The World—Everything Is Different, but Nothing Has Changed
And the times are changing quickly. No one has any idea what the world will look like in ten years, let alone twenty or thirty. The rapid development of technology is more than we can take in. Those of us over the age of forty were born before the digital revolution really started. We’ve learned to use laptops, cameras, the Internet, and our personal electronic products, but it’s like learning a foreign language. But those under the age of forty have grown up with the digital revolution, and to them it’s their mother tongue. This has created the biggest generational gap since rock and roll.
Even greater is the moral generational gap. Those over forty in the western world grew up in a culture that still retained a semblance of its historic Judeo-Christian heritage. Our worldview contained some remaining vestiges of biblical truth. But our children are growing in an increasingly secular society.
But don’t despair. The things that matter most haven’t changed one iota. The little Book in my suit pocket is as unchanging as Him who is from everlasting to everlasting. That strengthens us whatever change may come.
Position of the Parties Zechariah 3:6 > The Angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7 – “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “If you (I) will walk in my ways and keep My requirements then you will govern My House and have change of My Courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
Psalm 33:12 – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”
America was founded on godly principles rooted in God’s eternal Word. Freedom is God’s idea, and implanted within every human heart by the Creator who made them is the yearning to be free. Leviticus 25:10, inscribed on our Liberty Bell says, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”
The golden, majestic appearance of our Declaration of Independence – the parchment papaer, the resolute signatures of those who represented the voice of a new nation, and the rich content of this anointed document, bear testimony to the powerful faith which underscored the conviction on which our independence is based: “… the Laws of Nature and Nature’s of God that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by thier Creator with vertain unalienable Rights… appealing to the Supreme Court of the world. …”
faith of our earliset leaders can be seen in the content of their state constitutions, penned by some of these men who wrote the Declaration of Independence. The Delaware document, for example, written by Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, and George Read, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution ofthe United States, says, “Every person who shall be chosen a memeber either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath: “I…do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for ever more; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.” 1
Authors of the State Constitution of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Rush and James Wilson, shared a like conviction. They wrote: “Each memeber of the Legislature, before he takes his set, shall make and subscribe the following declaration: I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I doacknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”
The North Carolina Constitution bears witness to a desire that believers shape the governing process: “No person who sahll deny the being of God or the truth of the Christian religion, or the divine authority, either of the Old and New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedoms and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or palce of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.”In 1892, the Supreme Court noted that each of the 44 states then in the Union had some kind of God-cnetered declaration in its constitution. Indeed, the writings and governing documents of our Founding Fathers attest to their belief that a central faith in the Almighty was essential, and that ths new America could only move forward as “One Nation Under God.”
God raised up America for His own special purpose: to be a witness to His great goodness, to carry out the Great Commission and to be a light to the world. His drea from the beginning was to build a nation through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. It is being accomplished everywhere born-again, Spirit-filled believers are standing in faith, boldly releasing His covenant promises for the fullfillment of His purpose. As you read this post, get to know and appreciate these God-anointed, founding documents of America that are based on Hos eternal Word, and the other historical documents included in this post. Set your hearts to pray for the great experiment in freedom, dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. Allow God’s Word to flow from your mouth in faith as we partner with Him in intercession for the manifestation of His plans, purpose and pursuits for One Nation Under God – the United States of America in Jesus name Amen.
Here is a prayer that Kenneth Copeland wrote for the United States Government: James 5:16 – “The earnest (heartfelt, continue) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous pwoer available [dynamic in its working].”
Following are Scripture-based prayers that will help connect your heart with the heart of the Father for our nation. 1st Timothy 2:1-3 says we are to pray, intercede and give thanks for kings and all who are in authority. This is God’s command to every believer. Praying for godly leaders is productive toward God’s plan and purpose for our nation.
Proverbs 21:1 tells us, “THe king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” God will turn the hearts of our leaders as we heed His instructions to pray for them.J
Jeremiah 1:12 – Pray this paryer in faith, believing you receive, and remember God watches over His Word to perfrom it!
Father, I pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1-3 > which says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of god our Saviour.”
First, I ask for righteousness to prevail in our nation. I ask for godly counsel and wisdom for our cheif justice of the Supreme court, associate justice and all judges across this land. Isaiah 1:26 says, “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” Thank You, Lord, for restoring to our nation righteous judges who hear Your voice and adhere to Your Word.
I pray for our president, his cabinet, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the State Department; secretary of the treasury and the Department of Defense; intelligence agencies, law enforcement and the Department of Justice; secretarty of education and the Department of Education; governors and state governments; mayors, city councils and all others in authority at every level government. I pray they receive the wisdom of God, act in obedience to that wisdom, and for the power of God to flow in ther lives. Show them Your plan for the reversal for every evil way, and give them the courage to execute it. I declare that they hear and obey Your voice, Lord, and sho9w honor and respect for Your Word and your people.
Heavenly Father, and Lord God Almighty, I pray forthe members of Congress: our Senate and House of Representatives. I pray they find Your peace and direction, and they act and lead according to Your Word A house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, Father, I ask that You unify them in righteousness be manifest in the hearts of all in authority, and that they seek after You with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.
In Jesus name I speak a hedge of protection over all men and women in law enforcement and the military. According to Romans 13:4, they are minsters of God, Your servants, for our good. Thank You, Lord, that Your angels surround them and keep them, that no evil befalls them, neither does any playue or calamity come near them. I declare that your hand is on them, and that yor deliver them from who lie in wait to harm them. Thank You for helping them discharge their duties with great wisdom and anointing, and walk in truth, integrity and honor. Wherever they go, they carry the anointing and light of freedom as representatives of a covenant nation.
According to Matthew 18:19 and @Now Father, you Corinthians 10:4, I bind the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of hte world ranged against this nation and pull them down. In the Name of Jesus, I bind every evil spirit of strife and division, and I break your power to divide this nation. I speak unity, harmony and peace over America. I declare that Jesus is Lord over the United States of America!
Now Father, Your Word says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem because those who love Jerusalem shall prosper. Because You love Jerusalem and all of Israel receives th Shalom of God, which brings wholeness – nothing missing, nothing broken. I pray no leader of our nation will make any decision that will harm Israel in any way, and that Yo make Youraself known and reveal Your perfect will to Israel and its leaders.
Thank You, Father God for hearing my prayers, in Jesus name, thank You for answering John and my prayers in Your Son Jesus name, I love You Father God in Jesus name, I love John very much. Forgive me for douhting You. Thank You Father God for lovong me in Jesus name, I thank You for softening the District Attorney in Jesus name. I am asking You for bring John back to us, To You first Father God in Jesus name Amen.
Genesis 6:11-12 > Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their way.
Local government are encourging arrests to line their pockets. While Lackawanna County holds innocent people
There is big money in county jails in America, and Lackawanna County in Scranton Pennsylvania is no different. I believe the county should be charged with Capital Kidnapping. I know their corruption all to well. I was held three weeks longer then I should of been.
The first signal of the new wave of possible wrongdoing happened in September 2017, when agents from the state police and attorney general’s office raided the county’s Administration Building, jail and work release center. Five months later, in February 2018, the attorney general’s office charged seven current and former prison guards with sexually abusing female inmates or having inappropriate contact with them.
InfoThis is archived material from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website. It may contain outdated information and links may no longer function.
Former Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and Anthony J. Munchak Sentenced Today on Corruption Charges in Federal Court
U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJanuary 30, 2012
Middle District of Pennsylvania(717) 221-4482
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that former Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and Anthony J. Munchak were sentenced in federal court in Scranton today by United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo.
Cordaro and Munchak were sentenced today to serve 132 months (11 years) and 84 months (seven years), respectively, in federal prison following their convictions after a jury trial in June 2011 on multiple felony counts to corruption during their tenure as County Commissioners. In addition, Cordaro was ordered to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $98,856, a $1,800 special assessment and serve a three-year term of supervised release. Cordaro had previously agreed to forfeit $355,000 to the United States which represents proceeds from the criminal offenses. Munchak was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, a $800 special assessment and also serve a three-year term of supervised release.
Cordaro was ordered to surrender immediately, Munchak will report on April 3, 2012 to commence service.
Judge Caputo said in imposing the sentences today that the defendants violated the public trust and the oath they took as public officials. He noted that these are the fundamental foundations of our system and that the defendants turned that system “upside down.”
At the sentencing hearing today the government contended that Cordaro and Munchak’s criminal activities were “serious, extended and extremely damaging.” The Government stated that Cordaro and Munchak used their positions as majority County Commissioners to “engage in a pay-for-play scheme by accepting money in exchange for their official actions,” and violated the trust placed in them by the citizens of Lackawanna County.
“People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will honor the oath they swore to. The federal justice system must and will stand up to protect that expectation,” said Peter J. Smith, United States Attorney.
The Government was represented in the Cordaro and Munchak case by Assistant United States Attorneys Lorna N. Graham, Bruce Brandler and William S. Houser. The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and the Criminal Investigations Office of the IRS.
History of This Case
Cordaro and Munchak were originally charged in a 40-count indictment in March 2010 with racketeering and related charges in connection with alleged improper actions of the former Majority Commissioners in accepting payments and other benefits from individuals and entities doing business with Lackawanna County.
In October 2010 a superseding indictment was filed on substantially the same charges. The superseding indictment was presented due to changes in the application of the Federal Honest Services mail fraud statute resulting from a Supreme Court ruling.
In June 2011, following the 12-day trial, a federal jury in Scranton returned guilty verdicts against Cordaro and Munchak on charges of racketeering, bribery, conspiracy and tax fraud charges as described below.
Conspiracy to Commit Theft or Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (1 count);
Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (2 counts);
Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right (1 count);
Extortion Under Color of Official Right (2 counts);
Money Laundering Conspiracy (1 count);
Money Laundering (3 counts);
Racketeering (1 count);
-Racketeering Conspiracy (1 count);
Conspiracy to Defraud the United States(1 count);
Subscribing and Filing a Materially False Tax Return (3 counts); and
Income Tax Evasion (2 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Theft or Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (1 count);
Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds (2 counts);
Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right (1 count);
Extortion Under Color of Official Right (2 counts);
Subscribing and Filing a Materially False Tax Return (1 count); and
Income Tax Evasion (1 count)
SCRANTON — Seven current and former Lackawanna County Prison guards arrested this afternoon on charges of sexual abuse at the jail are free on bail. Troopers arrested former prison guard John J. Shnipes Jr., 42, of 115 Simpson St., Archbald, at his home. Shnipes is a former Archbald councilman who lost his seat in 2017. He didn’t say anything as troopers led him by his arms to their vehicle and declined comment later when he was escorted out of the state police barracks in Dunmore. Charges against Shnipes, 16 in total, include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and institutional sexual assault. State police arrested George T. McHale, 50, of 513 Florin St., Scranton, and Jeff Staff, 42, address unknown, at the jail. Both were taken away in handcuffs and escorted to marked state police vehicles. Correctional officers James J. Walsh, 51, Paul J. Voglino, 45,Mark Johnson, 53, and George R. Efthimiou, 50, also were arrested. Walsh has been on paid administrative leave. He is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion and by threat of forcible compulsion, according to a court docket made public late this afternoon. Voglino is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion and threat of forcible compulsion. McHale is charged with institutional sexual assault, indecent assault without consent and indecent assault by threat of forcible compulsion. Johnson is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion and threat of forcible compulsion, institutional sexual assault, indecent assault and harassment. Efthimiou and Staff are both charged only with institutional sexual assault. The dates the offenses are alleged to have occurred range from January 1999 through 2011, according to publicly available dockets. State police arrived at the jail after 2 p.m., not long before shift change, and acted with silent efficiency. Both McHale and Staff were visibly surprised. McHale’s eyes stared forward. His face was a pale mask of shock. Staff wanted a Times-Tribune photographer to stop taking pictures. The state police didn’t react. The camera kept clicking. Warden Tim Betti said no warning of the arrests was given but he could “surmise” what the arrests were about. He stood in the parking lot of the jail as the state troopers put the two under arrest. He planned to address his staff after and was sure that morale would be low. “It affects my morale,” Betti said. “It’s a little dour…it matches the sky right now.” The arrests come six months after agents from the state Attorney General’s Office and state police raided the jail, the county work release center, 911 center and county administration building related to a grand jury investigation into alleged sexual abuse of inmates. County Judge James Gibbons, who is chairman of the county prison board, said Wednesday afternoon he did not know any details of the arrests. He said he was not notified in advance that the arrests would happen. Bernie Brown, a lawyer representing Staff, Voglino and Johnson called the charges “trumped up” and claim the guards’ accusers went to the attorney general and are telling stories to increase their chances for settlements in their lawsuits. The investigation arose from a civil lawsuit filed by a woman who alleged she was sexually abused by six guards from 2007 to 2016. Three additional women later joined the lawsuit and implicated other officers going back to 1998. The lawsuit, which is pending in federal court, contained allegations against prison guards the women said committed the abuse, as well as fellow guards who witnessed it but did nothing to stop it. It also alleges prison and county officials knew about the abuse and tried to cover it up. The accused guards coerced the incarcerated women into the sex acts by giving them extra privileges or threatening to take away privileges or place them restricted housing, the suit said. When they were free, the guards manipulated them into having sex by threatening to have their probation revoked. Two of the women alleged they tried to report the abuse to other guards and prison officials. Rather than help them, the guards harassed and berated them and actively helped the abusive guards conceal the assaults, the complaint said. The suit alleged most of the abuse happened between 1998 and 2013, but some as recently as last year. All seven arrested were taken to the state police barracks in Dunmore for interviews and then were arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Paul J. Ware at his office on West Pine Street. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 23. A press conference is slated for some time tomorrow, Trooper Mark Keyes, a spokesman at the Dunmore barracks, said. Walsh and McHale are free on $50,000 unsecured bail and Voglino, Efthimiou and Staff walked on $25,000 unsecured bail. Johnson posted a bail bond for $25,000. Shnipes posted a bond for $100,000. An attorney representing Shnipes said he is looking forward to his day in court. JEFF HORVATH, STAFF WRITER, CONTRIBUTED TO THE REPORT Check back for updates.
The day after the guards’ arrests, Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it “the opening chapter” in trying to end abusive prison culture. The grand jury presentment charging the guards mentions others who knew about abuse but may have done nothing about it, though Shapiro declined to speculate then about charging them.
None of the cases of the guards arrested — John Shnipes, George T. McHale, Jeffrey T. Staff, James J. Walsh, Paul J. Voglino, Mark A. Johnson and George R. Efthimiou — have reached the trial stage. I just wander if these men are requiered to regieser with the State police as Sex Offenders. I just heard that the county government paid $700,000 to these C.O.’s who raped the women in jail. I seen male C.O.’s go into female inmates cells. We were told of we said anything we would never see our kids agasin. Because the C.O.’s could pin charges on us for telling on them.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
What can the world offer you that lasts? Nothing. Everything in this world will pass away. Therefore, it is hopeless to cling to material possessions or earthly status. In the end, none of these earthly things will matter. However, those who love God and do his will shall have eternal life. Rather than invest in earthly goods, invest in the Lord. Where your time and money are, there your heart will be. Spend your time and money investing in doing God’s will and you will never be separated from him.
Let’s read this again. It gives lie to the attitude present in Jesus’ time, and sometimes in our own, the children should bear the shame of a parent’s transgression or that the parent should be blamed if a child does something wrong. It also lets us know that there is always room to change the direction of our lives and that God will gladly welcome us back. We are not always as generous as God. Families can be ruined if a member is sent to prison. Parents can be blamed because a child turns to alcohol or drugs. The woman who suffers a miscarriage is often asked what she did to cause it. For a long time, anyone who was HIV positive was thought to be condemned, and isolated along with either parents or children – a modern day leper. In Jesus’ time it was the man born blind who was asked whose sin had caused it, his or his parents’. If we steal and are fired, that’s reasonable. If we steal and our children are fired, that’s not reasonable. If a child goes to jail, the parents need to be consoled, not blamed. Our sins are our own, our punishment is our own. At the same time, God waits. God doesn’t want to lose any of his children. He pursues us with his grace and gladly welcomes us when we repent and return. May we do the same.
Dear God,I come before You to lay my panic and anxiety at Your feet. When I’m crushed by my fears and worries, remind me of Your power and Your grace. Fill me with Your peace as I trust in You and You alone. I know I can’t beat this on my own, but I also know that I have You, Lord, and You have already paid the ultimate price to carry my burdens. For this I thank you, All of us struggle with anxiety and stress. For every person living on earth there are life situations outside of our control that lead to worry and fear. If you are in the middle of an especially stressful situation such as financial burdens, troubled relationships, or health issues, you know that it can become easy to let worry take over. This can lead to physical symptoms, insomnia, and more. We encourage you to memorize some Bible verses that overcome worries and stress so that you can speak to yourself, say it out loud, or write it out when you have an anxiety attack. Amen.
The Herbalist The pages of this blog are designed to give an insight into alternative sources of medicine from the perspective of the Native Americans. It must be important to note that about the Native American practices that are enumerated in this dossier of herbal plants and practices employed by the Native Americans in their preparation, we aim to respect the traditions that are carried over from each tribe of Native Americans whose practices have contributed to the overall lore that we now know of, in the use of herbal medications to augment our body’s ability to heal and counter the symptoms experienced from a myriad of various health conditions. For the first part of this book, we talk about the proper practices that are to be observed when one seeks to engage in the art of herbalism. It must be remembered that this book relates to the use of healing herbs in a Native American approach, and in deference to the various tribal customs that pertain to how these herbs are to be gathered and stored for use, their practices are to be maintained as one goes throughout the various steps outlined in this book. Chapter 2 is a compendium of the common herbs and plants that the Native Americans have deemed essential to the healing process, and which plants tribal lore has deemed as efficacious in the treatment of various afflictions in the body, and thus are commonly used by various Native American tribes in the treatment of diseases. An important tradition that must be mentioned is the importance of prayer before one begins to harvest the plant. In a metaphysical sense, you must be attuned to the plant before you pick it, in keeping with the cherished traditions of the people who have walked the land before us. A traditional rule observed is that one must not harvest from the plant that you have chosen to pray to. Native Americans believe that the plant that is the subject to your supplications as an herbalist is the means by which you maintain attunement with the rest of the native flora. Offerings must be made to nature: First to the earth, then to the sky, then to each of the four cardinal directions—whose importance we will tackle later on in this book, but general consensus provides that offerings should start from the east, then south, west, and north. The central part of the cardinal directions must also share the same honor and have offerings given to it. Cornmeal is an important part of the ritual, as this creates a transcendent connection between you and the spirits. Cornmeal is placed on the heads of the gatherers. Tradition must be observed, and thus, you never take more than what you need from the plant. It is taboo if you gather from the herbal grounds of another person, or another tribe, as these grounds have been passed on from generations before. Native American beliefs state that there are specific items of clothing that are to be worn as a symbol of respect towards the spirits of the plants. 1.1 Herb Gathering in the Wild One of the more prevalent practices used by herbalists is gathering herbs in the wild. However, due consideration must be given in how you select the site where the herbs you need are to be gathered. Because we utilize the approach of the Native Americans, it is also important that their traditions in how they gather specific herbs are observed. One of the established practices in herbalism is the use of Wildcrafting. Wildcrafting is defined as a tradition engaged in by herbalists throughout the world that centers on the harvest and promotion of the use of natural healing through the use of various plants. The practice of Wildcrafting is symbolic of the renaissance of the use of herbal remedies for the treatment of illnesses, and its vogue is reliant on the ability of these herbal remedies to heal the illnesses that tradition and lore have stated these plants to be effective for. The practice of wildcrafting, however, is easier said than done. For the uninitiated, numerous herbs can be obtained through this practice. Herbs gathered in this manner remain subject to overharvesting, where one takes too much of an herb in the wild that the plant may not be able to sufficiently recover from the amount harvested and subsequently withers and dies. If you can cultivate the herbs you need, then that would be a more economical and ecologically-friendly alternative that ensures that we do not affect any particular ecosystems where these herbs are found and that there is a sufficient quantity of herbs for others to gather as well. As animals are considered endangered, as well as other flowers and trees, it is reasonable enough for us to understand that there are some herbs that cannot be gathered at all as zealous herbalists have overharvested these herbs or the biome in which these herbs naturally flourish have been severely affected by a human intervention which has resulted in the destruction of their usual growing conditions. Contrary to the earlier promotion of herb cultivation, some plants cannot be cultivated at all, even in the most controlled environments, as these plants can flourish in the wild. Goldenseal and several varieties of Cohosh are among these herbs that remain popularly used by many and are best grown in the verdant woodlands where they best grow. Like how a chef would substitute ingredients for another, it is possible to use alternative herbs with the same curative properties in place of these wild herbs. The United Plant Savers website http://www.unitedplantsavers.org contains resources that would help you and other herbalists to help conserve these endangered herbs. Another danger that some of these herbs face results not from the excessive harvests made from the plant or the destruction of their native ecosystem, but because the continued use of these herbs creates a strain on a particular population, in that these herbs, which are usually utilized by a specific tribe, are exploited to such a degree that they are gathered in large quantities and sold to the highest bidder. This drives up the prices of the herbs, and, therefore, because the said tribe is unable to use the herb due to its exorbitant prices, they cease to use the herb or plant in their tribal practices. Some of these herbs and plants subjected to these treatments are of such high nutritive and curative value that modern marketing has labeled these foods as superfoods, and thus, a word of caution must be taken when you choose to purchase these types of food, as the people who have subsisted on them before, may no longer be able to use them, as they have become a prized, and overexploited commodity. Reasonable substitutions can be found for these foods, and though they are not as unusual as their foreign counterparts, they are of equal nutritive and curative value. If you are in for the discovery of wild herbs, there are certain practices that must be observed as you engage in wildcrafting; as it must be recalled, one wrong move can cause a cascade of effects that can affect the environment where these herbs grow. The Rocky Mountain Herbalists’ Coalition outlines certain ethical practices. 1.An endangered or threatened species should never be gathered. Consult your local botanical garden or herbarium for a list of these plants. The American Herbalist Guild may be contacted by mail for a more comprehensive list at AHG, Box 1683, Soquel, CA, 95073. 2.Positively identify the plant before you harvest. Identification keys and voucher specimens are to be used. 3.Ask permission and give thanks, acknowledge the connection to life and show your gratitude. 4.Grandparent plants- those that produce seeds and those that are sufficiently matured should be left where they are or at the top of an elevated area, where they would be able to seed the slopes of the elevated area. Work upwards. 5.If doubtful, you should not harvest more than 10% of the plant and its root if it is a native species, or 30% of a plant if it is a naturalized species or has native leaves and flowers. Gather the quantity you need from ample plants. Be conservative when you harvest to ensure that the plants are maintained, and the well-being of the plant ecosystem is assured. 1.2 Site Selection Certain steps must be undertaken before you harvest the herbs from a specific site. These steps are taken from the Rocky Mountain Herbalist’s Coalition. Get permission: On land that belongs to the US Bureau of Land Management, a permit for free use can be obtained with a minimal fee. Regulatory practices from the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management provide that you cannot pick herbs in and around campsites and picnic areas. You cannot gather from areas that are within 200 ft of the trails, and you cannot gather from the sides of the road. Avoid areas that are situated downwind from pollution sites, stay 50 ft away from roadsides, areas with high tension electric wires (as these areas cause mutations in the plants around them), lawns and public parks that are fertilized, areas that are located downstream from mining and agricultural businesses, locations near parking lots, and areas you believed that might have been recently sprayed. There are areas maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Services through routine spraying. The same criteria are applicable to private land, where you will have to inquire about the use of herbicides and pesticides. Use discretion when you are in a fragile environment, as you can alter the ecosystem with one irresponsibly performed action. 1.3 Gardening and Propagation Techniques The techniques outlined by the Rocky Mountain Herbalists’ Coalition are designed to ensure that the wildcrafter exerts a minimal impact upon the ecosystem where these herbs are gathered. The use of proper wildcraft techniques ensures that the environmental impact of the wildcrafter is kept to a minimum; that the plants are able to optimize their yield and continue to serve as fodder for the local fauna. It is advisable that you do not harvest from the same plant all the time, but care for it when possible. Thinning, the practice of root division and top pinching ensures that there is an adequate supply of grandparent plants that would propagate the landscape and guard more immature plants. Awareness of erosion factors is essential as you dig up the roots of the plant. If you replant, and if you propagate the seeds. Care for the plants that grow on the hillsides, and cover up the leaves and replace the dirt from the plants already harvested. It may be necessary to gather nearby foliage and spread it around nearby plants. Avoid the use of shoes with hard soles, as these can inflict damage upon fragile ecosystems. If your main goal in harvesting is just the leaf, do not pull on the roots. Utilize flower pruning as a means to improve the quality of the root yield as well as increase the amount of leaves. Wildcrafted areas are subject to seasonal observations, and you should mind the plants from which you regularly harvest and consult with their expected growth cycles. This is the best means to know how much your actions have impacted the biome in which these plants grow. Observations from an experienced wildcrafter have shown that a healthy plant would see a 30% increase in its yield initially until such time that it remains in a static state. A lower yield rate would indicate that the plant is in a decline. 1.4 The Best Times to Gather Certain Herbs For the purposes of this discussion, it is important to note that in reference to the gathering of herbs; it is noted that this would include the other parts of a plant commonly used by the Native Americans, and is not limited to the leaves, but also to the roots as well as the bark. For the parts exposed to the air and above ground: The best time to gather these is in the morning from 6 am to 10 am, before the ambient temperature rises enough to wilt these parts. If you harvest the leaves of a plant, the leaves are at their best the period before a plant effloresces. If you gather the flowers, they are at their prime, just as their petals begin to fully bloom—this is identifiable if you are able to perceive the color of the bud. If the harvest is dependent on the moon cycle of Native American Tribes, these plant parts above ground are at their most potent during the period near or on the full moon. Roots are best harvested after the plant has dispersed its seeds and before the sun has touched the plant—early morning. For the roots of biennial plants, they are best harvested in the fall of their first year or spring of their second year of existence. Moon cycles dictate that these are at their prime in the new moon phase. The barks of trees are best harvested in the springtime or fall. Do NOT strip the bark from the tree. Take the whole tree. Tree thinning is considered a permissible practice when the tree is part of a large population. Be sure to leave trees that are the healthiest in the group. If only the bark from the smaller branches is required, take measures to ensure that the remainder of the tree is not susceptible to fungal rot. A practice with most bark usage is that the inner portion of the bark, called the cambium, is the part that is alive. Short trunks for the tree are left to be pollarded, and low stems are meant to be coppiced to ensure that others can harvest from the tree later on. In accordance with the moon cycle, barks are to be harvested on the three-quarter waning moon phase. Saps and pitches are liquid substances that are best harvested in the later parts of the winter season or in the early months of springtime. Seeds and fruit are best harvested when they have reached maturity, except for citrus fruits and certain plants. 1.5 The Preservation and Proper Storage of Herbs Central to the preparations that are listed in this book are herbs in their fresh, dried, and extracted states, as various environmental factors are able to affect the ability of the herb or plant to cure the illness it was harvested to treat. Subsequently, the herbalist must be familiar with the steps to properly store the herbs you have taken great care to harvest to ensure that you cure, not exacerbate, the illness you mean to treat. The drying process is best done in the period immediately once you have harvested the part of the plant that you need. As with ancient civilizations’ ancient food preservation techniques, the drying process ensures the prevention of spoilage and inhibition of bacterial growth upon the herb itself. Contrary to the ancient methods, the drying process takes place without direct exposure to sunlight in a place that is free from moisture and has sufficient air circulation. Additionally, the drying process that the herbs are subjected to ensures that the herbs’ potency as a curable substance remains intact. Several steps must be followed to ensure that your herbs are properly dried. Separate the leaves from the stems and spread them in a single layer. The leaves must NOT come into contact with each other. Heavier plants may be suspended from a line in a dry area, such as in a cellar or attic. Because the herbs at this point may retain some of their fragrance, they would need to be protected from insects that may infest the herbs as they dry. This is best done with the use of a cheesecloth covering over the drying herbs. There is no specific time outlined for how long each herb is to dry. The rule of thumb is that the shorter the drying period the herbs are subjected to, the better they are for medicinal uses. Most herbs take a week to dry out properly. The best way to adjudge if an herb is properly dried is if it still retains its scent yet is easily broken from its stem. If the dried herb crumbles with your touch, you have subjected the herb to an excessive drying period. If it is the roots of the herb that you wish to preserve with drying, the roots must be completely cleansed of any dirt attached to them. The general assumption is that roots take longer to dry than flowers and leaves and have an estimated drying period of 21 days. Roots may be cleansed with the use of a pressurized hose, and in some instances, the roots must be brushed by hand, especially if the plant has grown in soil with the consistency of clay. Heavy Roots that have no scent may be cut lengthwise for proper storage. Do not wash the leaves or the flowers of the herb that are to be dried. Simply shake them to loosen and remove any dirt that is attached to them or any bugs that may have remained upon them. If the amount of herbs and flowers are of a sufficient quantity, they may be gathered into a bundle, with a diameter of 1 and a half inches (3.81 cm). An alternate way to dry these leaves involves spreading them in a single layer on screens. If the bark of the plant is to be dried out, simply scrape off the outer portion of the bark, as the cambium, the inner layer is more important. This is a process referred to by herbalists as tossing. The safest means by which herbs can be stored, regardless of their form, is the use of the Mason jar. The Mason jar is an indispensable tool for the herbalist who wishes to store herbs in their fresh, dried, or extracted state. The Mason jar is a receptacle that is readily made and inexpensive to use for the storage of herbs. However, it does have one drawback: it lacks a tint to the glass. Suppose you have seen medications that have tinted bottles. In that case, you will know that this is important in medications, as exposure to light can potentially decrease the potency of the herbal medication. If there are no mason jars that have tints, it is more feasible to simply store the jar in a place where it cannot be exposed to sunlight. Dried herbs in a mason jar have a shelf-life of one to five years, while tinctures that are stored in such means can last up to a decade. The shelf-life of certain herbal preparations is dependent upon the type of preparation, as dried forms and tinctures, as earlier mentioned, can last for several years. Oils and salves, because of the nature of their composition, can easily become rancid, and thus, are best used within half a year to a year from their preparation. Lotions, should you have made these from the herbs, can only last for up to 3 months, but their longevity may be increased if you stick them in the refrigerator as these are products that are emulsified. Once the herbs are properly stored, it is important to remember to use them when possible. The best way to determine their usability is if the herbs still maintain their aroma and if they have not bleached away their color. Additional signs include the detection of their tastes. If you can still taste the herb, it is still potent enough. Additional rules include: 1. Avoid the exposure of herbs to light and excessive heat, as these can destroy the rather volatile aromatic compounds of the herbs, as well as other compounds that make the herb medicinal. Once the herbs are dried out, the use of food-grade plastic bags, fiber barrels, or other air-tight and water-tight receptacles helps preserve the potency of the herb for an extended period of time. 2. Always label the stored herbs with their dates and the location where they were harvested. 3. Remember that herbs that have been altered in the structure are less valuable compared to herbs whose structures are intact. 1.6 A Glossary of Herbal Preparations Herbs are a versatile form of medicine wherein they have numerous applications that can affect the body in various ways. The knowledge of herbal lore is an important aspect, even without the integration of Native American beliefs, as herbal preparations form part of the body of knowledge in Alternative Medicine. Though herbal remedies utilize the plant in its raw and unprocessed form, certain preparations must be performed by the herbalist, regardless of skill level, to extract the essences needed and make judicious use of the plant. These herbal preparations may take several forms, which include: 1.6.1 Infusions We commonly encounter this form of herbal preparation in the form of teas and tisanes. Often the simplest form of herbal preparation involves pouring water that was brought to a boil the herbs in either their fresh or dried forms. The usual parts of the plant that are made into teas are the leaves and the flowers (this may be seen in other forms of tea if you are a tea connoisseur). The usual ratios of infusion preparations are as follows: 1 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of water; 4 teaspoons of a fresh herb to a cup of water. 1.6.2 Decoctions They are a form of herbal preparation that involves immersing herbs in water brought to a gentle simmer or a full boil. This form of herbal preparation is designed to fully extract the pharmaceutical compounds that are present in the plant, specifically in its hardest parts: the bark, seeds, and roots. The rations for decoctions are 1 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of water; 4 teaspoons of a fresh herb to a cup of water. Simmer for five minutes, then strain the mixture before you use the preparation. 1.6.3 Percolations Similar to how one would operate a coffeemaker, the process of percolation involves the use of a medium, either water or a form of alcohol, that drips onto a mass of herbs—usually powdered in form. The ratios for a percolated solution are 100 ml of liquid that is dripped onto 10 grams of the powdered herb. Repeat this process if you would like to obtain a more concentrated product. 1.6.4 Tinctures The process of creating tinctures will be discussed at length later on as we delve into the basics in this chapter. Tinctures are alcohol-based preparations in which chopped herbs have been blended into. Alternatives are available to use in place of alcohol—cider vinegar and glycerin solutions are popular alternatives used by herbalists. Tinctures may be created in a blender. 1.6.5 Fomentation To create a fomentation, you must first create a decoction or infusion of the herbs you need to use. A piece of absorbent cloth is then dipped into the mixture, where you wrap the cloth around the injured area. Only use enough of the decoction or infusion to cover the area that was injured. Care must be taken as certain compounds, when used, may be skin irritants. 1.6.6 Poultices Fresh herbs are first pounded, then macerated. The herb mixture, which is now a sodden mass, is then placed over the injured body part. As with the fomentation, the quantity of the herbs made into a poultice is sufficient to cover the wound. 1.6.7 Powders They are herbal preparations that use the herb in its dried form, where the herb is subsequently pulverized. The herbs are transferred into capsules with a maximum weight of 1 gram in their powdered form. 1.6.8 Oils and Salves—Among the herbal preparations with the shortest shelf-life The oil is the medium where one prepares the herb, and its pharmaceutical compounds may be extracted into the oil. The oil is then thickened and made more viscous with the use of beeswax. Animal-based fats are more readily absorbable when compared to plant-based fats when you have to choose which medium you would like to use as a base for your herbal oils and salves.
When we see wicked people entering troubling times we should not fear – and neither should we gloat. We should simply take comfort in God, knowing that all will be well and that the fate of the wicked is not the fate we, God’s children, will face.
Dear God, I thank you that I can have total comfort in you. Lord, in times where the wicked are experiencing storms and trouble, may my heart be still. I know that the fate of the wicked is not a fate I will face. I also pray that in these times, may they be compelled to repent of their wicked ways. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“Social Justice Jesus” has always existed. Faithful followers of Christ have always seen their Lord as a defender of the weak and oppressed—the helper of those in need of help. Likewise, the true followers of Christ have always responded to their Lord’s call to duty to address disparities and injustice wherever they find them. For these faithful servants, social actions are not seen as works of salvation but as fulfillments of the tenets of the kingdom of heaven. The pursuit of equity and justice are not only actions requested within the teachings of our Lord, they are duties assigned by our King. As such, they do become part of one’s salvation, because failure to be socially responsible and active—to love one’s neighbor and even one’s enemy—is grounds for denied entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Nowhere is this more evident than in Jesus’ epic sermon, the “Sermon on the Mount.” Unfortunately, much of modern Christendom believes that this sermon is a remnant of an old covenant and that these epic words of Jesus no longer apply to us. Nothing could be further from the truth, and believing this erroneous deception has been spiritually lethal—both individually and corporately. What a tragedy! What terrible confusion this has produced within Christianity, and what a loss of opportunity for the Christian church! This is why I have written “Social Justice Jesus.” Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the Gospels, is a manifesto of the kingdom of heaven. It is a guide to how the followers of Christ are to live their lives. Within this sermon, Jesus indicates multiple times that his words—his instructions to his followers—remain valid far into the future, and that they are the pathway to current blessings and eternal life. Following them is faith in Jesus. Christians need to correctly understand this. Jesus’ words shape the proper influence and impact that Christianity is to have on earth. Their implementation brings the peace of heaven to earth—a major objective of the kingdom of God. Failing to implement his words would be a form of taking God’s name in vain—claiming to be a child of God but living as if one were free of the duties God desires us to perform. Calling oneself a Christian but failing to follow Jesus’ words is a misrepresentation of Jesus’ mission on earth, the nature of the kingdom of heaven, and God’s character. Many Christians have always intuitively understood their role as followers of Christ and have been active in the duties he has assigned. The words of their king are not taken lightly. The Sermon on the Mount greatly influences their lives. I know, because it has greatly influenced me. It has helped me see the value of every human life and has encouraged me to be active in service to others. It helped direct the course of my academic studies. It took me to Africa for seven years, where I helped meet the needs of war-displaced refugees and thirsty nomads. Jesus’ sermon has been the material of many of my Bible study classes and the topic of multiple sermons of my own. Jesus’ epic sermon is not a relic of the past. Correctly understood, it is a guide to Christian living. And the life he is directing us to live is exciting! This is what I want to share with you. For well over two decades, I have been studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, collecting thoughts, jotting down notes, thinking, and rethinking its applications, and trying to see how each theme connects to the previous topic. When I began, I had preconceived ideas of what Jesus was trying to say, but I wanted to dig deeper into every word. Jesus gave us a clue that his sermon was the fulfillment of God’s Law and Prophets. This means that his words are built upon past teachings. So, I took key words from within his sermon and tracked their usage in the Old Testament. For example: what is the meaning of someone who is “pure in heart”? Who are they? What do they believe? How do they live? Initially, I believed I knew the answers to these questions, but as I dug deeper into the Word of God, the revelations that I discovered took me in a direction I did not originally expect, and Social Justice Jesus began to take shape. These new discoveries profoundly called into question my own commitment to Christ. Was I really following him? Does he expect more from me than I have been giving? And if so, how do I put into action his request? My journey into God’s word was a revelation to me, and I anticipate that what I am about to share will be a revelation to you as well. On December 31, 2019, I made a New Year’s resolution to put my research and knowledge to paper in the form of a book. I have written other books of a technical nature; they were tedious but not difficult to compile. I anticipated, however, that this book would be do they live? Initially, I believed I knew the answers to these questions, but as I dug deeper into the Word of God, the revelations that I discovered took me in a direction I did not originally expect, and Social Justice Jesus began to take shape. These new discoveries profoundly called into question my own commitment to Christ. Was I really following him? Does he expect more from me than I have been giving? And if so, how do I put into action his request? My journey into God’s word was a revelation to me, and I anticipate that what I am about to share will be a revelation to you as well. On December 31, 2019, I made a New Year’s resolution to put my research and knowledge to paper in the form of a book. I have written other books of a technical nature; they were tedious but not difficult to compile. I anticipated, however, that this book would be harder to complete. It would require more effort to organize and convey my knowledge and insights, and would be controversial to many Christians, but I felt I had to do it. I work full-time, so on weekends and evenings, when I had the time and strength, I attempted to write. Early on, it was slow going. Writing requires large chunks of time and mental energy, where one wrestles to analyze thoughts, and tries to conceive the best way to communicate ideas. By mid-March I had only completed two chapters, and I realized that fulfilling my New Year’s resolution was going to take an exceedingly long time. Then suddenly and unexpectedly, the world was hit with a new coronavirus. My employer deemed me nonessential and sent me home for weeks. The government told me to stay home and shelter-in-place. By a strange turn of tragic events, I suddenly had time on my hands. I knew what God wanted me to do, and I felt an urgency to complete the task. So, I began to write, and this book began to take shape in ways that have surprised even me. Then, amid this world tragedy, multiple social injustices became public, and people around the globe began to cry out for justice with a fervor that has seldom been acknowledged in recent generations. Their cries should be heard and evaluated. Injustices need to be corrected. There is, however, a danger that the pendulum will be swung to its opposite extreme, and one set of injustices will be substituted with another set. What needs to occur is a stopping of the pendulum altogether. Society needs to see all humanity as the creation of God, and it must value every life. Without justice for all, injustice will always exist. True justice, however, requires a true standard, and we have a standard presented to us in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Social justice and equity are dominant themes within the message of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount. However, Jesus teaches that justice and mercy go hand in hand; correcting society’s failures requires action, but it also requires forgiveness. This is a message that many do not want to hear, but for Christians it is the Word of our King. Throughout my studies over the years, and while writing this book, I have often lamented the fact that if we Christians had taken Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount literally, we would have had nearly two thousand years of leading the cause of social justice and equity, peace and love, to all the world. Where would the world be today if Christians, past and present, fully understood Jesus’ words and diligently applied them? The world’s social and equity disparities may have already been corrected by the actions of Christ’s followers. The unrest we see today may never have been. Only the God of heaven knows for sure. What I know is that the Sermon on the Mount is an indispensable part of Jesus’ gospel—it is God’s word—and it too is to be preached to all the world. It is my hope that as you read this book, you will see clearly what Jesus was trying to communicate to us that day on the mountainside. It is my hope that you will be surprised and convinced by what Jesus still has to say to us today. It is my hope that you will see its universal and eternal application. And finally, it is my hope that you will accept the themes of his message and become a devoted follower; putting his words into ction and helping to build his kingdom of heaven here on earth.
I had accepted a volunteer position to help participate in famine relief efforts in one of Africa’s poorest nations. It was something I had longed to do for many years, and now, God had granted me the opportunity to serve him through service to others. Since I was a child, I intuitively knew that being a Christian required that we do what we can to help others in need. This is one of Christ’s predominant messages throughout the Gospels. It is the message in the parable of the sheep and the goats, and the main theme of Jesus’ epic Sermon on the Mount. It was this desire to be of service that led me to study theology, which eventually morphed into a degree in international development. I had envisioned myself working as an agricultural developer in Central or South America. Instead, after graduation, I landed a job at an agricultural research facility in Barstow. It was the perfect place to prepare for where God was about to send me, though I did not know it at the time. It was early August when I received a surprise phone call from a Christian international relief organization that had previously rejected my request for employment. Africa was in trouble; a severe famine had reached a crisis point, and the world was responding by sending food. The relief organization needed coordinators in place, and they needed them fast. Would I be interested in participating as a volunteer for three months? I was! So, It was a leap of faith, but I knew this was the Lord’s work, and I was willing to give it a try.
Now, I am working on a fundraiser to help build human trafficking safe houses in America. I could only hope and pray to God that he would be with me and guide me for the next three months. Little did I know that this poor, war-torn nation, plagued with social injustices and racial and religious. misunderstandings, was going to be my home for the next seven years. In today’s world, the pursuit of equity within all sectors of society is known as “social justice.” Social justice has many definitions, and its application means different things to different groups, but essentially it is the philosophical theory which asserts that there are dimensions of fairness—justice—that go beyond those embodied in the principles of civil or criminal law, which themselves can be unjust. It looks to correct disparities that are perceived to exist in the communal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges. It seeks to treat all people with equality, fairness, and dignity. Social justice advocates can be viewed as heroes or terrorists, depending on their actions, underwith social injustices and racial and religious misunderstandings, was going to be my home for the next seven years. In today’s world, the pursuit of equity within all sectors of society is known as “social justice.”
Lying motives, and who they represent or who feels championed or threatened by them. Our whole world is divided by many political ideologies, races, cultures, and spiritual paradigms, and anyone who advocates a change to someone’s norm is open to suspicion and initial resistance. And rightly so. A change advocated by one, can be the violation of another’s sacred beliefs—a violation of their moral standards and taboos. Take, for example, the fight for marriage between same-sex couples, or the right for the terminally ill to end their lives. While some calls for justice will remain hotbeds of controversy, other battles for “justice” are eventually accepted and no longer questioned—like the right for women to vote. This book is written primarily for a Christian audience, so certain assumptions are made regarding the mindset of my readers. How However, the teachings of Jesus hold value to anyone, Christian or non-Christian, and what I have to present should be of interest to those who wish to study how Jesus interpreted the Mosaic Laws, and how he applied them to the social deficiencies of his time and to ours. There are limits, however, to how far Christians can use Jesus’ message. The gospel messages, for example, cannot be used to extrapolate a position on the legalization of cannabis, or to gain insight on whether an electric car is good or bad for the environment. There are some things we must figure out on our own. “Social justice”, as referred to in this book, will be presented within the context of Jesus’ time and culture, and to how he advocated for a greater compliance with God’s fairness toward all sectors of his society. Jesus saw the law of God being incorrectly folfollowed, and part of his ministry was to correct its misapplications. Jesus preached social justice, but he preached it within the context of his time and the laws of Moses that governed his community. Does this mean that Jesus’ teachings are irrelevant to our present age? No, far from it! His teachings address social issues that are still plaguing us today, and his wisdom gives us valid solutions to these problems. So, the social justice teachings of Jesus are timeless and still relevant to anyone who wishes to be a part of his kingdom of heaven. This book will focus on the teachings of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount. Early in my Christian walk, I rarely considered Jesus to be the consummate social justice leader, but his equity themes became more and more apparent as my studies into this epic sermon deepened. They took me in directions that made it impossible for me to ignore Jesus’ repeated social justice themes. The context of his sermon is a revelation of the nature of a kingdom of heaven forming in his time—not just a future kingdom. It is a kingdom to be put into action, now, by those who hear him. Kingdoms have manifestos—policies and principles to be followed. These are formed for the good of their communities. The Sermon on the Mount is a manifesto outlining Jesus’ revelation of God’s law in action. Social justice and social equity are major themes of that law, given for the good of all who live on this earth. Much has been written about Jesus’ epic Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospels. It is a sermon that has fascinated me since I was a child, partly because, unlike other parts of the Bible that I have found difficult to understand, this sermon was understandable. Its concepts seemed straight-forward, and I could see the logic of applying its principles to my everyday life. However, as a child, I did fail to comprehend the broader applications of Jesus’ message. I did not fully understand the context of the sermon or see how Jesus’ words were often a rebuttal to the teachings of his day. I missed the way in which this sermon reframed the Old Testament Law and the Prophets in easy-to-understand terms. I missed that Jesus essentially declares himself to be the “prophet” promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15–19. I missed that he puts his words, uttered that day, on par with the Law and the Prophets, and declares that his words, if obeyed, lead to safety and eternal life. As a child, I also missed the fact that this sermon is about what Jesus calls the “weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith,”1 which Jesus says are not to be neglected. However, as I grew older and studied this sermon in depth, I began to see that its message is indeed the law of God, and its focus is the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. It is a message calling for social justice and “equity,” a word often used to define “righteousness.” It is a message that calls disciples to take equitable actions, now, to begin the kingdom of heaven in their lives, for the benefit of themselves and for all who live on this earth. It is a message that has a cost to those who practice it, but calls for its disciples to have faith that God the Father will provide for their needs as they pay the price of implementing this kingdom in their lives. Surprised? Yes, you should be surprised if no one has told you this before! It is sad that what is probably the most straight-forward aspect of Jesus’ message is the one most often miscomprehended or ignored. Perhaps this is because our religious leaders over-spiritualize Jesus’ teachings. For example, pastors often take the beatitudes and frame them in terms of future benefits to members of God’s kingdom. In so doing, they miss the immediate calls to action and the current benefits that Jesus is presenting to those who act now. And these benefits are not for followers only; they are for the blessing of all humanity. Perhaps today’s “faith alone” Christians find the works-oriented themes of the Sermon on the Mount too divergent from their mainstream Christian paradigms. Maybe the face value of Jesus’ message is considered too radical or impossible to follow.
Rest assured, this sermon was radical even in Jesus’ day. Shortly into his equity message, Jesus has to detour and address his listener’s concerns that what he is saying may be a violation of the Law and the Prophets, as it has been taught to them. Nearly one-third of this sermon is devoted to correcting the misguided instructions that the people have received from their religious leaders. Could it be that we also need similar correction today? Later, Jesus must balance his equity themes with encouragements that living a life of equity is not as hard as listeners might expect. And finally, Matthew’s Gospel records that at the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching, the people were “astonished” by what they had heard and the way in which Jesus presented his message.2 Let me show you what Jesus teaches, and I believe you will be astonished too. The logic and structure of his social justice and equity message will become remarkably clear. His message is brilliant. If taken literally and acted upon by the whole of our Christian community, Christianity would become a far greater force for good in this world. We would be a government that transcends those of the nations of earth, filling in the needs of humanity where earthly governments fall short. We would be the kingdom of heaven on earth as Jesus intended us to be. The word “intended” is the key point here. The kingdom of heaven works through human agents, and it needs knowledgeable and committed followers working its tenets for the good of humanity. In this article, I will start with some background information concerning the kingdom of heaven and its expected arrival.
This will set the atmosphere within which the people heard the message of Christ. It is important contextual information and will give us vital clues for understanding the themes Jesus will be addressing. Next, we will take an in-depth look at every verse of the Sermon on the Mount. This is not as dry as it might sound. Looking at each verse, comparing it to other parts of the Bible and tracing key words back into the Old Testament, unlocks new insights and revelations—wondrous concepts that are rarely shared in weekend sermons or Sunday School lessons. These new revelations will leave you shaking your head in amazement. I am positive you will have this experience multiple times. The process of this study will be straight-forward as we progress through this sermon from beginning to end. Each new topic or theme will be treated as a separate chapter. Longer chapters will have divisions so you can take breaks in thought and later return to the book as your schedule permits. I do not expect you to read this book in one night. There is too much illuminating information to expose yourself to all at once. Feel free to pace yourself as you like. As you read this book, you will frequently see the use of the word “equity.” This term has often caused confusion for some readers and is mistakenly thought to mean equality or having a financial stake in some sort of property. “Equity” is more than this, and this book draws on one of the word’s alternate means and signifies a quality of being fair or impartial in one’s personal conduct with others. But it is also more than this. The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words from which the Bible derives the English words for right, righteous and righteousness, are often defined using the word “equity.” And the biblical definitions of these three words are matched with the equivalent words of lawful, beneficence, and equitable deeds.3 These latter concepts of doing right, following the law of God, being charitable, fair, and just, on a personal level, are what best define my use of the word “equity.” So, is our Lord and Savior a social justice warrior? After comprehending the Sermon on the Mount, it will become clear that social justice is a tenet that has its origins in heaven. Its principles were set in stone by God and existed before the foundation of the world. However, the disciples of God’s true social justice are not the same as the militant actors that we see in many of today’s secular warriors. Like Jesus, ChrisChristian warriors will seek change and fulfillment of God’s law by way of the same meekness and forgiveness displayed by their king. Like Jesus, they will not only advocate for change, but they themselves will be the solution that is needed. There is a sad note, however. The unfortunate truth may be that the social justice turmoil of our day has arisen due to Christians failing to be the social justice leaders for which Jesus had advocated. The gospel message is about Christ’s death and his forgiveness of our sins. It is also about his resurrection and victory over death, and his ability to grant us eternal life. But as you will soon see, the gospel message is also about the promotion of social justice and equity. All these elements are to be preached to all the world before the end comes. We have been strong in promoting Christ’s grace, but too often deficient in participating in his calls for social responsibility. The participation in the promotion of justice and equity are part of our great commission as faithful Christians. If Christians fail to preach this aspect of the gospel message, we could be in danger of being passed by, as God gives this message to others—to children, or even to the stones to cry out.4 Perhaps this is where we are in history today. As Christians, it is imperative that we understand the full gospel message, and apply every aspect of it to our lives. By Jesus’ own words, it is a matter of life or death. So, I invite you to take a journey with me now, and take a closer look at a literal view of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Look at the information and determine for yourself how Jesus wants the followers of the kingdom of heaven to live. You will be surprised! You will be changed!
Please enjoy this reading. Blessed are those who read and study the Living Word of God, in Jesus name Amen
Thank You, Father God, in Your Son Jesus name Amen
We have come to the last Sunday before Lent and we are presented with an unusual reading from the letter of Paul to the Galatians.
One of the biggest distortions I have heard is that only some can be saved. Jesus is clear that he came to save all. Whether all will have eternal life with him is another question for another day, but since salvation is a gift, not something to be earned, to say that some cannot be saved doesn’t ring true. Paul answered this question in many of his letters as does John in his. Luke’s gospel in his prologue gives us the guide we need to judge if what we are being told is true to the gospel. Sometimes it seems daunting to read a gospel straight through, but it’s the best way to get a feel for what the evangelist is trying to say.
This is important because another way the gospel message can be perverted is to quote it out of context. Almost anything can be proved if you take things out of context! When my first child was born, I wanted to know everything I could about how to raise a child. I consulted several different “baby books” to see what I should be doing. What did I find? Let the baby cry, don’t let the baby cry. Feed the baby when he’s hungry, feed the baby on a schedule. Don’t use physical punishment, no problem with physical punishment. You get the picture. Scripture out of context is the same. If you really want to know the true gospel, read it, study it, reflect upon it. Don’t be led astray.
God wills us to be conscious of the paths we take in life. Sometimes we actually have to stand still, take a look at the options before us, and ask God which way we should go. It’s better to take these lengths to ensure we are walking in the right way, than to rush ahead and make a ton of mistakes.
Dear God, in times where I am at a crossroad in my life, I ask that you will give me the counsel that will help me make the right decision. I do not desire to go in the way that is not pleasing to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor.
I Samuel 1 and 2 tells the story of Hannah. Chapter 1 tells us that Hannah had prayed to God with “deep anguish” while “crying bitterly.” She vowed that if God would give her a son she would give him back to the LORD. When Eli the priest found out about her prayer he said, “. . . go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of Him,” and Hannah did find peace in his words and was no longer sad. And the LORD did grant her request and she gave birth to Samuel.
Chapter 2 records a second prayer Hannah prayed after she had given Samuel back to God at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. It is a paean of praise and thanksgiving to God. Its main proclamation is “There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” The earth is the LORD’s and He has the power to lift up those who are faithful to Him and He has the power to bring down the wicked and proud.
Our verse for today is part of Hannah’s second prayer. Just as the LORD lifted Hannah up from her sadness and shame to a place of rejoicing and strength, so likewise He can lift the poor and needy from the dust to a place of honor. The contrast could not be greater. The poor can move all the way from the garbage dump (other translations say “dunghill”) to a position held by princes.
Perhaps you feel today like you have been cast down to the dust and have been thrown into the garbage dump. You have prayed to the LORD with deep anguish while crying bitterly. Go in peace! The LORD has heard the request you have asked of Him. One day, just like Hannah, He will fill your heart with a paean of praise and thanksgiving because of the great things He has done for you.
Insight Memories of God’s miracles and faithfulness sustained Israel through its difficulties. The Israelites knew that God was capable and trustworthy. Challenge When you meet new trials, review how good God has been to you, and this will strengthen your faith.
Morning and Evening by Spurgeon
Isaiah 48:10 I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say–
“Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
I’ll follow where he goes.”
Daily Light on the Daily Path
Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. • In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Psalm 32:8-10 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. • Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. • Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Isaiah 30:21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Exodus 33:15,16 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. • “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
In Romans Chapter 6 the Apostle Paul contrasts the state of being a slave to sin with the state of being a slave to righteousness. Each state receives something.
Those who are “slaves to sin” are those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ as their personal LORD and Savior. They receive “wages” for their sin. This is a payment for the work they have done. Slaves to sin work at sin and receive a wage for their work as a result.
Those who are “slaves to righteousness,” on the other hand, are those who have faith in Jesus Christ as their personal LORD and Savior. They do not receive a wage for their righteousness. Instead, they receive a gift. Unlike a wage, a “gift” is not given as a payment. A gift is given for free. Slaves to righteousness receive a gift rather than a wage because they did not work for their righteousness. Their righteousness came to them simply by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22).
The wages for those who work at sin is death. “Death” here does not simply mean physical death. It means spiritual death. Spiritual death is alienation from God and it can be experienced both in the present and for all eternity. Ultimately, spiritual death means eternal alienation from God in hell.
The gift of those who have faith is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” Like spiritual death, eternal life in Christ can be experienced in the present and for all eternity. Ultimately, eternal life means an eternity spent with God in the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21).
Stating the stark contrast between being a slave to sin and being a slave to righteousness begs the question: why would anyone ever want to be a slave to sin? The end result is death, eternal death, and alienation from God. Sin may seem rewarding for a while, but it is ultimately unfulfilling in the present and it leads to an eternity in hell.
And why would anyone not want to be a slave to righteousness? The end result is life, abundant life in the present (John 10:10), and eternal life with God. The righteousness of God is rewarding in the present and for all eternity.
Insight What problems David faced! He was scoffed at, mocked, insulted, humiliated, and made the object of citywide gossip. But still he prayed. Challenge When we are completely beaten down, we are tempted to turn from God, give up, and quit trusting him. When your situation seems hopeless, determine that no matter how bad things become you will continue to pray. God will hear your prayer, and he will rescue you. When others reject us, we need God most. Don’t turn from your most faithful friend.
As all the rivers run into the sea, so all delights centre in our Beloved. The glances of his eyes outshine the sun: the beauties of his face are fairer than the choicest flowers: no fragrance is like the breath of his mouth. Gems of the mine, and pearls from the sea, are worthless things when measured by his preciousness. Peter tells us that Jesus is precious, but he did not and could not tell us how precious, nor could any of us compute the value of God’s unspeakable gift. Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness. Believer, have you not found in the midst of plenty a sore famine if your Lord has been absent? The sun was shining, but Christ had hidden himself, and all the world was black to you; or it was night, and since the bright and morning star was gone, no other star could yield you so much as a ray of light. What a howling wilderness is this world without our Lord! If once he hideth himself from us, withered are the flowers of our garden; our pleasant fruits decay; the birds suspend their songs, and a tempest overturns our hopes. All earth’s candles cannot make daylight if the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed. He is the soul of our soul, the light of our light, the life of our life. Dear reader, what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day’s battle? What wouldst thou do at night, when thou comest home jaded and weary, if there were no door of fellowship between thee and Christ? Blessed be his name, he will not suffer us to try our lot without him, for Jesus never forsakes his own. Yet, let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.
Daily Light on the Daily Path
Exodus 17:15 Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner;
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
Psalm 60:4 You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.
Psalm 27:1,3 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? • Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.
2 Chronicles 13:12 “Now behold, God is with us at our head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”
Psalm 46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Revelation 17:14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Psalm 2:1,4 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? • He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.
Isaiah 8:10 “Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”
Daily Light on the Daily PathGalatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
1 John 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
1 Peter 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,”
2 Corinthians 5:14,15 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; • and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
In the previous verse Romans 8: 10, Paul has been discussing the power that death still has: have power over the body. In this verse he tells us how God has made provision for the power death has on our bodies. The spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (he’s talking about God here) is in us. If he raised Jesus from the dead, then he’s also capable of doing that with us as well. He tells us that we have the very same spirit living in us which Christ has been living in Him; therefore God will do the same work in us that He did in Christ. When our physical death comes on this earth, just as Christ’s physical death came, He will resurrect us just as He resurrected Christ. Paul tells us here that, even though death has power over our physical bodies, it does not have power over our eternal life. Because we believe in Christ and because the Spirit of God dwells within us, we will never have to fear eternal death. We will be resurrected into eternal life. We will be clothed in our heavenly robes. The sting of death cannot touch us.
Father, I know that the same spirit inside me dwelt inside of Christ and that what You did for your son, You will also do for me too. I know that I have to face physical death on this earth but that it’s just a momentary hindrance because You have ensured that I will be with You, that I will live eternally by Your side. I thank you for this promise and I thank you for the reminder that I am eternally Yours. Amen.
We know that there can be debates as to which denominational – or non-denominational – church is the one that is “correct.” In a way, Jesus answers this question. No one can do mighty works in his name and be against him. Now he presumes that these men and women are acting in good faith and not trying to win power for themselves. We may differ on how we worship, or even the necessity of organized worship, but it we are intentionally following Christ, who’s to say that we are somehow less worthy of leading people to faith in Jesus. Some of the best discussions I have had are with people whose denomination is different from my own. I have also been allowed to preach in churches of different denominations, and have invited others into my church to preach. Just as God has given each of us different gifts, I believe that we need to listen to others in order to appreciate the wealth of knowledge that God has revealed to those who believe. Sometimes it’s hard for us to admit that we don’t have all the answers. It’s hard to accept that someone else could be right too, even though we might disagree.
I belong to a Scripture reflection group that meets weekly. It is fascinating to hear what each person sees in a particular passage. I’m sure you have often seen other interpretations than I have given you to think about! Are you wrong; am I wrong? I think we both may be wrong or right! The important thing is to realize that Jesus speaks to us in a way that is for us. Scripture is called the living Word of God because it is meant for all people of all ages and time. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be open to all who speak in the name of Jesus.
Our love for God is a response to the love He has always had for us. God did not expect us to love Him first; we were incapable of doing so because of our sinful nature. So God took that extra step – He went the extra mile – and poured His love out on all of us.
Dear God, I will always be in awe when I think of how great your love for me, and everyone in this world, is. We weren’t anywhere close to righteous when you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us; but that did not stop you. Lord, I will always set my heart on loving you, ever grateful that you loved me first. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
One of the most popular passages in the Bible at weddings, this verse explains that love cannot be self-seeking: love is about other people. Think about it: if your loving actions are done with others in mind, loving your neighbors as yourself and even your enemies, how easy would it be to love yourself? It is when we hold hatred in our heart that evil flows out. It isn’t always easy to control our own egos and not demand attention for our good deeds, but is the love that we spread and feel for ourselves after not enough? It surely is enough.
We have all been chosen to be disciples of God, to spread the Good News concerning the coming of the Kingdom. We might be afraid that we are not up to the task, much as Jeremiah was. But just as God spoke to Jeremiah promising to help him, he is with us as well. The without the witness of the early disciples, we would not know of Jesus. Without our witness, how will future generations come to know Jesus? How will we know what to say? What will others think about us? But God is by our side helping us, giving us the words we need at the right time.
Our job is to look for opportunities. Once on a cruise ship, a woman stood next to me and the conversation turned to God. We had a wonderful conversation about our faith, our trust and confidence in God. I don’t know if anyone else heard us, but we didn’t care. Sometimes these conversations begin when a friend tells us about a loved one being sick and we offer to pray for them. Sometimes it comes after a political ad or speech. More often a discussion might evolve because of a tragedy, either from a weather incident or after one of the many terrorist attacks the world has dealt with in the past few years. In any case, it’s important for us to be open about our faith and also willing to listen to the views of others. We have been appointed; we need to accept the responsibility to spread the Good News.
If a person claims to love and know God, but it is clear in their actions that they are not loving towards the people around them, then this means that they actually do not know God. God is the epitome of love and we cannot have a relationship with Him if we do not express who He really is.
Dear God, I pray that I may never be ignorant of the way I treat people. Lord I want to know you completely and I know that in order for me to do that, I need to be loving to every single person around me. May you help me live this out, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.