The Daily Bread: The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Today’s study is on Psalm 107.  Before getting into the Word of God, I want to tell you what this Psalm is about and then we will discuss four examples of God’s steadfast love toward the Israelites. Psalm 107 is the first chapter of Book Five of the Psalms. It opens with a community of thanksgiving and then accompanied by the offering of sacrifices as seen in Psalm 107:22. Each example contains an invitation to give thanks for what God has done for them. Let me point out that God’s steadfast love pertained to His covenant with Israel, which is God’s devotion to His people. He has bound Himself to His chosen people, which today includes Gentiles who have come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Psalm 107:1-43

107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16 For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17 Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

23 Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the evil of its inhabitants.
35 He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
36 And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
37 they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
38 By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish.

39 When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40 he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction
and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad,
and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

As you can see from the reading of Scripture, verses 1-3 are an invitation to give thanks. “The Lord is good and His steadfast love endures forever.” As mentioned previously, “His steadfast love is God’s covenant devotion, by which He binds Himself to His people.”[1] In verse 3, the people are gathered from the lands in which they had been held captive. This is an indication of the Babylonian exile. Therefore, the people should be giving thanks for what God did and that He delivered them.

The first example of God’s steadfast love was when God guides those who were wondering in the wilderness to a city as mentioned in verses 4-9. These people were wandering from place to place without shelter and food. They were thirsty and in distress. They cried out to the Lord and He delivered them by to a city to dwell in. The Lord led them to a city to dwell in, filled their hearts and hungry souls with good things. It was through His wondrous works and His readiness to answer the prayers of His people, which displayed His steadfast love.

The second example of God’s steadfast love was that He delivered His people from imprisonment to freedom. See verses 10-16 in which some of His people sat in prisons, shackled in irons. Because they had rebelled against the words of God, He chastised His people with hard labor to get them to repent from their evil ways. He allowed it because His people were defiant against the ways of the Lord. When His people finally called out and cried to Him in repentance, He broke their shackles and freed them.

The third example of God’s steadfast love was when God saved the foolish rebels when they called on Him as mentioned in verses 17-22. “These fools were not without intelligence, but they refused to face the reality that the Lord is God. Foolishness is an ethical-spiritual category and not an intellectual one.”[2] Scripture mentions, “Some were fools through their sinful ways.” Because of their sin, they became sick and did not want to eat food (17-18). They cried out to the Lord and He delivered them from their distress and destruction.

In the fourth and final example, God’s steadfast love rescues those in trouble at sea. In verses 23-31, God delivers those who are in storms on the sea. They cried to the Lord and He calmed the storm through His Devine power. We can compare this to Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calmed the storm when His disciples were in fear during a violent storm. “Christ demonstrated His power from High when He stilled the waters.”[3]

The Scripture goes on to say that God can turn rivers into a desert and deserts into pools of water. He can turn a fruitful land into a salty waste. God allowed His people to dwell in the land of Canaan, in which He gave it to Israel. The hungry were now prospering and they established a city to live in with crop fields, vineyards, and livestock (Cf. 33-38).

The takeaway from Psalm 107 is to always depend on God in everything. Do not rebel against Him, but live a life of Christ in all that we do. Jesus will provide all of our needs regardless of our circumstance. Only in rebellion will we see God’s wrath, but in our submission to Him, we will see his steadfast love and His wondrous works. His wondrous works are His blessings on our lives and businesses. I shall close with this last verse from Psalm 107:43, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

References:

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, RC Sproul, General Editor, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 959.

[2] Reformation Study Bible, 2015, 960.

[3] Ibid, 960.

Copyright © February 25, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Ugliness of Christian Politics

Most recently, our beloved Commonwealth of Virginia has experienced political controversy of our Democratic Governor, Dr. Ralph Northam, who just endorsed the most aggressive late-term abortion bill. This bill was defeated, but the fact that a Pediatric Neurologist, who is also the Governor of Virginia, is not sitting well with Christians on both the Republican and Democratic sides.

Our Governor proclaims to be a man of faith, a Christian, and a member of a Baptist church. It is concerning that man who proclaims to be a Follower of Jesus Christ then endorses an aggressive abortion bill. Most recently, while being interviewed on WTOP, Northam said, “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way…And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” This statement enraged both Christian Democrats and Republicans.

Just yesterday, a racist picture, supposedly of him, from his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School Yearbook, showed two people, one in a KKK hood and robe and the other black-faced, standing holding beer cans. The Governor apologized for the racist picture, and then today he is denying that he was in the picture at all. The picture was located on his yearbook page under his name. Then the Governor admitted that same year, he dressed up like Michael Jackson and put black shoe polish on his face for a dance contest in Texas. The Governor was very apologetic, but many Democrat’s and well as Republican’s have asked him to step down. The Governor states that he will not step down. Racism and the Jim Crow era slurs have no place in society. This shows a heart condition that does not match a Christian walk.

Many took to Facebook and Twitter. Professing Christian’s posted slurs towards Democrats like, “DEMONcrats” or “Democrats were acting like Demons.” Hateful, hurting, words appear to roll off many lips and yet there seems to be no remorse for what is said.

We at The Lantern & Shield do not condone abortion or racism. Although we are all conservative in our beliefs and our politics, it is troubling to us to see how professing Christians seem to find it very easy to say hateful and hurting words just to substantiate their positions in politics. We believe that Christians can take a stand for what they believe in but do it with love. Not everyone who states they are Christian are truly Christians. Approximately 79% of American’s identify with Christianity, but that does not make them a true Christian.

Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and to love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than this.”

If you want to make a difference for the gospel and in the name of Jesus, don’t call Democrats Demons and Demon-crats. It really is very offensive and it appears that people who do this have hate in their hearts. We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. How can you expect people to come to Christ when you just basically cursed them by calling them a demon?

The Word of God also says that we are not to judge others. It’s interesting that some people are so politically inclined to crucify another Christian for their difference of opinion than to try to reason with them by having a loving conversation with them. Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I have many Democrat friends who do not support this bill. They are loving people and would give the coats off their back to help anyone. Not every person who identifies with the Democratic Party are baby killers or racists. I have known Republicans that believe that it’s okay to have an abortion. Don’t assume that just because someone mostly identifies with one party or the other believe in everything their party supports.

My point in this piece is that if you proclaim to be a true Christian, your life will exhibit love and not hate. We should be living our lives in a way that promotes love and the advancement of the gospel to the lost in our communities, state, and nation.

When people attack us, we should respond the way that Paul teaches us in Romans 12:20, “On the contrary, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap hot coals on his head.” Respond in love. They most likely will expect a hateful response, but respond with the love of Christ in your hearts.

We must also pray for our enemies as well as those who come against our faith. We do not like this recent abortion bill, which our Governor has supported and endorsed. But we must as Christian’s pray for Governor Northam, that God will change his heart, and that decisions will be made for the glorification of God’s will.

If you have participated in hateful words against others, God said that you must ask forgiveness and repent. By continuing these types of behaviors, this can separate you in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Sin will separate us from God. John 9:31 says, “We know that God listens to the godly person who does His will.”

Copyright © February 2, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Regent University Announces School Closure in Anticipation of Florence

September 11, 2018. Virginia Beach, VA. Regent University has put out a Press Release that reads, “Due to potential impacts of Hurricane Florence, Regent University operations will close at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11 and reopen no earlier than Monday, September 17.”

The entire Press Release can be read here: https://www.regent.edu/news-events/regent-university-closing-2-p-m-tuesday-september-11/

Regent goes on to state, “As Regent’s campus and surrounding areas prepare for severe winds, possible flooding due to prolonged rains, and power outages, all students living in on-campus housing are strongly encouraged to evacuate the Hampton Roads area by no later than Wednesday, September 12.”

Considering that there are over a million people in the Hampton Roads area, our sources to The Lantern & Shield Times are suggesting that people start to leave the Hampton Roads area today since there may be a grid lock on the Interstates leading out of the area. There are serval roads leading out, but the two main roads of concern are the I-64 corridor and Rt. 460.

As previously reported, the storm’s possible tracking is taking it more northwest than previously thought with the hurricane moving along the ridge of the Bermuda High, striking Central North Carolina or possibly the Outer Banks. If this occurs, it could set up Hampton Roads for high winds and massive flooding. The hurricane is predicted to go inland and possibly stalling for a day or two. This would in turn cause massive flooding inland.

Please note that the exact point of landfall cannot be determined until most likely Wednesday or Thursday. It could still move South or North. It could stay out at sea, but that is highly unlikely based on the projection models.

If you believe in prayer, now is the time to pray. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to evacuate.

References:

The National Hurricane Center

Regent University Press Release

Copyright © September 11, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Breaking: Hurricane Florence Has Shifted to Make Landfall Near Jacksonville, NC

September 11, 2018. As of 5AM EST, Hurricane Florence appears to be riding the Bermuda High that is in place. It is expected to make landfall near Jacksonville, NC. This is based on the prediction cone and could go south or north of Jacksonville.

The current location of the storm is 410 miles South of Bermuda, traveling at 15 MPH. Wind speed is 138 MPH with gusts of 167 MPH. According to the National Hurricane Center, a mid-level ridge to the northeast of Bermuda is expected to steer Florence quickly West-Northwestward toward the Southeast United States coast over the next 2 to 3 days.

As of the writing of this story, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered a mandatory evacuation of in the Hampton Roads area and the Eastern Shore. Not all universities in the Hampton Roads area have cancelled classes. We reached out to Regent University in Virginia Beach and spoke with campus police. They advised that the University was going to have a meeting this morning to determine if classes will be cancelled. We requested a phone call from Student Life, but at the release of this story, no one has called us back.

Hampton Roads is expected to get at least 10 inches or more of rain with possible hurricane force winds. Inland flooding is also expected in Virginia and North Carolina.

The next update will be this evening.

References:

The National Hurricane Center

Copyright © September 11, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Do You Pray For Your Leaders?

Just this morning, I had breakfast with a group of older people at a local fast food restaurant. Everything was going well until someone started talking about the anti-Christ. An eighty-nine year old women piped up and exclaimed that President Obama was the anti-Christ. I then told her that he certainly was not the anti-Christ. But this woman was so filled with prejudiced hatred that no one could convince her otherwise. She is a gray headed Caucasian woman who was set in her ways. Although she proclaims to be a Christian, she had a hatred for Obama. My concern for her as well as others like her is that she is truly lost because as a Christian, you cannot have hatred for another. The Holy Spirit cannot occupy your heart and yet one has hatred for others in it.

We can live in a country and say the most hurtful and mean things about POTUS and not worry about losing our lives. This woman said that the country was lost and needed to change and yet she cannot see her own sin because of her prejudiced outlook on people of a different color and race.  If we want to see change in our nation, then the change most start with each individual person within their own hearts. People who are filled with so much hatred for those of a different race, I believe it just shows the true “you” and a dark heart that has no love.

The very freedoms a US Citizen has in America was won on the deaths and sacrifices of the US Armed Forces. Before criticizing your POTUS with hateful remarks, why not consider praying for him? After all, we are called to pray! We are called to pray for our neighbors and get this, even our enemies. Regardless of your political stance, why not consider espousing LOVE as opposed to hate? It is easier to forgive than to carry the burden of a grudge.

The fact that proclaimed Believers participate in this type of behavior means that they still have a heart problem. Maybe they truly are not “real Christians.” Maybe they are even using “Christianity” as a political tool. Whatever their motive, by speaking “evil words” against a man or a woman means that one does not have the Love of Christ in their heart.

I don’t know what kind of god you worship or affiliate with? But my God can overcome! My God can heal hearts! My God can forgive trespasses! My God can help people to overcome!

So, why should we pray for a man or woman in leadership whom we do not care for? Because by praying for them, we are asking God to intervene for us that they will do the right thing. My God can change hearts and can save people from their sins.

Why pray for leaders to fear God? When someone leads and lives their life fearing God, they experience:

1. Wisdom
2. Knowledge
3. Understanding
4. Eternal Praise
5. Victory
6. God’s Protection
7. A Blameless Walk
8. Length of Life
9. Wealth and Honor
10. Humility
11. The Avoidance of Evil
12. Being Untouched by Trouble
13. The Saving of a Crushed Spirit
14. A Life That Lacks Nothing

Credit: Dr. Mark Becton taken from sermon preached on 01/22/2017, at Grove Avenue Baptist Church.

These fourteen points is all the reason to pray for your leaders, regardless of whether you like them or not. We are called to pray and to show the love of Christ to those who do not know Him, even if it is your POTUS!

James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Matthew 18:19, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Matthew 6:9-13, “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Remember, before criticizing others, look at your own life. If you are without sin, then cast the first stone! But in reality, your life is just as filthy as the life that you are criticizing. Look at Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all have sin in our own lives. So, before you criticize POTUS or any other leader, consider cleaning up your own life before trying to straighten out the lives of others! This is exactly why we must be praying for others as well as have others to pray for us! GOD CAN! HE CAN OVERCOME!

If you want to see change, then start by analyzing your own life, asking forgiveness, and then living your life for God. Also pray for your leaders, even the ones you do not care for. It will make the difference in our nation as well as in our own lives.

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © March 26, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Evangelism: It’s Not Just an Easter Thing

 “. . . do the work of an evangelist . . .”

This verse makes more sense to me now after 30 years of ministry than it ever has. In order to explain why I have deeper appreciation for it a brief but true story is necessary in order to provide some context. My father came to faith in Christ in a single day after being a committed atheist his entire adult life. It started when his third wife woke him up one Sunday morning and told him that he was going to church. His first question was “What are you talking about?” Her reason for going to church was that it was Easter. Next question, “But why!?” He was then informed that they were going because my step-siblings regularly went to church and that they should go with them at least once, and Easter was as good a day as any. Even more bewilder he asked “Church? What church?!” It was at that point that he learned that their kids went to a church that had a bus ministry, and since a bus drove right by their house they could catch a ride to church. The salient point is that they weren’t going to church because my dad was concerned for their spiritual development. So dad dutifully got up, got dressed, and then went out to his car where he and his third wife sat until the bus came by and picked up the kids. He didn’t even know where the church was so he had to follow the bus in order to find the church. Upon arrival he walked through the church doors and (as he puts it) became immediately aware that “there really is a God.” After listening to the music and the announcements the pastor began his sermon. Within 20 minutes my dad knew in no uncertain terms that there was a literal Hell and that he was most assuredly going there. He has often told me that he actually feared having a heart attack before the sermon ended, thereby sealing his fate. Fortunately he “survived” the sermon and at its close the pastor invited all who desired to receive Christ to come forward. So, as soon as the hymn of invitation began my dad was down the aisle and at the front of the sanctuary before the first stanza had finished. He was “gloriously saved” that very day, and ever since then he has been a changed man. In fact he now serves as a volunteer chaplain for a prison in central Missouri, where he regularly preaches on Sunday mornings to inmates.  My friends, my dad’s dramatic conversion was certainly the result of the “work of evangelism”; but really, when you think about it, it wasn’t hard work. Picking ripe fruit off the ground is never as strenuous as chiseling dry dense soil and planting seeds during times of drought.

In the late 60s and early 70s (which is when my dad came to Christ) a lot ministries were busy picking up ripe fruit. It is pretty interesting to listen to Christians talk about that period of revival because many of them have the impression that they “achieved” that great harvest because “they were doing it the right way.” Whenever I hear that I have to bite my tongue, and I have heard it a lot all over the country. An interesting fact about that period is that the Spirit moved in the hearts of many people through many different ministries irrespective of their denomination and theology. Baptist churches saw many come to faith in Christ (both independent and denominational), as did many other churches, such as Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, and Non-denominational (both charismatic and non-charismatic); and lest we forget, many para-church ministries also enjoyed that period of great harvest. The truth about periods such as that one is that when the Spirit moves in such a manner He enjoys being sloppy with his grace. As the old saying goes, “when it rains it pours.”  Well, the bottom line for this article is that we are no longer in a season in which the labor predominantly involves merely collecting ripe fruit. Today, the work seems hard, harder than it has ever been during my lifetime. We now appear to be called to fields that are dry and hard, and as a result there seems to be fewer and fewer people interested in doing the “work of evangelism.” Consequently, we need more workers, not better marketing methods.

Moreover, I am struck by the fact that the Spirit didn’t guide Paul to write “collect the fruit of the Spirit,” or “inform the elect of their regeneration,” or “get them to cry, come forward, and fill out a card,” or tell them “they can have their best life now.” No, Paul didn’t emphasize either the audience to be evangelized, or the end result of evangelistic efforts, he emphasized being faithful about doing the labor that evangelism requires. Paul spoke of labor, not manipulation. And what exactly is that labor? It is the constant and clear articulation of the gospel, which is “that there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved!” It is regularly calling people to “repent and be saved from this wicked and perverse generation!” It’s not being “ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!” And lastly, it’s offering the gospel to anyone and everyone simply because “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved!”   It is the norm rather than the exception that the work of an evangelist requires significant personal effort, spiritual sweat if you will.  This labor is not about slick entertainment, or ensuring that audiences are comfortable, or about self-adulation. It requires faithful workers committed to “laboring” in dry and dusty fields if for no other reason than they share their Master’s passion. So, if you value “tolerance,” “sensitivity,” and “teachable moments,” then it’s not likely that during these difficult days that you will be inundated with opportunities to “do the work of an evangelist.” Nevertheless, one irreducible fact still remains: the more we communicate the gospel—in season and out—the more people will make decisions for Christ. Or as Paul put it, “How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Monte Shanks, Copyright © March 21, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Insurance Buyers Beware: How to Avoid Identity Theft

Insurance Buyers Beware: I received a phone call the other day from a person who had a very thick and heavy Middle Eastern accent. When I answered, there was a weird clicking sound, as if the call was coming from overseas. He asked for me by name and I answered, “Who’s calling?” He was trying to sell me insurance. I asked him if he were in the United States and he stated that he was. Then I asked him for his National Producer Number. When I asked him that, he hung up!

Folks, if you ever get a call from someone trying to sell you insurance over the telephone, always ask for their National Producer Number as well as their State Insurance License Number. If they will not give it to you, copy their telephone number down and then hang up.

Every licensed insurance agent that does business in every state has a National Producer Number. If the agent is a licensed agent, in good standing, they will gladly give you their number as well as their state license number.

Unfortunately, there are scammers out there that want to steal your money. If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to offer insurance, just ask for their National Producer Number. If they will not give it, DO NOT give any of your personal info. Instead, copy their number down and report to your State Department of Insurance for investigation. Anyone trying to sell or solicit insurance to you must be duly licensed in the state you live in. If they provide the National Producer Number or license number, go to the department of insurance website and look up the number to verify them before doing business or providing your personal information.

Never, ever be ready to disclose your name, social security number, or even driver’s license number to someone who calls you unexpectedly, without you first checking them out to see if they are duly licensed. It is a crime in all states for a person to solicit, make an offer, or even speak with you about their insurance product, unless they are licensed in the state that you live in.

Agents that are in good standing with their state Department of Insurance have attended licensing classes and have taken a test for their license. They complete either 16 hours of continuing education for a Property & Casualty license or 24 for both Property & Casualty and Life & Health Licenses. If they are not current in their Continuing Education, their licenses will be suspended for failure to maintain their CE Requirements.

In closing, whatever you do, protect your personal information. Once your identity is stolen, it will be very hard to secure it. My own identity was stolen due to a data breach. There is not much one can do when a company’s data is breached, but you can certainly avoid verbally giving your personal information out to a stranger over the telephone by practicing safe conversations and checking out the caller before attempting to do business.

If you feel your identity may have been stolen, one way to find out is to purchase credit monitoring through either your bank or credit union. If it is detected that someone has tried to obtain credit in your name, the monitoring service will assist you in how to resolve your identity theft. A police report should be filed as well as a letter be written to all three credit bureaus. Make sure you also report your identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission as well as your Attorney General’s Office. Once you have been issued an Identity Theft Passport, DMV will be notified. The Federal Trade Commission will notify the IRS, Social Security, and Medicare. Therefore, it is very important to safe guard your personal information.

Copyright © February 3, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Winter Storm Benji Headed to the Northeast

According to the National Weather Service, Winter Storm Benji is charging to the Northeast bringing potential heavy snow. This storm has already dropped a 2000-mile swath of snow from Texas all the way into the Northeast. So far, Benji has dropped a record amount of snow in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This is a heavy, wet snow. There are thousands without power in these areas.

The most danger will be on Saturday when temperatures drop below freezing causing the slush to freeze as well as black ice on bridges and overpasses. Boston and Providence could get as much as 5-8 inches. The Central Virginia area could see as much as 3-5 inches according to local Richmond forecasters, but The Weather Channel stated that it could be as much as 8-12 inches from Richmond to the Delmarva.

Expect the I-95 Corridor to be very slick. Please use extreme caution when driving. Hazardous travel conditions are expected. 250,000 customers have lost power in the South due to the heavy wet snow.

According to the Weather Channel, Mississippi has picked up 4-7 inches of snow, with Jackson Mississippi reporting 5.1 inches. So far, it has snowed 10 inches in near Anniston, Alabama. Nearly 4 inches were measured just north of Mobile, Alabama in Butler. Power outages can be expected from this storm.

Sources:
The Weather Channel and The National Weather Service.

The Lantern & Shield Times LLC, Copyright © December 8, 2017, All Rights Reserved.

 

Good Reasons for a Black Eye

I love cowboy movies; they are just plain fun to watch.  Westerns always have a few necessary components.  Obviously there is always the climatic gunfight.  There usually is a break-neck horse chase.  There should always be a woman worth fighting for, and generally there is a bar room brawl in which the hero gets badly beaten.  One of the best lines I ever heard in a movie occurred when a kid asked the hero “Hey, who gave you that black eye?”  The hero stared at the boy with an unflinching gaze and forcefully said, “No one gave it to me, I earned it!”  I guess one of the reasons to like western movies is that the line between right and wrong is clearly drawn in the sand, and when it’s crossed then the time has come to take a stand and let the chips fall where they may.  Regrettably churches today are losing their capacity to not only draw lines in the sand on moral issues in society, but to even take stands for doctrinal issues within the church.  Many seem to believe that “tolerance” and “peace” are the most important things for a church to hold to, and under no circumstances should anyone endanger them.  Well, there are times when we should take public stands in our churches—even at the expense of unity and peace, and below is a list of some non-negotiables.

*    The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Paul said that if Jesus has not risen from the dead then Christianity is a vain faith and we are still in our sins (1 Cor. 15.12-19).  The doors of every church should be locked if Jesus has not bodily risen from the dead.  But he has risen, and he now sits at the Father’s right hand mediating on our behalf.  The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is a non-negotiable for anyone who would call themselves a Christian.

*    The divinity and incarnation of Jesus Christ.  The apostle John stated that anyone who denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh was of the spirit of anti-Christ (1 Jn 4.1-3).  The scriptures are clear; Jesus is literally the incarnation of God in the created realm (Jn 1.1-18; Col 1.15, 19; 2.9; Phil 2.5-11; Heb 1.1-3).  The confession that Jesus is fully man and fully God is a non-negotiable for any claiming to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*    The Trinity.  If you review the doctrines of any major historical Christian denomination you will notice that they all have a Trinitarian declaration.  Christianity confesses and proclaims that there is one God who has revealed himself in 3 persons who are united essence, nature, and being.  This unity and diversity within the Godhead is a mystery that is hard to fathom, but there are other complex truths that are also hard to fathom but they exist nonetheless.  For example, take “love” and “justice”; we know that they exist, but can you explain how they exist?  You cannot, and so it is with the Trinity.  Christians do not profess that God is one person who reveals himself in 3 different ways at different times, but that God is one who co-exists in 3 persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—all are equally divine and perfectly one while sharing the same essence and purpose (Matt 28.19).  Although each member in the Godhead simultaneously functions differently in the created order, they all are nonetheless equally divine.  True believers can accept no less; consequently, neither should they tolerate any fellowship that would promote anything contrary to this essential truth.

*    That Salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone.  Salvation is not received or earned by humanly participating in the ordinance of a church (i.e., baptism or communion); neither is it the reward of human effort or endurance. It is only received after one repents from his or her sin and personally entrusts themselves and their sin debt to the Lord Jesus Christ through his substitutionary death on the cross. This redemption is a gift that God freely offers to all who would receive it, and his offer is completely a gift of his grace.  In other words, it is a gift that is completely undeserved, and its reception by the desperate sinner can in no way be perceived as a meritorious act (Eph 2.8-10).

The above 4 doctrines are non-negotiable for anyone who would call themselves Christian.  There are others, such as that God exists, that there is an afterlife, a final judgment, etc., etc.  But these confessions are so fundamentally self-evident that to mention them would be elementary.  Indeed, even the ones listed above are elementary, but the fact is that some churches and denominations are beginning losing sight of their significance.  Nevertheless, Evangelical churches in America are beginning to function more like community centers instead of a communities of believers who adore and worship the risen Savoir of the world.  Consequently, below are 3 more items that I argue are doctrines worth fighting for as well; regrettably however, there are many that are not sure that these are also worth defending publically.

 *   The exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus claimed to be the only person through which anyone could be reconciled to God (John 14.6).  Paul wrote that if there was another way to God then Jesus died needlessly (Gal 2.21).  And John wrote that if anyone does not confess personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ then they do not know the Father (1 Jn 4.1-6).  If someone professes that there are “many” ways to be saved other than placing one’s personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ then he or she is misguided and needs to be discipled into the truth, or they are false believers and should be rebuked and avoided.

*    The inspiration and authority of the Gods word, which is the Bible.  The division of the Christian church between Protestantism and Catholicism largely rests on this one issue.  It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Sir Thomas Moore once said “I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man’s back, not even the best man that I know this day living: for I know not where he may happen to carry it.”  Believers must not abdicate their consciences to the decisions of others no matter what positions they may hold in a church.  Our sole authority for the rightful belief and practice of the Christian faith is the Bible and not submission to the offices of man-made religious institutions, whether they are local churches or worldwide denominations. The freedom of conscience to follow God’s word is a doctrine referred to as “the priesthood of the believer.”  It simply means that each believer has the capacity through the indwelling Holy Spirit to rightly discern God’s will for himself or herself, so long as their decisions do not contravene God’s revealed written word.  Consequently, if someone demands that you submit to any doctrine, profession, or behavior contrary to God’s word then it is your duty to respectfully resist and/or rebuke them irrespective of what office they may hold.

*    The security of the believer.  I hold this doctrine as something worth fighting and possibly “loosing” for because to proclaim otherwise is to rob the gospel of its glory and to suggest that human will is greater than the capacity and power of God.  Jesus himself said that anyone who has received eternal life through faith in him will never again suffer the threat of eternal damnation (John 5.24).  Paul clearly promised that there is no longer any condemnation for those who have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 5.1, 8.1).  And Peter wrote that through Christ’s finished work we have been “born again” into an imperishable eternal condition, and that we are keep in that state by God’s own power (1 Pet 1.3-5).  If salvation can be lost by an act of human volition then it cannot under any pretense be described as “imperishable,” “eternal,” or under the control of the “power of God.”  Consequently, this is a doctrine worth taking a public stand for against those who would declare otherwise.

Well, that’s my list.  I’m sure there are others, however, that I have failed to consider. Nevertheless, it is time to take a public stand for these fundamental truths when confronted in our churches by others advocating contrary doctrines.  Some may ask is this really necessary?  Yes it is!  One of the least known scriptures in the New Testament is 1 Corinthians 11.19, in which Paul wrote that “there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.”  Thus Paul explained that there will always be conflicts within congregations, and that they are a necessary part of protecting the flock and identifying those who are truly in the faith.  Did Paul want Christian fellowships to experience harmony and unity?  Of course he did—but never at the expense of the truths concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and his promises.  Just a word of warning, don’t be surprised when after taking a public stand for the correct doctrine there will be times that you “lose.”  It will happen and it will bother you, but don’t let it do so for long.  Jesus took your lashes and your nails in order to hang on your cross and save you from your sins; consequently, the very least you can do is to earn a black eye for him.

Monte Shanks, Copyright © November 17, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.