DANGERS WE FACE

Michelangelo_Fall_and_Expulsion_from_Garden_of_Eden

Detail of Michelangelo’s Fall and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

By  Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Whether we like it or not, we are contending with the powers and forces of evil. Consider our first parents, Adam and Eve. God put them in an ideal Paradise:

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2:16,17)

To fulfill Adam’s life and her life, God gave him Eve to be his companion, his wife. They had plenty of everything. But Satan presented himself in the form of a serpent, who could speak. (She probably thought he was cute.) He told Eve that if they ate the fruit of the tree (God had warned them not to eat) that they would be like God. Of course, that was a lie, but Satan is accomplished in telling lies. God had given them a choice, either Paradise or death! Well, the fruit looked good, it was appealing, why should they not partake of it? The answer is that God had warned them of the danger, and they did not believe him, or thought God was depriving them from something they would enjoy. As a result they were expelled from the Garden.

The Apostle Paul warns us of the continuing battle between the will of God and the deceitfulness of the Evil One.

“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) 

I am writing this because many of us are inclined to underestimate the power of evil. It can be made appealing, look desirable, seem innocent. Some of the temptations that we face are power, prestige, wealth, and sensual pleasures. These things, in and of themselves may not be bad. They can even be good. Nonetheless they can be appealing to us, and spiritually destructive. That there is evil in the world can be seen even in the “little” sins that we commit and the awfulness that we see around us: Isis and Boko Haram in the Middle East and northern Africa, cutting people’s heads off and bragging about it, tyrants waging war to increase their power, men using automatic guns to kill scores of people. Husbands who kill their wives and children, and mothers who do the same. If you look out at the world and say, “what is going wrong”—it is that people are disregarding and disobeying God. He gave us the Ten Commandments and the moral teachings of the Bible for our good! Our Heavenly Father wants us to have good lives. Many fail to understand that.

We have good news. Jesus Christ suffered on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He invites us to come to him and repent and find new life. He tells us where to find strength:

“Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod you feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the word of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

GOD IS LOOKING OUT FOR YOU AND FOR ME!

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
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WE NEED THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

ten commandmentsby Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We have a saying, “If all else fails read the directions.” God teaches us what is right for our benefit. He knows that we find health and healing and prosperity in his word. God cares for us more that we realize. He wants us to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. Because of that he has given us the Ten Commandments, The Sermon on the Mount, and a plethora of teachings in the letters of the New Testament.

Many of the sceptics in our time are affirming that we do not need the Bible or the teachings of the Bible. They see God as a spoil-sport trying to take the fun out of life. The Scriptures tell the truth: “The wages of sin is death.” Either we go our way or God’s way. Our way ultimately leads to jealously, greed, strife, anger, and worse.

The Ten Commandments were given by God through Moses about 1400 B.C. Thus, they have been with us for about 3400 years. As God has blessed us with life and breath and many delights and enjoyments—for our sake, he draws a line regarding what we can properly do (Exodus 20:2-17). Here is an abstract:

I. You shall have no other gods before me

II. You shall not make for yourself a graven image—you shall not bow down to them or serve them.

III. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;

IV. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

V. Honor your father and your mother.

VI. You shall not murder.

VII. You shall not commit adultery.

VIII. You shall not steal.

IX. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

X. You shall not covet.

Which of the above should we be able to do without or to ignore? As you know, the posting of the Ten Commandments in our schools and in many of our public buildings has been diminished a great deal. A plethora of law suits have resulted in the taking down of the Ten Commandments. A reasonable question is what do you put in their place? We need to know what is right and what is wrong. We need to understand that to follow the wrong path is ultimately disastrous.

“But the wicked are like the tossing sea, and it cannot rest. And its waters toss up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace’, says my God,  ‘for the wicked’.” (Isaiah 57:20,21)

The Evil One will try to tell us that we should go our own way; do the things that we enjoy; live it up. The truth is that we are sinners that need forgiving, redemption, and reforming. We need rules. We need guidelines. We need to do our very best to live as God would have us to live. Our God, in his mercy, has given us good rules to live by. We recognize that we are not saved by the law, but by the atonement of Jesus Christ, who paid the full penalty for our sins in his suffering on the cross. Yet, as we believe in Christ, we are to live as he would have us live!

“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”
(Joshua 1:8)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!

 

MAKING THE BEST OF LIFE

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

"...he leadeth me beside the still waters..." Psalm 23:2

“…he leadeth me beside the still waters…” Psalm 23:2

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jesus: John 10:10)

We frequently refer to God as our Heavenly Father–recognizing that he is the epitome of what a father should be. That is, that he looks out for the welfare of his children. In this passage Jesus offers us an abundance of life, not a life of abundance. An abundance of life would be a complete life—a life that is filled with goodness.

Most (not all) parents want what is best for their children. The children may not understand. They may think that their parents have not kept up with the times, and don’t know what is going on in the world. Most of us come to the point when we realize that our parents knew more than we thought; that indeed they were looking out for our welfare. Of course, we recognize that the best intentioned of parents can make mistakes.

But God does not make mistakes. He always wants what is best for us. That is why he gave us the Ten Commandments. He knows that if we live by them we will have better lives for ourselves and for others. But many humans see the Commandments as oppressive; depriving of pleasure. Like the child, we feel that we know better than God. The Bible teaches that to live in God’s will is to have life, and to ignore him and his teachings will result ultimately in disaster.

In this life, we find ourselves in a struggle between what is good for us and for others—and for what we want. The Bible acknowledges this struggle.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5,6) “

All of us can recognize the truth of this passage. Our Savior offers up his life in atonement for our sins, and his teachings for our good. He gave us two basic rules: #1 to love God with our heart and our soul and our mind. #2 to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is good both for us and for our neighbor. In Jesus Christ we find newness of life.

“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

Rather than depriving us of life, God gives us life. All of us have choices to make! There are bad and even wicked and evil things to be engaged in. But life is not all bad; the world is not all bad.

We are bidden to grow in Jesus Christ, and to seek the best of life!

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Indeed, the opportunities for wholeness and enjoyment are immeasurable. It is our sin—our perversity—that brings us to choose the evil over the good. In Jesus Christ, God forgives us of our sin, and he sets a path for us that will bring joy.

God is good!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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Syria… Agree or Disagree?

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

sheep caught between rocks

Caught between a rock and a hard place…

What is going on in Syria, at present, is disturbing, terrifying, and upsetting. What, if anything, are we to do as a nation? Have opportunities for some kind of effective intervention passed us by? As with a few other of my blogs, I would like to ignore this subject–but cannot. I find myself disturbed by much of what I read and hear on the subject of Syria. One of the most offensive statements that I hear is “It is not in our national interest”. I gather that it is not in our national interest to care about other people–or to do anything that might be of help to them. Really, should we only look out after ourselves?

Jesus was asked on more than one occasion: “Teacher, Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Probably the inquiry was focused on the ten commandments found in Exodus, chapter 20. Rather, Jesus referred to two passages in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”–and from the book of Leviticus (19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In a defensive response to this, one of his inquirers asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Perhaps, he was thinking of the family next door. In response, Jesus related the story of The Good Samaritan, who came to the aid of a Jew who had been beaten and robbed; left to die by the side of the road. Other people passed by, and ignored the victim of violence. It is clear in the teaching of Jesus that our neighbor is someone in need, whom we might be able to help.

At this time, the majority of the people in the United States would like to forget about Syria, and say that it is none of our concern! The situation is perplexing with Muslim fighting Muslim. It seems to me that the United States of America (and other nations) have three choices:

  1. In some way assist President Assad to maintain his authority over the people of Syria.
  2. In some way assist the four disparate groups that are seeking to overthrow Assad.
  3. To sit by: Let them continue to kill each other and see what the end result is. In that case we may find the end result much more disturbing than we supposed. Human beings have frightening capacities for wicked and evil behavior. The Middle East is of inevitable concern to the USA. Assad has been the enemy of Israel, of Iraq, and to some degree of Jordan. Total inaction by the United States may have the effect of supporting Assad in killing his own people.

I want to discuss this with you, because, in some measure, I believe that this is our business. My concern at this point is that we think about Syria–and come to conclusions that we can defend when we talk with others. I would be pleased to have you agree with me–but also would be happy to have encouraged you to think seriously about this matter, even if your perspectives are different from mine. There are two basic things that all of us can do:

  1. Recognize that God loves the world, and that we are his servants.
  2. Pray for the people of Syria.

I like this sentence:

“Because I cannot do everything, I will not fail to do something.”

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!

 


 Thank you to ProProfs for the image…