Category Archives: Straight Talk

THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

The watchman

The president of the United States of America is our watchman.  We expect him/her to be the first to sound the national alarm when there is danger.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:” Ezek. 3:17 


As we approach the fourth quarter of the year 2020 the moral of the country has fallen to a level not seen for over two generations.  In the first three months of the year we witnessed, what came to be known as, covid-19 or, coronavirus.  A deadly virus that would eventually get the attention of the whole world.

By mid-January word of this virus had already breached the White House.  The President received word of this deadly intruder in his daily briefing.  Unfortunately, this was an election year, and to this President, all things were political.

Danger! Should have rang out across the country like the sound of a five-alarm fire.  But instead we were comfortable in our homes recuperating from long Christmas family get togethers and, the New Year’s parties, oblivious to the danger lurking in our country.

The President and his men were huddled in the west wing coming up with a strategy to keep everything on the down low.  After all, he couldn’t have anything in the media that could hurt his re-election chances.

In the Bible, God commissioned Ezekiel to be a watchman for the nation of Israel.  He was appointed to guard the nation, keep watch over them and, to alert them of any danger that threatened so that they could take action to save their lives.

Covid-19 has completely ravaged our nation.  We are like a rudderless ship in a storm.  Scientists and experts project that by the end of the year we will have lost an estimated quarter of a million lives to this virus.  What was once unthinkable is upon us.

If there was any nation on earth that should have been prepared and able to meet and deal with this pandemic the United States of America should have been the one.  We are the richest, have the best medical universities the world over and, we have the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  We set the global standard that every other country looks to for guidance and support.

Is it fair to say our leaders have failed us?  Well, recent reports have been revealed that our president openly admitted playing the dangers of the virus down.  He knew as early as March that it affected children just as badly as adults.  Despite there being no national plan, he encouraged large and small businesses, as well as churches to reopen.  He discouraged the use of masks and belittled anyone who did wear them.  He even threatened to withhold federal funds from states that refused to go along with him.  He held in-door rallies where people didn’t wear masks or social distanced.  In the wake of reckless governance tens of thousands of innocent people lost their lives.

Our president, commander in chief, leader of the free world was supposed to be helping us.  But instead he was helping the virus.

 

Nathaniel Stalling Jr.

 

BEING FULLY TAUGHT

Acts 18:24-26 (Appollos); Revelations 2:12-16 (Nicolatians)

John identifies the teaching of Balaam with two problems: “eating food sacrificed to idols” and “sexual immorality”.

The early church constantly struggled with compromises with paganism, as we see in Paul’s long discussion in 1 Corinthians 8 – 10, as well as in the conclusions reached in Acts 15:20, 29.  Both of these center on food offered to idols, Paul’s conclusion being that one could eat such food if purchased in the marketplace, but one should not go to a meal in a pagan temple.

Following this Pauline rule, however, would cut one off from membership in trade guilds, patriotic celebrations (including ceremonies honoring the emperor, considered essential to good citizenship) and many family celebrations.  We can easily see the pressure to rationalize and thereby develop a compromise.

The issue of sexual immorality is more difficult, for it is also mentioned in Revelation 2:20, 22, in the case of Jezebel (an Old Testament code word for a New Testament woman leader of the church in Thyatira, indicating her spirit and God’s evaluation, rather than the woman’s actual name).  On the one hand, sexual immorality was a problem in the early church, as Paul’s discussions show (1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:12-20; compare Hebrews 13:4).

In the middle of a pagan society that accepted the use of prostitutes (although wives were expected to remain faithful), it was difficult to remain obedient on this point and relatively easy to compromise.

On the other hand, “sexual immorality” was used in the Old Testament for involvement with pagan deities.  For example, the Old Testament Jezebel was not to our knowledge physically immoral – she was likely faithful to Ahab all her life – but she did lead Israel into Baal worship.  Since Israel was Gods’ “bride”, such involvement with other gods was called “adultery” or “sexual immorality”.

If then, John is taking the Old Testament examples as the basis for his discussion; the sexual immorality is figurative, standing for their worship of other deities, which was implied in their attending feasts in idol temples.

The Nicolatians, then, appear to be a group that corrupted Gods’ people by suggesting compromise with the culture of the day.  Whie the exact issues are different, similar compromises face the church today.  Each society has its own “idols” that it expects all its citizens to worship, whether those idols be the government itself or some values or practices of the society.  Furthermore, the Nicolatians are still with us under a variety of names, for there are always people who in the name of being “realistic” or under any number of other theological justifications counsel compromise with the dominant culture.  This passage warns us that Jesus will not “buy” these justifications.  He demands nothing less than total loyalty to his own person and directions.  Anything less than this will put those who compromise in danger of his judgement.

PROVIDENCE

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We live in a world governed by a system of laws, natural or spiritual. But in the back of all law, natural or spiritual, there is One who upholds and controls them all, and uses them for His glory:
“…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power,” … Hebrews 1:3 NKJV
With so much going on around the world, especially in the United States of America, it is no wonder anxiety is high. Many people are forced to stay home from work because safe distancing has become the new order of the day. Then there are others who must work to keep the rest of us safe. The first responders, emergency medical technicians, police officers, doctors, nurses; they all stand on the front line to thwart the invisible dangers head on. They too, are beginning to fall victim to this ravaging virus that have broken out among us.
I would like to offer another perspective on what appear to be a hopeless situation. I would like to steer your attention to a book that I hold above every other book on the planet. The Bible. In this book there’s a story titled after a woman named Esther. If you ever want to see and understand the Providence of God, how He work behind the scenes and, bring everything to a good and perfect end, this is the book for you. The intelligence and wisdom of Providence is revealed in this book.
A man once said, “Fate is blind. Providence has eyes. Fatalism says, whatever is, must be. Providence says, whatever God ordains must be.”
What’s really peculiar about this book is that the name of God is not found in it. Yet, His fingerprints are everywhere. From the time Esther’s’ name was placed in contention to replace Queen Vashti in the Persian empire God stood at a distance, not showing Himself openly.
This is the distinctive feature of Providence in a broad sense. Providence is secret, mysterious, and even unintelligible until its ends are revealed.
We can be sure that God is working for our good, even if we can’t see it, or understand it we can rest with confidence that:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”. Romans 8:28 NKJV

Nathaniel Stalling Jr
Elder

THIS TOO, WILL PASS.

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If there is one thing, we the human race, know to be true, it is we will survive. After all, we are the crown of Gods’ creation. For there to be any other outcome would not prove we failed, but that He (God) did. We know for sure God does not fail.
Let’s look at some examples:
• When we (humans) threaten to use the divine law of unity for evil (Genesis chapter 11) God had to intervene to save us from ourselves. 4They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth”.
• When we (humans) had sank low into immoral depravity and ungodliness during the days of Noah, a preacher of righteousness, God provided safety for eight people to start again. “And every living thing on the face of the earth was destroyed–man and livestock, crawling creatures and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth, and only Noah remained, and those with him in the ark”. Genesis 7:23
• Persecution of the early church had occurred sporadically and in localized areas since its beginning. The first persecution of Christians organized by the Roman government took place under the emperor Nero in 64 AD after the Great Fire of Rome.
These are only a few instances, out of many, that we as Christians and, as human beings, survived.
This virus that is plaguing the whole world, this Covid-19 virus, will not win. We have faced plagues, floods, famines and, persecutions before. None have proven to prevail. I can say with complete confidence that ‘THIS TOO, WILL PASS.
Nathaniel Stalling Jr
Elder

When God Speaks In Turbulent Times

WHEN GOD SPEAKS IN TURBULENT TIMES
COVID-19
A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
What does God say about times like this?
Solomon, Israel’s wisest king, wrote this in the book of Ecclesiastes:
“In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider- God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him”. Eccles. 7:14 NASB

Just a few weeks before Easter Sunday the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is giving his daily briefing on the novel coronavirus sweeping through the United States and particularly, through his State or New York.
New York, as governor Cuomo puts it, is the proverbial canary in a coal mine. He lays out the staggering number of cases and deaths that seem to double daily. He seems to make it plain that this isn’t some foreign far away problem. He implies that what you see happening in New York is coming to your neighborhood, soon.
Washington State, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida and, Louisiana are beginning to show signs of internal stress on their hospitals/medical systems. All fifty states are under some form of government shelter-in-place order. For the first time in modern history all of the major institutions of worship closed. The Vatican cancels public participation at pope’s Easter events due to Covid-19. These are unprecedented measures in modern times.
There are some that refuse to adhere to such restrictive measures that our scientists, medical professionals and, ministers of faith are suggesting. Instead, some are going about saying that God does not want us to live in fear. I beg to differ. You had better fear. Anything less would leave you and your loved ones vulnerable to a needless death.

Paul, writing to the Christians at Corinth, said:
“I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling…” I Cor. 2:3 NASB
The light and shade in man’s life are equally under God’s ordering and permission.
Fear is not something that we can altogether do away with. It has a place and, a part to play in our lives. It keeps a proper restraint on our, sometimes, abuse of freedoms:
“And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy but with fear, loathing even the clothing spotted and polluted by their shameless immoral freedom”. Jude 22, 23 AMP
My hope and prayer is that you stay safe and not abuse your freedom.

Nathaniel Stalling Jr
Elder

The Worlds’ Only Superpower

        
 

THE SOLE SUPERPOWER ON EARTH

August 1, 2019

Only a few nations have risen to superpower status over the centuries, but without exception, they have all fallen victim, primarily, to the same enemy. I will talk more about that shortly.

As an American I can tell you with reasonable confidence that a majority of Americans take great pride in being the ‘Sole Superpower’ on the planet. I can only imagine how the people of a previous ‘Superpower’ felt when it was said of them in the 19th century, “The empire on which the sun never sets”. This of course was the British Empire, of which its territory spanned the globe. There was nowhere on the planet where the sun didn’t always shine on ‘some part’ of British ruled territory.

The decline of the British Empire was on public display in 1997 when Prince Charles wrote in his, then private journal, while flying back from attending the handover of the colony of Hong Kong to China, “Such is the end of Empire, I sighed to myself,”

While researching another ‘Superpower’ that enjoyed this status some 2,500 years ago I came upon something exceptionally astonishing and unique to great empires. I happened upon J.R Fears and something he wrote entitled, “REFLECTIONS ON THE RISE AND FALL OF EMPIRES”.

After clicking on the above link and reading the article by J.R Fears I’m sure you came away with the same thing I did. We are living in a perilous time for our country. Everyone of us should be concerned. We are witnessing for the first time in American history ALL the signs that toppled every empire from Darius, the King of the Persians, to the present time.

“The greatest mistake made by those in power, like Darius, was the sin of hybris.  That Greek word means “outrageous arrogance.”  Hybris (and that is the way it should be transliterated) is the outrageous arrogance that marks the abuse of power.  Only those invested with enormous power can commit the sin of hybris.  Hybris is the imposition of your will, at all costs.  The Greeks believed that hybris was preceded by ate or moral blindness that makes you believe that you can do anything you want to and there will be no consequences from either Gods or men.  It was this hybris that led Darius to undertake a preemptive war against Athens.  It was his moral blindness that believed he would never know defeat.  He ignored all the warnings that the Gods sent him because he felt so secure in his power”.


By: J.R Fears

Does this look and sound like America today? If we fail to learn the lessons of the past, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Nathaniel Stalling Jr.

nstalling@gmail.com

The Other Side

Walking along on a city street I happened upon a childhood friend, Tom. We grew up next door to each other; attended the same schools, elementary through high school. Our parents went to a lot of social functions together. We even vacationed together. There was little we didn’t know about each other, personal or otherwise, …… or so we thought.
We were of the same mind that most of the city was. We know that what we accepted and did not accept was the general consensus of most of the city. Our values and moral convictions were written in our Constitution. We learned and understood them from a very early age. With the exception of one: “Do Not Venture Beyond The City Limits”. This one amendment always puzzled me. No one ever talked about it, at least not openly. So I found it very disturbing discussing it even with my most trusted friend. We decided to go somewhere that we could not be overheard. We found ourselves in an empty baseball park. We walked to the middle of the field, looking around to make sure we were alone, we sat and began talking freely. “Have you ever gone past the city limits”? I asked Tom. I could tell he was still very uneasy about this subject. He was looking around nervously. Finally, he spoke, “the law clearly forbids it; but I’ve heard talk of some that have, and never returned”, said Tom. I heard this talk too, but was afraid to ask about it. In fact, my curiosity drove me to the very edge of the city. I was there, I could have crossed over; but I didn’t. Fear of the unknown is very real, and very powerful. I got the impression that my friend had been to the city limit as well. He as much as said so. I felt that this was the perfect time to ask him what was really on my heart. After getting all my courage together I turned and looked at my friend, ” let’s go on the other side”, I said abruptly. He turned away, pretending he didn’t hear me. Going on and on about the consequences of going beyond the city limits, he stopped and turned to me and made a very startling confession; ” I’ve already been beyond the city limits”, said Tom. I couldn’t believe my ears. This was unheard of, no one had ever gone beyond the city limits and come back to talk about it. He saw that I was at a loss for words, so he continued. ” I went over about a year ago. It took me awhile to adjust to the way of living over there, but once I did I liked it. I met a lady named Wisdom. We became friends, and she took me down to the City Building where they keep all the birth records of everyone born there. I found my name, your name and many others “, said Tom. I guess my expression prompted him to pause. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could this be? Weren’t we all born here? There must be some mistake. I stood up; looking down at him I said in a very anxious voice, ” take me there, now.” I had to see this for myself. ” I will, but first we have to talk to our parents about this,” said Tom. The thought of telling my parents about this made me tremble. They are set in their ways, and more important than that, they are comfortable. Plus, I’m not convinced myself, yet. As though reading my mind, Tom pulled out a map. Part of the map was sectioned off in blue and another in yellow. “This is where we are”, said Tom, pointing to the blue section. The name was in bold black letters, ‘CHIMERA’. The yellow section was beyond the city limit where Tom had gone, it was called, ‘VERISIMILITUDE’. I had never known the name of the other city, until now. Looking at me rather sedately, Tom asked, ” do you know what these names mean “? I thought for a moment before admitting my ignorance. Looking around again to be sure one last time that we were alone, Tom leaned to my ear and said, ” CHIMERA ” means Illusion or Deception, and “VERISIMILITUDE” means Reality or Credibility”. I couldn’t make the connection, so he helped me understand. ” We weren’t born here. We were brought here at an early age and was indoctrinated into this lifestyle and value system. None of it is real. That’s why they don’t want us to go beyond the city limits, because if we do we’ll know the truth, and no one would want to come back here”, said Tom. This was all an incredible story, but for some reason it rang true in my ears. “Not many people are accepting the truth, because those who came before us bearing this message was not only branded as fanatics, but was persecuted and murdered. Those who oppose it will do anything to stop it”, said Tom.
“I heard of these people, and this message: There was Jesus the Christ, The Apostle Paul, Peter and John, there was Augustine, Spurgeon and, Martin Luther”, I said. Tom nodded approvingly. “Then, these that they call myths are actually real”? I asked. “Yes, they are real”, said Tom. I was stunned and relieved at the same time. Tom was a bearer of the message, and he was asking for my help. “It’s going to be hard, and many times you will feel alone; but there are many lives at stake, and I believe, as I hope you will too, that it’s worth it,” said Tom. We walked to the city limit, looked around, and walked over to ‘The Other Side’ together.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Originally, Jesus birth was celebrated in the East during the ‘Feast Of Epiphany’ (January 6); but by 354 A.D, the Christmas feast had taken hold in the West and was observed on December 25.
Some Eastern Churches still, today, celebrate Christmas on January 6.
December 25th was a date selected by the Western Church (Rome). By the way, just to keep this into perspective, the Western Church, later to be known as the Catholic Church, used the political model of the Roman empire to set up and run the Church.
December 25th was originally a Mithric pagan holiday celebrating the birthday of the ‘Invincible Sun’,which coincided with Saturnalia and the winter solstice during the time Mithraism was practiced in Rome. Christians simply adjusted the symbolism of the day, declaring it the birthday of their ‘Invincible Son’.
According to events recorded in the gospel of Matthew the date of Jesus birth may actually have taken place much earlier in the year. The word ‘Christmas’ means ‘The Mass of Christ’ , and originated in the 11th century as a proper name for this feast. In New England, Christmas was outlawed until the mid-nineteenth century, and classes were held on ‘Christmas Day’ until 1870.
The use of Evergreens and Wreaths as symbols of life was an ancient custom of the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews, among others people. Tree worship was a common religious practice among the Teutonic and Scandinavian peoples of Northern Europe before their conversion to Christianity. They decorated houses and barns with Evergreens at the New Year to scare away demons.
It is my personal opinion that when Christians celebrate Christmas it should be done to honor Christ, and not for the secular trappings that was brought into the celebration from pagan traditions.
This is what the prophet Jeremiah had to say about holding to pagan celebrations: “Thus saith the LorD, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the Palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good”. Jeremiah 10:2-5

The Most Misunderstood Apostle

The synoptic gospels tell us how Jesus called his disciples to him and chose from among them twelve (12) who he designated ‘Apostles’ : (1) Simon, who he named Peter (2) Andrew, who is Peters’ brother, (3) James and (4) John (5) Phillip (6) Bartholomew (7) Matthew (8) Thomas (9) James, son of Alphaeus (10) Simon the Zealot (11) Judas, son of James (12) Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:14-16

Most of the apostles, except for Peter, James, John, Thomas and Judas are left shrouded in a fair amount of historical obscurity. For the most part the Church has colored the apostles in a very positive light, all except one; the one we traditionally call ‘ Doubting Thomas’.

Thomas is the Hebrew word for ‘Twin’, while ‘Didymus’ is the Greek word for twin.

After leaving Jerusalem rather hurriedly, Jesus went back to the place where John had baptized. While at this place He received word from Mary and Martha that their brother, Lazarus, had died. Lazarus was from Bethany, a town about two (2) miles Southeast of Jerusalem. This was the vicinity where the Jews tried to stone Jesus to death. No wonder the disciples were very concerned with their safety when Jesus said, “let us go back to Judea”. It is here that Thomas first shows his true colors, and breaks through a barrage of mental complacency and courageously steps out on pure devotion, when he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him”. Thomas was obviously the first of the twelve to express a commitment to Christ even if it meant death.

Again, Jesus comforts his disciples telling them that he is going away to prepare a place for them so they can always be with him. Then he said something that I think was designed to evoke a specific reaction. He said, ” You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:4 Thomas, again, is the only one who rose to the occasion and articulated the pure honesty that was in his heart. Thomas said, ” Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” John 14:5 Had Thomas not voiced his concern there would have been no reason for Jesus to respond in such an inspiring and eye-opening way. Jesus responded in such a way that it became one of the most memorized parts of scripture to date : ” I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” Thomas doubted no more than any of the other apostles.