..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Coming Elections and the Spirit of the Age: It All Changes Next Tuesday

"And the word of the LORD came unto me the
second time, saying, What seest thou? And
I said, I see a seething pot; and the face
thereof is toward the north." (Jeremiah 1:13)

As followers of Jesus it is really not our place
to be caught up in politics. Ours is a heavenly
country in a place called the Kingdom of God.
As much as we can we should be good citizens,
but we owe our final allegiance to God.

Politics, to me, is odious. I think Jesus
thought so, too. But I write about this
upcoming election because it really is a
historic election. It is not about Democrats
and Republicans and their differences--if you
camp there you fail to see the point. It's about
weltanschauung and zeitgeist.

Say what?

Weltanschauung is the German term
for "world view" and "zeitgeist" is
a German term meaning "the spirit of the age."
Every so often things reach a stage of
critical change. Kingdoms rise and fall.
In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a
vision of the kingdoms of this world rising
and falling, his included. They give way to
the glorious kingdom of our Lord and of
His Christ! His Kingdom comes and smashes
all lesser ones others to pieces. A "Stone
not cut from hand" comes out of the mountain
and breaks all the other kingdoms.
Daniel said, "the dream is certain
and its interpretation sure" (Daniel 2:45).
The plan and purpose of God are indestructible
and imperishable.

In this election much has been paraded
forth about the need for change. Indeed!
But what we have here is change in its
most elemental form: we have a clash
of "weltenschauung" and a looming
fluctuation in the "zeitgeist."

This election is not just about policy
changes, it is about conflicting world
views. It is not about this policy on one
hand, and that one on the other, but a
change in zeitgeist, the very spirit
of the age. It is scarily obvious that
people, our "good' American people, are
changing what they think and what they
value. It is not about Republicans
deciding to be Democrats, please look
underneath and beyond that, but an entire
change in what we see as important: how things
should be, what truth is.

Decades of unbiblical and twisted thinking
have lead to this: God letting us choose
our king and have it our way. We get what
we choose. That is scary. What is scarier
is that in thinking we are choosing the
right thing we can be choosing the tools of
our own destruction. We can think we stand
for truth, and change, and actually be
standing for a lie more deadly than we can

I am not writing this article because I
am a Republican or a Democrat. My allegiance
does not lay along political lines. McCain,
too, has issues, and he is a dinosaur: he
is an emblem of the spirit of the previous age
in America. Somehow, that may only be a
half-bad thing. Probably even dinosaurs went
extinct somehow because of the sin of man.
In our seeking to get away from that imperfect
tenor of spirit we turn too quickly to what
appears to be another spirit and fail
to see the implications. New Song, next verse,
same tune, worse trouble.

We choose our man and our man chews us.
We get our man and our man gets us. This
will all unfold in a far worse way
in the already at hand, and not to
future, end-times. The Antichrist is the
spirit of man. 666.

Is Barack Obama the Antichrist? That's
quite a bit for politics to lay on any man!
No, according to Scripture, he was not born in
the right country to qualify for that job! In
most ways he is probably an ordinary person, not
necessarily or consciously disposed to
evil, but simply a post-modern man influenced
by his spiritual and political milieu, perhaps
more easily influenced then he knows. God help

He is not the Antichrist, but, and I say
this without animosity of any sort, he is
probably like what the Antichrist will start
off as. His words reveal him to have a world
view that we have not yet seen in an American
president, but they are timed
with a change in the "spirit of the
age" that is ready to accept what he
stands for. And he most definitely stands
for change. But change of what kind?

Many think that is a good thing. But many,
even Israel, will think that the Antichrist
to come is "a good thing"--a thing of peace
and safety until the real story suddenly and
violently emerges. God wants to rule us in true
peace and safety but we will not have it.
He allows us to choose our king and we
choose that king based on what we value.
A scarier thought I cannot imagine.

I fear that we are not seeing through
the issues to the Issue. America is changing.
It has been changing. It has changed. Its
been years of sometimes hidden, sometimes
blatant change. We can name all the old,
well-worn issues: abortion, prayer in schools,
religious freedom, sexual issues etc. but
even those are indicative of people who
were already not seeing clearly. Perhaps our
time is up, perhaps our season is finished.
If not now, sometime.

America labels herself as a "melting pot"
where everyone can be who they want to be.
The problem is: that is not possible!
Guess what? Conflicting ideologies conflict.
And guess what? Christianity makes some
claims that are exclusive and will
not allow other ideas to be melted
into it. So do other ideologies. You
know what I mean.

So we are really going to be melting
pot, just as the prophet Jeremiah
saw (Jeremiah 1:13) or really, it looks
to be, a melted pot. The "spirit of the age"
is about to change and it will not
be the change born of the Spirit of God.
If you are a Democrat and are reading
this, I am not attacking Barack Obama.
I am just saying that the issues are
bigger than they seem. Obama, like
any of us, is somewhat a product of
the "spirit of the age" that he grew
up in. He is just being what he was
made to be. All of us will, without
Christ, be just what the world and
its spirit makes us to be. And we know
who rules this present world! Unless we
are overtaken by another Spirit: the
Holy Spirit, we are merely pawns of
the devil's plan.

The Holy Spirit only campaigns for Christ.
And Christ is not American. Or Republican.
Or Democratic. The Spirit of Christ's
ticket is one of holiness, and humility,
and Truth. It levels us all under the Cross
of Jesus! The scriptures tell us,
"Be not deceived, whatever a man
sows, that is what he shall reap"
(Gal 6:7). We are set to reap the seeds
of decades upon decade of our choices
built on top of each other. This is not
about one man, but about a nation and why it
chooses what it chooses. It appears to
be too late. I pray it is not.

To citizens of God's Kingdom, residing
in these Untied States, take heart, take
courage, and stand in your place living
and speaking for Christ and Christ alone.
You can change more lives than a posse
of politicians.

Monday, October 27, 2008

When we understand the outside of things, we think
we have them. Yet the Lord puts his things in
subdefined, suggestive shapes, yielding no
satisfactory meaning to the mere intellect, but
unfolding themselves to the conscience and heart
-- George MacDonald

photo taken at Great Sand Dunes National Park,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Devotions From the Heart: Jesus Revealed

by Derek Gitsham

"For I neither received it of man, neither
was I taught it , but by the revelation of
Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:12

The enemy of our souls has very cleverly
manipulated us all by many tricks, and
deceptions, that have substituted the gospel
for another gospel. The context of this verse
is quite plain. Paul is actually quite
aggressive here. The Churches in Galatia were
being infiltrated by another gospel. So alarming
is this to Paul that he cries out in the 8th
and 9th verse that the individuals responsible
for this outrage to be accursed. They had
denied the relevance of the gospel, to him
the gospel had now been made irrelevant.

It was a simple error. When things go wrong it
is not a big thing at first, seemingly, but
really it is. Verse 6 says “I marvel that you
are so soon removed from Him that called you unto
the grace of Christ into another gospel.” The
gospel to Paul was Jesus. Everything about it
was Him and Him alone. In fact, he goes on to
say in the verse we are looking at, that he
received the gospel by the revelation of
Jesus Christ.

Revelation means unveiling. Jesus was unveiled to
Paul and at that moment he claims the gospel was
his. How marvelous. Knowing who Jesus is was the
key to all his preaching and ministry. Paul
claimed to the Corinthians, in the first epistle,
ninth chapter, verse 1, in defending his apostleship
of them, “Have I not see the Lord?”

We know on the Damascus Road that Jesus spoke to
him. He was blinded by the incident, but three
days later a disciple named Ananias is commanded
by God to go and pray for him to receive his sight.
He does and Paul receives his sight, inwardly and

The voice of Jesus alone was not enough. He had to
have Jesus revealed within him. Many are saved, but
still have had no revelation of Jesus. Could this be
the answer to so much lack of power in our lives?
Jesus reveal Yourself to our hearts today. Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spurgeon on Compassion

"She went, and sat her down over against
him a good way off, as it were a bowshot;
for she said, Let me not see the death of
the child. And she sat over against him,
and lift up her voice, and wept.” Gen. 21:16

Brethren, the whole ruin and current, and tenour
and spirit of the gospel influences us to

Ye are debtors, for what were ye if compassion
had not come to your rescue?

Divine compassion, all undeserved and free,
has redeemed you from your vain conversation.
Surely those who receive mercy should show
mercy; those who owe all they have to the pity
of God, should not be pitiless to their brethren.

The Savior never for a moment tolerates the
self-righteous isolation which would make you
despise the prodigal, and cavil at his restoration,
much less the Cainite spirit which cries,
“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

No doctrine is rightly received by you if
it freezes the genial current of your Christian
compassion. You may know the truth of the
doctrine, but you do not know the doctrine in
truth if it makes you gaze on the wrath to
come without emotions of pity for immortal souls.

You shall find everywhere throughout the gospel
that it rings of brotherly love, tender mercy,
and weeping pity. If you have indeed received
it in its power, the love of Christ will melt
your spirit to compassion for those who are
despising Christ, and sealing their own destruction.

Charles Spurgeon from the sermon: Compassion for Souls

photo:Israeli boy,
near Cana of Galilee

Sunday, October 19, 2008

He is in himself, in his holy Trinity,
nothing else but the boundless abyss of
all that is good, and sweet, and amiable,
and therefore stands in the utmost
contrariety to everything that is not a
blessing, in an eternal impossibility of
willing and intending a moment's pain or
hurt to any creature.

For from this unbounded source of goodness
and perfection, nothing but infinite streams
of blessing are perpetually flowing forth
upon all nature and creature, in a more
incessant plenty, than rays of light stream
from the sun. And as the sun has but one nature,
and can give forth nothing but the blessings
of light, so the holy Triune God has but one
nature and intent towards all the creation,
which is, to pour forth the riches and sweetness
of his divine perfections, upon everything that
is capable of them, and according to its capacity
to receive them.--William Law

photo taken near Wilmington, Vermont
at the base of Hogback Mountain

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Devotions From the Heart: That They Which See Might Be Made Blind

by Derek Gitsham

"And Jesus said, "For judgment I am come
into this world that they which see not
might see and that they which see might
be made blind." John 9:39

The man blind from birth, having his sight
restored by Jesus is one of the seven miracles
recorded by John, and for our particular
attention also. After the miracle Jesus
spoke of the reason why He came. He said
“For judgment I am come into this world,
that they which see not might see, and
that they which see might be made blind.”

The Pharisees response was “Are we blind, also?”
Jesus replied, “If you were blind you should
have no sin: but now you say, ‘We see,’
therefore your sin remaineth.” The Lord was
telling them by healing the blind man that
they were blind and could not see the truth.
He came to open our spiritual eyes that we
might see what we could not see.

Man is born blind to spiritual realities
and its going to take a miracle of New
Birth to have their eyes opened.

The second thing Jesus was saying is that
those who see might be made blind. Isaiah 42:19,
when talking about Jesus in the Servant Songs,
says, “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf
as My messenger that I sent? Who is blind as
he that is perfect and blind as the Lord’s

His eyes were blind to so much of what the
natural man sees. Jesus says we have to be
blinded, too. So much of what we see is
troubling us, when the eyes of our heart
need to be blinded to these things. Paul
in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says “our light
affliction, which is but for a moment,
worketh for us a far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory, while we look not
at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen.” The Lord blind
us to those things we see, that we might see
what we cannot see.

Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians in the last
chapter, verse 18, is similar, “that the
eyes of your understanding may be opened,
that you may know” . God open our eyes and
blind them, also.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pick up the key of obedience. Go on,
pick it up. What are you waiting for,
really? Why not take it right now?
You can do that if you're living by
the light of a confident trusting in God.
You don't have to walk in blindness and
bitter cold today. All you have to do is
cling instead to obedience with a burning
love that God will give you. It will make
you warm, and its warmth is the
best heat.
- Catherine of Siena, "Dialogue"

photo taken at St. John the Evangelist Church,
Agawam, MA

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"I am the true vine, and my Father
is the gardener. He cuts off every
branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear
fruit he prunes so that it will be
even more fruitful.

You are already clean because of
the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, and I will remain in
you. No branch can bear fruit by
itself; it must remain in the vine.

Neither can you bear fruit unless you
remain in me. I am the vine; you are
the branches. If a man remains in me
and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing. If
anyone does not remain in me, he is
like a branch that is thrown away and
withers; such branches are picked up,
thrown into the fire and burned.

If you remain in me and my words
remain in you, ask whatever you wish,
and it will be given you. This is to my
Father's glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I
loved you. (John 15:1-9)

photo taken in Feeding Hills, MA
early fall raspberry

Friday, October 10, 2008

Devotions From the Heart: Lingering

By Derek Gitsham

"And while he lingered the man laid
hold upon his hand, and upon the hand
of his wife and upon the hand of his
two daughters; the Lord being merciful
unto him; and they brought him forth,
and set him without the city." Genesis 19:16

As staggering as it appears, Lot, during his
encounter with the angels of the Lord before
they destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah,
procrastinated about leaving. Having been
forewarned by them that the city was to be
destroyed, he lingered. The angels had to
forcibly remove him and his family.

Notice from the verse that the angels laid
hold of his hand, his wife and children. Not
only did Lot linger, but because of Lot’s
lingering they did the same. Boy, do we
have something to answer for, regarding
our families! How often the head of the
family produces in his wife and children
the same response as his own.

So often when God sends warnings to His people
we are oblivious to the urgency of the
situation. A very dramatic event was about
to unfold. The destruction of so many people
and all they owned was about to take place.
Yet, seemingly, no one is taking this seriously enough.

Lingering sometimes is connected with the
fact that we still want our own way in things.
Self is hanging on tenaciously, stubbornly.
In the things of God it is better to obey God
immediately. Any delays will have reasons
attached to why you should not do what God
wants. Thankfully, God in His mercy, showed
mercy by taking them all by the hand, as this
verse reveals.

Is there anything in our lives today that we
are lingering over? The consequences could be
disastrous if we do not follow God’s leadings.
Lot’s wife did not heed the angels word to not
look behind, and was turned into a pillar of
salt. When God does not want us to see but to
believe, it behooves us to believe. Had the
lingering produced this final result? Only God
knows. The day is fast closing, linger no more,
escape for thy life and do what He says.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"If I profess, with the loudest voice and clearest
exposition, every portion of the truth of God except
precisely that little point which the world and the
devil are at that moment attacking, I am not
confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing
Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of
the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the
battle fields besides is mere flight and disgrace if
he flinches at that point." - Martin Luther

photograph taken in Kalinin, formerly USSR, around 1986
now the city of Tver in Russia

Friday, October 03, 2008

Few souls understand what God would
accomplish in them if they were
to abandon themselves unreservedly
to Him and if they were to allow
His grace to mold them accordingly.
- Ignatius

photo taken in Feeding Hills, MA

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hearing the Voice of God: "Some Say it Thundered"

Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I
say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But
for this purpose I came to this hour.
Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice
came from heaven, saying, “I have both
glorified it and will glorify it again.”
Therefore the people who stood by and
heard it said that it had thundered. Others
said, “An angel has spoken to Him
(John 12:27-29)

Was that thunder or the Voice of God?

What is the difference between those who
clearly and accurately hear the voice of
God and those who can't quite make it out?

Are you one of those who hears God like thunder
in the distance or one who hears His Voice

Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice" (John
10:27). If we are born of God and belong to Christ
then He promises us that we will be able
to hear Him. Throughout the Scriptures
we are enjoined to "hear the Word of the
Lord" (Deut. 4:10. 6:4). Does this mean just
to actually be able to hear it with our ears?
No, it means to hear and receive, to hear with
the sense of obeying, to hear and give
heart to.

There are many cliches in our society with
regard to hearing: "We hear what we want to
hear" is indeed true. We hear what is of
interest to us. Our ears "perk up" when
we hear something we want to hear. Anyone
who has a dog knows that they know certain
words that have great interest to them:
"walk" "ball" "biscuit" and, the word
of words, "Greenie". They may appear asleep
and yet their ears will "perk up" when
they hear them. All other words may be
indistinguishable but those words that
they want to hear are clearly

There is the childish way of putting your
fingers in your ears and saying loudly,"
Lalalala, I can't hear you." Listening
to God starts with loving His voice.
Those who hear God really want to hear God.
Those who hear God are of the same Spirit
as He is.

In John's gospel, chapter 12, Jesus predicts
his death. He pledges obedience to God and
says, "Father, glorify Thy Name" (John 12:28).
A Voice replies from heaven saying, "I have
both glorified it and will glorify it." The
people who stood nearby heard it and said,
"it thundered." Others said an angel spoke
to Him. Jesus tells the crowd that the
voice that spoke was not for His sake
for He already heard God speaking quietly
in His heart. The voice was given so that
others might know what God's point of view
was. Notice some heard it, and some heard
just the loud rumbling of thunder.

How is it that some are able to hear God's
voice and others only hear the indistinct
rumble of thunder?

The days ahead, even now, demand that we
hear our Lord's Voice clearly and take head
to His Words. What will help us listen?
What will help us hear?

We must be people who seek after God in
Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). We must be people
of the Word so that we are able to discern
His voice from the voice of all others.

The trouble with thunder is that it gives
an indistinct sound. If we do not take
care and cultivate our ability to listen
to God, we will hear the voice of God as
thunder. The trouble with that is that it
is easy to project a translation of what
that thunder is saying. We can hear that
God is saying something, but we can't quite
hear what it is. So we speculate or guess,
or put words in God's mouth. "It sounds
like He's saying...." This can quickly
degenerate in hearing what we want to hear
and not what He is saying. This quickly
brings us to delusion and a strong lie.

When Elijah encountered God it is written
that a strong wind tore into the mountains,
and then an earthquake, and then a fire, but
the Lord was not in any of these but in a
still, small Voice (I Kings 19:11-12).

But even hearing the God as a still, small
voice is not proof that we are hearing God.
Many voices have gone out into the world.
We must know God's character. We must know
who the Spirit of Truth is like. The more
we live and walk in the truth the more our
spirit will resonate with God's Spirit, and
the clearer His voice will be to us.

Jesus told us that he hid the wisdom of
God from the wise but revealed it to babes
(John 11:25)-those who would simply trust Him
and walk in what was revealed. He said that
he shares what will happen with His friends
(John 15:15).

This is a simple but profound truth. We can
hear God the minute we are born of God, but
that hearing is refined over a lifetime of
listening. And it is not just a passive
listening, or a listening out of idle
curiosity, but a listening that has the intent
to obey and to come into submission to.

God does not favor some with His voice and
let thunder speak to the rest. It is we that
must fine tune our listening. It is we that
must immerse ourselves in His word. It is we
that must cast aside every hindrance and
tear down everything that blocks our hearing.
Hearing is much more an attitude of the
heart than it is a physical ability.

We must cultivate our delight in hearing
God for his words are sweet and bring life.
We can see God as harsh and speaking difficult
words, and if we do, we do not know Him and
our ignorance will soon block our desire
to be with Him, assuming Him to be Someone
He is not. Jeremiah speaks to deafened
Israel: "To whom shall I speak, and give warning,
that they may hear? behold, their ear is
uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken:
behold, the word of the LORD is unto them
a reproach; they have no delight in it
(Jeremiah 6:9-11)

Delight yourself in hearing God and you will
come to hear Him clearly. He is Love itself.
He is Mercy and Goodness, and Life.
Hear, O Israel.

Devotions From the Heart: Keeping Power

by Derek Gitsham

"Who are kept by the power of God, through
faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed
in the last time." I Peter 1:5

Legend has it that the apostle Peter lived all
his life in the power of God from Pentecost to his
death. That in and of itself is remarkable. For
many of us the Christian life is up one minute
and down the next. Peter’s shadow in the early
days would fall on someone and they would be healed.
Peter continued to walk in the power of God until
the end.

Our opening verse is a key to this incredible
ability to stay in the right place with God, and
in a place of power. The apostles were men of power.
God began everything in power and intends it to
continue in power. They were kept by the power
of God throughout. Believing keeps us in the power
of God. This was Peter’s secret. What a wonder!
This word “kept” in Greek means “a military
garrison, to post spies at the gate, to mount
guard as a sentinel.”

John, in his first Epistle (5:18) says, “Whosoever
is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten
of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth
Him not.” Another Greek word is used here meaning
“to prevent escaping, to guard from loss or injury
by keeping your eye upon.”

Being begotten of God is the saint’s regenerative
power, enabling himself to keep himself, and in
turn, God keeping him. The very power of regeneration
has within it the power to separate the saint from sin,
and the wicked one, and by virtue of God’s power,
he cannot touch us. The wicked one not touching us
is in the context of luring us back into sin and the
old habits and ways of the world. Regeneration has
cut the head off that enemy which dwelled in our
hearts and renders him unable to touch us, providing
we walk and abide in Him and His power. He is keeping
us, praise Him; it now behooves us to keep ourselves
for His glory.