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THESE TIMES


Busy these days? Well, you’re not the only one, welcome to the club! Young, old, single, married, employed, retired – the endless to-do list, the constant buzz of activity. No need to explain how busy you are, as everybody is, but why  you are busy. The honeybee sucks nectar from the flower and is admired, the mosquito sucks blood from your arm and is swatted. Both of them keep busy. And what about you? These times keep us preoccupied, in permanent stress. Can’t bother with spiritual matters, no time for eternal times. Seeking the “best life” in the here and now, the hereafter’s not only out of sight but out of mind. “There is no God,” says the intellectual with a smirk. “Only a fool says there is no God,” declares the Bible. Funny how people either don’t believe in or want nothing to do with God, but when it comes to dying, they wish to meet their ”kindred spirits” and loved ones in Heaven, God’s home.

Are you a Christian? Yes? No? Don’t know? Don’t care? The word “Christian” is abused these days. By modern definition, I’m not. Nowadays, the word describes some non-Muslim religion, usually Catholic, which I’m not. I don’t pay my dues to the Man in White. You believe in God? Yes? Good! It’s a start, but no big deal, a lot of people do. Even the demons believe and shake in their shoes (James 2:19). Don’t want to think about it? Just tuck that question away, nice and cosy. Your comfort zone is a buffer zone, safe and sound in the shelter of your fake reality.

Not a single thought is wasted on God – until trouble hits home. Then it’s there, that flaky shaky little prayer on trembling lips, spoken by the same tongue that will surely curse the name of God if help’s not instant. Even the atheist is a believer when it comes to blaming God. The System is to blame, no doubt, but we bring trouble upon ourselves as well. Same old story. People long to be free and in their freedom become slaves of sin. Free to destroy and self-destruct. So what’s new? Nothing, says King Solomon:

“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9). 

You think our “enlightened” generation’s an exception? Think again! It isn’t. With all the conflicts among nations, the clashes between rioters and the police, the dangerous toys the big boys have on standby, as nationalistic & patriotic tempers flare, the next world war is only a nudge, push and shove away. Nothing’s changed. The unregenerated heart of man is corrupt and evil as it’s always been, and the Prince of Darkness is stirring up trouble as he always has.

The people play, eat, drink and are merry, lusting in prosperity. Cheers to the gods of pleasure! Life is well-organized, overall wellness and financial security are ensured, physical and mental health is sustained by weekend activities with family & friends. Hustle and bustle of the week is rewarded by recreation on the weekend. The sunny, peaceful life of well-being will in fact come tumbling down. Politicians, so-called experts and religious leaders have sunken into a sea of confusion and helplessness. Peace in the Middle East is unobtainable, natural disasters are unstoppable, waves of refugees are uncontrollable and war is inevitable. If you don’t believe it, that’s regrettable.

"In the last days there will be on Earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the Earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Lord coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21: 25-27).

Religious fanatics are not God-centered, but rather self-centered and have caused many a sorrow throughout history. They crucified Jesus and martyred those who dared defy the Roman papacy of medieval Europe. There’s a wide variety of such fanatics in these times. ISIS extremists wipe out whole populations, white supremacists elsewhere in the world worship their flag and kill to defend it while right-wing radicals, driven by their bloated racist egos, attack those of other nationalities.

These times are dreadful, but I’m not worried. The Word of God reveals His help in the time of need for those who believe. 

Lots of disease going around:

“The Lord will take away from you all sickness and will not allow you to be afflicted with any of the terrible diseases of Egypt”  (Deuteronomy 7:15). 

In the Bible, “Egypt” symbolizes the world, and God makes a difference between believers and non-believers. The non-believers hang on tight to their doctors in a desperate attempt to hang on to life.

If it’s all ya got, ya ain’t got much. Life is but a vapor. Like a high-speed autobahn.  Full of laughter, full of sorrow – here today, gone tomorrow.

Natural disasters: 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth be shaken, and though the mountains fall into the midst of the sea"  (Psalm 46: 1-2).

Tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, floods – no fear if you’re safe and sound under the shelter of the Almighty. The Lord knows and takes care of His own. If we take comfort in anything else, it’s more than likely an idol and we will be in deep water when trouble comes. 

War and terror:

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold"  (Psalm 18:2). 

"Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"  (Ephesians 6:12).

The Bible forbids to kill. No discussion, no excuse, end of story. Our weapons are of a spiritual nature and are much more powerful than any conventional weapons this world has to offer.

In face of the lies and hypocrisy we are surrounded by on a daily basis, how refreshing is the Word of God! Truth to grab hold of and hang on to. Just can’t stand religion. It lays heavy burdens on many a weary shoulder, burdens that our Creator never placed there.

FD





WHICH ONE?

 

The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside still waters

And restores my soul.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

 

Yes, though I walk through the valley

Of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 

You prepare a table before me

In the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil,

My cup runs over.

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall

Follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house

Of the Lord forever.

Or ...


The 23rd Channel

The TV is my shepherd, I want nothing else

It makes me lie down on the sofa

It leads me away from the faith

And destroys my soul.

It leads me in the path of sex and violence

For the sponsor’s sake.

 

Yes, though I walk in the shadow

Of spiritual darkness

I fear no evil, for TV is with me.

Its blue light and remote control, they comfort me.

 

It prepares commercials for me

In the presence of my worldliness

It anoints my head with

Humanism and consumerism

My cup of coveting runs over.

 

Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow me

All the days of my life and I shall dwell

In the house watching TV

Till the day I die.

 

The above allusion to the 23rd Psalm is a sad but accurate description of the mass majority of people. Watching TV in the evening, after a hard day at the office, is the most popular inactivity worldwide. How soothing the dream world can be! 

As an English teacher for adults, two popular questions have always been: “What did you do yesterday evening or last weekend?” – practicing the past tense – and “What are you doing this evening or this weekend?” – the future tense. Sadly enough, most of the replies go something like “I watched TV” or “I’m going to relax and watch TV”. 

Watching TV often involves the entire family. Oh yeah, I forgot, it’s called a “family entertainment center”. Not only mom and dad have been working hard the whole day, the kids must be worn out from a tiring day at school and have also earned their right to a “fix”. Yeah, that’s more like it! Switch off and shut out reality.

Now, where do we get our information from that we so eagerly pass on to others? TV. Right? And Internet. Of course newspapers are still read here and there. When I quote a Bible scripture, though, you can be sure that I did not get it from television. But what about all those “Christian” programs on TV, you might ask. 

Well, it seems those programs or “worship services” are mainly centered around some strong personality who calls him or herself an evangelist, often as slick and slimy as a car salesman, who is either more like a motivational guru or at best a preacher of a watered-down version of the Gospel, and intent on moving money from your pocket to his bank account:

“God gave me a prophecy about end time events soon to come. Buy my book for a ‘love gift’ of $25 and read all about it!”

What's even more disturbing than this ploy is that people are falling for it and turning over their hard-earned money to these false prophets.

I recall being fascinated years ago by YouTube videos that revealed “hidden messages” in TV commercials promoting everything from sex to the purchase of various products. Looking them up again, I was surprised to find most of the same old videos but not much of anything really new. Watching the crime dramas, sitcoms or movies in these so-called modern times makes it readily clear why hidden sex messages are no longer needed. 

Years ago it was different. Such things had to be hidden in order to keep the proverbial frog from jumping right back out of the boiling water. Instead, the cold water was gradually heated up over the years as we allowed our brains to slowly dissolve. Amazing how we have become so insensitive to the unfaithful husband or wife, complete with the sex scene of the culprits in the privacy of a bedroom, or to the murder of a human being, quite vividly portrayed in blood and guts. Or to the fact that we have a front row seat in our living room to witness the “tender” kiss of two gays, and the list goes on.

Many people call it progress, on the Eve of a New Age. I call it moral decay on the Eve of Destruction. They get their information from Corporate Media, I get my information from the Bible. As simple as that. TV is the great educator of the masses. 

For all the entertainment offered nowadays, it amazes me to hear the mournful cry time and again of “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do”. As a child, I can’t remember ever saying or hearing such exclamations. All this passive entertainment does no one any good. Of course, TV is not the only escape from reality.

I was a part of the old Atari generation. We had oodles of fun, all the more when Nintendo then made its debut. After that it was Super Nintendo, followed by games such as Wii or Playstation. Now they put on virtual-reality glasses and headsets. Whether 2D or 3D, it all amounts to the same thing – escape from reality. 

People are offered a whole array of alternate realities, like never before. Why are they so popular? I suppose because genuine reality is too hard to bear. The problem is, just as the rich man cannot take his money with him when he dies, neither can that alternative reality accompany us when we pass from this life.

Only reality will remain. Not the mush of distortions and deceptions that Corporate Media has dished out, turning our brains into putty and deadening our sense of what’s right and decent. Corporate Media has done a thorough job of brainwashing the population via Media Mush, also known as media goo, brain syrup or zombie food. 

Media Mush has been defined as a collection of lies, scripts, deception, disinformation, distractions, progaganda, fairy tales and mind control that is served up to the consumers of Corporate Media. “Mush” is an indefinable glob of porridge. Media Mush is what people swallow when they turn on the TV, surf the Internet, listen to the radio or read the newspaper.

I am by no means innocent in this matter. Having no desire to be numbered among the hypocrites, I need to give the reader a brief summary of my long-standing relationship with TV.

Entering our living room for the first time, you might not even notice the TV. It’s black & flat, positioned in a recess and surrounded by shelves of books. Turn it on, though, and it draws eyes like a magnet. Ever notice that? No matter where a TV is on, at home or in a public place like a waiting lounge or an airport, it has a hypnotic effect.

A television that’s running demands attention – and usually gets it. I remember attending a “First Apostolic Church” in Marion, Indiana years ago that was definitely anti-television. So I did not own one and in retrospect, I didn’t miss it. 

Then we moved to Germany and set up household, which included a TV. My excuse back then was that listening to German television would help me learn German faster, which it probably did. From then on, TV and I built up a friendship that has lasted for decades now.

It hasn’t been so long ago, a couple of years, that Lis and I were into TV series. Every week, evening after evening, with questions like, “When will you be home? This is ‘Dr. House’ evening, don’t forget!” Meanwhile, it’s hard to understand what we ever saw in those make-believe worlds.  

I still watch the news and an occasional documentary can be interesting, also about far away places. Nature shows are OK, but it gets on my nerves when the theory of evolution is crammed down your throat. TV will teach you that the Earth is millions of years old and that human beings date back to at least 35,000 years. The Bible puts it only at 6,000 years. 

To the question of whether I could imagine ever getting rid of television some day in the future, my answer would be “yes”. It might not be a radical break, but we do sense a gradual lack of interest in what TV has to offer. I’m growing tired of Media Mush. I no longer want an opinion or a weltanschauung – world view – that’s shaped by Corporate Media. 

To be sure, I’ve had people tell me they’d given up TV. At first, I looked at them with a new respect, only to discover they were “filling the gap” by watching their series and movies via Internet. Big deal! What’s the difference (other than the smaller screen)?

Not the type but the content of the media is what counts. It’s about an awakening, a revelation, a change of heart. The worst of crimes is to take the life of a fellow human. How can murder be entertaining? Then again, how have those other ugly traits of humankind become elements of entertainment? 

How would you feel if your best friends, your family or your partner committed murder or adultery, would be hateful, would steal from you or lie to you? Wouldn’t it be disgusting? Repulsive? And yet we flop down on the couch with popcorn or potato chips and a bottle of beer to “enjoy” all of the above and much more. What a great way to kill time, till time is no more.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery”, You shall not murder”, You shall not lie” and “You shall not covet” are all summed up in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13). 

If you truly love, you will not be unfaithful, nor will you murder or steal from another. The TV and the Bible are at odds with one another.

While the Bible says: 

Now the works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, envy, murders and the like, and those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5)

TV says: 

"This is good stuff, you’re going to love it. So sit back, put your feet up and relax, switch off what’s left of your brain and enjoy my own creation of reality! Come unto me, one and all, and let us reshape this world together."

 

Fred