7 Things I’ve Learned from the Amish

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Recently, we received a card from an old-order Amish family. It reminded me of our time spent with them over the years along with other Amish friends that we’ve made in Lancaster, PA.

After I read the card, I couldn’t help but smile. We have had good times up there over the years, and we rarely come home to Virginia without learning something beneficial to our own lives.

I’ve been thinking recently how much we as Christians can learn from them. It’s true that, generally speaking, all Amish are not Christian. To think so would be a stretch of the imagination. Equally absurd is to think that none of them are. Yet, even the unregenerate Amish have some beneficial things to teach Christians.

Now before anyone gets all sanctimonious and hypocritically pious on me about learning from unregenerates, stop and think. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you know everything. It doesn’t mean we have nothing to learn from those who have not been born again, and it certainly doesn’t mean – even though most young, hot-headed, new Calvinists gang-bangers may think otherwise – that we should look down our noses on anyone. Grace, remember? No, for those who are wondering, we have no desire to become Amish. But we can and should learn from them.

As I thought of our time with Amish friends, certain aspects of their lifestyle came to mind, and it almost put me to shame that they – even those who are not saved – were in some ways, living a more biblical lifestyle than Christians. For example:

1.) They do without modern technology like electricity. Oh, they have lights, but it comes from their own sources like diesel generators, air-compressors and batteries. I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone hanging a battery operated hand drill on a hook – that had a light bulb attached to it. That in itself is nothing biblical, but what I saw missing in this regard was television. In every home we’ve visited, it’s pretty quiet – except for the laughing of children, the sounds of birds, horses, cows and God’s creation in general. You know, I think maybe unsaved Amish enjoy God’s creation more than some Christians obsessed with technological gizmos and being virtually inseparable from TV, iPhones and such. How about turning off the TV on occasion and remembering what real life is like? It does a body good, trust me.

2.) There are no clothes dryers. They hang their clothes outside on a line and let the wind dry them. They smell clean. No artificial chemicals dousing their clothes with lab-tested, man-made odors. And it’s free. You want to talk about being good stewards of money?

3.) The Amish love to visit. Conversation. Enjoying the company of others. Pure hospitality. In the Bible, hospitality is a huge thing. Read the book of Acts. Not these days. I can’t remember the last time a Christian family asked my family over for supper, or a simple visit. That’s sad.

4.) The family table. Oh man. Supper in an Amish home is home-cooked, fresh and hearty. How many Christians throw something in a micro-wave and zap some chemically manufactured gruel for the family to eat? Seriously? I don’t think everyone does that of course, but how many do? Where has the effort gone, the care and love that should go into the family meal? The family gathering, the family time together? I can honestly say I’ve never left an Amish home hungry and dissatisfied, either with the meal or the company.

5.) Gardens. Virtually weed-free. Kids work hard because they’ve had a strong puritan work-ethic instilled in them. Fresh vegetables grown for the family, by the family. Enough said.

6.) Cooperation. Multiple families often get together and do mundane, outside chores that need to be done for one family. It gets done quicker and there is fellowship, exercise and everyone benefits. People work hard for others, and they enjoy it. There is a leisure in hard work.

7.) Family time. Without all the distractions of modern life, and there is plenty of it, you can see it in their faces, hear it in their laughter and see their hearts expression in the care and concern for others. I’d rather sit in the home of an Amish family with children holding spoons, waiting eagerly for ice-cream than be invited to the biggest, most popular “reformed/Calvinistic” conference in America. Hands down. There is simple, unashamed, childlike joy, and I have seen it over and over again.

No, the Amish are not perfect. They are not all saved. They will not all go to heaven. But they live a lifestyle that, in many cases, are far more biblical than some Christian circles. We can learn from them, and if we do not, is it not a matter of the sin of pride?

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5 Reasons to Spank Your Children

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1. ) When your children do wrong, God has warned you, the parent, that not spanking them is a display of hatred towards them. It is as if you do not care nor love them. Proverbs 13:24. By not spanking, you convey to the child that sinning against God, and disobeying you the parent, is ok, it is acceptable; worse, you encourage such behavior to continue and grow in strength, all the while both child and you, the parent, are disobeying God’s Word.

2.) Your children are young, and are still capable of being molded to right behavior and godly respect of authority. Spanking them now will, by God’s grace, prevent an even greater punishment later on, perhaps by the laws of men and society. Proverbs 19:18. Spank their bottoms, while there is still hope.

3.) Children are born into this world with a natural inclination to sin continually. They are not sinless angels. The sin of the first Adam was imputed to them. Sin is foolish, yet apart from the grace of God and regeneration, an inescapable reality. Your child, apart from being born again will run and seek after the foolishness of sin. God tells us that the rod of discipline – not a quiet chair or some silly Dr. Spock idea – deters such a cute beast from seeking further crimes in the home and elsewhere, and establishes respect for his or her position in the family. Proverbs 22:15.

4.  Spanking your child may hurt you to do so, but it will not kill them. Suck it up. It is in the best interest of your children –and you the parent – to wear their britches out when necessary. Better to suffer temporarily now under the hand of a loving parent, than to allow and encourage sin to grow and all barriers to hating God’s instruction to be dismissed. Proverbs 23:13.

5.) Spanking promotes wisdom in children. You, as a parent, want your children to be wise do you not? If you do not spank them, they will have no incentive, nor instruction on being wise. All sense of authority gone, they will continue to seek their natural rush towards sin alone, and you will be to blame as a result of disobedience to God’s Word. He instructs you to spank your children so to plant a seed of wisdom, to prevent them from their present course of disobedience.  Worse, if you do not spank your children, they will bring shame to you as a parent. Unchecked by loving spanking, they will continue to do whatever they want, embarrassing you, shaming you, by acts that you did not fathom would come to pass in their earlier days. Proverbs 29:15, 16.

Understanding Romans 7:24

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According to many Christians these days, Christians are wicked. Now, it is one thing to describe the Christian as being able to fall into sin, but according to Scripture, the wicked are sin, they live there, they are enemies of God and they will not spend eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ in the new heaven and earth.

Many well known conference speakers and preachers teach what can easily be labeled the doctrine of the total depravity of the saints. It is a doctrine not found in Scripture. It certainly is not the position of historical Christianity:

Jonathan Edwards on the wicked:

The design of heaven is unsuitable to them. The design of God in making heaven was, that it might be a place of holy habitation, for the reward of the righteous, and not an habitation for wicked men. It would greatly reflect on the wisdom of God to dispose of wicked men there; for it would be the greatest confusion. But God is not the author of confusion, I Corinthians xiv. 33. It would be contrary to the holiness of God, to take wicked men so near to himself into his glorious presence, to dwell forever in that part of the creation which is, as it were, his own palace, and to sit at his table. We read in Psalm v. 4. “Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee.” Therefore it would doubtless be impossible that the end of the existence of wicked men should be in any wise answered by the placing of them in heaven.

It may be objected that in Romans 7:24, the Apostle Paul calls himself ‘wretched’ and indeed he does – Wretched man that I am!

However, ‘wretched’ is not ‘wicked’. The word for wretched in Romans 7:24 is talaipōros, which is one who is enduring trials, afflicted. It comes from two base words meaning enduring or under weight, bearing a test. Apostle Paul in that passage, is not a ‘wicked’ man, he is a mature believer in Christ who is persevering! The inescapable point is that the wicked, if they perish in their sins, will not dwell in heaven.

William Hendriksen says it well in his NTC commentary on Romans 7:24: The writer genuinely deplores the fact that due to the law of sin still operating in him, he is unable to serve God as completely and whole-heartedly as he desires. The poignant grief here expressed is definitely that of a believer. No unbeliever would ever be able to be so filled with sorrow because of his sins! The author of the outcry is Paul, speaking for every child of God. The cry he utters is one of distress, but not of despair, as verse Rom_7:25 proves. Paul suffers agony, to be sure, the wretchedness brought about by strenuous exertion; that is, by trying hard, but never satisfactorily succeeding, to live in complete harmony with God’s will but failing again and again. He is looking forward eagerly to the time when this struggle will have ended.

On the other hand, ‘wicked’ in the New Testament is an entirely different matter altogether. Take John 3:20 for example:

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Here, the word is phaulos, “foul”, evil, ethically bad. In Scripture, the saint is never described as wicked, for the wicked are dead in their sins and they hate the light.

It’s an important distinction, and with many young Christians these days, often boasting in their ‘vileness’ and ‘wickedness’, a distinction that needs clarifying.

In Scripture, the wicked are not the children of God. They are not the saints. In fact, they are compared to:

Abominable branches
Isa_14:19;

Ashes under the feet
Mal_4:3;

Bad fishes
Mat_13:48;

Beasts
Psa_49:12; 2Pe_2:12;

Blind, The
Zep_1:17; Mat_15:14;

Brass and iron
Jer_6:28; Eze_22:18;

Briars and thorns
Isa_55:13; Eze_2:6;

Bulls of Bashan
Psa_22:12;

Carcasses trodden under feet
Isa_14:19;

Chaff
Job_21:18; Psa_1:4; Mat_3:12;

Clouds without water
Jud_1:12;

Corn blasted
2Ki_19:26;

Corrupt trees
Luk_6:43;

Deaf adders
Psa_58:4;

Dogs
Pro_26:11; Mat_7:6; 2Pe_2:22;

Dross
Psa_119:119; Eze_22:18; Eze_22:19;

Early dew that passes away
Hos_13:3;

Evil figs
Jer_24:8;

Fading oaks
Isa_1:30;

Fiery oven
Psa_21:9; Hos_7:4;

Fire of thorns
Psa_118:12;

Fools building upon sand
Mat_7:26;

Fuel of fire
Isa_9:19;

Garden without water
Isa_1:30;

Goats
Mat_25:32;

Grass
Psa_37:2; Psa_92:7;

Grass on the housetop
2Ki_19:26;

Green bay-trees
Psa_37:35;

Green herbs
Psa_37:2;

Heath in the desert
Jer_17:6;

Horses rushing into the battle
Jer_8:6;

Idols
Psa_115:8;

Lions greedy of prey
Psa_17:12;

Melting wax
Psa_68:2;

Morning-clouds
Hos_13:3;

Moth-eaten garments
Isa_50:9; Isa_51:8;

Passing whirlwinds
Pro_10:25;

Potsherds
Pro_26:23;

Raging waves of the sea
Jud_1:13;

Reprobate silver
Jer_6:30;

Scorpions
Eze_2:6;

Serpents
Psa_58:4; Mat_23:33;

Smoke
Hos_13:3;

Stony ground
Mat_13:5;

Stubble
Job_21:18; Mal_4:1;

Swine
Mat_7:6; 2Pe_2:22;

Tares
Mat_13:38;

Troubled sea
Isa_57:20;

Visions of the night
Job_20:8;

Wandering stars
Jud_1:13;

Wayward children
Mat_11:16;

Wells without water
2Pe_2:17;

Wheels
Psa_83:13;

Whited sepulchres
Mat_23:27;

Wild ass’s colt
Job_11:12

[Torey]

Does that describe you, reader? The bottom line is clear in Scripture; either we are a new creation in Christ, or we are not. If we are, our lives will evidence good fruit, not wickedness as a way of life.

God loves sinners, yes, if they were given to the Son by the Father, before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4

Words mean things. If ‘wicked’ does describe you, repent and believe in the Gospel and be saved.

Our Responsibility in the Great Commission

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I’d like to take this moment to update you all in a small moment of my ministry. We are preparing a free download of one of my books on the Great Commission.

The book has to do mainly in understanding what the Great Commission actually is, including brief studies of Greek words in the commission of Jesus Christ, as well as application in our responsibilities, as Christians, in performing the mandate itself.

I truly believe in this late day and age that it is necessary for every Christian, regardless of how small or mature the faith or beginning of grace in heart, to understand what is being asked and expected, what is our duty to God, for His glory, and our blessing.

We, every Christian, are one body. We have one purpose – the glory of God – and there are specific instructions by way of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, by which it will be accomplished, and that is “as we are going.”

Please join me in this study, and I pray that this will be helpful to the Church at large. Also, I ask that you pray for us as we prepare this material. God bless.

Your obedient servant in Christ Jesus,

Joel Taylor

The Most Dangerous Man Alive

Obama NSA Surveillance

He is the most dangerous man alive today. He is an extraordinary liar. He is a thief and, some would believe, with good reason, he is a murderer. He has, upon the world scene, upstaged both Stalin and Hitler. Neither of them were a danger to the world as this man. Theirs was more localized. This man is far superior in intellect, deceit and callousness of heart that is far beyond their scope. Neither of these men had a companion who was equally, if not more determined and shrewed as they, to create a world according to their own bent. This most dangerous man does not use brute force openly, but beguiles with the skill of Satan. He is charismatic and charming. He is handsome to behold.

He is the President of the United States.

He is the darling of Tinsiltown, the hero of the media, friend of perverts and a pal of those who would rule the world. He has bought the vote of the Negro, the feminists, the perverts, the foreigners who refuse to be Americans, and now he is buying the votes of the military. The public treasury is his to promise to those who support him. The normal God-fearing citizen, the real patriot, those who care for the liberties won in the war for independence and who maintain the spirit of our forefathers, are all over-whelmed by the masses of those deceived and who practice deceit.

He sometimes totes the Bible, and speaks of it at the national prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. He wows the crowds with his oratory, calls himself a Christian by many names. Yet he would not know a Christian if one ran over him. He flies a flag he seeks to destroy and professes a faith he has never known.

In light of this most dangerous man in the world, the public manifests the blindness and naïveté of the cold-blooded frog who is placed in a pan of water over the fire. He enjoys that period when the water begins to warm up. It elevates his blood temperature and, for the time, all is well. The temperature increases and so slow is the change that the poor frog pays little heed. Before long, the temperature rises to boiling and the frog is cooked. Such is the naïveté of the general public. As long as things seem good – bread on the table, a chicken in the pot, car in the garage, an opportunity to work or to be fed at the welfare table of the U.S. Treasure – and all is well.

As long as there is the promise of better times, little does the public realize that powers granted to Washington are the very powers that destroy their liberties.  Little do they realize that with every legal restriction, sometimes championed by the most sincere but naïve persons, is but a further empowerment of the National government and the most certain loss of individual and collective liberty. Benjamin Franklin had a word to say for people so naïve: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”

The impeachment process has brought out the ignorance and diabolical nature of this present generation of lawyers, of both history and even the use of words and common sense. Constitutional scholars who teach in our universities and schools of law follow the ungodly route of Oliver W. Holmes who was an avowed Darwinists. His belief in evolution colored all his decisions of government and especially his view of the Constitution. He latched upon perceived ambiguities  and made the Constitution to say whatever he wanted it to say. This is the present manifestation of this most dangerous man alive and those who support him.

They will have no absolutes. Absolutes put such men under restrictions, and man, since Adam’s fall and the result of it, was that they would not have restrictions placed upon them. Since God is absolute, mankind, following the unregenerate nature won in the fall, simply will not allow any set rule of law. For these, there is but one absolute, and that is that there are absolutely no absolutes.

The most dangerous man alive is at one with the body of humanity.

He is one with those described in Psalm 2:

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

They hate any restrictions. They want no standard for sexual conduct. They want no standard for social order. They despise any standard for religious worship. They hate, with a hellish passion, any absolutes restricting government, but lust for the government to be absolute. The idea of a strong family must give way to a strong and absolute state.

On stage at the present moment is Barack Hussein Obama, the most dangerous man to freedom and liberty in modern times. Yet the danger is not recognized by the masses. The media, such as CNN etc., serve as a vast propaganda machine with a slanted support for this rule of lawlessness. There are so few in government who have the courage, even though they see the danger, and who will do nothing because it will cost them a price they are not willing to pay.

We must be grateful that there are some who are standing in the gap for what is right before God and man regardless of costs. They are the real hero’s in this present conflict.

History will, when freedom is lost for good in America, look back and pray for the likes of such men again to come again upon the world and provide liberty. Awareness to the death of our nation, as in the case with the frog, may come too late. Who will be able to challenge the tyrants, who have at their beck and call the most powerful army in the world? As Patrick Henry once observed, particularly “since not a musket may be found” in the hands of the citizens?

It must be remembered that it was Patrick Henry who declared what has long been forgotten by this present generation: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! For this reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here.”

Once again, the words of George Washington are needed for the present time: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them.”

The future of this nation, while always depending on God, must, if it is to survive, depend upon men and women who love God and His Christ and are willing to resist this most dangerous man and his evil army.

William Penn declared: “those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” Thomas Paine’s observation is also true for our present circumstance: “the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis shrink from the service of their country; but he who stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered.”

The Dumbing Down of Worship

A big part of the problem is that we have gotten the unconverted in the church while still unconverted, and as such, they have no love for God, His Christ, His people nor for true worship. – Joel Taylor

JoelOver the last 50 years or so, there has been a dumbing down of Biblical worship and the witness of professing Christians in America. The extent of this process has increased to the point that the present worship or witness is not recognizable to that of the early body of Christians in Apostolic times.

What are the reasons for such a decline? I believe there are two things, among many, that stand out as villains.

Method of Evangelism

The first is the non-biblical method of evangelism or the manner of reaching people for church. Secondly, there is the very pressing problem of accommodating what we do in worship and in the whole of ‘church’ to the desires of children, the youth and their parents. Let me take them one at a time.

In the days of the Apostles, evangelism, the method of reaching those outside of Christ to a saving knowledge, involved that of Christians assembling to worship, receiving instructions, and guidance for both life and finally, the reaching of others for Christ. Worship was a time for being fed the truth by faithful pastors. It was a time to receive guidance in overcoming the world, to know the will of God, and to be equipped (Ephes. 4:12) to minister (serve) in the cause of God and Christ. These same people – fed, comforted and encouraged – would leave these times of fellowship and worship to go forth as ambassadors for Christ. Witnessing was one-on-one, or, if possible, with a whole family. But Christian responsibility did not end when they left the assembly in worship, it was only the beginning. This personal witnessing is now left to the cultic groups who proclaim false doctrine day in and day out. Those who profess to be Christians believe their duty is over after the morning ‘worship’ on Sunday. Those early Christians were brought together to worship God and to be built up for ready service to God as their first and foremost responsibility and privilege.

The witness to the lost, if such exist at all, is left to the faithful man of God and perhaps his staff. What a change from the days of the Apostles. For most who profess Christ, the Sunday morning worship is the end of their responsibilities as a Christian.

What has happened between those early days of Christianity and now? Does God no longer reign on the throne? Has the power to save been altered from the apostolic days? Does the Bible need to be updated for this modern age or just completely removed? I believe God is still God but men have become even more corrupt, just as they were before the flood of Noah’s day. It is difficult to get people to come and worship. The enticement of the world is so alluring. Worship just demands too much of a fellow.  Praying and giving attention to the preaching of the Word demands too much discipline. There has, therefore, been a dumbing down of requirements for ‘church membership’ to accommodate this mindset of the modern man. The New Testament has now been replaced with the pragmatism of men. You do what is necessary to fill the pews, pay the bills, etc. To get the unchurched, the unconverted, into the ‘church’ there has been a seemingly necessary compromise.

A big part of the problem is that we have gotten the unconverted in the church while still unconverted, and as such, they have no love for God, His Christ, His people nor for true worship. Instead of the spirit of Paul who says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16), we now have another gospel with no authority from God. The witness to the lost, if such exist at all, is left to the faithful man of God and perhaps his staff. What a change from the days of the Apostles. For most who profess Christ, the Sunday morning worship is the end of their responsibilities as a Christian.

Accommodating Desires of Youth and Children

A second challenge which has affected the worship of God has been that of the professed body of Christians in trying to accommodate itself to the needs and desires of the children and youth because parents have abdicated their responsibilities to the family. Again, an alteration from the apostolic period. Then, and for years after, by Scriptural standards, the social and child training was left to the family. The husband and wife were responsible, but all has changed in this consumer-oriented, government do-it-all society, and it has dramatically affected professed Christianity in both its worship and witness to the world.

Both of these villains have resulted in the dumbing down of the worship of God. They have diminished the role of God and elevated the role of man in worship. When the worship of God is governed by the unconverted or the desire to get them into the church by watering down the Gospel; or when the worship of God is dictated by the desires of men, then the death-knell of true worship rings loud and clear. Pragmatically turning the local church into a Romper Room for adults has a devastating effect upon our witness.

Oh, that God would revive His people. Bring them to conformity to His will as is set forth in the Scriptures and especially the New Testament. That they would worship under the New Covenant of grace. Would it be that they knew the spirit of David who said, “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the Lord.” Oh, that the prayer of David, in the building of the house of God, would be ours once again:

“Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of Israel our father forever and forever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou doest exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thine hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now, therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise Thy glorious name.” – I Chronicles 29:10-13

May this be our mindset, our hearts desire in praise and prayer in the days ahead.

Why Did Paul Remind the Corinthians of the Gospel?

korinth-tempel-octavia

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. – I Corinthians 15:1-5

The Apostle Paul had once preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Corinthians. Now he is reminding them of it.

Why?

Is it because the same Gospel that saves us also sanctifies us? Is it because the Christians at Corinth needed to preach the Gospel to themselves every day? No, that is not found in this, or any other passage of Scripture. That would be eisogesis, or better, ‘lack-o-gesis’ at its finest. It is the error of New Calvinism, and it leads to antinomian thinking, ignoring the imperatives of Scripture to be obeyed in exchange for the freedom of lawlessness so enjoyed by myriads of young people today.

The reason Paul is making known the Gospel to the Corinthians once again is found in the Scripture itself, and in fact, in the same chapter; specifically, verses 12 and 13.

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

The Apostle Paul is reminding them of the Gospel teaching, not because it sanctifies them by ‘going deeper’ and by contemplating more deeply the finished work of Christ, oh no. He is addressing the fact that some in Corinth who had professed Christ and professed to believe the Gospel, are now rejecting  or objecting to the doctrine of the resurrection. They are believing that God raises the soul, but not the body.

That is why Paul is once again reminding them of the Gospel. Not to stress the necessity of the Gospel for the purpose of sanctification, but for doctrinal correction.

If any preacher tells you that the Gospel sanctifies you apart from obedience, that man needs to be marked for division according to Scripture.