Vicious Cycle by Pastor Abidan Shah

VICIOUS CYCLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: Have you ever made the same mistake twice or thrice or more times? Have you ever found yourself saying – “I knew better.” I love spaghetti but spaghetti and white shirts are magnets. It seems like every time I eat spaghetti I am wearing a white shirt and it’s a matter of time before there’s a red spot on my shirt. It’s a vicious cycle. That is very very trivial compared to what is happening in our country. We are about to make the same mistake that other ancient cultures that were very advanced for their time also made and they suffered total extinction. We are talking about the issue of abortion. We think that it’s no big deal but we are about to repeat a very vicious cycle of self-destruction. The message is called “VICIOUS CYCLE.”

Deuteronomy 12     29“When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

Question: Are you aware of the debate that is taking place in our country today regarding late term abortion? New York passed a bill that would allow abortion after the 24thweek and as late as the 40thweek. By the way, there were eight other states that already had no gestational limits – Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington DC. According to the CDC, only 1.3% of the abortions are after 21 weeks. How many is that? If there were 638,169 abortions per year recently, that’s about 8000 late term abortions in a year in America. It’s right there with gun related murders and yet abortion is okay but guns are not. Last week, many of you saw the video of delegate in Virginia introducing a similar bill in the House of Delegates. Where do you stand? What do you think about life? It’s an issue that affects all of us. Do you have eternal life? Are you saved?Pray: Holy Spirit – give us biblical convictions. Help us to stand for the innocent, especially those who don’t have a voice. Save the lost.

Context: As many of you know that we went to Israel in January. When I was planning the tour, I purposely chose to include some Middle Bronze cities. Middle Bronze is the period between 1800-1550. This is the time period immediately following the time of Abraham and before the coming of Moses. This was very important to me because they represented the time period before the people of Israel entered Egypt. So, we went to 6 cities that came from that era – Megiddo, Hazor, Tel Dan, Beth Shan, Jericho, and Jerusalem. We wrongly think that the Canaanites or the Amorites who lived in the land that God promised to the children of Israel were just a bunch of savages. We only focus on the part of the people of Israel getting scared of the people in the land and suffering from the “grasshopper syndrome.” What we fail to realize is that they had every reason to be afraid of them. What do we know about the Middle Bronze Canaanite Cities?

1. Around the start of the Middle Bronze period, the city life was revived in the land of Canaan. For some reason, these cities began to grow and advance. They build large fortifications around their cities. They built walls that were as large as 50 feet tall, with each stone about 8-10 feet long. But they were very smart. They would build the outer walls and then build a man-made mountain followed by another wall. They built the walls in such a way that the Mesopotamian battering rams were useless against them. This was all psychological warfare. It was meant to discourage the enemy and make them feel emotionally defeated. Did it work?Deuteronomy 1:28“…Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, ‘The peoplearegreater and taller than we; the citiesaregreat and fortified up to heaven…”

2. They had some advanced water storage facilities. When an enemy would surround a city, they would first try to cut off the water supply. So, the Canaanites dug deep into the ground to find water through springs. They built cisterns to collect rain water. They even had underground drainage system. We saw similar structures in Megiddo, Hazor, and Jerusalem. They had superior hydraulic engineering that are still a work of marvel. 

3. How about farming? They knew how to plant wheat, barley, and fruits like olives, grapes, pomegranates, and everything you can imagine. They knew how to store food. They also knew how to raise sheep, cattle, camels, and all kinds of farm animals.

4. When it came to pottery, they had learned how to turn clay on a wheel. Now they could mass produce pottery. Museums have some incredibly pieces of pottery.

5. Something much more incredible happened. They learned how to make bronze. They learned how to alloy copper and tin with 90% copper and 10% tin. Now weapons could be shaped better. They could be made sharper and sturdier. (Pics of spear blades)

6. They were also known for their export business. With Egypt – grain, olive oil, cattle, timber, copper, etc. They even learned how to make glass. We find glass beads.

7. Finally, they created the ancestor of our alphabet. They didn’t want the Egyptian hieroglyph or the Mesopotamian cuneiform. They came up with 22 signs for each sound. Later the Phoenicians, the descendants of the Canaanites/Amorites standardized them. 

What’s the point of all this?The Canaanites or the Amorites were a very advanced people. They were at the height of their power, technological advance, and prosperity. Nonetheless, their time was up.Archaeologists still don’t have any solid answer why they collapsed. Was it drought? Was the threat of Egypt too much to bear?

Leviticus 20     1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who givesanyof his descendants to Molech…” Meaning:  He was a Canaanite god to whom the people offered their children as a sacrifice in the Valley of Hinnom, to the South of Jerusalem. Archaeologists/guides will tell you that they did not find any bones of children in this area. But, the descendants of the Canaanites/Amorites were the Phoenicians who later established a colony in Carthage, North Africa (Tunisia) who practiced child sacrifice. We can learn about the Canaanites from them:

  • Cleitarchus, a Greek historian of Alexander the Great, wrote: “Out of reverence for Kronos, the Phoenicians, and especially the Carthaginians, whenever they seek to obtain some great favor, vow one of their children, burning it as a sacrifice to the deity if they are especially eager to gain success.” 
  • Siculus, a Greek historian, wrote – “There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.”
  • Plutarch, a Greek writer, added that “the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums so that the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.”
  • There are tophets, burial sites for the urns with markers. One such says that the parents sacrificed a defective child with the hopes of getting a healthy one. Isn’t that the same with amniocentesis if congenital abnormalities are suspected? 

Let’s come back to Leviticus 20    2 “…‘Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who givesanyof his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has givensomeof his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. 4And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he givessomeof his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, 5then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech.”

Deuteronomy 12     29“When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess…” Meaning: The Middle Bronze Cities of Canaan were under God’s judgment and he was going to use the Children of Israel to destroy them. Instead, they got scared of their height and their city walls. Listen again to what God said to them –30take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” Child sacrifice was a major sin against God. That’s why God destroyed them and wanted the land cleansed. Now you cannot find any trace of the Canaanites. If I were building a church building on a piece of property and adjacent to that property, there used to be some cult site. What’s the first thing that I would do? I would clean up the place. Later Josiah cleansed that valley as well.

Same thing with the Phoenicians: People tried to claim that all this was just propaganda by their enemies. Dr. Josephine Quinn (Oxford University) said in 2014 – “Perhaps the reason the people who established Carthage and its neighbours left their original home of Phoenicia – modern-day Lebanon – was because others there disapproved of their unusual religious practice.

Will we go down the way of the Canaanites, the Amorites, and the Pheonicans?

Psalm 139     13For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14I will praise You, for I am fearfullyandwonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And thatmy soul knows very well. 15My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, Andskillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there werenone of them.

What do you believe about the baby inside the womb? They are not a hindrance but our example to come to Christ.

 Matthew 19    13Then little children were brought to Him that He might putHishands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Are you saved? Are you willing to come to Christ as a little child?

We’re going to see the importance of handling this issue and how we as believers should respond when faced with the topic of abortion. The title of this weekend’s message is “VICIOUS CYCLE.” Have we, like so many around us, fallen into the vicious cycle of sin? How do you view the issue of abortion? Are you saved?

WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA? (Article)

WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA? (Article)

Every day I run into people who are afraid, discouraged, and hopeless about the future of our nation. They seem to have one or more of the following three attitudes: REMINISCE, RESIGN, and RETREAT.

  1. REMINISCE – Some say, “America’s best days are over. We are just like the Roman Empire in its final days. Just reminisce/remember the past. That is all that’s left.” There are several problems with this view. In some sense, we are like Rome – wealthiest nation, largest military, largest multi-ethnic population. We also seem to have the same problems that Rome did – immorality, breakdown of the family, weak borders. Nevertheless, when you truly compare America with Rome, there are more differences than similarities. Rome was founded upon myths and mythologies of gods and goddesses; America was founded upon Judeo-Christian values. Rome was highly unstable; America is still very stable politically and socially. Christianity in Rome had lost its momentum; Christianity in America is still alive and well. The list goes on.
  2. RESIGN – Others say, “All government is evil and Christians should just wash their hands from it. Politics is just a waste of time.” Although this sounds spiritual, there are several problems with this view. If our Christian forefathers through the centuries had believed this way, infanticide and child abandonment would still be legal; gladiators would have continued to die in brutal battles-to-the-death; human sacrifices would have wiped out entire cultures; pedophilia would be perfectly legal; polygamy in the Western world would not be a problem; burning alive of widows in India would have continued; Slavery and slave trade would still be with us; and the list goes on. Jesus has not called us to abandon the market place but to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-4)
  3. RETREAT – There are yet others who claim, “It’s the end of the world. Let’s just get ready for Jesus to come.” Let me be clear – I believe that Christ is coming again. The OT has 300 prophecies of the first coming of Christ but 500 about His Second Coming! If you add up all the verses on the Second Coming in the Bible, the total is about 2400! In the NT itself one out of every 25 verses has to do with His Second Coming. There is no doubt that Jesus is coming again, but…..before He comes to make all things right, He will come for His church. No one can expedite or predict the rapture of the church. But once the church is gone, then begins the Tribulation with signs leading to the Second Coming of Christ. Bottom Line: The rapture could be tonight or 200 hundred years from now—only God knows.

So if the attitude of REMINISCE, RESIGN, and RETREAT are wrong, what’s next for America?

I believe that we are living in a time of aftershocks from the sexual revolution of the sixties. History shows that such periods are normal when values are tested and re-tested. Some old ideas are buried and new ideas are birthed. But it does not mean that all is lost and hopeless. In fact, listen to what God says in Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” As people of God, let’s trust Him to raise up a new generation that will bring America back to Him. Let’s be optimistic; let’s encourage our young people; and let’s make room for them.

WAS ‘MONUMENTAL’ MONUMENTAL?

“WAS ‘MONUMENTAL’ MONUMENTAL?”

A large group of us went to see Kirk Cameron’s “Monumental” on the opening night. We walked in the theater just as he was welcoming the cameras into his home. As he went from room to room in his house, I began to get a little apprehensive – Are we about to watch a home movie…some cut-rate documentary with Kirk chatting from his living room? Just then, Kirk announced that before the movie he wanted us to meet some special guests—among them were William Kappen (a young musician), Alveda King (Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Kirk’s own grandfather who fought in WW2. To me, that was a monumental statement of how the movie crossed generational and racial lines. It was a great reminder that the message of ‘Monumental’ was for all Americans, regardless of age and race, who are concerned about the moral decline of our nation.

After a few introductory comments, Kirk announced that it was time for the movie. I looked around the theater; we were in the overflow auditorium and the place was almost packed. Later, I learned that it was “the largest one night event in NCM Fathom’s history.” That was monumental in itself! In fact, it is quite fascinating to me that movies like Fireproof and Courageous are scoring higher at Box Offices than all the big-budget flops. People assume that most Americans could care less about moral values. Nothing is further from the truth. Morality still matters in America. If anything, the success of ‘Monumental’ proves that the moral conscience of this nation is still alive.

The house lights went dim, the title faded on to the screen, the audio-video transitioned to HD standards—this  was Hollywood quality, needless to say. For the next 90 minutes, Kirk took the audience on a fascinating journey into our nation’s past. As a student of history, the information was not new for me, but what made it very interesting were the visits to the historical sites, and interviews with historians and experts in the field. Unlike documentaries that are dull and dry, the information was presented in a “National Treasure” like style that was appealing to the younger audience. This was important for me, as our two teenagers were with us. My wife and I looked over time-to-time to see their reaction and they were into it! That was monumental! Contrary to what is often claimed, our younger generation does care about issues facing our nation. Frankly, we have failed to teach them the truth and model it.

At the end of the movie, as we made our way out, someone asked me, “What did you think about the movie?” I knew their reason for asking. They wanted to know what does someone like me—who came to this country from a foreign land—think about the Christian origins of the United States. “To be honest,” I replied, “I didn’t know any different.” Growing up overseas, we were taught that America was a Christian nation with a Christian beginning. We learned the history that is now revised or eradicated from secular textbooks in the schools and colleges all across the United States. Imagine my shock when I came here over twenty years ago and heard the debates over the separation of church and state, prayer in public schools, definition of marriage, etc. In fact, I found it ironic how people in America have used the benefits of Judeo-Christian principles—freedom, equality, and prosperity—and denied the very principles that brought them those benefits! That is a recipe for a monumental disaster.

I hope Kirk would make a sequel and trace the true history of the Founding Fathers of our nation. It just gets better and better!

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