Jehoshaphat and Ahab!

King Jehoshaphat of Judah was a godly man and zealous for the Lord. His main weakness seemed to be pliability and easily led. The great blight on his reign was his association and close relationship with the wicked King Ahab of the northern kingdom Israel.

Perhaps he had high hopes of restoring Ahab and Israel to the true worship of Israel’s God but instead was inveigled into a foolhardy attempt to restore Ramoth Gilead to Israel’s control.

Ahab attempted to placate Jehoshaphat’s religious scruples by enlisting the support of his resident prophets and they with one accord supported this ‘pious ‘Endeavour. Yet Jehoshaphat was not so simple as to take their word alone but called for a ‘Prophet of the Lord’ to be consulted as well.images344.jpg

Ahab was initially reluctant because his experience of God’s prophets was less than pleasing. As Jehoshaphat insisted, Michaiah the son of Imlah was summoned to appear. The officer who went and fetched Michaiah was unwilling to spoil all the ‘goodwill’ built up so asked the prophet to chime in with Ahab’s ‘trained poodles’. The prophet naturally refused, he was answerable to the ‘God of hosts’ and bound to proclaim His word faithfully.

Initially it seemed that the ‘Prophet of the Lord’ was going to weaken and fall in with the other ‘ soothsayers’ , repeating the ‘mantra’ of’ go up and you are sure to succeed’.

Support from so unlikely a quarter did not convince Ahab who confusingly adjured Michaiah to tell the truth.

Michaiah then revealed God’s purpose of judgment and defeat. One of Ahab’s prophetic lackeys was not pleased at this blatant contradiction and after slapping his face asked him which way the ‘spirit of prophecy’ went in order to arrive at Michaiah.

Ahab only response to God’s word was to lock the prophet of the Lord up on bread and water pending his safe return. Michaiah reassured him this was not going to happen.

True to form Ahab sets his fellow king as a ‘target’ to distract the Syrians and to make doubly sure disguises himself as an ordinary charioteer.

Jehoshaphat in the heat of battle becomes the focus of the Syrian soldiers who were ordered to get Ahab and forget everyone else. The royal robes that placed him above His people now became a ‘bull’s eye’ which if not for his hurried anguished prayer and the loving kindness of God, would have done for him. Through divine intervention the soldiers are turned to other prey.

The God of Israel was not by Ahab’s clever ploy and guiding a haphazardly fired arrow smites the evil king fatally.Ahab_shot_1141-8

Jehoshaphat rushes home regretting the whole enterprise.

The great question for the Church today is to determine the point when cooperation becomes compromise. When to know when contact and interaction with the ungodly has passed beyond safe spiritual bounds.

Jehoshaphat’s behavior in this instance reminds us of the need to heed our Saviour’s warning to have the sharp-eyed wisdom of a serpent while maintaining the harmlessness of a ‘dove’. Well meaning he no doubt was and his intentions may have been noble, yet his failure to consult God and seek His will before embarking on this alliance cost him dearly and set a poor example to his people.

Michaiah stands true in the line of faithful prophets of the Lord. They are the genuine instruments through which God reveals and declares His plans and purposes. They overcome the natural tendency to ‘tone down’ and vacillate, and keep the eye of faith on God and not the consequences attending the proclamation of His Word.

Ahab typifies to the life those whom God deals with in judgment and repeatedly warns yet consistently reject and ignore mercy and grace shown. Who of us would wish an end like his?

The parting of the ways!

I hate endings. As an avid watcher of ‘Old’ television, and in a climate of constant broadcast of repeats, I can tell when the end of a series is coming. My invariable response is (that if it was a series I really liked ) that even now after being so long discontinued that somehow more episodes were made.maxresdefault (1).jpg

This is made even more desirous if I considered the program series ending ‘anti climactic’ or needlessly tragic.

I have often grown attached to each of the characters and regret the loosing of their company and following of their adventures.

In regards to the highs and lows of the realities of life, this regret is more poignant because the ending of many loved things is more permanent and enduring in consequence.

The ‘if only’ feeling is endemic to us all even as Christians.

The wrong things we do and choices we make and the people we lose in the process are constant sources of grief and sadness.

Even without our input or action Times change and life moves on leaving an emptiness we cannot always fill.

We are creatures of time and as such bound by its limitations. God on the other hand dwells in eternity and the everlasting now. The answer to all our inherent longings and  our deliverance from  earthly regret is to make Him our dwelling place for now and eternity through our Lord Jesus Christ!

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Jehoshaphat and Ahab!

The rise of the Acronyms!

In the era of sound bites and ‘tweets’, the use of abbreviated language and ‘acronyms’ is becoming prevalent.download

For those finding themselves ‘out of the loop’ it is hard, at least initially to get the gist and meaning of comments and issues that use these terms.

This has the effect of limiting understanding to an initiated few while the many are bewildered and forced to play ‘catch up’.

I wonder whether the ‘in the know’ people that coin these ‘acronyms’ consider themselves to be in the numbers of the ‘elite’.

While ‘theology’ has a tendency to speak in a language all its own and the Scriptures contain things that are difficult for many to understand we are not without the means to come to an understanding of the Truth if we sincerely seek it.

The Spirit opens the Christians heart to Christ and the gospel and our understanding to the Scriptures. Our part is to be teachable and zealous to hold onto the Truth received.

The Tattered Gospel!

The authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God is being constantly assailed both by outright enemy and more often than not by professing Christians.

There have always been those who would gladly wean the Christians off one part of Scripture or another.  They tend to be more determined to relegate great tracts of the Old Testament to obsolescence but also explain away the less acceptable to modern ears portions of the New.

To be a Believer in the Bible as the Word of God Today is the worst thing anyone can be in this ‘day and age.’

How many parts of Scripture are said to be only relevant to those who lived in those days? How many are said to be only meant for those who lived under ‘The Law’ and not applicable to those who live under ‘Grace’?

So it goes on interminably.

Rather believe that ‘All Scripture is God Breathed and profitable’ and seek for its application to us, wherever and whenever we are!

The only Bible the early Church had was the Old Testament, later combined with the ‘Apostolic writings and gospels’. It has sustained Christianity throughout its entire history and will continue to do so.

Today the tide is high against Scriptural Christianity and even in many of our churches all we get is the ‘Expurgated ‘ version, devoid of teaching about the sinfulness of sin and the need for repentance and holiness of life.

True Christianity has always been out of step with Society at large and its culture and we always hear those asking how we engage modern culture with Christianity.

Why else are all our pastors throwing away their suits and ties and donning t-shirts, grasping hold of the latest ‘church growth gimmick’ and pursuing anyone, however theologically dubious, who promises to increase their membership?

Why else are ‘prayer times’ and ‘Bible expository’ sermons cast to the ‘moles and the Bats’?

Because in our desperation to keep our ‘fellowships ‘ alive we will do anything and anything to get the people in, without any regard to being faithful to God and His truth. We fear more than anything offending people with the unadorned Gospel of Christ and therefore Endeavour to re-package it for the modern age.

Rather be thought anachronistic and obsolete and try to uphold faithfully the gospel of Christ and the inerrant Word of God than like a poor tailor ‘ cut our pattern to suit our cloth’.

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“Crossing the line”

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Crossing the Line was a nautical tradition that was observed when ships initiated passengers and crew who were  for the first time crossing  the ‘Equator’.

All manner of high jinks were part of this ceremony and the resourceful sailors made up costumes and props,  such as dressing up as king Neptune and his consort.

We are familiar with the celebrations  and ‘carry ons’ that society observes on anniversaries and occasions.

In fact the tendency is to make up an occasion  for any time when one does not exist.

Christianity  too ,has its ‘rites of passage’ in Baptism and The Lord’s supper’, they remind us of what Christ is to us and what we are to Him.

Unlike the high spirited antics of the ‘seaman’ the Christian ordinances are not things to be taken lightly , thoughtlessly or frivolously. They call for self examination and thoughtfulness and if attended so are a source of blessing to all believers who so observe them.

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The rise of the Acronyms!

Faithful and True!

Judah was at its last gasp when the Prophet Jeremiah invited some of the ‘Rechabites’ into a chamber of the Temple belonging to chamber of the sons of Hanun the son of Higdaliah and offered them copious bowls of wine.rechabites_jeremiah

5 Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Drink wine.”

But they said, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’ Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed.10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, ‘Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.’ So we dwell at Jerusalem.” Jeremiah 35:5-11NIV

We who live so far in time from these events fail to grasp the meaning of this passage of Scripture.

The charge this long dead Patriarch gave to his children is that they should avoid the dangers and excesses presented by partaking of wine and strong drink. Also by dwelling in tents and among their flocks, they would most likely avoid the temptations and evils that concentrated in the towns and villages.

To the ‘Rechabites’ adhered until force to seek safety in Jerusalem from the Babylonian invasion.

These times in Judah’s history were highly charged. The city of Jerusalem was facing the in-roads of the ‘all conquering’ King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzer and his allies.

The choices facing the king of Judah and his people were limited and fraught with peril anyway they turned. Most still hoped that despite all, God would deliver them merely because they were ‘the people of God’ at least in name.

The whole point of God’s setting forth through His Prophet, the faithfulness and obedience of the ‘Rechabites’ to their Father’s command, was to contrast it with the faithlessness and disobedience of the ‘Children of Israel’ and Judah.

While keeping up the appearance of worshipping the God of Israel, the people led by weak and idolatrous kings dabbled with the worship of idols and pursuing their own evil ways.

Despite the incessant warnings of the Prophets of the Lord down their history, the nation went from bad to worse to the point that their national existence was at stake.

The faithfulness of the descendants of Jonadab the son of Rechab to his commands put the entire nation to shame for failing to heed God’s commands and their base ingratitude for all His past blessings and deliverances.

For us today the choice is between faithfulness to Christ and God’s Word or compromise with the World. The choice is to grab for the pleasures and luxuries of this passing world or forsake the World and follow Christ.

 

Obedience or disobedience, sin or holiness, Trust or doubt, Standing true or sinful compromise, these are the choices the ‘Christian’ must make.

God give us all Grace to obey and hold the Faith and to our Saviour

17 “Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.’”

18 And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says theLord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.”’” Jeremiah 35:17-19 NIV

 

The Ionosphere!

The Ionosphere is a  band of layers  in the atmosphere containing ‘ionized atoms’ and ‘free electrons’ and is used for ‘bouncing ‘ and ‘hopping’ broadcast amateur short wave radio signals of varying ‘Megahertz’ to farther distances ,especially at night than could be reached normally by low powered equipment .Simplified view of the layers in the ionosphere over the period of a day

In this way ‘Ham’ radio operators can communicate all over the world at different times of the night, depending on the layer of the ionosphere they hit.Image result for ground waves

This communication is effected by weather, sunspots and the state of the Sun. As a result radio communications using the ionosphere change from one day to the next and even one hour to the next.

No such restrictions effect our communications with our Heavenly Father because Christ is the ‘Ionosphere’ through whom our prayers are surely and faithfully passed to the ‘Throne of Grace.’

Faithful and True!

Striking a Chord!

In all our engagements with other people it is comparatively rare to be able to find someone with which we come to an immediate rapport.

Normally striking up a friendship is the product of much time and effort and many missteps.

With others, nothing we do can build a bridge across to them and the best we can hope for is a nod or a grunt.

It was the famous saying of the ‘cowboy’ philosopher Will Rogers, that he never met a man he did not like.

On a far higher and more spiritual plane, the Christian is called to the same attitude and purpose.

That we are liable to the same personal likes and dislikes as anyone else, we as Christians are no longer to follow our own preferences and desires.

As Jesus ‘went about doing good’ and as our ‘heavenly Father’ sends his rain on good and wicked alike, so we as followers of Christ must seek to do good to all and by any means seek to save some.

I am not a people person ‘per se’ and need to overcome many barriers to meet this standard.

Were the living of the Christian life easy there would be no need of the many exhortations and commandments in Scripture.

While society as a whole is out of sympathy with Christianity and the Christian message it is rather to the individual that we must look if we are to reach others for Christ: it is by building bridges to them that we are most likely to reach them with the gospel of Salvation.

Then and now and beyond!

Going through a year book from 1950, I was astounded by the radical and fundamental changes and differences between then and now. The changes are not merely technological but also in society’s outlook, and optimism for the future.1063080-3x2-940x627

The years following the Second World War were quite naturally characterized to some extent by optimism and the hope of a better future. In my own country which was materially intact, the economy boomed and people enjoyed a level of freedom and affluence not seen for a very long time.max50yard

True ,it did not take long for the ‘cold War’ and the communist threat to put a damper on things but to  a casual observer the ‘fifties’ were a good time to be alive.

Yet even then you could see a decline in morality and decency that would dominate the mid to late sixties and continue to the present day with little to stop it or stand in its way.

It was not that these seeds of corruption were not there before but now they had come out into the open and more and more tolerated. It was not till quite recently that they set the agenda and demanded not merely our acquiescence but our applause and admiration.

I recall seeing old films of reporters interviewing ‘American ‘ministers in the early days of ‘Rock and Roll’ and their warning of the immoral and evil influences that would result from it. They were laughed and regarded as anachronistic and scaremongers but have been proved correct by subsequent events and the drug and sexual permissive youth culture.counter-culture-54-728

Even then a great many in the Church had an ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ mindset. They tried to reach the ‘un-churched’ by trying to speak their language and dress as they did and show the World that we could let our ‘ hair down’ as well as anyone. This effort has only intensified with the passing of time to such an extent that much of the church is suffering an identity crisis and lost its core understanding of the gospel and grasp of evangelization.

True we cannot turn back the clock but we can look back to the ‘rock from which we were hewn.’ We can take our stand again on the Gospel of Christ as the primary need of sinful mankind whether they will hear or not.

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Striking a Chord!

Beneath the Sod!

We are watchers of a beacon 
whose light must never die;
We are guardians of an altar 
that shows Thee ever nigh;
We are children of Thy freemen 
who sleep beneath the sod;
For the might of Thine arm we bless Thee, 
our God, our fathers’ God. ( Charles Sylvester Horne 1865 -1914)

 

Of all the  ‘long past’ relatives I have researched, the only ones that I have found any direct evidence for more a than ‘nominal’ Christian belief are my great, great grandparents on my mother’s side.

I discovered by the fact that my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

I have a copy of the newspaper report made at the time and recognized the names of several ministers , one of whom was very well known at the time, involved in the funeral.100_0373.JPG

In other words, they were known for the company they kept.

True this is not conclusive but speaks in favour of a strong Christian connection with a very evangelical section of the Church.

We owe an immense debt, whether we recognize it or not, to those who have gone before us in the Christian faith.

Our spiritual descent from them may be direct or indirect but it is still real and tangible.

It behooves us all to play our part, to the full extent of our abilities and influence, to the next generation by whatever means and opportunities available to us.

Where would we have been had one link in this long chain had been missing and we not reached by it?

God in His purposes and providence has forged each and every one of the ‘links ‘of the chain of our Salvation.

He has not only in the external circumstances but in the hearts of men and women down through history.

It is eternally certain that His purposes for the redemption of His Chosen people will not fail.

To His name be the glory

william jay

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W. Arnold Long recounts the story of a ‘moonlight’ battle between a Wallaby (a small kangaroo) and an exceptionally large ‘carpet’ snake which had entangled its feet and was severely restricting its movement and preventing its escape.carpet snake

The Wallaby was to the point of complete exhaustion by all its attempts to escape and was on the point of succumbing when a ‘shot ‘rang out and the snake fell dead.

An unseen spectator had gone to his dwelling to fetch his gun and dispatched the snake thus saving the Wallaby.wallaby

Long makes the point that in our life and death struggle with sin , we to were on the point of succumbing to its just deserts when  our Lord Jesus Christ entered the ‘lists’ and by His death and resurrection overcame sin , death and the devil.

To Him be all glory in the Church!

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Beneath the Sod!

Known of God.

The ‘Ford’ branch of my family were ‘tallow chandlers’ in Redruth Cornwall selling candles to the Tin mines.A5 Wheal Peevor group.jpg

The earliest member of the family I know about came from somewhere in England and purchased a partnership in the candle making firm (it became Magor and Ford) in Cornwall and married a Cornish girl.

My great, great, great grandfather lost most of his money through the business and immigrated to Australia on board the ship ‘Red jacket’ in 1858.DT2036

majorca churchThey appeared on the goldfields at Moonambel, Victoria and then moved across to another gold-strike at “Majorca” this was where my great, great, grandmother married my great, great, grandfather in 1868.

 

My forebear carried on a ‘cartage’ business and is described as a dealer in ‘tea’ in Cemetery records.

There is no marker in the area where my great, great grandparents are buried so I can only approximate within a short distance where they are, which I find rather sad.

We say of those who died in war that have no known grave that their whereabouts is known only unto God.

Whatever happens to us, let us seek to not only to be known of God but to know God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet there is room!

While “Strait is gate and narrow the way that leads to life.” The truth remains that the “Father’s house has many mansions.”images bl

There is no shortage of room in the Father’s house.

The door despite its narrowness is not barred to anyone who is willing to enter.

It is our unwillingness to enter that is the fundamental problem.

Fussy Eaters!

One of my favourite comedy shows has the hero on an economy drive desperately trying to save money.

By sheer misfortune, the only meal he can afford to purchase at a ‘cafeteria’ is one that he detests and will not eat.imageshancock.jpeg

To my mind if I were in his position, I would force myself to eat it rather than go hungry.

It is difficult to get small children to eat vegetables no matter how much we say that they are good for them.

Many only develop an appetite for them much later in life and regret they did not eat more of them earlier.

What makes all this healthy eating harder is the fact that most of us love sweet things and deserts.

It is often the promise of a lovely desert that has been used to encourage our eating of healthier but less tasty foods first.

For some of us there are many things in the Bible that are not easy to swallow and do not appeal to our taste buds. Yet the Scriptures as God’s Word is the wholesome meal set before us.

We may need the promise of the spiritual equivalent of desert to bring us to partake of it, at least at first, but as we grow, we find that our palettes become accustomed to it and it becomes ‘sweet to our mouths’.

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Known of God.

Deuteronomy: A Timely Reminder!

The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy is the written record of Moses reminding the Children of Israel of what brought them to this point in their history.2016445_univ_lsr_xl.jpg

He reminds them of the Mighty power of God shown on their behalf in bringing them out of Egypt and in sustaining them for Forty years in the Desert. He confronts them with their own unbelief and sin that had so long delayed their entry into the blessings of the Promised Land and warned them of the dangers and curses that would come upon them if they sinned by alliances with the people of the land or relapsed back into unbelief.

This current generation of Israel was too young at the time to be held responsible for their parent’s sin yet the same proneness to disobedience and faithlessness was constantly present in their hearts.

We would have thought that such warnings were unnecessary.

God’s blessings and providential sustenance were ever before them in the daily return of the Manna and also the water that gushed from the rock so miraculously.

They were daily reminded of the Wrath of God because they viewed His Sentence being carried out on the previous generation withering away for their past sin and provoking unbelief.

Added to this, they were forever reminded of the holiness of God by the constant requirement to approach the His indwelt Tabernacle bringing sacrifices for sin and atonement and thanksgiving.

Despite all these helps to remembrance, Moses recognized our human frailty and tendency to forget and take for granted God’s blessings, commandments and past judgments.

If there was ever a time in the history of Christianity when so many vital things have been forgotten that should have been remembered, this is it!

There is hardly any doctrine or commandment found in God’s word that has not been conveniently forgotten or treated as an obsolete relic from less enlightened times.

The fact that the flow of the ‘times’ has gone so much against Scriptural Christianity has only served to accelerate the ‘forgetting ‘ and ignoring of so much Scriptural teaching and Christian belief.

Whatever else we may forget, we should remember that God does not forget and as judgment came on the disobedient in the past it certainly will fall on the disobedient and unbelieving in the future.

A life on Rails??

I recently purchased an educational DVD on ‘the Valley of the Kings’ in Egypt. I am always interested in archaeology and am intrigued by this particular are.valley of the kings

I was no more than one third way through the program when I realized that I had borrowed this exact ‘DVD’ some years ago from the library and had forgotten I had ever seen it.

I am sure most of us have times when we believe that we are breaking ‘new ground’ and varying our routine yet find we are doing something we have actually done some time ago.

It is almost as if we are travelling in a large circle and gravitate back to the same places of interest and fascination.

We pick up books that look interesting and find we have read them long ago.

These and many other things give us the ‘déjà vu’ experience.

The influences that work upon us act largely unperceived and subconsciously. Even when we seem to ourselves that we have ‘gotten out of our rut’, we soon find that we have gotten into another.

According to Sherlock Holmes, his brother Mycroft’s life ran on rails and any deviation from his routine was akin to a planet leaving its orbit.Mycroft_Holmes

The ruts we get into are not always bad things.

In various parts of the U.S. there are still to be seen Wagon trails and wheel ruts from the pioneering wagon trains heading West in search of a new life and room to grow.784774bb41f8212a62bfdef17cdf992f--laramie-wyoming-wyoming-usa

The fact that these ‘trails ‘were successfully used by others encouraged many who would come after to use them as well.

Though this did not make the journey completely free from hazard and danger it at least gave those who followed a sense of direction and a known way to follow.

I guess if we must get into a ‘rut’ maybe we can choose the best of them.

For the Christian it is far wiser to choose the ‘good old way’ of the Scripture and the ‘path of the flock’ than walk in our own ways and hazard a departure from the Truth.

The Titfield Thunderbolt

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Was a 1953 British film about the effort to save a branch railway line from being closed down.

It well described the changing of the times and the passing of the old way of doing things.

Once something is lost it can seldom be recovered.

There is always the tension between what we preserve for posterity and continued use and what we replace as obsolete, outmoded or unsafe.

We are often so caught up in the tide of innovation and invention that we discard the tried and true without a thought or consideration and regret it ever afterwards.

At the other extreme we can hold on to something even when it has passed all genuine reason for keeping it.

The Christian especially must be wary of throwing aside truths and principals that appear to the casual observer outdated and outmoded just for the sake of keeping up with the times and trends.

It is these very things that have sustained Christianity when most under attack from its enemies and in danger of being overcome.

To throw aside Scriptural truths and God’s revealed way of Salvation and replace it with Man pleasing doctrines and hype and sensation is the surest way to final ruin and eternal regret.

On the other hand we must not preserve things that we have always done for no better reason than we have always done them and therefore see no reason to change.

The great wisdom is to know what to keep and what to get rid of.

We must cry for God’s help to preserve what He has given to us and grace to cast a way ,when necessary those things that had no business being there in the first place.

fly to christ

Deuteronomy: A Timely Reminder!