Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 17, 2018

AOC Sunday Report

You can download the AOC Sunday Report RIGHT HERE!

Happy Third Sunday after Trinity and Happy Father's Day!

The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

There is a great sermon from Bishop Jerry, as well as excellent ones from Revs Jack and Bryan.  These guys never fail. And, a special treat, a Fathers Day poem from our Warrior Poet Bishop.

There are also a lot of people who need your prayers, start with Shamu, Bruce, Bob and Doug and work out from there.

There is a great week ahead waiting for you, if you just take that grace God is giving out.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Sermon Notes - Third Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 17 June 2018, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Third Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

O
 LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

            We are introduced today to a man with a physical impediment – he was short! But
his greater deficiency was spiritual. He was an official of the Roman government who may have over-charged more than once in his tax collections. It is one of the astounding properties of God to use our short-comings (no pun intended) to gain an advantageous audience with Christ.  We will see that this is the case in the matter of Zacchaeus.

A
ND Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named , which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:1-10)

            A salient point in today’s narrative is God knew us long before we came to know Him. Today is Father’s Day and I daresay our earthly fathers knew and loved us long before we knew and loved them. The case holds true with our Father God. This being Father’s Day, we should know that there is a sure-fire way to know if we are on solid ground with our Lord: That is answered in the virtue of love that we have for God. If we love Him, you can be assured that He loves you else we could not love Him. We love him, because he first loved us(1 John 4:19)

            This portion of Luke’s Gospel is one of my favorites.  It illustrates how we may be called by our names before we ever knew Christ intimately. It demonstrates regardless our backgrounds, or our stature, we can be received by Christ if we are zealous in seeking Him.

            We should note some characteristics that identify Zacchaeus before proceeding: 

1.    He was a man of short stature;
2.    He was rich;
3.    He was not well liked among the people for he was a chief publican, or tax collector. He held the same respect of the people as a red-neck bar keeper;
4.    He was persistent in all that he did. That probably explains why he was a chief tax collector. 
5.    His coming to Christ enabled the salvation of his entire family.

            He was drawn by an invisible power to Christ. That power was the Holy Spirit, though Zacchaeus considered his motive to be one of outright curiosity. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature If you have come to Christ, it is likely that you came by the same power.

            There were many, many people thronging Christ, so many that Zacchaeus could neither see over their tall heads, or break through the crowd. Quite often those who seem nearest to Christ seem to be the very ones that prevent others from approaching Him. It is true in the ordinary walk of life, and it is true in many churches.

            People who are short learn to overcome that handicap through years of effort. Actually, medical science informs us shorter people live longer, but that is not a part of our focus. Zacchaeus was determined to see Christ, and he would do whatever was necessary to accomplish that purpose. He had heard many stories and rumors about this miracle worker. He may have doubted them, but he had to see for himself! I wish more Christian people would not simply allow their starving souls to be fed by one sermon on Sunday, but would want to see God’s mysteries, and discover them, for themselves through diligent study.

            What could poor Zacchaeus do? If he lived in modern America, there would probably be a government answer to overcome his handicap. Perhaps every sycamore tree would have a ladder, or streets would be lined, according to city ordinances, so that there were banks on either side upon which short people could walk and see as well as every body else. But the American socialist model had not reached Jericho, and Zacchaeus had no such provision. He must find a solution on his own….and he did!

            4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. Short legs can often run faster than long, gangly ones if the drive and determination are there. Zacchaeus had become quite clever in his thinking after a lifetime of having to overcome his little handicap. Sometimes the thing that we consider to be a handicap turns out to be a blessing. Zaachaeus assayed the direction the multitude was moving and ran ahead to a sycamore tree that the Holy Ghost had conveniently placed there many years before the need of Zacchaeus arose.

           Zacchaeus was not considered a good man by anyone. He was not only shorter than most men were, but he was lower than most in character as well. If you are in low places most of your life, you learn to rise above the common crowd. This Zaccaeus did. If you are low, the only way to move is UP. Zacchaeus went UP into the sycamore tree. Now he could see well, and even better than those who flocked about Christ. He was satisfied just to be able to see Jesus.  The fact that Christ would be dining in his house that evening never crossed the mind of Zacchaeus. Many sinners awake from bed in the morning never realizing that their evening meal will be with Christ!

            5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy houseI would have liked being a fly  on the limb of the sycamore tree to see the face of Zacchaeus when Christ stopped beneath him and looked up at him. Perhaps he expected a reprimand for the dreadful life he had led.  Certainly, he did not expect Jesus to call his name. How would Jesus know HIS name? How, indeed!  We learn here that regardless of our astonishment, when Jesus calls us, we respond with haste. The next breath is not a guarantee. We must act while light remains. We learn, too, that, although we have put ourselves up higher up in prayer to see Christ, we must descend from our high station with humble obedience when we go before Christ. “Come down,” is the command Christ gives all who would follow and dine with Him. 

            What amazement to Zacchaeus that Christ would abide in his house that day. When Christ comes into our hearts, He does not make a temporary visit – He comes to Abide (live there forever).

                        6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. Friend, have you descended from your high perch and received Christ joyfully as this poor sinner, Zacchaeus, has done?

            7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Don’t we always have the murmurrers among us in the church. They judge the dress, the hair, the shoes, the walk – everything of a stranger who comes into their company.  Had they, themselves, not been grievous sinners, and were not most of them still in that condition?

            8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. The Roman law required this compensation for fraud, but the Jewish law required only the principal plus one fifth. Zacchaeus determined to satisfy both laws. This was not asked of Zacchaeus by Christ, but Zacchaeus was living by a different standard now – it was his desire to undo as much wrong as it was possible for him to do. He now had Christ in his home, and in his heart.

            Now follows a beautiful expression of the covenant relationship that exists in the family of the man or woman who follows Christ: 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Salvation had come to the whole HOUSE of Zacchaeus – including the children. Zacchaeus may have been a lowly publican, but he was now fully a son of Abraham both in body and soul, for all who receive the Seed of Promise (Jesus Christ) are the true sons and daughters of Abraham and entitled to all rights and privileges of the Israel of God.


             10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Lost when? Lost at the ill-winded Tree in Eden. When they opened there eyes in birth, and all since the fall of Adam in the Garden at Eden. Christ comes to save that which was lost, and He is there for the most dreadful of sinners, and even those who presume themselves to be morally good. What of your soul, friend? Have you climbed a tree just for a glimpse of Christ, or have you folded your Bible after worship last Sunday and just now opened it for a glimpse? Zacchaeus got more than a glimpse, and so will all who earnestly seek Him!

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Young Cupbearer - a Devotion for 15 June 2018, Anno Domini

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

N
OWin the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem(Ezra 1:1-4)

There is a wonderful historical heritage of the great land of Persia. One of her greatest gifts for our learning and edification was Cyrus the Great – the first King who was beneficent to conquered peoples and honored their faith and customs. 

            When in the fifth grade, I read the following story in my reader concerning this great king. My school room was hot and crowded, but I felt all alone with the Persian king as I read of his great compassion. I dreamed of going and seeing that land, but had the almost certain view that such a privilege would never be mine. I was so very impressed that he had compassion on his people in spite of his great power. I was privileged to stand in the ruins of the summer palace of Cyrus (prononced ‘Kourush” in Farsi – the Persian language) where Daniel the prophet also had stood. I have visited the mountain tomb of Astyages (grandfather to Cyrus), Darius the Great, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, and others whose bodies lay in state in the Mountain of Mercy overlooking Perscepolis. I lived nearby this historical site for more than five years . . . .  and I was over-awed in visitng the stone tomb of Cyrus the Great. Over the huge door of his tomb are these words engraved, “O man, whosoever thour, and from whithersoever thou comest, Behold, I am Cyrus the Great King – therefore begrudge me not the small dust that covers my bones.”

            Cyrus the Great was my childhood hero on a par with General Robert E. Lee. I hope you will enjoy a reminder in this story of the kind of stories that illumined the mind of our American youth more than sixty years ago.

THE KING’S CUPBEARER

A short story by James Baldwin

LONG, long ago, there lived in Persia a little prince whose name was Cyrus. He was not petted and spoiled like many other princes. Although his father was a king, Cyrus was brought up like the son of a common man. He knew how to work with his hands. He ate only the plainest food. He slept on a hard bed. He learned to endure hunger and cold.

When Cyrus was twelve years old he went with his mother to Media to visit his grandfather. His grandfather, whose name was Astyages, was king of Media, and very rich and powerful. Cyrus was so tall and strong and handsome that his grandfather was very proud of him. He wished the lad to stay with him in Media. He therefore gave him many beautiful gifts and everything that could please a prince.

One day King Astyages planned to make a great feast for the lad. The tables were to be laden with all kinds of food. There was to be music and dancing; and Cyrus was to invite as many guests as he chose.

The hour for the feast came. Everything was ready. The servants were there, dressed in fine uniforms. The musicians and dancers were in their places. But no guests came. “How is this, my dear boy?” asked the king. “The feast is ready, but no one has come to partake of it.”

“That is because I have not invited any one,” said Cyrus. “In Persia we do not have such feasts. If any one is hungry, he eats some bread and meat, with perhaps a few cresses, and that is the end of it. We never go to all this trouble and expense of making a fine dinner in order that our friends may eat what is not good for them.”

King Astyages did not know whether to be pleased or displeased.

“Well” said he, “all these rich foods that were prepared for the feast are yours. What will you do with them?”

“I think I will give them to our friends,” said Cyrus.

So he gave one portion to the king’s officer who had taught him to ride. Another portion he gave to an old servant who waited upon his grandfather. And the rest he divided among the young women who took care of his mother.

The king’s cupbearer, Sarcas, was very much offended because he was not given a share of the feast. The king also wondered why this man, who was his favorite, should be so slighted.

“Why didn’t you give something to Sarcas?” he asked.

“Well, truly,” said Cyrus, “I do not like him. He is proud and overbearing. He thinks that he makes a fine figure when he waits on you.”

“And so he does,” said the king. “He is very skillful as a cupbearer.”

“That may be so,”answered Cyrus, “but if you will let me be your cupbearer tomorrow, I think I can serve you quite as well.”

King Astyages smiled. He saw that Cyrus had a will of his own, and this pleased him very much.

“I shall be glad to see what you can do,” he said.

“To-morrow, you shall be the king s cupbearer”

You would hardly have known the young prince when the time came for him to appear before his grandfather. He was dressed in the rich uniform of the cupbearer, and he came forward with much dignity and grace. He carried a white napkin upon his arm, and held the cup of wine very daintily with three of his fingers. His manners were perfect. Sarcas himself could not have served the king half so well.

 “Bravo! bravo!” cried his mother, her eyes sparkling with pride. 

“You have done well,” said his grandfather. “But you neglected one important thing. It is the rule and custom of the cupbearer to pour out a little of the wine and taste it before handing the cup to me. This you forgot to do.”

“Indeed, grandfather, I did not forget it,” answered Cyrus.

“Then why didn t you do it?” asked his mother.

“Because I believed there was poison in the wine.”

“Poison, my boy!” cried King Astyages, much alarmed. “Poison! poison!”

 “Yes, grandfather, poison. For the other day, when you sat at dinner with your officers, I noticed that the wine made you act queerly. After the guests had drunk quite a little of it, they began to talk foolishly and sing loudly; and some of them went to sleep. And you, grandfather, were as bad as the rest. You forgot that you were king. You forgot all your good manners. You tried to dance and fell upon the floor. I am afraid to drink anything that makes men act in that way.”

 “Didn t you ever see your father behave so?” asked the king.

 “No, never,” said Cyrus. “He does not drink merely to be drinking. He drinks to quench his thirst, and that is all.”

When Cyrus became a man, he succeeded his father as king of Persia; he also succeeded his grandfather Astyages as king of Media. He was a very wise and powerful ruler, and he made his country the greatest of any that was then known. In history he is commonly called Cyrus the Great.

NOTE: Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon through ingenious stratagem and in accord with biblical prophecy of Isaiah - Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.   -  (Isaiah 44:26-28 \)When David showed him this prophecy which had been spoken 200 years earlier, Cyrus was overwhelmed. He did send the Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild it. The Euphrates River was dried up to make Cyrus' entry into Babylon possible since her walls were invincible – all foretold 200 years previous to Cyrus’ birth.

            Cyrus once surrounded the city of Lydia in Asia Minor. The king agreed to surrender without resistance. In reward for that favor, Cyrus told the conquered king, “You can have anything you ask of me.” The conquered king requested a very large quantity of gold. The aide of Cyrus was incensed that the king would be so presumptive. But Cyrus told his aide, “You should know that this man honors me as a great king since only a great king can give great gifts.” Perhaps a lesson lies therein in our prayers to our King of Kings! (J. Ogles)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Growing Younger – 14 June 2018, Anno Domini


And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 18:2-4)

            A newly converted Christian is the youngest creature known to man for he has just been born anew! Have you ever considered salvation from that point of view? To be ‘born again’ means to begin a life in this world that continues for eternity. So our earthly lives are but a vapor of steam compared to the Eternity Future. How young we are when we have come to know Christ. Being born again does not have the same meaning that Nicodemus tried to give it. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:3-4) Nicodemus may not have understood, either, once Jesus had given him the answer; but now his spiritual curiosity was piqued to its maximum and he would never again come to Jesus by night, but broad daylight! Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.  (John 3:5-8)

            Those who learn things of the Spirit must learn just as a little child learns. All of the old superstitions and misconceptions must be swept away to make room for that new Spirit of Truth and Promise that is being imparted by God’s Holy Word. I was struck to the core by a song I heard sung by George Beverly Shea (Will the Circle be Unbroken) as I drove to conduct a funeral recently:

Will the Circle be Unbroken

There are loved ones in the glory, 

Whose dear forms you often miss; 

When you close your earthly story, 

Will you join them in their bliss?


In the joyous days of childhood,

Oft they told of wondrous love, 

Pointed to the dying Saviour; 

Now they dwell with Him above.



Will the circle be unbroken

By and by, by and by?

There’s a better home awaiting

In the sky, in the sky?



You remember songs of heaven

Which you sang with childish voice, 

Do you love the hymns they taught you,
 
Or are songs of earth your choice?

            The most impressive part of this song was in the last verse quoted. When we were children, it was so easy to believe. I never asked a four year old if they loved Jesus who did not respond in an absolute affirmative. Those old songs we sang as children in Bible camp – Climbing Jacob’s Ladder; Jesus Loves Me; Jesus Loves the Little Children, etc – seemed so easy to sing, and our youthful hearts did not question a word of those hymns. As we grew older, and our hearts were distracted from those ancient truths, we allowed the world to take the place of heaven in our souls.            

The passage quoted from Matthew 18 begins with our Lord doing something a bit unusual for the Asian minds of the Middle East. They were accustomed to persons of children being subordinated to the privileges of the adults, but Jesus placed them right in the midst as if they were the honored guest for His discourse: “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them.” It is true that Jesus really does love the little children just as our Bible school hymn says. He next taught the listeners a lesson that may have confused them just as Nicodemus had been confused: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Wouldn’t you have cherished the privilege of being there – of hearing the Words of Jesus, and watching the little children – as Jesus called to their youthful hearts and they came promptly in obedience to His call? They had no idea what Jesus wanted with them, but they responded immediately and trustingly to this Strangers call. How different would children be today who have been taught to trust no stranger; but Jesus is a stranger to every heart of a sinner. He only becomes a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother” when we have been called and chosen to belong to Him. But children are different. Their hearts are trusting, malleable, and innocent. It is easy for them to come to Christ.

            Unfortunately, it is usually the adults that stand in the way of their coming to Him by their arrogance, their own lack of faith, or their claims to primacy above them. 13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence. (Matt 19:13-15) Unfortunately, it is often those who are closest to Jesus who prevent others such as these children and blind Bartemaeus from coming to him, or the Syro-Phoenician woman. When we have gained the privilege of salvation in Christ, we often believe that sets us apart as somehow more worthy than the riff-raff that seeks access to His Heart. We forget that we, too, were riff-raff before we came to be children of God.

            In order to be useful to God, we need to cast away all the trappings of pride of title, of possessions, and of position, and become humble and meek as little children. By the way, I will say that there is a far greater strength in meekness and humility than any brute force. Brute force grasps at everything simply because everything is within its reach; but humility reaches out in peace and refuses that to which it is not entitled.

            What happens to our children in America between the trusting ages of five and fifteen? Something terrible happens to that little soul that was once so prone to hear, and believe, the Word of God. Often the parents do not instill any affirmation of faith in their hearts, and the public schools do all in their power to discourage belief in anything other than self and state.

            Today, being young is all the rage. If you want to really be young, take heed to today’s devotion. Everyone who names the Name of Christ is a child in His estimation. We in the Church, if we are true to the faith, are as little children – loving and being loved.  When the Lord calls us to a duty, we come immediately and without question. He can lift us up on His knee, or send us away on errands, but we always respond with immediate dispatch. How old are you, Friend.

Are you as a little Child in the kingdom of Heaven?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Parable of the Old Testament, 13 June 2018, Anno Domini


…  Remember the Alamo…


The Setting
22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you. 24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks. 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house. 28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more.  And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon(Judges 8:22-28)

In preceding texts leading up to the men of Israel asking Gideon to be their king, Gideon was a young shepherd of small stature. He was called upon by the Lord to defeat the Midianites and Amalekites who fielded an army of 132,000. In the economy of God, it is possible to have too large of an army to go forth to battle. Gideon mustered 32,000 men for battle, but God told him that number was too large. He asked all who needed to return home to do so, but still 10,000 remained which the Lord said was too many. Finally, Gideon took the men down to the waters of Harod at the command of the Lord. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place(Judges 7:6-7)

There is a time and place for everything under the sun according to Solomon – a time to bow the knee, but also a time to be vigilant for battle and not to bow the knee. Gideon was left with the 300 who did not bow the knee. With these 300 men, he divided his forces in three parts in the face of the enemy – not wise by human military tactics, but God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Gideon routed and defeated all of the great host of the enemy with only these three hundred men. Whose victory do you suppose this was? Was it Gideon’s, of the three hundred, or was it God’s victory. It was God’s victory beyond any doubt!

The Result
22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you(Judges 8:22-23) Who needs a worldly king who loses great battles as did the king of the Midianites when God will serve far better with such a small number as Gideon had in defeating that king of Midian. We have King Jesus as our King, or we are forlorn of worth and hope. For the first two hundred years of our existence as a nation, America had a High King to guide and govern the nation through the hands and minds of honorable men. Now what!

Gideon sleeps with his fathers
32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god. 34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: 35 Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.(Judges 8:32-35)

             Does this situation sound familiar to you? The Providence of the Lord God oversaw our founding as a nation through able and godly men such as Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and a host of others. Yet, our history books do not credit God or these great men with any accomplishment at all; preferring rather to pay homage to those who advocate the destruction of the American Republic!

            Abimelech was a son of Gideon by his concubine in Shechem. He was jealous, LIKE UNTO Ishmael, for power and killed his own brethren at Ophrah, seventy men altogether. But Jotham, the young son of Gideon survived! Then, all the men of Shechem and of Milo made Abimelech king over them.

The Parable
7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. 8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. 11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. 13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. 15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon(Judges 9:7-15)

            It is my hope those American patriots among those who read these lines (and this parable) will take heed to the warning of it. There is a great political lesson, as well as spiritual, to be learned herein. Godly rulers will not strive for the power of the crown, but will happily defer that role to God Almighty. All of the works and duties of such man as Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Patrick Henry, Lee and others, will be directed toward satisfying the higher law of God – not the whims and fads of men. Just as was Washington disposed to want, they prefer to tend to their farms and homes rather than rule over a nation. But there are disreputable men who will seek the crown at all cost, not caring for the law of God, but preferring the wicked ways of the Deceiver. The two diverse groups are described in the parable.

The people of a nation are described
The treeswent forth on a time to anoint a king over them.

The first class of God fearing men
8and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. 11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. 13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Great men do not seek to possess power, it falls into their hands from the Throne of God; and the execute that power based upon his dictates as did Gideon. Each of the types of trees mentioned produce fruit. The Bramble does not!

The second class of power hungry scoundrels
14 Then said all the treesunto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. 15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon. Please consider the present moral demise of America – a land once beloved with pristine values and high standards of moral compunction. What happened to our beloved land? Have we not opted for the bramble to rule over us in all three branches of our government? Who shall we blame at our coming fall – the rulers into whose hands we have entrusted the diadem of government, or those who knowingly placed such men of decadent and licentious character in office?  “Then said all the trees!” Friends, the majority of the American people opted for the lowest standard in government, and even the righteous must suffer along with the unrighteous the outcome of God’s wrath.

            I dare not pray that God will bless America in her present downfallen state – a state that she has chosen for herself. Instead, I pray that God will bring a purifying judgment of wrath upon the fair prairies and mountains of our once-great country – not to destroy it, but to save it from fools and sinners!

            Tomorrow is Independence Day – the day our great Declaration of Independence was signed. On such a day, let us remember Concord, Lexington, Valley Forge, Yorktown, Chancellorsvile, Gettysburg, Flanders Fields, Iwo Jima, Bastogne, and Normandy. We may do well to remember the courageous men of Chosin Reservoir, of Bong Son, of Long Binh, of Fallujah, and a thousand other battlefields unheralded in our day upon which American blood and valor was spent that we might have liberties that are being threatened by our present regime! And, too, “Remember the Alamo!”