The Ashland City Counsel gave their initial approval to rob Americans this past week. The Ashland Source reported that the town is receiving $150,000 from the DEPARTMENT OF Housing and Urban Development, a federal program which gains its funds through unbiblical taxation. The stolen goods will be mainly used to pay for blacktop.
Recieving stolen goods is, we should remember, essentially the same as stealing the goods ourselves. It shows that we approve of the theft and are glad to have someone else's money without having worked for it or received the victims consent. The act of receiving it may be a worse crime, biblically speaking, because we use it for our own benefit and use a mediator to do the oppressing for us.
We Maust recognize that God outlines a specific role for civil magistrates. They are to "bear the sword" and be the avenger of God upon the evildoer (Rom.13:1-4). In sum, this role is one of justice, specifically the power to execute criminals who commit capital crimes.
The role of the sword does not permit governing officials to take money from its citizenry and redistribute it for pet projects. Thus, to use such funds for paving roads or renovating our neighborhoods is akin to robbing our next door neighbor to put in new flooring in our house. Worse yet, it is having Vinnie the Greek go rob our neighbor on our behalf.
Interestingly, the DHUD says the money is collected for "preventing blight." But the Bible says that blight is caused by unrighteousness and injustice. In Deuteronomy 28 we read of God's curses,
""But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you...The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish." Deuteronomy 28:15, 22
If Ashland officials wish to improve the living conditions in our area, they should do as God says and reject the stolen money. God promises blessings to those who fear Him and obey. He says that obedience will produce the following,
"And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow." - Deuteronomy 28:11-12
Heroin and drug use are the number one problems facing our area today. Reports of their destruction come out daily and drug related deaths are skyrocketing.
But users and their families should know that deliverance is possible. There is a way to escape the cult of addiction and religion of substance abuse. It is by turning to Jesus Christ, and beginning to worship the true and living God.
We’ve been conditioned to think that the answer to addiction is found in a twelve step program, a stint at a recovery facility, or better law enforcement tactics. But the ultimate solution is not in behavioral modification, educational programs, or conditioning. The only real and lasting remedy is wholesale religious conversion.
While we can be thankful for the existence of such programs we must recognize that something deeper is at stake. Addiction, at its most fundamental level, is a cult. It is primarily a religious issue having to do with servitude and worship.
The Bible says that we are either slaves to God or to something else. A slave of God will serve the Lord and have Him as the supreme object of his delight. An idolater will serve some other object (such as drugs, drink, sex, etc.) and will find his primary delight in it.
This is the nature of addiction. The drink or drug becomes your master. It once served you; it relieved your pain or gave you a little pleasure. But now it rules you. You have come to feel that you cannot live without it. You crave it, throw your money at it, and give it an absurd amount of attention.
It has become your religion.
It is deeper than mere appetite. It is a matter of faith. For the drug has become the object of trust: It is relied upon for happiness. It promises to save, fulfill, and relieve your pains. You believe in it and rely upon it as the only hope of satisfaction.
The worship is further seen in that the addict can’t bring himself to stop. Addicts will try to stop, but they can’t. The drug has become an idol to whom they are religiously devoted. It is the dominant force in their life.
If an addict is to be helped, he must acknowledge that he does not have a drug problem per se. He must admit that he has a faith problem. It is not so much about what is injected, smoked, or swallowed as much as it is about what is worshiped, adored, and served.
Thus, the road to recovery (i.e. redemption) lies in religious conversion. It is by repentance and turning to the one who is the one and only living God. The one who offers true life and eternal salvation.
All in all, the cleansing of the veins and clearing of the mind begins with a cleansing of the heart and clarity on the issue of idolatry.
In future articles we will explore more of the religious nature of addiction and how the Christian faith provides a means of escape. In the meantime, addicts (and affected loved ones) can explore the recovery helps that Hopewell offers at hopewellashland.com.
Matt Timmons, Pastor
[The above article was submitted to the newspapers in Ashland as a means of combating the rising heroin problem in our area. For help with addiction recovery please contact Matt or visit hopewellashland.com]
Say hello to Genesis Christian Academy, the new Christian high school here in Ashland.
Genesis is a metamorphosis of Veritas Classical, the former Christian high school that ended up closing its doors this past May. Many of the teachers and students associated with Veritas will be continuing to teach under the banner of Genesis this fall.
Genesis came about much due to the hard work of Felicia Dupre, who's son attended Veritas. Dupre was grieved that the school was being discontinued because she thought it was such a great program. She then began talking to parents and teachers about the possibility of resurrecting the institution.
Those talks turned into a giant summer push to solidify classes and a core of students.
Finances were obviously a concern scrutinized during these discussions. The determined goal was to keep the classes as affordable as possible without compromising the quality of teachers.
Now that Genesis has been officially birthed, Dupre & the GCA staff are inviting parents to check out how this new institution can serve their educational needs. The classes and their descriptions have been posted on the GCA website and questions can be pointed to Dupre.
While students may enroll as a full time student GCA, classes are offered in buffet style. In sum, parents may opt their child(ren) in for as many or as few classes as they desire. Some of the classes include algebre I & II, Biology, Bible, Creative Writing, Chemistry, Latin I & II, and Western Civ. I & II. A complete list of classes may be found on their website.
I will be teaching creative writing at Genesis this fall. In the spring I may teach two sections of a great books class, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.
Deadline to enroll is August 14th and a parent teacher informational meeting will be held on August 18th. Parents who are interested in finding out more are encouraged to visit the website and send any questions to Felicia.
I was asked to participate in today's Election Day Prayer event that is being held downtown. It is put on by Southview Church and the Coalition, a conservative political group here in town. My segment of prayer is to focus on the topic of families. Here is what I plan to say...
As we bow our faces before you we acknowledge that a renewal in our country requires a renewal in our marriages and families. We know that we cannot have the former without first having repentance and reformation in the latter.
We confess that our nation is broken because our homes are broken. We suffer oppression from Pharaohs and Caesars because we have not first had godly mothers and fathers.
So we pray that you would grant us renewal at the grassroots level. May there be a reformation in our land, where we take to heart what it means to be united in the covenant of holy matrimony. May we begin to see that there is nothing more patriotic than the fidelity of a husband and his wife. May you grant us fathers and mothers who, instead of slaying their children, will instead love them and cherish them all their days. May these parents then take up their responsibility to train their children them in the fear of you and not further the decay of our country by handing them over to schools where atheism and relativism are the rule.
As we stand here today, we pray “God save the home.”
But yet, we know that as the king goes, so goes the nation. And for this reason we pray not just for a grassroots revival, but we also pray for our leaders and the policies that they make.
Lord, we ask that you would grant that those who would win out these elections would be restrained from instituting policies that further the destruction of marriage and family in our land. Instead, may they be made to do what is just and promote what is in accord with rule of King Jesus.
We pray that policies that strike against godliness would be revoked. You know how our nation permits (and even encourages) things like divorce, sodomy, and abortion. Moreover, our leaders continue to wrap the chains of debt around us. They oppress our families with heavy taxation. They rip apart families with their welfare programs. All this leads only to death at every level.
So we pray, like our forefather’s before us “God save the king.”
Finally, We pray “God save the church.” Where is the light to be found for our families? It is not in the pure preaching of your word and in the revelation of Biblical Truth. Father, we know that families will only rise out of the ashes when you unleash the gospel and unveil the fullness of its saving power. So we pray that you would raise up godly men to preach your word and send them throughout our nation as heralds of Your eternal kingdom.
All this we pray in the strong name of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I just had some JW's come to my door. I have to say I enjoy the Mormons much more. The JW ladies lied to me, insulted me, and were not in the least bit interested in a back and forth interaction. They accused me of being "divisive" and unChrist like because I 1) called them out on their deception and 2) took them to Scriptures in their own Bibles that proved what they said was wrong.
If anyone should have thrown insults it should have been me. I pointed out various times how they lied to me and tried to use deceptive language about Christ in order to trick me. For instance, they first said that Jesus was god (making it sound like he is equal to the Father). Then they said that Jesus was just a god. Then they said that Jesus was not god (making it sound like he had no divinity at all). Then they said that Jesus was merely the Son of God.
Well, which is it ladies? I'll tell you which it is: It is all a lie and you are intentionally trying to deceive. People who have truth need no use of cunning schemes and double talk.
The truth is powerful enough and speaks for itself.
As part of our outreach effort, I'm starting to send out letters to people in our community. I have been going through the phonebook and addressing personal, hand written letters to each household.
In these letters I introduce myself as a local pastor and say that I would like to offer them any pastoral services I can, such as prayer and/or pastoral counsel.
I got the idea from our prayer stand. We've had such success with it that I thought I would try offering it on a broader scale.
I tell them that I will keep everything in the strictest confidence and that they can contact me whenever they would like.
Along with it I include a gospel tract and our church's contact information.
If anything, this might be a cheap form of advertising. I pray though, that it might truly be effective for showing our concern for the souls of Ashland.
Do you remember the article I wrote for the pastor's column about a wife's submission? Well, of course it caused a stir. How dare I quote passages from the Bible that deal with Biblical womanhood!
I simply wanted to make sure that the responses were properly noted.
I got a couple letters to the editor written about me. Here is one piece that was sent in by a local pastor. You'll notice that it talks about everything except what a woman's submission actually is. It talks about a man's role to lovingly lead (of which I fully agree with). It talks about our mutual submission to one another (of which I fully agree). However, it fails to deal with what was wrong with my article and do justice to the Biblical import of Colossians 3:18. In sum, it is basically slanderous and completely irresponsible exegesis.
The other response of note was from the Ashland County Ministerial Association. The president and executive committee got a little upset and chose to exert power they didn't have. They issued some "proclamations" at the next ministerial meeting, one of which was that you shouldn't publish anything controversial (See #5 on the link). I like how they restrict the ministry of the gospel to the ministry of those things which are in the Ministerial Handbook.
My friend Joe and I have been doing some street evangelism through the summer here in Ashland and over in Mansfield. We've had so many opportunities to share the gospel and are praying that fruit may come of it. Here are a few pics of some of our outings:
Providence's evangelism team recently purchased this prayer stand to assist in our outreach to the area. Joe and I gave it a "test drive" yesterday and we were blessed in our time out on the town.
Joe picked a perfect spot to set it up: just outside the municipal building in Mansfield, a place where people were definitely interested in having prayers offered for them! We were there from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm and enjoyed a steady flow of people passing by.
We got to pass out a goodly number of tracts, and many of them were read as people walked away or sat around waiting for their court hearing. More significantly, we had opportunity to talk to a couple people who wanted prayer.
One such person was Dora. Dora was 8 months pregnant and going in to court because her boyfriend had beaten her. She requested prayer for the case and her pregnancy. We talked with her, prayed for her, and gave her a gospel tract.
Ben was our most intriguing contact. He was on his way to an AA meeting up the street and, as he sped past, he asked that we pray for his sobriety. He came back after his meeting and we talked for about 1/2 hour about the gospel and how it applies to addictions. Ben expressed that he had recently made a profession of faith. So we encouraged him to continue trusting Christ for the power to overcome these addictions. Then we concluded our time with prayer.
All in all, we loved the addition of the prayer stand. For one, it is a good "marker." It helps people know what we are out to do. It also makes others more inclined to approach us as most people are willing to have prayers offered for them and would avoid someone who is out doing straight up evangelism.
As mentioned above, Joe and I had a great time out on our trial run. We are looking forward to doing this on a more regular basis. It is our plan to be in both Ashland and Mansfield on a weekly basis through the spring and summer months.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.