Milgram's Experiment on Obedience to Authority

Stanley Milgram, Yale University psychologist, began a series of social psychology experiments in July 1961. He discussed his experimental findings in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in 1963, and later in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.

Objective
Milgram wanted to understand how many officers under the Nazi regime could follow brutal orders from authorities without showing resistance though it was evident that their obedience to such orders caused pain to others. Milgram wanted to research how far people could go into obeying orders from an authority that caused pain to others.

The Experiment
40 men were recruited for the lab experiment for $4.00 per hour of their time. The recruits were introduced to a shock generator developed by Milgram. The shock generator had on it switches that could generate shocks at increasing levels: starting at 30 volts and increasing in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450 volts. Labels such as "Slight Shock," "Moderate Shock" and "Danger: Severe Shock" were used over the switches. The final two switches were labeled simply with an ominous "XXX."
The experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T), the subject of the experiment, to give what the latter believes are painful electric shocks to a learner (L), who is actually an actor and confederate. The subject believes that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. (Wikipedia) The experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T), the subject of the experiment, to give what the latter believes are painful electric shocks to a learner (L), who is actually an actor and confederate. The subject believes that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. (Wikipedia)

The experiment emulated a scene of Teacher-Learner-Experimenter situation. For each session, three individuals were selected. One of them was the recruit (who would play the role of the Teacher); the other was a confederate of the experimenter and acted as Learner; the third was the experimenter(Milgram) himself. Of course, straws were drawn to determine who would play which role, but everything was fixed beforehand in a manner that the recruit's choice could only be to play the Teacher. The experimenter made sure to inform the Teacher (recruit) that the Learner (who was, unknown to the Teacher, a confederate of the experimenter) had a heart problem. The experimenter took the Teacher to the other room and showed the Learner strapped to a chair with electrodes. Then, the Teacher was given a list of word pairs that he was to teach the Learner. The Teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the Learner. Then, he read the first word of a pair in the list and indicated four possible answers. The Learner pressed a button to indicate his answer. If the answer was incorrect, the Teacher administered a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer. If correct, the Teacher would read the next word pair. But, while the recruit (Teacher) believed that real shocks were being given, it was so arranged that no shocks were actually administered.

After a number of high level shocks, the Learner would begin to bang on the wall and plead to stop. But, while a few of the recruits called out of the experiment, most went forward to administer higher level shocks in obedience to an authoritative procedure involved. When the Teacher would question if the experiment should be carried on any further, the experimenter would just give each of the following commands in sequential order:

1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

If the Teacher still persisted to halt the experiment after the fourth successive order, then the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession.

Results
65% of the recruits, though showing unwillingness to do so, administered the 450-level shocks to the Learner. All the participants continued to 300 volts. "Throughout the experiment, subjects displayed varying degrees of tension and stress. Subjects were sweating, trembling, stuttering, biting their lips, groaning, digging their fingernails into their skin, and some were even having nervous laughing fits or seizures." (Wiki) Yet, they continued to administer the shocks in obedience to authority.


Milgram summarized the experiment in his 1974 article, "The Perils of Obedience":
This is, perhaps, the most fundamental lesson of our study: ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority. Many of the people were in some sense against what they did to the learner, and many protested even while they obeyed. Some were totally convinced of the wrongness of their actions but could not bring themselves to make an open break with authority. They often derived satisfaction from their thoughts and felt that -- within themselves, at least -- they had been on the side of the angels. They tried to reduce strain by obeying the experimenter but "only slightly," encouraging the learner, touching the generator switches gingerly. When interviewed, such a subject would stress that he "asserted my humanity" by administering the briefest shock possible. Handling the conflict in this manner was easier than defiance. For a person to feel responsible for his actions, he must sense that the behavior has flowed from "the self." In the situation we have studied, subjects have precisely the opposite view of their actions -- namely, they see them as originating in the motives of some other person. Subjects in the experiment frequently said, "if it were up to me, I would not have administered shocks to the learner." The experimenter's physical presence has a marked impact on his authority -- As cited earlier, obedience dropped off sharply when orders were given by telephone. The experimenter could often induce a disobedient subject to go on by returning to the laboratory. Even Eichmann was sickened when he toured the concentration camps, but he had only to sit at a desk and shuffle papers. At the same time the man in the camp who actually dropped Cyclon-b into the gas chambers was able to justify his behavior on the ground that he was only following orders from above. Thus there is a fragmentation of the total human act; no one is confronted with the consequences of his decision to carry out the evil act. The person who assumes responsibility has evaporated. Perhaps this is the most common characteristic of socially organized evil in modern society.

Further Reading:The Perils of Obedience
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The Grace of God Has Appeared (Tit.2:11-12)

"The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us." (Tit 2:11-12 NKJ)

1. Grace of God appeared in the Incarnate Word

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (Joh 1:14, 16-17 NKJ)


2. Grace of God appears through the Inscribed Word

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace (Act 14:3 NKJ)


3. Grace of God works through People of the Word

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1Co 15:10 NKJ)
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Eph 4:29 NKJ)

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Earnestly Desiring the Best Gifts of the Spirit

God wants each of us to be filled with His Holy Spirit and be loaded with the gifts of the Spirit for His ministry.

He wants to use each one of us:
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1Co 12:7 NKJ)

We are members of His body. No man would ever want any part of his body to be left unused. Nobody would say, "I will shut my nose off and not use it". God wants to use each one of us.

However, the question is do we want to be used of God? Really?

There are two things spoken to us in 1Corinthians 12-14 that are essential in the pursuit of the gifts of the Spirit.

1. Zeal and Intense Passion for the Gifts
"Earnestly desire the best gifts. (1Co 12:31 NKJ)
"Desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1Co 14:1 NKJ)

The word for "desire" is zeloo and means "intense zeal". It is the same word from which the word "zealot" comes. The zealots were a terrorist group, a do or die people. To be zealous for the best gifts is to be so fully consumed of desire for the gifts that it is like a do or die situation. Jesus said that if we genuinely and persistently ask for the Spirit, the Father will give. He won't give His precious gifts to those who only half-heartedly seek them. Because, then, they never understand the value of the same. A really zealous person is like a thirsty man who cannot give up looking for water till he found water to drink. So, a person who is zealously seeking the gifts of the Spirit cannot find rest until God has filled him. Such person will not sleep and slumber in prayer. He will not get bored of prayer times. He will pray in the Spirit; he will enquire, seek, follow.

2. The More Excellent Way Called Love
"And yet I show you a more excellent way." (ICor 12:31)
"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts." (ICor 14:1)

God will never entrust His power to somebody who doesn't have God's love.
-Power without Love is destructive. It will destroy both the one who possesses the power and those around that person.
-Power without Love is immoral. Love is the fulfillment of Law; therefore, power without love is immoral and lawless.
-Power without Love is godless. God is love; therefore, power without love is godless.
-Power without Love cannot work the righteousness of God.

Smith Wigglesworth said: Faith+Compassion=Miracle

Jesus was moved with compassion and healed people. Love is the more excellent way. It is the way that remains. Love is the greatest of all.

Be rooted in the love of Christ and your life will bear fruit for Christ.

We all can have the gifts of the Spirit if we are zealous for them and if we cherish the love of Christ in our hearts for all.
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The Song Is Independent Of The Songwriter

There have been some who have argued that the psalms of David must not be preached from because of the moral failures of David. The same is lamented of Solomon. However, we know that the Spirit's inspiration overrules the time-bound fluctuations of human character. Not that the text is detached from the author; but that changes in the author do not invalidate the text that has been written.

1. Absolutes declared in the text are not invalidated by any lack of moral conformity and consistency in the author/writer.
2. The authenticity of spirit in the composition of text at a particular time is not invalidated by the lack of authenticity in the author at some other time.
3. The text becomes free of the author at its moment of publication. The author becomes accountable to the text; not vice versa.
4. The text influences how one interprets the text; similarly, how one interprets determines what one gets from the text.

Thus, the song is independent of the songwriter as far as truth and time is concerned. However, the text within context is also not separate from the story of the author. But, after its creation, the text's story-line changes from that of the author.
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What's in Heaven? What's in Hell?

The chorus in heaven is "How Great Thou Art!"
The chorus in hell is "How Great I Am!"

The focus of heaven is "Thy Will Be Done!"
The focus of hell is "My Will Be Done!"

The prayer of heaven is "That ALL men may be saved"
The prayer of hell is "That MY brothers may be saved"

....
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God is Not a God of Disorder But of Peace

"The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1Co 14:32-33 NIV)

One certain characteristic of God's work is order and peace. Wherever God is at work, we are certain to see order and propriety.

A look into the Creation account will tell us that God works in an orderly fashion. A look into God's instructions regarding the construction of the Tabernacle of Wilderness tells us that God is a God of order. A look into the life and ministry of Jesus tells us that He worked in an orderly fashion. The way He asked people to sit down while His disciples distributed food, the way in which He instructed what the healed were to do, the way in which it is testified that his clothes were folded into a corner when He rose from the dead are proof that He did what He said - He worked as He saw His Father work.

THEREFORE, any preacher who acts in a disorderly fashion and blames that on the Holy Spirit is guilty of blasphemy. A preacher who drags a meeting overtime and claims that he does that by the leading of the Spirit is guilty of both blasphemy and deception of people; unless, of course, the marks of the Spirit's leading are clear. A preacher who does "charismatic" things in a wild fashion may be following a heathen form of sensationalist religious ecstasy; but, anything unrestrained and peace-less is not from God. A person who claims that he had been in trance and not in control of himself was not filled nor led by the Spirit.

A sluggard who doesn't spend time in prayer nor study and then testifies that the Spirit helps him in his weakness (of lack of prayer and proper study) is a danger to the Church. He must be rebuked.

The Holy Spirit organizes and administers the works of ministry in the Church (1Cor.12:6). No man can attempt to organize and administer the Holy Spirit. No man can try to put God in a box. There are times when the Spirit may do something that seems irrational to the human mind (e.g. Jesus applying a mixture of mud and spit to the eyes of the blind man). However, the Spirit of God will not be inconsistent and confused in the work of ministry. The power of the Holy Spirit is not based on extreme and voluminous shouting; He works peacefully.

In the Corinthian Church's case, a number of people prophesying amounted to confusion and meaninglessness. No one understood nor profited from what they did. The Holy Spirit cannot be called the Master of such services where confusion and lack of peace is the result. Wherever He is there is peace; wherever He acts there is peace.
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Faith, Hope, and Love: All That One Needs

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1Cor.13:13)

All that one needs in the world is faith, hope, and love. All that God has given to us in this world is faith, hope, and love.

No matter what, hold on to faith in God and in His Word. His promises will never fail. Believe what God's Word says and do it. Study it. Share it. Live by faith.

Also, never give up hope. Hope relates to a positive expectation about the future. Expect good things to happen, good things to come because of who God is and what He has promised. Expect good results of what we do by faith in God. The promise is that God will work out everything for good to those who love Him. Never allow confusion or fear or anxiety to take the place of hope at any cost. Keep hope on the highest watchtower and hope will protect your heart.

Then, continue to love all. Love God with all your being. Love other people as yourself. Let the love of God spill out in the way you look at others, in the words that you speak to them, and in actions that you do. Love also your enemies and pray for them. Forgive. Give. Care. Help. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is like. Meditate on it. Love remains!
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UFOs and Aliens: What Has the Bible To Say?

The Mirror recently reported another case of a UFO sighting and, this time, the head of an alien was supposedly sticking out of the UFO captured in a picture on Google Earth. (The Mirror)

A year ago, a few videos on YouTube claimed to have been taken from various angles showed images of a brilliant object descending on the Dome on the Rock in Jerusalem and suddenly shooting up.
There have also been reports from the Vatican of interest shown in the extra-terrestrials. (See Vatican, Aliens, and LUCIFER (Excerpts)).

There are those who suppose that stories of supernatural events reported through mythology and legends might have connections with visits of aliens on earth. Some like Van Daniken have accrued much fame through such themes that went viral through his book Chariots of the Gods. Number of theories have sprung up since then. History Channel has been showing a program called Ancient Aliens that tries to look at mythical stories for traces of aliens in the past.

UFO sightings are no longer considered to be negligible. Many governments and independent academics have done intensive investigation of reports and documentations of the same. (See Studies and Investigations in Wikipedia Article). The Vatican has been involved in search for extraterrestrials. (Looking for GOD and ALIENS). There seems to be optimism regarding the same. On the other hand, many Christian interpreters of Biblical Prophecy believe that such UFO sightings are forerunners of the coming of the antichrist. They might be part of the conspiracy of a secret group preparing for the coming of the Man of Sin or be preparatory acts of delusion by the powers of darkness; or by both. Some speculate that the antichrist will interpret the rapture as Alien Attack and declare a state of emergency to protect earth from alien invasion.

Whatever, it doesn't seem easy for skeptics to deny these sightings altogether.

But, what has the Bible to say about all this?

1. The Bible does speak of some extra-terrestrials; but, they are called angels and demons. Angels aren't some aliens inhabiting a distant planet called heaven, as Dake thought of it when he compiled the Dake's Bible. Angels are called ministering spirits (Heb.1:14).
2. The Bible also speaks of demonic signs and wonders in the last days meant to deceive humanity and work towards the rise of the antichrist (2Thess.2:9-11).
3. Whether the UFOs are real material objects, projected on the world screen to prepare the world for the antichrist, or they are mere demonic apparitions is not solved. Either way, they are not in favor of the Biblical God. The idea of "aliens watching us" is unbiblical.
4. UFO sightings have been undeniably confirmed by various sources. However, the Bible doesn't mention possible aliens from other planets.
5. Any sighting of an object has 4 possibilities:

a. It has been made visible by God for a reason.
b. It is a natural phenomenon.
c. It is an angelic phenomenon.
d. It has been made visible by humans.
e. It is a demonic phenomenon.

If the devil can try to show to Jesus all the world in a moment, this next thing wouldn't be difficult for him at all.

However, not even SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) could solve the mystery of UFOs and aliens.

Belief in the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere (in aliens) and evolutionism have been going on together. The argument is that if life can evolve on earth then it can also evolve elsewhere in some other habitable planet. The Vatican's positive attitude towards the ETs may not be separated from its conceding to the evolutionary theory, even if it were theistic evolutionism.

Hal Lindsay and others have tried to show that UFOs are demonic appearances meant to deceive humans. There are some who connect these objects with conspiracy theories of secret government activities, possibly meant in preparation of the coming of the antichrist. The following few possible interpretations can be made of a particular ET sighting:
1. It might be an anomalous illusion created by the interplay of light rays in the sky. It is possible for someone or a group of people to observe such bright anomalies and consider them to be Unidentifiable Flying Objects.
2. It might just be another aircraft, balloon, or some such object that is being misidentified.
3. It might be a demonic delusive phenomenon.

It doesn't seem impossible for demonic apparitions to occur. The disciples mistook Jesus for a ghost when He came walking to them on the sea; which implied that they did believe that a group could see a ghost. After His resurrection, Jesus had to assure the disciples that He was not a ghost by asking them to examine Him physically; for, He said, a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). In other words, a ghost might not have a physically tangible body and yet be visible. But, Jesus resurrected physically and was alive in body.

Angels, of course, have been regularly seen in the Bible.

There aren't any biblical possibilities, however, for a UFO to be a divine sign; unless, it is immediately accompanied by a divine explanation. God doesn't just show a sign without a verbal explanation of the same.
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Two Essentials of Watchfulness

There are at least two essentials of watchfulness:
1. To be aware that there can be an attack, an attempt to steal, an attempt to destroy anytime. The very fact that watchfulness is called for is because there is a possibility of attack. As long as we are in the world, we must watch. Even a second of slumbering or slight can prove fatal.
2. To not consider oneself as immune to attack. Anybody who thinks that he is immune and above any such attack has become presumptuous and stands in danger of a fall. Paul warned anybody who was thinking he stands to beware lest he fall (1Cor.10:12). We need to keep pressing on forward relentlessly until we have run the race and our time of departure from earth has come. There are no moments of casual vacationing for the Christian as far as spiritual watchfulness and warfare is concerned.
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The Only Things To Glory In (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD. (Jer 9:23-24 NKJ)

The world remembers Jeremiah as the "Weeping Prophet" of the Old Testament. He wept for a nation that never responded to his cries to repentance. He wept because he knew that their contempt of God's Law, their lack of seriousness and sincerity towards God's Word was nothing but an invitation of misery, calamity, and death. He wept because their self-opinion was too loud for them to hear what God was saying. He wept because it seemed that God Himself was exhausted of all opportunities to repentance that He could allow this nation anymore. God commanded Jeremiah, "Do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you." (Jer 7:16)

The Jews of Jeremiah's time were proud about a number of things. They gloried in their education system, in their economic well-being, and in their military might. But, God confronted them on this matter: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches"

Three Things To Glory In

God lists out three things that a person can glory in:
1. Glory in the Knowledge and Understanding of God. "That he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD." This is not mere rationalized, philosophical knowledge of God. It is knowledge that comes from the self-revelation of God in His Word. It is knowledge that comes from an intimate walk with God, by which we spiritually are able to recognize the things that God likes and the things He detests. This intimate knowledge will certainly transform us inside out and change our manner of speech, thought, and conduct.
2. Glory in the Understanding of God's Character and Mission. "Exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth." Mercy, Justice, and Righteousness cannot be understood in separation from God. Our ministry in the world proceeds from our understanding of the character and the mission of our Master. A person who understands the character and mission of God will not live a purposeless life. Mercy, justice, and righteousness will weigh heavily on his soul. Every moment of his existence will pulsate with the passion of God's mission. He will not be satisfied with a passive lifestyle but will bear witness of the Kingdom of God. He will raise his voice in favor of mercy, justice, and righteousness. He will not withdraw his hand from helping the needy. He will live his life by faith in the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him. He will work the works of the Father.
3. Glory in the Understanding of God's Will and Delight. "In these I delight." God delights in lovingkness, judgment, and righteousness. A person who has come to age will know what his father delights in (Heb.5:14). The spiritually minded man will know the mind of the Spirit. His mind has been renewed so that he can discern between good and evil and is able to recognize what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom.12:2). This person can never displease God because he lives a life that is well pleasing to God. He is a person who is "a man after God's own heart"; the servant by whom the Master is well-pleased, because he has exactly served in the manner that God wanted him to serve.

Prayer: Father, there are many things that we are proud of, ambitious of, and ignorantly concerned about in this world that passes away. These things will not remain but You remain forever. Your Word remains forever. Lord Jesus, You came that we may have life and life more abundantly. Breathe into us the life of Your Word! Your Words are Spirit and Life! We disconnect ourselves from the passions of this world and look up to You. Help us to know You better! Reveal Your person to us! Holy Spirit, forgive us when we have grieved You! Lead us on to grow in the knowledge of Him who loved us truly so much! Fill us with Yourself to the glory of the Father and the Son and the Blessed Spirit! Amen!
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What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?

The Biblical institution of marriage is clearly between one man and one woman. The Genesis account is the foundation of our understanding of Biblical marriage. God created a woman for the man, when he was alone. Adam named her "Woman", declaring that she was the bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. The scripture states:
And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:23-24 NKJ)
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the great wickedness in those cities. One of the wickedness practiced there was homosexuality. We get our English word "Sodomy" from Sodom. When God sent his angels to destroy that city, the men of the city, on knowing that strangers had arrived, went crazy to have sex with the men. Such was their wickedness. (Gen 19).

The Biblical Law stipulated:
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. (Lev 20:13 NKJ)
Paul describes homosexuality as the result of religious corruption and mental debasement. When men exchange the truth of God for the lie of the world and exchange the worship of God for the worship of worldliness, then perversion ensues:
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. (Rom 1:22-28 NKJ)
The Bible tells us that homosexuals who don't repent of their sins should not be deceived; they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:9-10 NKJ)
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Presbyterian Church USA Allows GAY MARRIAGES - Church Unreformed


On Thursday, June 19, 2014 (Yesterday), the Presbyterian Church USA voted in favor of gay marriages and to allow the clergy to preside over gay weddings. Reportedly, "the authoritative interpretation passed 371-238 (61 percent in favor), and the constitutional amendment passed 429-175 (71 percent in favor)." (Pres-Outlook). According to Jeff Karoub and Rachel Zoll,
The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted by large margins Thursday to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian in the church constitution, adding language that marriage can be the union of "two people," not just "a man and a woman."

The amendment approved by the Presbyterian General Assembly requires approval from a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries, which will vote on the change over the next year. But in a separate policy change that takes effect at the end of this week's meeting, delegates voted to allow ministers to preside at gay weddings in states where the unions are legal and local congregational leaders approve. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

The votes, during a national meeting in Detroit, were a sweeping victory for Presbyterian gay-rights advocates. The denomination in 2011 eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners, but ministers were still barred from celebrating gay marriages and risked church penalties for doing so. Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a gay advocacy group, said the decisions Thursday were "an answer to many prayers."(Associated Press)
On its Facebook page, PCUSA announced:"BREAKING NEWS: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pastors can now marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal."

This democratic step doesn't lack a religious spirit. On its website, PCUSA wrote: "Both decisions came with much thought, discussion and prayer, and clearly the entire body that is the PC(USA) will be interpreting these actions for some time." (PCUSA.ORG). Others have applauded the decision as "answer to many prayers". Niraj Warikoo reports:
Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a gay advocacy group, said the decisions Thursday were "an answer to many prayers" of same-sex couples.
"We will keep praying that the majority of our 172 presbyteries will confirm that all loving couples can turn to their churches when they are ready to be married," McNeill said.
The conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee decried the votes in Detroit as an "abomination."(USA Today)
However, we must note that NOT every religious looking spirit is approved by God. The Bible talks about Israelites turning to pagan worship and accepting the ways of the world, and bringing into God's Temple in Jerusalem the abominations of the world. Yet, they were very assured of God's protection because they argued that they hadn't forsaken Jehovah after all. But, God responded:
"Do not trust in these lying words, saying,`The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.'
"Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say,`We are delivered to do all these abominations'? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the LORD. But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works," says the LORD, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. (Jer 7:4,9-14 NKJ)
I hope that the case of the Presbyterian Church in the USA is still open to redemption. In the case of the Israelites, God had strictly commanded:
"Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. (Jer 7:16 NKJ)
Going astray after the world is not something that happens suddenly. It begins by standing in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1), loving the things of the world (1John 2:15), seeking friendship with the world (James 4:4), and drifting away gradually by allowing foundational truths to slip away (Heb.2:1). It is like putting a frog in cold water vessel upon a stove that is gradually heating up. The frog will never jump out, because it is gradually getting used to to the changing temperature, so much that it doesn't know when the heat has become fatal. It is what Jesus called as lukewarmness - maintaining one's temperature in conformity to the surrounding (neither hotter nor colder), being world-like.

This is, certainly, one aspect of the Jezebel spirit in the Church that Jesus sternly warned against.
"Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works." (Rev 2:20-23 NKJ)
Of course, those who "do not have this doctrine" of the majority have decided to leave the contaminated label.
Hunter Farrell, the PC(USA)’s director of World Mission, told the assembly that 17 of the denomination’s global partners have indicated they might break relations with the PC(USA) if the denomination allows its ministers to perform same-sex marriages. Those 17 international partners are in 14 countries, Farrell said, primarily in Africa and South America, and involve some of the denomination’s most active partnerships. (Pres-Outlook)
It must be noteworthy that when Scotland became the 17th country to allow same-sex marriages in February 2014, the move was opposed by both the Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. (Reuters). It is tragic then that a few months later the Presbyterian Church of USA should ecclesiastically vote in favor of something that was opposed by the Church in another country. The frog in the heating pot, the lukewarm spit-worthy water, and Jezebel might be the right pictures if pictures speak clearer than words.



Further Reading:
What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?
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Evangelism by the Holy Spirit: Electrifying Testimonies from theMinistry of Charles Finney


CHARLES Finney’s Power from on High documents miraculous incidents of supernatural results in ministry in his life. Finney emphasizes on the need of the power of the Holy Spirit for any spiritual results in modern day ministry. The story of his experience has an electrifying effect:
I was powerfully converted on the morning of the 10th of October. In the evening of the same day, and on the morning of the following day, I received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Ghost, that went through me, as it seemed to me, body and soul. I immediately found myself endued with such power from on high that a few words dropped here and there to individuals were the means of their immediate conversion. My words seemed to fasten like barbed arrows in the souls of men. They cut like a sword. They broke the heart like a hammer. Multitudes can attest to this. Oftentimes a word dropped, without my remembering it, would fasten conviction, and often result in almost immediate conversion. Sometimes I would find myself, in a great measure, empty of this power. I would go out and visit, and find that I made no saving impression. I would exhort and pray, with the same result. I would then set apart a day for private fasting and prayer, fearing that this power had departed from me, and would inquire anxiously after the reason of this apparent emptiness. After humbling myself, and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness. This has been the experience of my life.

He records one remarkable incident, in which the overflowing power of the Holy Spirit accomplishes what words of human wisdom might have never accomplished. It reminds us of Paul’s confession: “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1Co 2:4-5, emphatics mine).

Finney reports:
I have said that sometimes a look has in it the power of God. I have often witnessed this. Let the following fact illustrate it. I once preached, for the first time, in a manufacturing village. The next morning I went into a manufacturing establishment to view its operations. As I passed into the weaving department I beheld a great company of young women, some of whom, I observed, were looking at me, and then at each other, in a manner that indicated a trifling spirit, and that they knew me. I, however, knew none of them. As I approached nearer to those who had recognized me they seemed to increase in their manifestations of lightness of mind. Their levity made a peculiar impression upon me; I felt it to my very heart. I stopped short and looked at them, I know not how, as my whole mind was absorbed with the sense of their guilt and danger. As I settled my countenance upon them I observed that one of them became very much agitated. A thread broke. She attempted to mend it; but her hands trembled in such a manner that she could not do it. I immediately observed that the sensation was spreading, and had become universal among that class of triflers. I looked steadily at them until one after another gave up and paid no more attention to their looms. They fell on their knees, and the influence spread throughout the whole room. I had not spoken a word; and the noise of the looms would have prevented my being heard if I had. In a few minutes all work was abandoned, and tears and lamentations filled the room. At this moment the owner of the factory, who was himself an unconverted man, came in, accompanied, I believe, by the superintendent, who was a professed Christian. When the owner saw the state of things he said to the superintendent, "Stop the mill." What he saw seemed to pierce him to the heart. "It is more important," he hurriedly remarked, "that these souls should be saved than that this mill should run." As soon as the noise of the machinery had ceased, the owner inquired: "What shall we do? We must have a place to meet, where we can receive instruction." The superintendent replied: "The muleroom will do." The mules were run up out of the way, and all of the hands were notified and assembled in that room. We had a marvelous meeting. I prayed with them, and gave them such instructions as at the time they could bear. The word was with power. Many expressed hope that day; and within a few days, as I was informed, nearly every hand in that great establishment, together with the owner, had hope in Christ. This power is a great marvel. I have many times seen people unable to endure the word. The most simple and ordinary statements would cut men off from their seats like a sword, would take away their bodily strength, and render them almost as helpless as dead men. Several times it has been true in my experience that I could not raise my voice, or say anything in prayer or exhortation except in the mildest manner, without wholly overcoming those that were present. This was not because I was preaching terror to the people; but the sweetest sounds of the gospel would overcome them. This power seems sometimes to pervade the atmosphere of one who is highly charged with it. Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power, when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God. Strangers coming into it, and passing through the place, will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin, and in many instances converted to Christ. When Christians humble themselves, and consecrate their all afresh to Christ, and ask for this power, they will often receive such a baptism that they will be instrumental in converting more souls in one day than in all their lifetime before. While Christians remain humble enough to retain this power the work of conversion will go on, till whole communities and regions of country are converted to Christ. The same is true of ministers.
For a more detailed account of Finney’s experiences with God, I recommend the reading of the book available online here.

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The Sunni-Shia Conflict in Iraq

One thing that painfully marks the face of humanity is divisiveness. We are severely fragmented. Among the many things history has bequeathed us are divisions - divisions that seem eternally fragmentary--linguistic divisions, cultural divisions, political divisions, social classes, and so on. Each of these trickles further down into innumerable divisions. For instance, with regard to religious divisions, it is no longer just a matter of being divided over being a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu; the fragmentation rifts further into Protestant-Catholic, Sunni-Shia, Varna-Avarna, ad infinitum.

Historical Overview of The Present Crisis in Iraq

In Iraq, the present crisis is religio-political. The Sunni-Shia conflict goes back to the 6th century AD. The bone of contention was about the legitimate successor of the Prophet Mohammed. On the death of the Prophet Mohammed, Abu Bakr, was elected as the Caliph. The Prophet's son-in-law, Ali, opposed it, but didn't press further. Subsequently, there were the first three caliphates accepted by the Sunnis Abu Bakr (632-634), Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644), Uthman ibn Affan (644-656). When, the third Caliph Uthman was assassinated, Ali was made the fourth Caliph and he ruled from 656-61. The Shiites, however, believe that the Caliphs had illegitimately usurped power; according to them, Ali was the first legitimate successor (Imam) of the Prophet (not the third), and was divinely appointed by the Prophet. Ali ruled from 656-661, but was killed by a poisoned sword while at prayer. After Ali's assassination in 661, the Shiites held on to the blood-line of the Prophet for leadership of Muslims. However, Ali's son Hasan (the Second Imam) was poisoned, and Husayn (the Third Imam) was killed on the tenth day of Muharram in the Battle of Karbala (AD 680). Shia Muslims mourn on the anniversary of this day every year and try to remember the persecutions that the rightful successors of the Prophet, as the believe, underwent. Shiites believe that the twelfth Imam (who comes from the House of the Prophet) is hidden and will appear as the Mahdi Imam at the end of the days and rule for 7 years before the Coming of Jesus Christ. Christ will assist the Mahdi in the battle against the forces of evil and against the antichrist.

Therefore, the Shiites do not accept the Sunni leadership and have been severely persecuted by the Sunni community wherever they have been found weak.

There are today about 19,000,000 – 22,000,000 Shiites in Iraq who amount to about 65-70% of the Muslim population in the country and to about 11-12% of the global Shia population. They stand next in number only to Iran who has the highest number of concentrated Shiites in the world (66,000,000 – 70,000,000; 90–95% of Muslims in that nation). Sunnis in Iraq amount to only 32-37% of the Muslim population. Shia community shared power during the incumbent years of the Baathist regime under the leadership of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein. However, their position in the Baathist party drastically declined. It is said that a number of Shiites were executed by the Baathist regime (See Wikipedia Article. After the US led 2003 invasion of Iraq, the tension between Shiites and Sunnis is said to have escalated (SeeWikipedia Article). According to one Wiki entry:

Some of the worst sectarian strife ever has occurred after the start of the Iraq War, steadily building up to the present. Deaths from American and allied military collateral damage have become overshadowed by the cycle of Sunni–Shia revenge killing—Sunni often used car bombs, while Shia favored death squads.

According to one estimate, as of early 2008, 1,121 suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq. Sunni suicide bombers have targeted not only thousands of civilians, but mosques, shrines,wedding and funeral processions, markets, hospitals, offices, and streets. Sunni insurgent organizations include Ansar al-Islam. Radical groups include Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura, Jeish Muhammad, and Black Banner Organization. (See Article)

After the fall of the Baathist regime and the end of Saddam Hussein, the Shiites rose to power. However, it has been said that the present prime minister, "a Shiite, has failed abysmally in creating a formula to share power with the Sunnis" (Robert Wright as quoted). This has only helped to aggravate the tension.

ISIS

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a militant group that has declared itself as an independent state with claims over regions that it is now advancing to possess. Its goal is "to establish a caliphate in the Sunni majority regions of Iraq, later expanding this to include Syria." (Wiki Article, The Independent). As such, the Sunnis don't find them very troublesome but are warm towards them (See "In captured Iraqi city of Mosul, residents welcome ISIS").

Possibility of Peace

With religion and a history of vengeance behind, it is difficult to predict communal peace at the moment. While the US may drop in assistance, war and bloodshed loom large. The sad part of the story is that the civilians are being affected. In previous times, wounds were healed by means of some covenant that would bring two communities or tribes together. Forgiveness was made possible because the covenant brought an end to the old and gave birth to a new world. The old was buried; everything became new. However, today, things are too confused for anything like a covenant to look possible. Also, the hurts are too deep. But, above that the religious rift cannot be humanly settled - it's a matter of faith; and, faith often baffles reason. The blanket of belongedness could be pulled over two communities who could respect each other's faith; however, where faith brings with itself a consciousness of historical injustice, can peace be achieved without faith being compromised? For injustice to be mended, a sacrifice is compulsory, a self-denial, a self-giving is crucial. To try to suppress one group's wishes might militarily solve a problem for sometime; to eliminate a group may kill the problem for all time; but, that is peace for one community at the expense of the other.

But, there may be a way for peace between both communities without expense of any: political secularism - the non-interference and non-influence of any religion or religious sect or denomination in political matters. But, can political secularism in its healthy form (that protects also the freedom to conscience and faith) be practical in the Islamic countries? If yes, then to what extent? The question still remains to be answered. However, at the moment, the main concern is that no inhumane acts of military brutality are committed.

Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)
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How Must Our Words Be?

THE BIBLE tells us: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Pro 18:21)

Jesus declared: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mat 12:34-37)

James tells us: "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." (Jam 3:2-6 NKJ)

What we speak and how we speak it and when we speak it sets the rudder of our life on a particular course. So, how we choose our words and what words we choose are very important.

OUR WORDS MUST BE
1. Fitly (Prov 25:11). A fitly word is the right word spoken at the right time. The Bible tells us to pray when we are suffering and to sing psalms when we are cheerful(James 5:13). Also,when someone is on sickbed, don't go and tell him how somebody else died of the same sickness - it doesn't help anything. Know what to pray at dinner time and what to pray at a wedding. Also, don't sing a funeral song during a birthday party.

2. Gladdening (Prov 12:25). The words that we speak must bring comfort and gladness to the heart of people. We are not called to condemn people but to preach the love and forgiveness of God. Jesus didn't condemn the woman caught in adultery and let her be stoned to death; but, he said, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (Joh 8:11). In the very next verse He announced, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (Joh 8:12) Our words must bring light and gladness to broken hearts. Our words must heal the wounds, lift up the sorrowful, fill despondent hearts with the hope of God. The Bible says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings." Our feet must carry the Goodnews of Jesus Christ wherever they go.

3. Refreshing (Prov 25:25). Our words must be like cold waters to a thirsty man. They should refresh and bring strength. They must not drain away even the little strength that remains in others. Our words must send out a sweet fragrance. Dirty communication, filthy words, and coarse jesting should never be mentioned among us - they send out a rotting odor and attract all evil. Our words must freshen the air around us.

4. Life Giving (Joh 6:63; Acts 5:20). Jesus said that the words that He spoke were spirit and life. Our words must bring life to the dead. The words of the Law of Moses killed by condemnation; but the words of the Grace of Jesus gives life (2Cor.3:6). We have not been given the ministry of condemnation but the ministry of life (2Cor.3:7-8).

5. Edifying (Col.4:6; Eph.4:29). Our words must be seasoned with salt, administering grace to the hearers. Our words must be good words that edify and build other people in grace and faith. They must be truthful, wholesome, and full of faith. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom.10:17). When we speak, we must speak as the oracles of God (1Pet.4:11).

James tells us that we must be swift to listen, but slow to speak (James 1:19). May the Lord grant us the grace to choose our words wisely so that our course will be clear and our lives be a blessing to others. May the words our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in the sight of our Lord! (Psa. 19:14)
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Mera Dil Jo Baat Chahta Ye Sharir Na Samjhe Kabhi (Psalm 73:25-26) - Hindi Christian Song

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10 Kinds of Lazy People in the World

“Why do you run beating dust in the air?
Why do you hurry as if the world needs your care?
Hey, the world’s on its own, buddy;
You ain’t gonna make it any inch better!
Come, enjoy some rum, be a good bum;
Let’s gulp some spirit and get into the gutter!”
- Domenic Marbaniang, Stranger (2014)

SLOTH (ACEDIA) has long been regarded by the Church as one of the 7 Deadly Sins. It has been associated with torpor, listlessness, carelessness, apathy, lethargy, idleness, and boredom. The Bible regards sloth as wickedness (Matt.25:26; Tit.1:12), the cause of poverty (Prov.24:30-34), and filled with vain desires and gluttony (Prov.21:25,26; Tit.1:12). A slothful man, the Bible says, is brother to a great destroyer (Prov.18:9). To associate with a lazy man is to invite destruction to home. The Bible warns us against being slothful. Following are few kinds of sluggards that we find in the world:

1. The Lazy Messenger: He is as sour as vinegar to the teeth and as irritating as smoke to the eyes of the sender (Prov.10:26). This guy may never reach on time, and chances are he will not deliver the full message because he is too lazy to be careful to either remember the whole message or to even speak it all out.

Watch out: A lazy preacher will not be careful to hear from God nor to speak out with passion and diligence. SIMILARLY, a lazy listener will doze off or go daydreaming while the preacher is preaching; and, in case, he has listened pleasurably, chances are he won't be able to deliver to you when you ask him later on what was preached today.

2. The Half-hearted Worker: He won't cook the food that he brings home, and cares nothing about the losses his laziness brings to him (Prov.12:27). There are two extreme types of this sluggard: (a) The guy who has the food resources, but decides to stay hungry (or get some fast food if available) because he is too lazy to cook his meal. (b) The guy who will not wait for the food to be cooked. Imagine someone eating vegetables and meat raw!

The half-hearted sluggard wastes even the fruit of his little labor that he half-heartedly undertook. The fact that the meat is going to rot if not roasted in time doesn't bother him very much. But, a man of diligence reserves and preserves his things; therefore, diligence is a man's precious possession.

3. The Dreaming Sluggard: He has big dreams and high aspirations but not enough passion to pursue them. Therefore, it is said that the "desire of the lazy man kills him, because his hands refuse to labor" (Prov.21:25). The sluggard desires much but has nothing (Prov.13:4). Many people have big dreams about their future, but only few are able to successfully pursue, mainly because sloth kills the future of a person. It takes diligence to build lives. Many preachers have big dreams, and write big vision statements on their websites and brochures, but their work is very deficient; sloth keeps them from praying sufficiently, studying sufficiently, planning sufficiently, and pursuing sufficiently. Some even are satisfied with the little growth they got and settle down to a vacationing life-style. They never reach the destination God has prepared for them.

4. The Negative-minded Sluggard: He complains of impossibilities and makes a hundred excuses to justify his failures. He will complain that the road he is walking on is like a hedge of thorns, so difficult to walk upon (Prov.15:19); he is somehow dragging on. But, the way of the diligent, the right-minded person (righteous one) is a highway. Hasn't it been well said, "Where there is a will, there is a way"? The sluggard will also make excuses like, "There is a lion outside; if I go on the street, it will kill me" (Prov.22:13). His negative mind is filled with all kinds of irrational fear. He has an excuse for not joining a job, not doing a business, not going to a city; he has many excuses for not venturing out at all. He will never be proactive and so his life is never productive. But, productivity belongs to the person with the right-positive-mind. Note there are those with wrong-positive-mind; e.g., the devil who believes he can destroy God - positive minded, but very wrongly. Also, there are a lot many positive-minded people in lunatic asylums as well - but, they may be better than the next sluggard.

5. The Self-confident Sluggard: He considers himself to be wiser than anybody else. The Bible says that the sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Prov.26:16). In other words, if a guy is a chronic sluggard, no amount of sensible talk is going to persuade him; he will flip out a nonsensical answer for every sensible argument and still consider himself absolutely wise. Often times, many people don't get to know truth because they write it off on the face without making any deep introspection of it. The sluggard may say, "Well, anything religious is superstitious; therefore, I refuse to even enter the discussion." He is satisfied that he doesn't need to get into the labor of inspecting those "blind-beliefs". He is lazy to question his own convictions, if he has any. A self-confident sluggard considers everybody else to be fools. Therefore, he is not open to any reasonable talk.

6. The Impossible Sluggard: "A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again." (Pro 19:24) This is laziness beyond imagination. This guy is so lazy to even put his food into his mouth! I'm afraid that even if someone showed foolish compassion on him enough to put the food into his mouth, he will not chew the food. He is truly the "impossible sluggard"!

7. The Comfort Seeking Sluggard: This guy will miss every good opportunity in life, because when the door of opportunity opens, he won't get in because of the little pain involved in the opportunity. "The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing." (Pro 20:4) This sluggard has so many things on his list that he won't join a job because it doesn't fit everything on his comfort-list, he won't go out and do work because of rain or snow or heat or cold; not because weather may kill him, but because he wants to live in absolute comfort. He will toss this way and that way on his bed, but never get up to meet the day (Prov.26:14).

8. The Reckless Sluggard: You will recognize this guy from the way he dresses, the way he keeps his shoes, car, house, office, and garden. "And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down." (Pro 24:31) This guy doesn't care for anything at all. He is absolutely dirty, grubby, squalid, and untidy. He is the most attractive object for the army of poverty, because he will do nothing to fight it back. He is lazy to test wisdom and apply it to improve things. Any city abandoned by intelligent beings will soon fall to ruins; it is the application of intelligence that keeps the Law of Decay (2nd Law of Thermodynamics) from destroying our world. But the sluggard is a man "devoid of understanding" (Prov.24:30); in other words, the guy who wallows in folly.

9. The Wicked Sluggard: This guy is wicked because he blames the righteous for his unethical and selfish acts of laziness. An example of this sluggard is the servant who received the one talent from his master, but went about and buried it because he didn't want to double it for the profit of his master. He is so self-seeking that he doesn't want to do anything that he thinks will not bring profit to him, and will never go the extra-mile for someone else. When the master comes, he blames the master as someone who reaps where he doesn't sow and gathers where he didn't scatter seed (Matt.25:24-26). The wicked sluggard is the dishonest man who works for a business or for government but never goes the extra-mile for the benefit of the other; however, he will do whatever he can to use his position for self-profit. He is wicked because he is lazy to labor for others. The wicked sluggard is like the preacher who will not go to preach unless he is paid enough (in the present). He will also not have others (bankers) get involved for the profit of the master. The master throws him out and gives the one talent he had to the ones who multiplied the talents that he gave them.

10. The Lazy Glutton: This guy is described as a liar, evil beast, and lazy glutton (Tit.1:12). This sluggard becomes an easy prey to the "many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers... who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain." (Tit 1:10-11). The Bible says that such must be rebuked sharply so that they may be sound in faith. The lazy glutton needs strong rebuke because he doesn't take truth seriously, because he easily falls to carnal passions, and because he will change beliefs for a bowl of pottage.

The Bible commands the sluggard to go to the ant and learn from them:
"Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest." (Pro 6:6-8)

Note: The ant never blames any master, society, weather, or the world. It works in team, it works for community profit, it works when it is summer and never misses its opportunity.

The Bible exhorts believers to never be slothful but pursue on to inherit God's promises:
"that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Heb 6:12)
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Ministering Through Writing: The Spirit of Writing



Writing should not be just a means of communicating one's thought; it should be the moment of letting the Spirit speak into the writer's soul, the moment of intimacy with God, the moment when we are willing to let go off the old wineskin in order to take in the new wine. The writer must continually and diligently inquire, question, evaluate the thoughts before putting them into writing. He must weigh them on the scales of Scripture, logic, impact, and relevance. This will certainly need revisions, deletions, and improvements. The writer is, thus, a researcher, an evaluator, a strategist, a logician, and a scribe at once. A writer is a photographer of thoughts. A Christian writer is a minister of God with the vision to communicate God's liberating truth to the ends of the earth.
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If You Are Willing, Make Me Clean (Video Message)



Message from Day 2 of the Church of God 91st General Annual Convention, Kerala 2014. Translated Language: Malayalam (Message begins at 52minutes, 55secs)
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The Position of Women in the Bible

Nothing is more harmful than the doubt that the Bible is governed by prejudice. The reason should be clear: doubts about the Bible being prejudiced are bred in a mind that has begun to question the infallibility of Scriptures; but, truth and prejudice cannot stand together.

Now, there are some who would say that it is impossible to be unbiased at all; everybody brings some kind of pre-judgment (pre-judice), pre-understanding to a text or event. What we already have believed in determines how we interpret anything else. Thus, women in some cultures would find biblical texts regarding head-covering as axiomatic, while women in other cultures might find them very oppressive. The very fact that there are a number of interpretations (some in defense of affirming that the rule is mandatory; others in defense affirming that the rule is mandatory only in few cultures; some others doubting that the commandment is prejudiced) tells us that pre-understanding has a great bearing upon one’s interpretation of a text. However, with regard to those who seriously take Scripture for what it is, the hermeneutical circle (the circle of interpretation) cannot be ignored: one’s prejudgment brought to the text can be radically altered through engagement with the text; in other words, a person’s biases can be severely challenged and changed as he continues to explore God’s word, giving rise to a new understanding that is once again brought into fresh engagement with the text once again.

Accusations about the Bible being prejudiced against women is often brought forth by some feminists who doubt that the Bible can be fair with women especially when its overarching culture is patriarchal (as they believe it to be). For such, anything patriarchal is prone to be biased against women. But, that is a prejudiced belief itself. Further, it can be unhealthy to label something (a generation, a culture) as patriarchal and use that caricature to condemn it. On the other hand, some might say “No, the Bible is not biased, but interpretations of it are.” This could be possible, where scripture twisting occurs to manipulate interpretation in order to use scriptural authority to validate a man-made rule. However, what the Bible says in this regard might be very different from what people usually think it says. Is the Bible biased against women? The question has many issues at bottom; however, in this article, we’ll examine only a few Biblical passages that have been more often challenged than others.

The Image of God in Woman
We start at the first record of woman in the Bible. In Genesis 1:27, she is not referred to as “woman” yet, but only as “female”. The passage says: “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27) With regard to the image of God, neither the male nor the female are inferior or superior to each other. Note the singular and the plural in the passage: “in the image of God He created HIM; male and female He created THEM” (emphatics mine). Man, here in this passage, is not merely Adam; man here is humanity (both male and female).

Headship and Authority
In chapter 2 of Genesis, we find for the first time the expression “woman”; and, in a way it is “patriarchal” because it was not God who called the female as woman, it was the man who called her so (2:23). The expression “woman” in verse 22 is based on the name that the man gave her. But, what did God call her? We don’t find Him call her by any name except that He said that He wanted to make for the man “a helper comparable to him”. Adam’s naming the woman as Woman (as “one taken out of Man”) was only an act that acknowledged that God had given him a “helper comparable to him”, bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. However, the Genesis narrative in chapter 2 is rudimentary, relating only to the first man and his wife. But, womanhood is not just about “wifehood”; a woman is also sister, a mother, a daughter – and those relationships are diametrically different from the one spoken of in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24). The passage has been talking about the man and his wife, predominantly. But, the basic premise is clear: humans have been created as male and female in the image and likeness of God.

In 1Corinthians Paul looks back at Genesis for answers to some contemporary problems. He notes:

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” (1Co 11:7-9)

This doesn’t mean that the woman is not created in the image of God; we have already looked at that earlier. Paul only wants to point out the order of succession here: the man was made first, then the woman for the man.

Prior to this, Paul had stated, the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1Co 11:3)

Certainly, this doesn’t mean that every male on earth is the head of every female on earth nor that every female on earth has to submit to every male on earth. Very clearly, the head of a woman is only her husband. As a daughter, she submits to her father even as a son is commanded to obey his father and his mother; however, with regard to headship, the Bible states it clearly that the woman (i.e. the wife) was created for the man. But, in other relationships, the Genesis rule doesn’t apply. And so, Paul continues,

“Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.” (1Co 11:11-12)

Certainly, from passages where it says that the son should obey the voice of his mother, we don’t extrapolate that the Bible is matriarchal and oppressive against men. It is ridiculous to point out that in the order of authority the authority of a son is above his mother (or a female tutor at school) just because of his gender. The Bible makes it very clear that a son has to honor his mother and must not forsake her law (Prov.1:8). However, when the children are grown up, they are free from any tutorship that toddlers must have (Gal.4:1-2,5; 1Kgs.15:13). Mary could not have authority over her son after He was grown up (Matt.12:47-50). However, children are commanded to render to their parents what is due to them (1Tim.5:4,8).

The Biblical principle places the man as the caretaker and protector of his wife, as being the stronger one in relation to his wife who is “the weaker vessel” (1Peter 3:7). No husband ought to treat his wife dishonorably; if he does that it will invite wrath from God (1Peter 3:7). Also, the Bible makes it clear that God is against unethical divorces (Mal.2:16; Matt.19:3-9) and the Law of Moses made it sure that a woman was always treated with honor (Deut.21:10-17; 22:13-19) and that the man brought happiness to his wife (Deut.24:5). There were also laws for the protection of slaves, widows, and pregnant women.

Regarding Public Silence
In 1Corinthians 14:34-35, Paul instructs:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. (1Co 14:34-35)

By “church” here is meant a gathering of Christians at a place. One important rule of biblical interpretation is the consistency principle: we must assume that the author is being consistent throughout his writing unless the inconsistency is blatant. The purpose of this rule is to prevent skepticism from making premature surface interpretations without having looked deeply into the context of a text and the variable meanings of the terms used in it.

It is very clear from this very epistle that Paul doesn’t imply that women have to be absolutely silent in the churches. A woman could certainly pray and prophesy in the public (1Cor.11:5), which meant a lot; because prayer involved a priestly representative role and prophesying involved authoritative communication of divine oracles – “There is neither…male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28). Paul is certainly looking at order. He had been speaking of how prophets have to prophesy in an orderly manner, while the others judged. Obviously, then, Paul is not saying here that only men should prophesy and women must not prophesy but be silent. That being ruled out, the possibility remains that he is forbidding disorderly chattering in the church while a service is going on.

In 1Timothy 2:12, however, Paul instructs Timothy that a woman is not permitted to teach or to have authority over a man. The context here points to a family couple (“a woman” and “a man”) and the rationale is given from the Genesis story of the first Man and his Wife. In a husband-wife relationship, a woman is not permitted to have authority over or try to dominate her husband. Peter amplifies it further when he instructs: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, (1Pe 3:1). However, this doesn’t mean that a woman cannot teach at all. Writing to Timothy again, he reminds him of the faith of Timothy’s mother and his grandmother, and of how from his childhood he was instructed in the Scriptures – certainly, by his mother and grandmother because Timothy’s father was not a Jew (2Tim.1:5; 3:15; Acts 16:1).

This also implies that a woman can be a pastor in a church if her husband is a pastor. However, if her husband is not a pastor, then her appointment as a shepherd of the flock can assume her being in an authoritative position above her husband in the church, which would immediately convey role confusion with respect to the Genesis principle; therefore the injunction that a woman should not have authority over a man.

In cases that a couple stands as a model and example for other families (especially with regard to their public life), even secular authority recognizes the importance of the Genesis model (Esther 1:16-18). The Christian view of this model is given in Ephesians 5: 22-33. However, in cases that the authoritative position doesn’t have a family-extrapolation (e.g. modern business and politics – in which family life is individualist and private) a woman can be in authoritative position above men.
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Repentance


1. It is God's will that all humans come to repentance (2Pet.3:9)
2. God calls man to repentance
3. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance (Matt.9:13)
4. Repentance is granted through the Sacrificial Death, Resurrection, and Exaltation of Christ (Acts 5:31; 11:18 - Note: Both to Jews and Gentiles)
5. God grants repentance (2Tim.2:25)
6. Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in Jesus' name to all nations (Luke 24:47)
    ->John preached the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel (Acts 13:24)

    What Leads us to Repentance
    1. Goodness of God leads us to repentance (Rom.2:4)
    2. Godly Sorrow leads us to repentance (2Cor.7:9,10)
    3. Message of sincere correction leads to repentance (2Tim.2:25)
    4. God's rebuke and chastening leads us to repentance (Rev.3:19)

      Repentance Involves 
      1. Knowledge of the Truth (2Tim.2:25)
      2. Coming to senses (2Tim.2:26)
      3. Extreme grief over sin (Jer.8:6; Matt.11:21)
      4. Zeal for God (Rev.3:19)
      5. Verbal confession 
      (a) of remorse and grief: "What have I done"? (Jer.8:6) 
      (b) of sins (Ezra 10:1; Dan.9:20; Matt.3:6; Acts 19:18)
      6. Repentance from sins (Eze.18:30)
      7. Repentance from dead works (that don't proceed from faith) (Heb.6:1)
      8. Casting away all the transgressions one has committed (Eze.18:31)
      9. Repentance toward God (Acts 20:21)
      10. Faith toward God (Heb.6:1)
      11. Faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21)
      12. Fruits (works, evidences, life results) of repentance (Matt.3:8; Acts 26:20)

        Warning
        1. The tree that doesn't bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into fire (Matt.3:10)
        2. Those who fall away will not be granted repentance again (Heb.6:6; 12:17)
        3. Christ will remove the candle from a church that doesn't repent to do the first works (Rev.2:5)
        4. Christ will come and fight against the unrepentant with the sword of His mouth (Rev.2:16)
        5. Christ will cast into a sickbed those who commit adultery with the world and are unfaithful to Christ (Rev.2:22)
        6. The Bible (Law and Prophets) is sufficient to persuade anybody to repentance. To someone who can't be convinced by the Bible, no amount of argument nor any miracle will suffice (Luke.16:30-31)




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          Apathy and Evil


          Apathy may be defined as the absence of interest, empathy, sympathy, concern, and care. It is the breeding ground of evil. There are at least three sources of apathy that are evil-prone:

          1. False Understanding (Ignorance, Dehumanization, Deindividuation)
          It may come from a false understanding of facts regarding life and the world. Philip Zimbardo highlights two mechanisms that steer the mind towards evil: dehumanization and deindividuation. If a person treats other humans as less than humans (dehumanization), then he cannot sympathize (feel along) with them. Similarly, if one can't see the other as persons, one cannot sympathize. For instance, it is easier for a man to push a button to launch a missile and kill thousands, without feeling moral pain, than for one to kill people in person. This is a form of "ignorance" in which you "do not know" the others; they might just be numbers and statistics.

          Daily Example: People who feel nothing about, but feel exultant, when a movie hero shoots down enemies (hurdles) in a movie.

          On the other hand, regarding even a tree humanly can generate feelings of sympathy; regarding a tree above humans may prompt worship.

          *Usually, in this first case, a person may still have sympathy and empathy for his own, the ones he "knows". A classic example is of officers during the Nazi regime, who would go and kill Jewish children in gas chambers; but, go back to their homes and play tenderly with their own children.

          2. Narcissism
          A narcissist is someone who overly loves himself/herself. Such a person will speak highly of self and spend much time on self-love. Narcissist self-love destroys any room for love of others. Such a person may have little room for any moral lines or taboos of culture. Incest, rape, fraud, deception, dishonesty, cruelty, sadism and such evils are overpowering in a narcissist. He will usually be ruled by lust for pleasure and power. In some cases, people may worship a narcissist as being god-like for his/her exhibitionism of intelligence, beauty, self-boasting, and optimist declarations. However, the narcissist doesn't even value his/her worshipers personally (but only as fans and supporters). A narcissist will never give his/her life for his friends - he/she has no friends and is godless. A narcissist may witness evil, but not even wish to do anything about it. He cannot function as a light in this world because he himself is a black hole (of intense self-focus). A narcissist feels nothing about acts of willful injustice against others.

          Daily Example: (a) When looking at a group picture of yours, are you looking more at yourself in it than looking at the group? Does your focus on yourself blur off the others?
          (b) When traveling in a train or bus, do you look first for your own comfort or do you show sympathy to women, children, the aged, and the sick?
          (c) Does it ever bother your conscience that a bribe given in order to gain preference or precedence does injustice to others in the queue? Or is it just out of willful ignorance (#1 above)?

          3. Merciless Justice (Condemnation, Vengeance)
          Biblical justice is always associated with mercy. However, apathy is merciless. A person who considers another person as an "enemy" will feel no sympathy and empathy for that person. Once the other stands "condemned" and deserving of punishment, any sense of sympathy vanishes. Propaganda, caricaturing, name-calling and vilifying can label others as "enemy" and deserving of punishment. Such campaigns were ruthlessly used by the Nazis against the Jews.

          Daily Example: When watching a movie, notice if you wish that the vile villain is badly beaten, blown apart, and exterminated.

          Quotes


          "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Mat 7:12 NKJ)
          "A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." (Pro 12:10 NKJ)
          "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..." (2Ti 3:1-4 NKJ)
          "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron..." (1Ti 4:1-2 NKJ)

          “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
          because I was not a communist;
          Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
          because I was not a socialist;
          Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
          because I was not a trade unionist;
          Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
          because I was not a Jew;
          Then they came for me—
          and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
          ― Martin Niemöller

          “All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”
          ― Noam Chomsky

          “...so much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty, and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating and destructive effect upon society than the others.”
          ― Eleanor Roosevelt

          “We shall have to repent in this generation not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
          ― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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          The Imps and Beelzebub at a Ministers’ Conference - Short Story

          The three little imps dozed off and snored recklessly as the last plenary of the Ministers’ Conference dragged on. Beelzebub, flying through the mid-air, saw this and shot a fiery dart that ended with a burst of sparks over their heads. They woke up with a start.

          “It’s the Prince!” Snob cried.

          “Yes, it is!” Vague confirmed.

          “He looks fiendishly soured!” Crafty rejoined.

          “Is it time to sleep and dream recklessly while time steals away our only opportunity?” Beelzebub demanded.

          “We’re sorry, Master” Crafty replied, “But, it’s difficult to keep eyes opened when these ministers and theologians open their mouth!”

          “Nevertheless, you’re required to keep them open!”

          “We’ve wound up the clock, master.” Snob argued, “All their actions are timed and preset. A quick flight over their heads would instantly give evidence of our superior accomplishment.”

          “I’ll see,” replied Beelzebub and flew away.

          The very next instant he came back with eyes wide open. “What is that guy talking about?”

          “About some outdated, irrelevant topic; he is the last of the speakers, and he thinks he is the Capstone.” Snob chuckled.

          “He also thinks that he can change the world by what he says here.” Vague laughed out loud.

          “We pursued all of them to keep thinking, keep praising, keep criticizing, and keep believing that they’re the best of the bunch,” Snob explained.

          “He has stopped. They all applaud. Why?” Beelzebub scratched his horns. “Another man is peaking [speaking] something; it seems he wishes to show how great he is for being such a “distinct” moderator. That is “good”! They are dismantling and meeting each other now. Let’s move closer!”

          Beelzebub and the imps drew closer.

          They first, invisible as they were, huddled around two men who were speaking volubly to each other; and thereby attracting several swift gazes.

          “Your lecture was fabulous, Reverend Sudoor!” the man dressed in white was flattening [flattering], obviously.

          “Thank you, Reverend Priseid!” Rev. Sudoor replied.

          “Reverend!!!” Beelzebub burst into uncontrollable laughter. “I am so afraid and filled with awe!” He teasingly remarked and laughed out loud again.

          “It’s easier to crush both of them into a pulp right now!” Vague averred.

          “See, Rev. Priseid, there are over a hundred churches in my city; but, none of them are really doing what really needs to be done. We’re the only ones who are doing the work.” Sudoor was saying.

          “So, he thinks,” Crafty commented.

          “So, he keeps away from all of them,” Snob added.

          “So, he keeps away from even trying to know them,” Vague pinned it down.

          “Excellent!” Beelzebub looked happy. The imps felt satisfied.

          “If you can’t keep your head above the other heads, chop those other heads off,” mused Snob.

          “Let’s move to others!” Beelzebub ordered. They quickly moved to a lady with her husband talking with a man wearing a tall hat--the Bishop. The lady had overdone her cosmetic adornment.

          “When she looked in the mirror this morning, we made sure she felt there was something missing,” Vague chattered.

          “Ok!” Beelzebub retorted indifferently and perked his ears to listen to the conversation. The imps also joined.

          “I’ll go straight from here to the airport and fly to Mumbai for a very important meeting; from there, I’ll fly to Kuala Lumpur where we have a three day Summit; then, from there I go to London, and to Madrid; then, to Tel Aviv; then…”

          “You really have a very hectic schedule, Bishop! I wonder how you can keep up with it!” The lady smiled modestly, looking quite impressed.

          “The smile is plastic, not unmindful of the cosmetic.” Vague commented.

          “This guy travels a lot and sounds very busy in the Enemy’s work; it doesn’t look like a good sign!” Beelzebub showed concern.

          “He just sounds busy. It’s because of a special Fear Virus that we injected,” replied Vague. “It causes people to always pretend to look everlastingly busy and absolutely have no time.”

          “But, he is as ignorable as an ignoramus,” Snob assured. “Those with half of their life spent in mid-air are less dangerous than those biped trotters whose feet are always on the ground.”

          “By the way, last night, I got a biped trotter to somehow manage a flight-travel. The very first thing he did was to yank out his camera phone and capture those first precious moments with it. I had already injected into his brain earlier that those pictures should go on Facebook,” Vague gossiped.

          The others chuckled.

          “And, I was there to make sure that he made the post convey to gullible eyes (as he thought the world was) that he was often in mid-air; as if real high-level ministry to the Arch Enemy had somehow to do with airplane seats,” Crafty assured.

          “Interesting!” Beelzebub noted. “Commendable!” Beelzebub explained. The imps felt relieved.


          “My book is now used as a text-book in the Seminaries,” a voice behind them announced, and they all turned towards it.

          “Oh really! That’s great!” the other man replied.

          “They both feel it is a great achievement!” Snob chuckled.

          “He believes that he is one of the foremost thinkers in the nation,” Vague explained. “He tries to avoid quoting living authors.”

          “Aha!”

          “He himself once observed that seminaries are cemeteries. Now, he celebrates his book becoming cemeterized.” Crafty mocked.

          But, Beelzebub didn’t look impressed. “Whatever they call them, the seminaries aren’t healthy places; they are where the enemy soldiers are trained.” he warned.

          “We remembered your instructions, Master, to introduce dissatisfaction among the professors,” Crafty assured.

          “There were two chief dissatisfaction weapons we used,” he continued to explain, “Recognition and Remuneration. No matter what, they continue to seek more recognition in the world; and no matter what, they continue to seek more remuneration for their work. Only in some cases, some don’t mind the remuneration very much if they get the false recognition they sought; also, some others don’t mind about recognition anymore when they get the remuneration they desired.”

          “But, you must be careful of those who seek neither, of the ones who roam in the wilderness, are clothed with camel’s hair, wear a leather belt, and eat locusts and wild honey,” Beelzebub warned.

          “Aren’t such ones quickly beheaded?” the three imps observed.

          “Yes, often; but not before enough damage has already been done!” Beelzebub replied. Then, he flapped his wings and took off.

          The three imps became very silent.

          Then suddenly, “To Herodias, Herod, and Salome at once!” they cried and flew away.

          The curtain fell.

          © Domenic Marbaniang, 2014
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