Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Adam & Eve's Children Have in Common With Yours

In light of all the negative press those in professions and positions of trust receive in our modern live, I found it so easy to say about some of these occupations, “Yes, but you can’t even trust them these days.”

How awful that we should even think that way, but if we were honest, we’d have to admit that we do. And once we start thinking that way, it is so easy to say, “What’s the use – there’s no hope for this world. It’s getting worse and worse.” I can’t deny that.

But today I realized that the same basic instincts the Creator put into the first man and woman and their offspring, all else being equal (that is, assuming the mother has not impacted her body negatively with drugs), He still puts into every little baby born today. To me this means that every child still has the chance to have moral principles, to listen to his/her conscience and to both recognize good from bad and to act on that knowledge. What he/she needs are role models to guide him/her in learning these behaviors. Will you be that person for someone today? There is still hope for each of us individually. – Murrells Inlet, S.C.


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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Parallels Between Nazi Germany Under Hitler & What's In Store for Us Are Remarkable.

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Radical Integrity: The Story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Book Review)



On a recent flight home, my wife picked up a copy of Michael Van Dyke’s book, Radical Integrity: The Story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, published by Barbour Publishing, Ohio, 2001. It wouldn’t have been my choice as I thought I had learned as much as I needed to know about the key character having already read The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Isabel Best, and published by Fortress Press, 2012. But I was wrong.
While Bonhoeffer’s sermons tell us much of what he was thinking and believing and communicating, Van Dyke’s book, tells us why. The author takes us from his childhood and youth right up to his death in 1945, just weeks before his dream for Germany (the defeat of Hitler) came to pass. Van Dyke very masterfully shares with us all the things and the people that Bonhoeffer treasured in his life including his twin sister Sabine; later Maria, his fiancée; and solitude. And he covers the young German’s struggles with career choices, army enlistment, the German Church that caved to the Nazis, and his role in trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler, to name but a few.
Throughout the book are woven several themes that express Bonhoeffer’s views, not the least of which are what it means to be a Christian today, what is the role of the Church in world events, and pacifism vs. militarism for the Christian. Finally, there is no doubt Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prisoner in the various holding camps of the Nazis, after being hung, was remembered by many fellow prisoners and guards as one who lived his life with radical integrity.
At just 205 pages, you’ll find this book fascinating not only because of the insights it presents into Bonhoeffer’s life, and the many quotable quotes that the book is sprinkled with (both Dietrich’s and Van Dyke’s), but also because of the fact that you cannot help, as you read it, but ask yourself, “What would I have done?” or “What do I believe?”  Recommended to help round out your knowledge of this pastor, professor, brilliant mind, and martyr, as well as your own thinking of the various theological and practical Christian issues it addresses.
In fact, in light of what is going on in the world today with ISIL, one would be highly advised to read it and really ask him/herself the question, “What will I do?”  The parallels of what happened in Germany between the end of WWI and the end of WWII, with what may well happen in the decades ahead for much of the West if we, our politicians, and our church leaders remain silent, may strike you as remarkable.
    -- Ken B. Godevenos, http://www.accordconsulting.com, Toronto, Ontario. 15/09/15

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

This Book Should Become a Classic on Political Corruption and Cover-ups

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The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ (book review)


On November 22, 1963, in my 16th year of life, I was taking a high school ‘typing’ exam while John F. Kennedy, just 30 years older, was being murdered. As I watched the news videos that accompanied that event up to the rushed swearing in of Lyndon Baines Johnson, with Kennedy’s widow at his side, I could not help but be totally shocked at the physiognomy of LBJ. Something wasn’t right. In my mind, Johnson must have had something to do with Kennedy’s murder, but what?
Over the next few decades, my work involved opportunities to meet with some Texans, both Republicans and Democrats who confirmed my worst thoughts. LBJ had indeed been involved in a major way in the killing of JFK. But who would listen to any of us? We all lived in both shock and silence. And then, in 2013, along came Roger Stone’s book (written with Mike Colapietro and published by Skyhorse Publishing in New York), The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. I had to read it.
The book should become a classic when it comes to “exposing” corruption. And Stone pulls no punches.  For example, Joseph Kennedy, JFK’s father, is exposed as shameless in how he went about getting his way. In fact, the private lives and the private language of most of the key players (John and Robert Kennedy included) is also shocking and not for the consumption of minors.
Roger Stone painstakingly describes the role of the Mafia, the CIA, and the FBI not only in the murder of JFK but also in many political actions that presidents of both parties have made over the years. The explanation of what went down over the Cuban crisis is a highlight in the story and perhaps what gave initial rise to the eventual assassination of the President. Having read that, there is no doubt in my mind that the blackmailing going on by these three entities in America today is what makes so many conservative (and sometime liberal) politicians eunuchs when it comes to decisive action that matters.
The author’s account of the Warren Commission on the assassination of Kennedy systematically destroys its Report (read by me and millions of others) as being yet another total cover-up. And he later exposes a few other such activities in the same way.
Spoiler-alert (hardly): This book makes a very clear case for finding LBJ guilty of playing a key role, not just of JFK’s murder, but many more, and with considerable, hard-to-argue with, evidence. Much of what drove Johnson was his own personality, his greed, and his feelings that a) he deserved anything he wanted (from women, including Jackie Kennedy to power to gold hidden in New Mexico – an incredible story in itself, also covered in detail by Stone in the book) and b) he was unstoppable, as he had so many people in his pocket. Stone also portrays Johnson as a ruthless tyrant in all his dealings with people who crossed him, let him down in any way, or resisted his right to do what he wanted. His impropriety left people stunned even at the time of their loss as described by his reactions to Jackie as well as Robert Kennedy immediately after the assassination.
While many of us may have thought there was a link between Johnson and the Kennedy assassination, something Stone confirms forcefully, many of us reading the book were shocked with Johnson’s role (Stone accuses him of murder) in the deaths of 34 and another 171 wounded service personnel, in the attack by Israel on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967 (during the Six Day War) while it was in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula. This alone made the book a great read.
But wait, there’s more for those who have been swayed by so many other authors on Kennedy’s death that attack any conspiracy theory and stand firmly behind the Warren Commission. He names several and explains why they too had ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’ in believing the cover-up that remains the “official” position of the government. But he saves his strongest criticisms (and rationale for it) for Bill O’Reilly, the American television host (for FoxNews), (so-called) historian, journalist, syndicated columnist, and political commentator and author of Killing Kennedy.
In addition to all the above, I confirmed three other key lessons from the book:
·      First, in a fallen world, most successful politicians are no ‘angels’ – far from it.
·      Second, the Government, even in a democracy, and even in America, does not always tell the truth.
·      Third, there is “truth” . . . and there is “official truth”.
While it can be argued that many “confidential information” records are considered “classified” for decades assumedly for national security purposes, I submit, and I believe Stone would agree with me, that some are kept as such just to protect those who have been inept or unethical in keeping their oaths of office to the people and to God.
This book is a must read for anyone with interest in truth, freedom, and democracy.

    -- Ken B. Godevenos, http://www.accordconsulting.com, Toronto, Ontario. 15/09/09  

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

An Ultimate Mediation Assignment


The People Ratify the Covenant With God
Exodus 24:4-8: And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.  Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold, the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Just prior to this passage, we read that Moses had come down from the mountain and told the people “all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances”. Now in this passage, we read that Moses “wrote down all” that God had said and what he had repeated to the people. That must have taken him well into the night. Many of us forget much of what God has communicated to us because, while we hear it (maybe directly form God, or maybe from one of His servants who shares His message from a pulpit), we do not repeat it or discuss it ourselves afterwards, and we seldom write the message down or even take notes during its delivery.  Though I have the complete Bible available on my mobile phone, I never stopped carrying my hard copy of God’s Word to worship services. And I have always tried to have one with wide margins in it. I also bring along a fine point pen. Together, they allow me to take good notes on each passage that is being discussed for future study and use, alone or in company with others.
Early the next morning, he arose and built an altar, complete with twelve pillars, likely placed around the altar. This was no simple economy model. I would imagine it took time and planning to construct it. And that’s why he started “early in the morning”. I often wonder how much of either the messages God had for me or the work He had intended for me to do for Him, over the years, I have missed, because I never found it easy to get up early in the mornings.  Thankfully, in His infinite wisdom, He has seen to it that this comes easier with one’s considerable age. But I still regret what I may have missed.
Our text says he build an altar with twelve pillars, each one representing the twelve tribes of Israel that were in the wilderness. The altar in the middle represented God. Commentator Robert Jamieson points out the significance: These were the two parties (God and the twelve tribes of Israel) to the covenant that was about to be ratified. Jamieson says Moses was simply acting as the mediator. In my long career, there is no aspect of my work that gives me more joy and a feeling of being used by God than acting as a mediator between two parties.  I have often thought about my ultimate “mediation” assignment – solving some serious global crisis between two major powers.  But Moses here was given an even greater assignment – acting as a mediator between God and His people in this Old or First Covenant. And for this to have worked, can you imagine the trust that both parties had in him.  At the same time, Moses here was given the prototype role that Jesus Christ would fulfill in the New or Second Covenant. Moses was a passive mediator (he sacrificed basically his time and efforts) but Christ would be an active one (by actually becoming the sacrificial lamb and dying on the cross for the New Covenant to succeed).
In carrying out his mediatory responsibilities, Moses had the youth of Israel offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as what would now be called ‘peace offerings’ to God. This is the second reference to a peace offering in Scripture.  The first was four chapters back in Exodus 20:24 when God was dictating His laws and ordinances to Moses. Moses must have shared this requirement of God’s as well when he shared all of God’s words with the people and now he instructs them to actually carry the ‘peace offering’ out for the first time.
With the killing of the animals having taken place, Moses now sprinkles half of the blood that poured out from these animals on the altar and the other half he pours in basins. In order for the Covenant to be ratified, there had to be shedding of blood (that is, it had to be ‘signed’ with blood) and Moses distributes the blood symbolically between the two parties (on the altar representing God and in basins likely at the foot of each pillar representing Israel’s twelve tribes). Commentator Robert Jamieson suggests that this Covenant really did not have a chance because so much depended on what the people had to do and thus the world needed a New Covenant made possible through the sole work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. In this passage, according to commentator Matthew Henry, we have the act of all “the people dedicating (pouring) themselves, their lives, and beings, to God, and to His honor.” Thus half of the blood was poured on the altar that represented God.  Later we will consider the significance of the blood poured in the basins.
Moses than took the Book of the Covenant that we can only assume was the actual written version of God’s Words and Ordinances that Moses had so carefully recorded the night before (see Exodus 24:4) and he read it again in their hearing. What we had here was a formal procedure (one could say a legal process in today’s terminology) and thus even though the Israelites had heard God’s Words before when Moses had related them to the people, now he reads them the ‘official’ version if you like, to make sure they knew what they were about to ratify. It is important for us, not only when we become Christians, but also throughout our Christian journey, to make sure we fully understand what we have signed up for. Many of us fail to do so.  We do not read the fine print and in the end we are dissatisfied with our deal.
In the case of the Israelites, having been told the words of the Lord once and agreed to them (Exodus 24:3), and now having them officially read to them again – they agree once more to all that would be required of them.  And this time, not only did they say that they would do all that God had spoken (24:3), but now add this emphatic response, “ . . .and we will be obedient!” (Exodus 24:7) It seems to me that they were very eager to be part of this Covenant. They did not want to take any chances of missing it. They must have really sensed a need for God to be with them, there in the wilderness.
That happens to us sometimes as well. When things get real tough for us; when our challenges are so many; when we have exhausted our own means of standing on our own two feet, we seek God and are willing to promise anything to get His help. As we will find out with the Israelites later on, we need to be very careful of what we promise God.
It is at this point, after the people promised God that they would give themselves to Him (through sprinkling half the blood of the sacrificed animals on the altar) and so definitely assuring Moses at least of their determination to be obedient, that Moses now completes the process by sprinkling the other half of the blood he had saved in basins on the people or their representatives. We do not know those actually involved but I would assume it would be the highest elders of each of the tribes.
This act Matthew Henry explains as Moses sprinkling it (the second half of the blood) “either upon the people themselves (v. 8) or upon the pillars that represented them, which signified God's graciously conferring His favor upon them and all the fruits of that favor, and His giving them all the gifts they could expect or desire from a God reconciled to them and in covenant with them by sacrifice.”
[An aside: This was the first reference to sprinkling in the Scriptures. Readers may be interested in doing some research as to the origin of sprinkling in religious rites through the ages.  Infant baptism sprinkling started after Christ’s life on earth. I would, however, point out that while people were ‘sprinkled’ in Scripture (as we saw here in Exodus 24), there is no direct link, to my knowledge, between that and the sprinkling of infants in lieu of adult baptism at the age where they could understand what is happening to them.]
Finally, Moses presents the people with the Covenant that God had made with them. I think that is our job today whether we are pastors or hold other forms of Christian leadership, or leaders of our families, or parents, or counselors, etc.  We are to present the Covenant that God has made (only now the New Covenant made through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ) to the people in our lives, having first fully accepted it ourselves.

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

It Was Like Being Right There for Three Years

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The Training Of The Twelve (book review)


[While many of my other reviews are on books that have been offered to me, this one I searched out and bought myself. But when it comes to writing a review, I do my best to treat both types equally.]

It has been a good many years since I read a book on the life of Jesus Christ that has impacted me in the way that Alexander Balmain [A.B.] Bruce’s did recently.  The second edition that I read is published by ReadaClassic.com and weighs in at 398 large pages. My research indicates that the original version (not too much different) was written in 1877. When I was discussing it with my pastor, he indicated that “it’s a classic” in the Christian literature world. The write-ups I read indicated it was the number two bestseller surpassed only by the Bible itself, in this category.  Let me tell you why.

The book should be read with Bible in hand. Not only does Bruce hold your attention, but also writes a great devotional guide on all of Christ’s dealings while He was here physically on earth among us.

The author is not afraid to pose challenges to what Jesus said and to consider them fully and fairly before he offers his rationale for what he believes. I found myself convinced almost every single time. For example he wonders whether Jesus was “indulging in exaggeration” when He told Peter that “Unless I wash your feet, you can have no part of me”?

There are thirty-one chapters covering, in a fairly chronological order, the lessons that Jesus taught His disciples as He moved around from place to place with them. Bruce also looks at the lesson or event from the perspective of each of the four gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – where applicable.

The appendices are very helpful for those wanting to study the material over and over again after they first read the book.  There’s an index of Scripture references for easy finding of key ideas by subject, as well as three others for the Greek, Latin, and German, respectively, words and phrases used in the text. Another great feature of the book is that reference notes are provided in large numbers in brackets and then explained at the end of each chapter.

The book is laden with quotable quotes.  Here are but a few of the shorter ones:
  • On healing: “For surely He who so cared for men’s bodies would care yet more for their souls.”
  • On the Holy Spirit: “ . . . sanctification is a slow, tedious work, not a momentary act . . . the Spirit is given gradually and in limited measure, not at once and without measure.”
  • On religious liberty: “For it is a solemn crisis in any man’s life when he first departs in the most minute particulars from the religious opinions and practices of his age.”
  • On Judas and some of those who profess to know Christ: “Graceless men may for a season be employed as agents in promoting the work of grace in the hearts of others.”
  • On the Lord’s table: “Christians eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man at all times, not merely at communion times, simply by believing in Him.”
  • On ‘calling’: “He (Christ) sought disciples God-given, God-drawn, God-taught, knowing that such alone would continue in His word.”
  • On Satan’s goal: “For the whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief end of man.”
  • On His Church: “The agreement He requires of His disciples is not entire unanimity in opinion, but consent of mind and heart in the ends they aim at, and in unselfish devotion to these things.” And, “He did not wish His church to consist of a collection of clubs having no intercommunion with each other, any more than He desired it to be a monster hotel, receiving and harboring all comers, no questions being asked.”
  • On self-sacrifice: “For no man is at liberty to choose whether he shall be a good Christian or an indifferent one, or is excused from practicing certain virtues merely because they are difficult.” And, “Where a testament is, here must also be the death of the testator.”
  • On love: “While imposing sacrifices, love, by way of compensation, makes them easy.” And, “Love made her (Mary who anointed Him in Bethany) original in thought and conduct.”
  • On obedience: “A master is pleased when a pupil understands his lesson, but a lord is pleased only when his servants do his bidding.”
  • On loss: “Sorrow is healed by weeping: the sympathy which melts the heart at the same time comforts it.”
  • On leadership: “The main business, even of the chief under-shepherds, is not to make others follow Christ, but to follow Him themselves.”

I was particularly impressed with how A. B. Bruce explained the end times as well as the failure of the disciples to remain faithful at the time of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion.  You’ll be most pleasantly surprised. And I was amazed at how similar our times are right now in terms of what the twelve disciples were up against in their day.

This book is a must read for any true believer, especially those that would teach the Word of God.  Next to the Bible, it is the most comprehensive analysis of what of Jesus said on earth. From where I stand after thoroughly studying this classic, it may well have been titled, “The Training Of The Thirteenth” – that 13th been each and every one of us who dares call themselves a Christian.

    -- Ken B. Godevenos, http://www.accordconsulting.com, Toronto, Ontario. 15/08/01  

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.