent unborn infants.  If it is wrong for soldiers to take pictures of the body parts of an enemy intent on destroying 'satanic' Americans, is it not even more immoral for abortion doctors to rip babies from the wombs of their mothers and hand the parts to their nurses and ask them to reassemble them to be sure all of them were retrieved?  One of these activities is grossly immoral because it involves the murder of innocent humans.

   Kevin Probst Fortson, Ga.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Christian’s Fear of Death is Irrational

We often fear what we don’t understand.  We fear what we have never experienced before.  A common fear nearly all of us struggle with is the fear of death. No one ever comes back from the grave to tell us about their death experience so it remains a great mystery.

 My six year old son was about to drift off to sleep the other night when he called out to me, “Daddy, there is a face staring at me from my closet.”  I looked in his closet and sure enough, there was an Iron Man mask staring outward.  So, I shoved it deeper in his closet and covered it up with some of his other toys and my son drifted off to sleep.  The fear of death is the monster in every closet.  We don’t want to talk about it or think about it.  We prefer to shove it back in the dark recesses of our mind and pretend it’s not there.

We were visiting our friend’s house recently.  My wife, Shannon, and I were talking to his elderly mother.  Shannon has an uncanny ability to discern when others are troubled.  I was surprised when she asked ‘Gran’ if she was alright.  Gran replied, “Oh, I’m a little discouraged.”   “Why, what’s wrong,” my wife asked.  “Well, I took my friend shopping yesterday and she just wasn’t doing so well, you know, forgetful and tired acting.”  So I asked her, “How old is your friend?”  “Oh, she is 95”, she said in a matter-of-fact manner.  “How old are you,” I asked.  “I’m only 92,” she boasted.  I sensed Gran was denying old age and she seemed to be unfettered by the fear of death.

Death is the shadow in everyone’s future.  There are many things we don’t know in life.  Some people dedicate their entire lives to the discovery of things we know nothing of.  There are so many uncertainties in life, but we are all certain of one thing; “for the living know that they will die.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) But “no man knows when his hour will come.” (9:12)

Man’s first experience with death was perpetrated by Cain.  Imagine the pain and horror the first family felt as they witnessed the death of their son, their brother.  They were stunned by the solemn realization, as they looked on the dead body of Abel, that “it is appointed unto man once to die.” (Hebrews 9:27)    David wrote of this universal fear when he penned Psalm 23:4  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

When a Christian fears death he is being irrational.  A Christian’s belief in the deity of Christ eliminates his fear of death.  Jesus didn’t mince any words when it came to proclaiming that he was divine.  The Jewish leaders came to him and asked, “Who do you think you are?”  (John 8:53)  “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”  Calling Jesus a Samaritan was the equivalent of using the “N” word in today’s culture.  Jesus was willing to risk his life to tell them the truth.

“I am not possessed by a demon,” he said.  (John 8:49)  “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I am!” (John 8:58)  He was declaring to them that he and the Father were one in their eternal nature.  They were enraged by this truth and commenced to pick up stones and tried to kill him but he escaped.

Jesus said something even more shocking earlier in this passage.  He clearly proclaimed his divine nature to them.  “If you knew me you would know my Father.” (John 8:19)  Jesus had made very plain to them that he and his Father were in perfect agreement as to what his purpose was when he took on humanity and came into this world.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”.  (John 3:17)   His enemies were shocked that Jesus would claim to be God,  they were astonished that he claimed power to bring salvation to their souls.  This was a day for them to remember because they had never heard any man utter such outrageous things.

Perhaps most shocking of all, Jesus told them that if they believe in his divinity, if they accepted the fact that the only path to salvation was through Jesus Christ, the son of God, “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word…(long drum roll here)… he will never see death!”  (John 8:51)  What?  “Did they hear him right?”  Yes.  Jesus told them that his divinity qualified him to be their Savior, if they would believe, confess their sins and accept his gift of righteousness, they would never see death.

Keep in mind Jesus didn’t say, “You will never die,” he said, “You will never see death.”  When his opponents were trying to clarify what they had heard they changed it a bit by asking him, “Are you saying that if we keep your commandments we will never taste death?”  They substituted the word ‘taste’ for ‘see’ but Jesus never corrected them. 

While they were speaking of physical death Jesus was speaking of spiritual death.  Jesus didn’t deny that all men would die physically.  Nevertheless, he was teaching them that at the point of physical death the soul leaves the body and ascends to another dwelling place.  The life of the soul continues uninterrupted by the physical death of the body.  This is all possible because Jesus laid down his life down for the sheep.  He arose from the dead, thereby, eliminating the sting of death for all those who believe in him.  He provided us an opportunity to be righteous.  He satisfied the cry of his Father’s pure heart for justice and he permanently shut the gates of hell to those who are stamped with his image.

Therefore, it is irrational for the Christian to fear death when Christ himself has taken away the sting (fear) of death and promised us eternal life.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Things We Fear

A couple months ago I bought a book for my six year old son called Phobiapedia.  The book teaches and illustrates the various phobias humans struggle with like arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and acrophobia (fear of heights).  My son and I were both fascinated as we read together about koniophobia (fear of dust) and xanthopobia (the fear of the color yellow).  We then had a discussion about our own fears.  Kameron fears sleeping alone…I don't really think so, I think this is his way of trying to con me into staying longer after story time.  I shared with him my fear of bees after having attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets when I was about nine years old.

Our short study on fears caused me to think more broadly about how fear affects our society.  Many, many people are trapped in lives of fear.  We demonstrate our fear of terrorists by refusing to use the airlines or if we do fly, we are subjected to the humility of going through airport security where fear of terrorism has driven TSA officials to insanity.  They don't look for people, they look for things.  They search us for tooth picks and aerosol cans.  They their fearful  irrationality by frisking 90 year old women and strip searching 9 year old children. 

We are fearful of the criminal element in our society.  Some live behind doors that have five or six dead locks installed in them.  Gun sales are skyrocketing because people are feeling insecure.  Fear is driving us to arm ourselves.

We have become obsessed with our health or our lack thereof.  Millions are preoccupied by one diet after another and millions more spend most of their non-working hours in gymnasiums trying to defy the aging process and delay that which is certain for all, death.  I'm sure you know a few hypochondriacs in your circle.  Many are disillusioned by their fear of disease.  They seek treatment for a disease when they actually suffer from an anxiety disorder.  More than 50% of Americans are taking a drug to treat some chronic condition. (Medco Health Solutions)  Fear can cause us to become dysfunctional or non-functional. 

In a recent decade (1994-2005) the U.S. population increased 9% while the number of medical prescriptions increased 71%.  At a time when American scientists and physicians are making tremendous advances in medical knowledge and technology, in a time when we are learning the latest treatments that have made us to be some of the healthiest people in history, in an age when we are being educated about what is harmful and unhealthy, ironically, we are addicted to prescription drugs.  What part is fear playing in all of this?

Let us be reminded that all fear is not bad.  I want to feel fear when I am walking on the peak of the roof or when I come face to face with a rattle snake.  Fear is a protective mechanism that may very well save our lives many times over.

But I believe destructive fear is a controlling spirit released from hell by the Father of Lies to torment us.  There are no boundaries to what we can be fearful of.  We can even be fearful of fear itself.  This is called phobophobia.  We fear darkness, we fear pain, and we fear vomiting.  Some people walking on the earth today are fearful of looking up so they walk with their heads downward.  We fear germs, dirt and dentists.  The fear of making decision is called decidophobia.  Many suffer from snakophobia and I have taught many high school students who have suffered from testophobia.  Some of our church pews will be empty next Sunday because some people suffer from ecclesiophobia, the fear of church.

We are a culture saturated by fear.  Fear has become a slave master to some of us, controlling our every thought and action.  The spirit of fear is nothing new for there is nothing new under the sun.  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  John addressed the issue over 2,000 years ago when he wrote, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…"  (1 John 4:1)  We can conquer our fears by recognizing the source of all destructive fear.  It is Satan himself.  This is no threat to those who are Christians because John also said, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

Fear cannot be overcome with fear.  It must be overcome with boldness.  It may be necessary to courageously confront our enemy.  We must first realize that Satan is not a fictional character, he is real.  Christians discover fearlessness when they realize that Satan is a defeated foe.  Christ assured us of his defeat:  "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Col. 2:15)

We need not be paralyzed by our fear "for the battle is the LORD's" (1 Sam. 17:47)  When fear creeps in to haunt us there is a place for you to run where you will find protection and security.  "The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous runs into it and is safe." (Prov. 18:10)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Destroy The Fear In Your Life


 Life was good for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  It was a true paradise until Satan slithered into their lives.  They went into hiding after they had offended their Creator.  "Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, where are you?"  Its not like God didn't know where they were, it was a preparation question by which God was about to reveal himself to them.  Adam replied, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."  Adam and Eve then revealed the sin in their hearts by participating in a blame game.

            Fear can be paralyzing.  The sound of God's movement in the garden was incapacitating.  It was heart stopping.  John Haggai said, "For many, fear has grown like a tree until it over shadows them from morning till night."  Fear is probably the most destructive force of mankind.  Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the sin of pride and then the assaulted them with fear. 

            Fear is a leading health problem among Americans.  Fear and depression are like destructive twin sisters.  They can spawn ulcers, heart problems, liver and kidney disease in their wake.  Fear and worry are probably responsible for more deaths than all the wars combined.  "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  If fear doesn't come from God it must originate with Satan.  Satan unleashes fear upon us and then he "prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)  A.W. Tozer said, "Fear is of the flesh and panic is of the Devil." 

            I am a Kentucky basketball fan and I recently enjoyed watching Kentucky plow to a national championship.  I noticed their intensity increased dramatically as they neared the end of each game they played.  I think Satan's activity is increasing dramatically as the endgame draws near.  "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."  (Revelation 12:12)

            There are numerous verses in the Bible that admonish us to fear God.  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Psalm 11:10)  There is not a single verse in the Bible that tells us to fear Satan.  When we have a reverential respect for the all-powerful God, our fear of Satan is erased like black marks on a dry erase board. 

            Fear is indelibly woven into the fabric of our culture.  We fear unemployment.  We fear poverty.  We fear an empty bank account.  We fear foreclosure.  Our anemic economy has generated a great fear that Medicare, Medicaid and our Social Security will one day be no longer available.  This spirit of fear is an evil spirit, it hounds us and torments us and it is born in hell.

            I was very discouraged when I looked at the bottom line on this year's tax return.   I owed the federal government a sizeable amount of money.  I owe money to the mortgage company but it doesn't give rise to any fear.  I owe money to the dentist, I owe money to the Medical Center but these debts stir in me no fear.  For some reason, owing money to the U.S. Government produced a dreadful fear in me.  I began to imagine people pulling up in my driveway in black limousines, jumping out in Colombo style overcoats to serve me papers with Barack Obama's name on them.  I painted a house during Spring Break to pay off our taxes and I'm relieved to say, "I don't owe the U.S. Government one red cent." 

            Ten years ago my wife and I left public schools to work in private Christian schools.  The move from public to private required we take a $20,000 to $30,000 combined pay cut.  We had no idea how we would pay our bills but we both felt strongly that God was calling us to teach in Christian schools where we could openly, daily proclaim the name of Christ.  I want to reveal, to the glory of God, that we have never missed a house payment, we have never missed a car payment and we've had more than enough food to eat since we decided to trust God for our needs.

            If God is asking you to do something but you just can't seem to crunch the numbers on it, don't be smothered by a spirit of fear.  I boldly and confidently write these words, "If you are doing the bidding of God who 'owns the cattle on a thousand hills', (Psalm 50:10) he will take care of you."

            Over a hundred years ago, while her husband was away for several weeks on a preaching assignment, Civilla Martin wrote these words: 

            "All you may need he will provide,
            God will take care of you;
            Nothing you ask will be denied,
            God will take care of you.

            No matter what may be the test,
            God will take care of you;
            Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
            God will take care of you."

            As a school teacher I really connected to a quote I read recently, "When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember, the teacher is always quiet during the test." 

            We often become arrogant about the things we have accumulated over the years.  We think we have earned those things.  We have what we have because God gave those things to us.  "Every good and perfect gift comes from above." (James 1:17)

            My brother, Dennis, has been a missionary to Japan for over thirty years.  He and his wife are packing their belongings and preparing to return to the states as I write these words.  They have experienced some severe health problems that forced them into early retirement from the mission field.  God spoke to Dennis' heart when he was but a teen-ager about dedicating his life to the Japanese people.  Dennis obediently served God for all those years, depending on God and the goodwill of others to support his ministry.

            I asked him the other day, "Dennis, what are you going to do now?  Your retirement plan is not enough to sustain you.  You are still buying a house.  Your wife has a mountain of medical bills to pay.  What are you going to do?"  His reply went something like this, "Kevin, God has taken care of us for over thirty years.  Do you think he will now forget about us now?"

            Then I began to consider why my brother was called of God to the mission field and I was not.  Perhaps it was because he was able to drown out his fears with faith in a trustworthy God.  While I was fearfully quizzing my brother concerning his next move, he was resting on the promises of a loving God.  There is no need to be fearful, was it not said of the Author of the Universe, the One who cannot lie or deceive, the One who has never broken a promise, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" ? (Philippians 4:9) 

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Watchman on the Wall (3): Awakening The Sleeping Church

John the Revelator warned the church at Laodicea, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  (Rev. 3:17)

While Christians in other parts of the world have been sharpened by much suffering and persecution, many Christians in America have been softened by lives full of comfort and ease.  Many devout Christians in other countries are willing to die for what they believe but here in America it’s hard to get people to even to live for what they believe.  Too many American churches are characterized by apathy and spiritual laziness.  “If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.” – (Ecc. 10:18)

As watchmen on the wall we must awaken those who are spiritually dead.  John used the word ‘wretched’ in his description of the church at Laodicea.  Is ‘wretched’ a word too strong to describe the church in America?  We are wretched because we have made acceptable what God has declared an abomination.  We are wretched because we have worshipped our own idols and we have twisted the word of God to suit ourselves.  We are wretched because we have been displeased with whom God says he is so we’ve created a God whose sovereignty is bound by his own love and who is incapable of demonstrating the wrath of his judgment.    

We have become enthralled by our own pleasure and we are obsessed by our own prosperity.  Many American churches have become shamefully man-centered.  When we ought to be solemnly enter the church to worship the great and mighty God in fear and trembling, the One who spoke us into existence and has the power to snuff our lives out like a candle, instead, we enter the church focused on ourselves.  The church has become like a psychic smorgasbord for those who are experiencing difficulty or for those who feel the need for more satisfaction in life.  We want recreation for our kids, we want financial and emotion counseling for ourselves and we want the services of the church to focus more on man-centered entertainment rather than God-centered worship.

God has said to us, “…I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)  But we have no interest in his plans for us.  We arrogantly submit our own agenda to God and expect him to accommodate us.  We have become a foolish and senseless people “who have eyes but do not see and who have ears but do not hear.”  (Jeremiah 5:21)
Death can come to a church in two ways.  It may simply cease to exist or it may die inwardly.  Many American churches are just empty shells, filled with spiritual zombies, walking dead men.  False teaching has crept into the church and smothered the truth.  Satan has perfected his deceptive skills.  Heresy comes in many ways.  It is often introduced by a big-name preacher whom the majority will follow like senseless sheep.  We must be awakened to the danger of ministers who are more focused on entertaining us rather than pointing us toward the Lamb that was slain to take away the sin of the world.  Paul gave Timothy a formula for a dying church:  “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Many churches have spiritual life strangled from them because they have allowed immorality and materialism and worldliness to creep in like a slow- growing cancer.  The church is in deep trouble when more of its members are lusting after the flesh and after materialism rather than fostering a deep yearning for fellowship with the true God.

As watchman on the wall we must awaken a disillusioned church.  “Awake, awake!  Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger.”  (Isaiah 51:17) 

We have been drugged by an enemy who will steal away our souls if we don’t awaken.  We have been intoxicated by our own indifference.  When our pews are full of people who want to attend but don’t want to get involved we know it has become more about us than about God.  When we only pick up our Bibles on Sunday morning or when our only call to God is a 911 call then we have become apathetic about the most valuable thing anyone can experience on this earth;  a personal relationship with God Almighty!

What was God’s reaction to indifference in the church at Laodicea?  He said, because “you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am going to vomit you from my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)  It is much less harmful for a church like that to cease to exist than to continue to spread a distorted gospel to a lifeless people. 

Our calling as watchmen on the wall is to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ.  We are to lovingly reach out to the lost.  Our first priority is to “open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (Christ)”.  (Acts 26:18)

As watchmen we are too often hesitant to confront our culture.  We must do this, not in our own wisdom, but in the power of the word of God.  Watchmen are not glorified reformers of society.  Jesus didn’t come to start a social revolution.  He didn’t try to abolish the slavery that existed in his day.  He didn’t lead a march against Rome in protest of high taxes.  He didn’t campaign for the Democrat or Republican parties.  He never led a civil rights march.  His focus was not on this kingdom.  He came to awaken the sinful, sleeping hearts of men and women. 

As watchmen on the wall we must not lost ourselves in the task of trying to reform a sinful, earthly kingdom.  Many in our society believe the ultimate act of service to mankind is to plant another tree or save another whale.  This is but another deception.  The ultimate service any man can do for another is to point his darkened soul to the Light that can dispel all darkness.  The greatest service we can do for our fellow man is to love him with the love of Christ and invite him to live his eternity in the Kingdom of God. 

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Watchman on the Wall (2) - Three Lies Christians Are Being Taught

A watchman is someone who looks out for danger and sounds the alarm if he senses that a threat is approaching. 

When I was a small boy growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania, we didn't have an electrical alarm system in our rural home but that doesn't mean we weren't protected.  Our alarm system had a name.  It was Buster.  Buster was a large, full grown Collie and in all his years with us he never failed to warn us.  Buster once warned us of a bear roaming around in the ravine behind our home.  Buster provided security for my mother who was a nurse when she arrived home at 11:00 at night.  He was constantly on the lookout for danger and he never once failed to sound the alarm when a stranger approached.

Buster was a loner.  He didn't run with the neighborhood pack.  It's as if he knew he had a job and he was totally committed to doing that job well.  Those whom God has called to be watchmen often find themselves as loners.  They share an unpopular message with an unreceptive people.  God wants his people to be distinguished, he wants others to recognize a difference in those who call themselves Christians.

"Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." - 2 Corinthians 6:17

"Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities."  Revelation 18:4

We are to live in the world but we must allow the Spirit of God to distinguish us from the world.  Many modern Christians are more interested in blending than in distinguishing.  There is a deception common among Christians that says a Christian can act just like a non-Christian, they can use the same language, they can go to the same places and they can enjoy the same sins. 

Let me share with you three lies Christians are often taught:
a.   Christians are often taught  believe that prosperity is a fruit of the Spirit.

            If you have really given your heart to Jesus he will make you wealthy.  We are told that somewhere in the Bible Jesus said:  "If you believe in me:
•          You will be prosperous
•          You will be healthy
•          You will get a better job
•          You will find a spouse
•          You will be spared physical illness or pain.

There is no guarantee that God will bless you with any of these things. 

God never promised us a rose garden.  This health and wealth gospel is cotton candy theology that has replaced the real meat and potato gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ never promised his disciples wealth and power.  He said,  "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)  Some ministers are more concerned about making people feel good so they will come back.  A real watchman on the wall will declare that Christ is the Messiah, he died on a cross, he arose from the dead.   "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17) He came as a lamb to the slaughter so we might be saved and have a relationship with him.  A real watchman must say that when Jesus comes again, he will not come as a lamb, he will come on white steed with sword in his hand and he will administer a fiery judgment on all of the injustice and evil that reigns in this world.
b.   Christians are often taught that a solitary, simple prayer one time spoken is all that is necessary to get to heaven.

            Are you a Christian? The reply is often; "Yes, I walked the aisle when I was seven years old."  "Yes, I said the Sinner's Prayer at age ten".

             Jesus never taught such easy believism.  There was nothing easy about Christ's purchase of our salvation:  “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:5-6)

            Jesus was a watchman and his message was:  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  (Matthew 4:17)

            Jesus shared an unpopular message with an unreceptive people:  "But unless you repent, you too will all perish."  (Luke 13:3)

            Jesus said this, even though he knew it would hasten his own death, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except though Me."  (John 14:6)

            He didn't die to provide us an escape from all suffering.  He died so that we might draw on his grace when given the privilege of suffering with him.

            The true message of salvation is that the cleansing blood of Christ is transformative.  "…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Becoming a Christian is not just saying a simple prayer and continuing in your old ways, rather, it is a radical transformation described by the watchman Paul who said, "…sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."  (Romans 6:14)

c.         Christians are often taught that a nation can be spiritually transformed through politics.  

            Christians often confuse the power and authority of American government with the power and authority of Christ.  We must not confuse the two kingdoms.  One kingdom is worldly and it will surely pass away.  The other kingdom is far more important because he who rules the eternal kingdom is Christ himself!  He is pure and incorruptible.  The government of that kingdom is "upon his shoulders and he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 

            Jesus was not opposed to Christians influencing earthy governments.  He said we were to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's".   (Luke 20:25)  But let us not confuse the two kingdoms.  Because the world is corrupted by sin God will continue to work through those who "bear the sword" (Romans 13:4) 

            This truth is captured in the old Negro spiritual, Wayfaring Stranger;
            "I am a poor wayfaring stranger,
            While traveling through this world of woe.
            Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
            In that bright world to which I go.
            I’m going there to see my Father;
            I’m going there no more to roam."

            Let us not confuse the temporary purpose of the American government with the eternal purpose of the kingdom of God.  Let us fight to make America a better country.  Let us be found on the front lines fighting for the lives of the unborn, for the sanctity of marriage and for the purity of our youth.  But let us not lose sight of the fact that as watchmen on the wall our primary responsibility is to point lost wanderers to the King of Kings!

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

America's Watchmen on the Wall

Ezekiel was 30 years old and living among the Israelites in Tel Aviv during the Babylonian captivity.  God called him to preach, to be a prophet, to share a message.  "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them." - Ez. 3:4 

God was telling Ezekiel, "This isn't going to be easy."  "…the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted."  (Ez. 3:7)  Ezekiel was so overwhelmed at the calling of God he went to Tel Aviv and sat among his people for seven days (Ez 3:15), trying to comprehend what had just happened to him.

During those seven days, Ezekiel was bitter and in much turmoil.  He was being asked to share an unpopular message with an unreceptive people.  He was feeling trepidation, but God's callings are without repentance.  (Romans 11:29)  So, he set out to obey God. 

"At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me:  “Son of man, I have made  you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.  When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.  But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself."   (Ezekiel 3:16-19)

What did it mean to be a "watchman"?  A watchman was a sentry, someone who would stand on the wall of the city, looking for any danger or threat.  If the watchman saw an invading army on the horizon or if he observed a riot or a fire within the city, his job was to sound the alarm, to warn the people.

We have an awesome responsibility to be watchmen for America.  We have an unpopular message that God wants us to deliver to an unreceptive people.  For those whom deny the existence of God, we declare the reality of a living God.  To those who would deny that Christ is the Son of God, we declare him to be not just the Son of God, he is the great 'I am', he is one with God Almighty.  For those who want to live in their sin and reject the salvation of God, we declare to them that he sacrificed his very son that we might be saved to the uttermost. 

As servants of the living God, as watchmen on the wall, what message does God want us to share with America today?

We as watchmen on the wall need to fight for the soul of America.

America auctioned its soul in back in the 1960's. 
Napoleon said, "In order to establish the revolution you have to destroy the past."

Bob Dylan wrote a song that captured the sense of revolution:  The Times They Are A  Changin'

"Come Senators, Congressman,
Please head the call.
Don't block the doorway,
Don't block up the hall.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
Don't criticize what you can't understand

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'

Please get out of the new one,
If you can't lend a hand
For your times, they are a changin'.

The cultural or sexual revolution of the '60's changed our lives forever. 

Those still traveling the old road are despised and rejected.  The rebels have built a new road thereby attempting to change America's destiny:
·        It is no longer about us, it is now about 'me'.
·        We are no longer citizens of America, we are citizens of the world
·        Sex is no longer pro-creational, it is now simply recreational.
·        Marriage has been replaced by cohabitation
·        Faithfulness in marriage is scorned and divorce is expected
·        We hand our children condoms rather than teach them abstinence.
·        Woman as bread-winners are admired while women as mothers are scorned.
·        Gay marriage is morally accepted while sodomy is not longer a moral outrage.
·        The people no longer determine their own government, the courts now decide how we are governed.
·        Free speech is now replaced by politically correct speech and self-appointed speech police enforce their unwritten laws.
·        The irrational has replaced common sense.
·        Animals are given more rights than humans, especially the unborn.
·        Eastern religion is replacing western spirituality
·        The true and only God is replaced by the Force.
·        "I am the way" has been replaced by "There are many ways to heaven"
·        Easter has been replaced by Earth Day
·        Merry Christmas has been replaced by Happy Holidays

It took 2,000 years to mold the building blocks that would be used to establish a great country like America.  It only took one generation for those blocks to crumble to dust.

As watchmen on a crumbling wall we must rise up like our forefathers and with similar courage and boldness we must declare that God is still sovereign, he still hears the voices of millions of Christians living in a pagan culture.  His power has not been diminished one iota!  We are blessed if he chooses to smile on us and we are cursed if he chooses to frown on our rebellion.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.