THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

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by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It is not unusual for many of us to feel that the world is being overcome with
evil! Where do we find goodness? There is only one source, and that is with the God
who has created us. We can pass laws to restrain evil behavior, and surely they help.
But all nations, from the beginning of history to the present, have been passing such
laws, and the problem of evil continues. Most of us would like to live in peace without
having to worry about those who would harm us—deceive us—exploit us—mislead us.
To ignore God is folly and dangerous. To attempt to solve problems without him will
frequently lead to disaster.

Many of us were stunned by the arrest of California State Senator, Leland Yee
the week of March 24. According to the San Jose MercuryNews: “The 65 year old
career politician has been charged with seven federal felonies as a result of dozens of
such clandestine meetings with undercover FBI agents, many involving promises of
political favors, influence peddling with fellow legislators and a Hollywood-stye scheme
to arrange a multimillion-dollar illegal weapons deal through the Philippines for an
undercover operative claiming to be a New Jersey Mobster.” Somewhere in his life, he
turned his back on goodness and decided to walk on the path of evil.

Why does a person with an important position, prestige, and respect stoop to
deceit, corruption, and conspiracy? Here, we have a single individual. But alas, the
story has been told in the lives of many others, and in all times and locations.
Choosing evil over good is not uncommon. Yet, what we desire in all people is
goodness. What we find all too often are “successful” people, who are consciously
willing to do wrong to add to the money or power that they already have. As we look
at the world, we must not always see it through skeptical eyes, as if there is only
darkness. Neither, should we live in a denial as some do, ignoring or explaining away
the evil that is in our midst; pretending that it does not exist.

Where do we get the concept of goodness and integrity? We are fortunate that
we know the source. Our Savior, of whom we read in the Bible, is the ultimate source
of light and life and goodness. All other sources are either insufficient or detrimental.
We must bend our wills to the will of God. “I myself am satisfied about you, my
brethren that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able
to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

The words in the following passage were written by the prophet, Jeremiah, but
it is a promise for us today: “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare
it in the coastlands afar off; say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and
will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. For the Lord has ransomed
Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall
come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the
goodness of the Lord,” (Jeremiah 31:10-12) Healing and help and goodness come
from God.

We need good institutions of government, education, business, family. Do we
sometimes look in the wrong place? Our salvation is in our Lord!

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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CHAOS IN LOUISIANA

Shoppers decimate shelves in a greedy feeding frenzy. What happened to, “Poor, but honest”?

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It was Saturday, 12 October that the electronic EBT system, (electronic benefit transfer cards) operated by Xerox for the Federal Government, broke down for several hours. During this period of time, Food Stamp Cards could not be used in seventeen states. In two Wal Mart stores in Louisiana, the company decided to remove any limits on the cards so that they could be used for needed food purchases. Many people in these two stores went into buying frenzies. They purchased things that they must have known full well were not allowed by the EBT, including television sets. One woman attempted to purchase $700.00 of food, when her card showed that she only had a valid 49 cents on it. Managers in Wal-Mart stores in Mansfield and Springhill, Louisiana called in police to stop people from loading up several carts with as many things as they could hold. It is reported that in stores, where the cards were temporarily left inoperable, people helped themselves to whatever they chose, and went out without paying. “Shelves were picked clean and went empty until stores were able to restock.” These people had to know that what they were doing was wrong, despite whatever inner excuses they may have given to themselves.

Probably at this point, someone is going to say, “Foster why are you picking on these poor people.” My answer is that the basic laws of life apply to all people. Regarding our relationship with our Lord, there is a reasonable question to ask: “What would you do if no one else were looking?” The Seventh Commandment states, “You shall not steal”. Do you think it is all right if someone steals your property? I know, this is different! The government has a lot of money—and, certainly, Wal Mart is not strapped for cash. The reasoning that would follow: if your economic status is above average or if you are a municipality, or the federal government—it is OK for people to steal!

It is time for us to reaffirm that we expect honesty of the rich, the middle- class and the poor.

You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall your judge your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:15)

To the degree that we lie and cheat and steal, we deprive someone else of something that rightfully belongs to them. Indeed, the victims may be those who pay taxes, and have their taxes raised to pay for the costs of thievery and dishonesty.

Hopefully, most of us believe in and prefer justice: that the laws of the land treat all people equally. To the degree that we cheat, steal, and lie, personal relationships break down, business operations can be seriously damaged or destroyed, and respect for governments can evaporate. In other words, the greater the disregard for the basic laws of society, the more likely that society will become dysfunctional and even disintegrate.

It is proper for each of us to take a look at ourselves, and make sure that we are committed to the laws of God, that are meant to keep us from harm and misery. It is also proper for us to be sympathetic with those who are truly poor and give to churches, World Vision, Salvation Army and other agencies.

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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CHRISTOPHER LANE MURDER

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Dragon chasing an innocent person

“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.” (I Peter 5:8)

There are approximately 1,500 homicides in the United States every month.
But the murder in mid-day in Oklahoma of Christopher Lane shocks many of us because of its randomness. Chris was in the United States from his native Australia, with a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Oklahoma. He looked forward to receiving his degree, returning to Australia, and beginning in the real estate business. On a nice, August 16, afternoon he was jogging in Duncan, Oklahoma, and was shot in the back and killed by Chancey Allen Luna, age 16, seated in the back seat of the car. He and James Frances Edwards, Jr., seated on the passenger side, age 15, face life in prison without the possibility of parole. The driver of the car Michael Dewayne Jones, age 17, will probably face a lesser sentence.
These three teenagers did not know Chris. They only knew him as a good target in their shooting gallery. So the purposelessness and the senselessness of the murder catches our attention. We wonder why? Of course, many come up with explanations, all of which may have some value: They were poorly educated. They had a bad family background. They were lost, looking for some meaning in life.  They were egregiously psychologically disturbed. Some or all of these things may be true, but underneath them is a root cause—the powers and forces of evil. These young men made choices, and their choices led them to a vicious act.
I suspect it to be politically incorrect to suggest that the devil may, at bottom, be the cause. The scriptures remind us that Lucifer is our spiritual and physical enemy, and that we need to keep our distance from him. “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
The evidences of the work of the evil one are all around us in the awful violence in Syria, in the conflicts in Egypt, in marriage disputes that lead to divorce, in thievery, embezzlement, unkindness, etc. The Bible is correct on this account, and those who ignore it and insist on secondary or tertiary causes grope around in the darkness. The powers and forces of evil are formidable. They continue destructive work twenty-four hours a day. One of Satan’s deceptions is that he does not matter very much. He would like for us to believe that he is just a joke. You remember the cute little phrase, the devil made me do it? Sin is seductive and enticing. It is easy to come up with excuses to get a little farther away from God. But sin ultimately captures the sinner; he becomes a slave to his disobedient desires.
John 1:4,5, “In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” It is a blessing to read the scriptures. It is a blessing to believe in Jesus Christ, and draw near to him. Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;” John 6:67) “It is only when our relationship of glad obedience to God governs everything that we will be truly free.” (Marguerite Shuster, Christianity Today, April, 2013)

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.

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