The IMPORTANCE of FREEDOM

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by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Thursday, July 4, is the day in 2013 that we annually celebrate the independence of the United States of America. What does it mean to be free? Not to be coerced, not to be compelled to do something contrary to your will. Freedom is having the ability to decide your own destiny, hopefully within the will of God. When God calls us to believe in Jesus Christ—he wants us to be free from false allegiances, from harmful loyalties—from dangerous courses. Sin is tyranny. Faith and trust in God is freedom. People seek freedom from tyranny because they want to be free from the domination of a despot. Unfortunately, many people surrender their freedom when they become addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, or hatred.

Freedom is believing in Jesus Christ—walking in his will. Freedom is making your own decisions, and not being compelled to do things that are contrary to your will. There is a false freedom that celebrates the will of man above the will of God. This freedom ultimately leads to destruction and disaster. Liberty consists in the freedom to do good—not to do evil. Freedom of speech does not give us the right to make malicious or false statements about others. Freedom of worship means that every person has the right to worship God as they please.

Our nation was built on the principle that the source of law and freedom comes from God. Note the highlighted references to God in The Declaration of Independence:

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….

We therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,…And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

The founders of our nation understood the seriousness of human sin when constructing the Constitution of the United States of America. They reckoned with Lord Acton: “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Therefore, the political power was divided between the national government and the states, with the balance of power left to the states. It was further organized by dividing the powers within the national government between Administrative, Legislative, and Judicial. Our founders recognized that we can barely trust ourselves—for many people have a lust for power, and a desire to use it for their personal benefit. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt, who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

God offers us freedom! I Peter 2:16, “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as servants of God.”

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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A COURAGEOUS QUEEN

Queen Esther
by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
The book of Esther in the Old Testament tells us of the situation of the Jews in Persia. At that time Persia was the greatest empire in the world, stretching from India in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. Xerxes I (Ahasuerus in the biblical text) was king with absolute power and great wealth. Queen Vashti was deposed, and search was made for a new queen. Esther, a beautiful young Jewess was taken into the king’s harem, and in due course chosen by him to be the new Queen of Persia. She had been left an orphan, and had been adopted by Mordecai, her cousin, an official in the Persian government.
Anti-semitism has been an evil plague throughout history, manifesting itself in many attempts to persecute and destroy the Jews. Our first knowledge of governmental persecution of the Jews is told in the book of Esther. Haman, a Persian nobleman, had a rapid rise to power to become second only to the king. He hated Mordecai, and through him hated the tens of thousands of Jews in the Persian Empire. By deceptive means, he received authority from the king to destroy all of the Jews in the Empire. This placed Esther and Mordecai in grave danger, along with all of the other Jews. No one was to enter the throne room of the king without invitation. Those who came uninvited did so at the risk of their lives. Esther knew the rules, nonetheless, was told by Mordecai to reveal to the king that she was a Jew, and of the evil consequences that would befall her and all of the Jews. She had risen to a preeminent position in the world. She was now asked to risk all that she had achieved and her very life in order to save her people. Mordecai set the issue clearly before her: “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:12,13) She undertook three days of fasting (seeking the Lord) to make her decision. She entered the palace, her presence was known to the king, he stretched out his scepter toward her indicating forgiveness for her serious breech of protocol. She invited Ahasuerus and Haman to a banquet that she would prepare, and then to a second banquet in which she accused Haman for his deception and wickedness. The result was the execution of Haman and his family and protection for the Jews.
Some things come upon us unwelcome and unexpected. The entire matter rested on one woman’s decision, which she made at the risk of her life. We need to recognize that there will be times in our lives that will challenge us. They are of such a nature that we regret having to deal with them. At such times we must do what we believe to be right. We must pray—we must think—we must refuse to go against what our conscience tells us. We must do what is right, even when it appears not to be in our interest. These principles are deeply embedded in the example and teaching of our Savior.

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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THE IMPORTANCE OF DECISIONS

By Dr.Foster H. Shannon

TheThinker, by Rodin

Almost all of the decisions that we make affect someone. We live in a sea of decisions that were made before we were born! The decision of Eve to allow herself to be beguiled by the devil and then Adam’s decision to  follow her in disobedience of God has impacted the human race ever since. We are affected in our daily lives by thousands of decisions made before we were alive: where our parents chose to live, what work they engaged in, our ancestors that decided to make North America/the United States their home, perhaps.

The counselors of King George III who urged him to bear down on the Colonies; the decision of King George III to impress his will on the American colonists with armed force. George Washington and the founders of our nation—all impact where we are today. We may ask why are we where we are; why did this happen? The answer, at least in part, is that thousands of decisions made by others over hundreds of years have brought us to this place.

I remember our visit to Lebanon in 1973 and to Israel and to many countries in the eastern Mediterranean. Things were much better at that time than they are now. As we traveled the roads in Lebanon, I observed many good cars severely damaged left by the side of the road (Mercedes seemed to be in abundance). I asked, what was going on to cause so many accidents? I was told that many of these people are Muslims and believe that Allah has determined everything. Why be conscientious about your driving?

“Whatever will be will be.” We call this determinism.

Many believe in a determinism that rules out free will. Indeed, a lot of things have been determined for us, but our choices and decisions are important. The Bible recognizes free will and human responsibility. The Bible speaks of choices:

Joshua 24:11: “And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”<br/ >
John 3:19:” And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” <br/ >
Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”<br/ >

I acknowledge, that when I speak of my salvation in Jesus Christ, I give the credit to God. But there must be some response. We are called upon to believe and obey. We remember that virtually every decision we make will have an impact upon others. If a person never reads the Bible, does not attend church, curses in the name of the Lord and savors bitterness in his life—he has made a series of decisions that will keep him forever alienated from God. And those decisions impact the lives of other people!

Again and again we are called to believe in the word of God, to believe in Jesus Christ, and to honor our Lord by the way that we speak and live—and thereby find life.

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!

Acts of Courage

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It was the first Sunday after Easter. What should I preach for Sunday April 7? It seemed to me that the Book of Acts was most appropriate, for it tells us what happened after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. So my message was about the book of Acts. The Bible is like a deep well that always gives the best water, but never runs dry. The more you draw from it, the more there is.

As I read this book again, I was overwhelmed by the courage and commitment of the followers of Jesus. Yet they had not distinguished themselves in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was bound and taken into custody.  Of the eleven (Judas had come to betray Jesus) nine fled for their lives. John and Peter followed Jesus to his trial before the Sanhedrin. But when asked, on three occasions, if he was a follower of Jesus, Peter denied, with cursing, saying that he did not know him. We can understand. These leaders of the Jews were out to kill Jesus, and from Peter’s perspective he might be next.

PENTECOSTWhat we see in the book of Acts is the transformation of Peter, the other disciples and followers. A short time after the ascension of Jesus, at the feast of Pentecost, the disciples, and a larger number of other followers, were filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed. They assembled in the temple, a large crowd gathered, and Peter addressed them convincingly and boldly. Out of that crowd some three thousand became believers in Christ, were baptized and joined the disciples.

What struck me was that they chose the temple as the place to meet and minister in the name of Jesus! The temple was the seat of the ruling Sanhedrin, that had succeeded in exacting the execution of Jesus from the Romans. Had we been there, we might have counseled them to gather in a less notable place.

In Acts, chapter three, we read, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer,”. They returned to the temple again, and there they healed a man (known to many who came to the temple) who had been lame from his birth, unable to walk. The Sadducees had them arrested and put into custody. They were sternly warned not to speak again in the name of Jesus.

In chapter five, they are back in the temple. Again they are arrested under the authority of the Sadducees and placed in prison. An angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and let them out—telling them to go back to the temple and speak the words of life. They were beaten again and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus. None-theless, they continued to come to the temple courageously declaring Jesus the Savior—who would forgive and save all who believed in him.

Are we too quiet, too careful, unwilling to venture into the temple?

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.” (II Timothy 1:7)

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!

The Magnificence of God

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

milky way

The Milky Way, Photo Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Spitzer

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1,2)

Psalm 19 reminds us that the heavens declare the glory of God. As we consider the universe which God has created, we must be stunned at its enormity, its complexity, and its magnificence. In his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul reminds us that God’s creative work demonstrates the reality of God.

“Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:20)

The best cosmological science tells us that the universe appeared out of nothing about 13.5 billion years ago; that from its beginning, it has been expanding, and that its extent is such that it is beyond our comprehension. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Estimates are that it would take about 28 billion light years to travel from one end of the visible universe to the other.

Our galaxy is the Milky Way. The estimates are that it contains more than 200 to 400 billion stars, and that there are perhaps 100 to 200 billion galaxies. The only stars that we can see from Earth are in our own galaxy. The “stars” that we see beyond our galaxy are other galaxies. Some of the stars in our galaxy are incredibly enormous: Antares is 173 million miles in diameter; Betelgeuse 190 million miles in diameter; and Alpha Hercules 500 million miles in diameter. If we began with the Sun, Alpha Hercules would fill all the space in our solar system beyond the orbit of Jupiter! These are three of the billions and billions of stars in the universe.

How are people properly to respond to the magnificence and grandeur of God? As we contemplate the greatness of God, we must recognize that most of us do not direct our thoughts toward God as we should. We allow matters of small import inappropriately to fill our lives. The result is that much that is best in life is crowded out. The knowledge, contemplation, worship, and adoration of God should be at the center of every person’s life.

The word of God is firm and sure. Whatever God intends, he can do. He is well able to fulfill every promise that he has made. The scriptures are unequivocal, God has created everything: the entire universe, planet Earth, and all forms of life, including human beings, who are created in his image—destined for a beautiful eternal relationship with him so long as they believe in him, love him, and turn to him for salvation.

Foster H. Shannon

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! 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.

HOW TO HANDLE DISCOURAGEMENT

by Foster Shannon

Pastor, Educator, Writer, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Sports Fan

 

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never…” Winston Churchill

All of us get discouraged at times. Are you looking forward to the new year with confidence and hope—or with discouragement? At some times discouragement is hard to avoid, but some people allow themselves to get deeply discouraged, and end up in a slough of despond.

Common causes of discouragement:

  • Your investments do not pan out
  • Your hopes for your children are not realized
  • 
You lose your job
  • You don’t feel good
  • You have been criticized
  • Things don’t work out
  • Someone that you have looked up to—disappoints you

We need to recognize that though discouragement is normal—we should not entertain it! Discouragement can result when we attempt something and fail. Discouragement inclines you to quit—to give up. Discouragement comes when someone talks you out of something that you thought would be good to do. (“Some people die with the music still in them”) Discouragement comes when we recognize that our abilities are not up to the challenge. Excessive expectations can lead to discouragement. We need to recognize that some things may be beyond our reach. Excessive desires can lead to discouragement

Many people, both Christian and non-Christian look out at a world that is violent, evil, hateful, selfish—and ask why does God not do something about it? We may question God’s authority. We even begin to blame God for our misfortune. Discouragement can lead to rebellion against God: “He let me down. He did not help me.” We blame others for the plight that we are in. Disappointment can lead to Discouragement to Despair to Bitterness—and even Hatred. Despair: to lose or abandon hope; to become hopeless; to lose faith. We must not take the path of despair. There are many things that we can be afraid of. Fear is normal. Through faith and determination we overcome fear. Moby Dick, Starbuck, the chief mate of the Pequod: “I will have no man in my boat,” said Starbuck, “who is not afraid of a whale.”

God helps us. Some of us may be too finely tuned. We may expect too much, and find disappointed and discouragement. We can be hard on ourselves—expecting or desiring too much.

Psalm 62:1,2, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.”

I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

II Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Foster H. Shannon

 

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! 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.

Let’s Go Fishing! …God’s Answers for Contemporary Christian Living

By Foster Shannon

Pastor,Educator,Writer,Husband,Father,Grandfather,Sports Fan

I have been in the business of communication for a long time and am delighted to begin this blog.

As a pastor, I have often been challenged by younger members of my congregations with
questions about how to relate to the Bible and God’s words in today’s world. As a writer/
publisher, I focus on Christian evidence as a counter-point to the non-believers points of
view. As a husband, father, grandfather, I try to live and adapt our daily lives to what is
faithful to God’s desire (and it is not always an easy journey). Finally,I find more people today
rejecting Christianity because they believe it not applicable to their lives and thus, irrelevant.
I suspect some Christians are “straying” since the answers to daily dilemmas and major life
issues are not evident or easily attainable. Perhaps, considering God’s point of view has
become less important for many.

So why am I starting Let’s Go Fishing blog?

I would like to explore the questions that Christians and others might be asking themselves
and address concerns that have been raised regarding contemporary Christian living.
Current events, philosophy, ethics, morals and how Christians can adapt their contemporary
lives with the Word of God will be the focus. I encourage your comments and questions.
There is always something new to learn and new questions to be raised.

John Robert Stott, an English Christian Leader and Anglican Cleric, was a noted leader of the
worldwide Evangelical movement. In 2005, Time Magazine ranked Stott among the 100 most
influential people in the world. In Stott’s book, the Contemporary Christian, he challenges
all of us to move with the times while standing firmly on the truth of God’s Word. “To be a
contemporary Christian , is to ensure that our present is enriched both by our knowledge of
the past and by our expectation of the future”.

Let’s go fishing….Stay tuned in two weeks time for next blog on the basic question: Why be a
Christian today?

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! Thank you.

More about Foster…

After receiving his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science,
Foster Shannon 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. Foster
started his book ministry over 30 years ago. He publishes and distributes Christian Books
online on The Green Leaf Press, Inc. website: www.gogreenleaf.com. He roots for the CAL
Bears and LA Lakers and swims and bicycles weekly.