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ByBishop Jim Lowe

Can the American people trust the IRS?

IRS LogoAs a result of a Judge’s order, the IRS will, at long last, be required to disclose the details of the lawless and unconstitutional Tea Party targeting scheme. The court’s requirement that the IRS give account for its conduct is a tacit acknowledgment that plaintiffs—as well as the American public—deserve honesty and transparency from their government. We are pleased that the court has taken this first step and look forward to a resolution of this case that will hopefully include the first judicial acknowledgment of the unmistakably unconstitutional nature of the IRS’s egregious political targeting of U.S. citizens.

Since 2013, the ACLJ has represented more than 41 groups from 22 states across the country in our lawsuits against the IRS.

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ByBishop Jim Lowe

Judges over you are vitally important!

On November 8, 2016 the people of Jefferson County will not only be voting for a President but, of equal importance, voting for persons who will be sitting as judges ruling over their relationships with other people in the community. This is an important position that may affect you more directly than the office of President.

One of the greatest prophets in Israel’s time was Samuel. However, he made the mistake of making appointments of judges according to his heart and not the will of God. This caused the nation of Israel great concern. The Bible says

(NKJV) 1 Sa 8:3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

This is also a problem today if we do not elect honest people: Men and women who have a respect for Almighty God. This is a most difficult thing to do when you do not know the people you are voting for.  All of the candidates are qualified but not all of them respect the God of the Bible. Remember, the letter of the Law can kill. It is the Spirit that matter!

The Gatekeepers Association  is making this forum available to you so that you may come out and see for yourself who these people are who want to make judgments regarding your life. Some are better than the others. You must determine for yourself who you think is best. The Bible further says:

(NKJV) Dt 16:18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

The Gatekeepers Association will publish for you the assessment of the consensus of the pastors and leaders in its organization. We will present our opinions of the candidates on a scale of 1 to 5 with five being high and one being low.   We will rate each candidate based upon our combined discernment of each candidate to not only make judgments according to the law but also with a reverence to Almighty God. We will rate them according to each pastors discernment of their respect to the wisdom, virtue and commandments of God. We hope that this will help you give prayerful consideration as to whom you should vote for.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring this important responsibility. Judges have the power to help make or destroy your life. Be careful in your decisions!

ByGatekeepers Association

Christians Must Get Involved!

Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Last I checked, “all the world” and “every creature” includes politicians and those involved in government.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit every person in government do what they do based on some worldview that is influenced by some religion, whether it’s atheism, agnosticism, astrology, Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Gnosticism, or some other -ism.

Thomas Jefferson knew this and he shuddered to think what would happen if any influence besides the God of the Bible would lay hold on this nation when he stated, “God who gave us life gave us liberty.

Church came before politics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Time for the Church to Arise!

Pastor Michael Edwards

ByGatekeepers Association

Wise Men or Fools to Rule? We Choose!

64bcc67e-d748-4f9c-9e86-d02e8ad99c78The Republic of the Israelites, an Example to the American States,
by Samuel Langdon, Concord, New Hampshire, 1788

There is a remarkable paragraph in the sacred writings, which may he very well accommodated to my present purpose, and merits particular attention. You have it in Deuteronorny, 4:5-8:

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, who shall hear all these statutes, and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people: for what nation is there so great, which hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, which both statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day.

If I am not mistaken, instead of the twelve tribes of Israel, we may substitute the thirteen states of the American union, and see this application plainly offering itself…

On the people, therefore, of these United States, it depends whether wise men, or fools, good or bad men, shall govern.… Therefore, I will now lift up my voice and cry aloud to the people….

From year to year be careful in the choice of your representatives and the higher powers [offices] of government.

Fix your eyes upon men of good understanding and known honesty; men of knowledge, improved by experience; men who fear God and hate covetousness; who love truth and righteousness, and sincerely wish for the public welfare….

Let not men openly irreligious and immoral become your legislators…. If the legislative body are corrupt, you will soon have bad men for counselors, corrupt judges, unqualified justices, and officers in every department who will dishonor their stations….

Never give countenance to turbulent men, who wish to distinguish themselves and rise to power by forming combinations and exciting insurrections against government….

I call upon you also to support schools in your towns…. It is a debt you owe to your children!

ByGatekeepers Association

You have a responsibility to vote intelligently!

tallmadgematthiasnysmtnBy Matthias Burnet, D.D. Pastor of the First Church in Norwalk.

From a sermon on May 12, 1803.

Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights, and prostrating those institutions which our fathers delivered to you….

And that this happy state of things may continue, look well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. In this momentous concern, let the wise counsel of Jethro, tho√ a priest, be your guide.

“Choose ye out from among you able men, such as fear God, men of truth and hating covetousness and set them to rule over you.”

Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard his laws, will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity. Their own emolument, ease or pleasure, will at any time induce them to connive at injustice and iniquity, or join with the oppressor.

Watch over your liberties and privileges civil and religious with a careful eye!

Remember it is always safer and better for a people, to commit their interests to the care of those whose ability, fidelity and patriotism they have tried and found equal to their trust, than to those whom they have not, even though they may be supposed to be perfectly equal in all these particulars.

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ByGatekeepers Association

Do Christians need to be involved in government?

arogers-819x1024God ordained three institutions: the home, the church, and the government. It is inconceivable to me that God would ordain government and then tell His people to stay out of it any more than He would ordain the family and then tell us not to get involved.

We need to pray that God will raise up righteous leaders. When people tell us to stay out of politics, they are usually reacting to one extreme or the other. We need to be clear about what government can and cannot do.

Government cannot make people righteous. Only God can do that. Our job is not to try and change society through government, but to change people with the Gospel so they can influence the government. Our nation needs more righteous people to get   involved in government.

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ByGatekeepers Association

The Separation of Church and State: Biblical or Not?

Separation-of-Church-and-StateThe legal separation of church and state is crucial to preserve religious freedom, but such a separation does not exist within Christianity itself. Whatever your political views, it is hard to argue that Jesus was not political, not to mention the clear connection between religion and government in Old Testament narratives (it is God, after all, who chooses and anoints the kings of Israel). To be sure, Jesus did not engage in politics as a politician, but rather challenged the political and religious orders of his day. He critiqued and condemned the corrupt practices of government and religion and preached and modeled a new way of life and faith.

Few would argue that social justice lies outside of the realm of religion and the church, so I wonder if the disconnect comes with how we accomplish social justice. Yet to pursue social justice without advocating and lobbying for political change is like trying to dig a hole with one arm tied behind your back: you might make progress, but it will be slow and halting. Whether we like it or not, political structures are an inherent part of our world. They support both the just and unjust economic, social, and cultural situations we live and work within.

More importantly, to distance ourselves from politics implies that there are arenas in our life in which God is not present. This, I believe, is where spirituality (and religion) is often misunderstood. Too often we hear spirituality used as an excuse to withdraw from the world, to retreat into private prayer and solitude, rejecting all worldly engagement. While retreat and withdrawal are both useful spiritual practices, neither is meant to be done at the cost of our faithful engagement with the world. Rather, they are designed to help us pause so that we might see the world more clearly.

To say nothing and do nothing in this sphere is to deny our own Gospel. It is to say that there are at least some areas in the world and in our own lives where God is not Lord.” Spirituality is not an otherworldly pursuit—it is a faithful engagement with the whole of life. If spirituality is listening for and responding to the movement of the Spirit in our midst, politics is one of the faithful ways in which we respond to the call of the Spirit, working to shape the world in God’s vision. Whatever our political persuasion or convictions, our faith and spirituality impels us to work to bring about God’s vision for our world. To ignore politics in this pursuit is misguided; rather, we are called to faithfully engage in politics in our effort to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our GOD.

ByGatekeepers Association

Nehemiah: An Awakened Advocate for His People

Picture1 By Jody Trautwein

Imagine this…you find yourself on foreign soil against your will forcibly made to serve the governmental leadership in place when you suddenly receive an alarming report from a family member about your hometown. Here is the report, “Those who survived the enemy’s invasion and were not taken captive are in great distress and trouble. The walls are broken down. The gates are burned with fire. It’s real bad!” So you hear the news and your heart breaks. It’s worse because you are a two-month journey away. You desperately desire to be there and yet you have no control over whether or not you can even go.

The biblical “wall-rebuilder”, Nehemiah, found himself in just such a predicament in 445 BC. He was a cupbearer in the Persian court of King Artaxerxes I at the capital city of Susa, which lay 150 miles east of the Tigris River in what is now modern Iran. Nehemiah, whose name means “comforted by God” ironically found himself anything but comforted as he heard just how disturbed his hometown family and friends were. The treacherous condition of his city revealed the truth of his heart. Now he faced a question, what would he do with the information he just received?

As men and women of God, we hear bad news frequently, especially concerning the condition of our communities. The question is, what will we do about it? Some may already be fully engaged in fulfilling your God-given destiny as it relates to preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations. Others, like Nehemiah, may find yourself serving faithfully in the position you currently hold, but you know deep down you were created for more. What are we waiting on? Perhaps, like Nehemiah, you are waiting on the voice of Hanani to ring in your ears and rouse your spirit to action!

As existing Gatekeepers for our families, churches and communities, we have accepted Revivalist Charles Finney’s challenge that “The Pulpit is Responsible” and are functioning to the best of our abilities in that Nehemiah type rebuilding mindset and role. Might it also be added that we too should be like Hanani, the family member who gave Nehemiah the report that AWAKENED his heart for ADVOCACY. Yes, our current wall-building efforts are significant, but I believe our pressing duty to call forth NEW Nehemiahs is equally critical. Will we be the voice of a brother to our other brothers and sisters in Christ releasing a clarion call to action encouraging them to practically be the light in the darkened political halls and chambers of our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government?

Further, some would say that Christians have no biblical precedence for and thus, no business attempting to “lobby” or influence the actions of our legislators for or against certain laws on behalf of the citizenry. On the contrary, a closer look at Nehemiah’s Holy Spirit led strategy reveals, after four prayerful months from his moment with Hanani, he went directly to the Persian King “lobbying”, or advocating for his brothers and sisters in his hometown of Jerusalem, Israel. Unfortunately, in our current political climate, the term “lobbying” has become synonymous with special interest groups spending large sums of money to sway legislators to create laws that benefit only the organizations that are paying the lobbyists and funneling huge campaign contributions to elected officials. This, of course, opens the doors for corruption. However, an “advocate” is someone who simply speaks, pleads or writes in support of a person or a cause. Therefore, that is the term preferred in this article. 1 John 2:1 shows us that “if we sin, Jesus Christ is our ADVOCATE with the Father.” If Jesus the Advocate lives within us, then it is this writer’s opinion that not only can we advocate for causes, but we MUST BE HIS AWAKENED ADVOCATES who speak, plead and write on behalf of issues concerning true righteousness and justice!

Nehemiah asked for and received permission to leave his current position, a protective detail of soldiers to escort him through potentially hostile territory, and provisions of materials needed for the rebuilding efforts. Guess what? He got everything he asked for because he dared to believe His God enough to do what seemed impossible in man’s eyes. Yes, it seems impossible to be able to make a positive impact in political processes right now, but that begs a question for you? Will you believe and plead for His cause and His people in this hour?

Nehemiah’s moment with Hanani awakened him to help lead a movement that would transform a city, his home city. Has your moment come? If so, then keep building, Nehemiah, and be a resounding Hanani while you build! If your moment has not come, then consider this writing as your wake-up call and get to work on your part of the wall. Your hurting city is waiting on you to receive your catalytic moment and spark a movement that could help transform corrupt systems into Kingdom of God principled systems that facilitate genuine “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!” The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama clearly reveals through a quote on its walls, “The power of an idea whose time has come!” Your time has come. Your voice will be heard. Your hands will complete the work. You are God’s Awakened Advocate!

ByGatekeepers Association

Whose Side Are You On?

 

maxresdefaultIn my opinion our country is more divided now than any time in our history.  Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matt. 12:2).  The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now I plead with you brethren…that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been declared to me…that there are contentions among you… Is Christ divided?”( ICor. 1:10-13) And in Gal. 5:13-15, “…through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”

The ancient Sages of Israel taught: “R. Johanan b. Torta said, Why was the first Temple destroyed? Because of idolatry, unchastity, and murder. But in the days of the second Temple, they were earnest about the Torah, and careful about tithes. Why then did the destruction come? Because they loved money, and hated one another. So learn that the hate of man for his fellow man is a sore sin before God, and weighs as heavily as idolatry, and unchastitiy and murder.” (T. Men. Xiii,22 / TJ Yoma1).

Jesus did not affiliate with a political party but rather said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)  He did not affiliate with a religious party. Although his teachings align more closely with the Pharisees, he was not a Pharisee, nor a Sadducee nor an Essene and especially not a Zealot. The closest of any group that Jesus could be identified with were the Hasidim, who were Sages who were very pious and known to be miracle workers, who stressed doing the will of God above all things, who were known to be teachers of the people, who were not attracted to wealth and who were independent and not an organized group and who sought the truth of God and the doing of His will.

All too often today I hear people say they can only vote democrat or republican or some third party. The world is as corrupt today as anytime in history. I really don’t see good options in the political arena. There is a lot of talk but not much action. There is a lot of hate speech but not much concern for the true wellbeing of the people. Politicians espouse the Scriptures or the Name of God to win our votes but all too seldom actually live out God’s will in their daily lives and policies.  And all too many who declare that they are Christians join in the hateful rhetoric all the while never realizing that the right wing and the left wing belong to the same bird.

Our country and our world are filled with so much hate and division. This abomination will bring about our desolation.  I am troubled that so many Christians tenaciously hold to one party or another regardless of their platforms and whether they agree with the teachings of Jesus. I truly don’t see the answer to our world’s problems in the political arena. It is possible that all that we are seeing is the working out of the end of days. As scripture says, “…in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, loves of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.” (II Tim. 3:1-5)  “ Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart for the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (ITim. 4:1) I think we should ask ourselves are we on the LORD’s side or a political party’s side. Are we on the side of Love or Hate? If we are ‘born again” we are no longer Male nor Female, Jew nor Gentile, Black nor White, Yellow nor Red but we are all one in Christ.(Gal.3:28) All I see in the political arena is hate, division and discord and I see the people of God being drawn into this division and hatred because they don’t adequately know the word of God.

The LORD will return one day, “and the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be – The LORD is one and His name one.” (Zech.14:9) On that day, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”(Matt. 7:21-23) To know in Hebrew means to be intimate with. Are we intimate with Jesus? Are we doing His Fathers will? Or are we “giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons?” All the while thinking we are doing his will.

I want to be on the side of the LORD. I don’t care to be a democrat nor a republican, a Baptist nor a Methodist nor any other sect or party that we can name. I want to be a real Christian. I want to be on His side. Whose side are you on?

By: Clifton H. Payne, Jr

ByGatekeepers Association

Many Americans Say Bible Is Key to Better Politics

header_ABS.JPGPresidential elections are rarely kind and congenial affairs, but many pundits and politicos—and even the current president—think this year’s primary season has been more abrasive than usual. Aside from the candidates and their teams practicing civility, is there anything else that might improve the tenor of American political discourse?

According to American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” survey powered by Barna, half of American adults (51%) say politics would be more civil if politicians engaged in regular Bible reading. A similar majority (53%) says American politicians would be more effective if they read the Bible on a regular basis. In addition, nearly half of all adults (46%) say they wish the Bible had greater influence on American society.

These views are likely influenced by most people’s belief that the Bible is sacred literature (80%) and that it contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life (66% strongly or somewhat agree). Among Elders aged 70 and older and Boomers 51 to 69, the percentages are even higher: nine out of 10 Elders (91%) and Boomers (88%) consider the Bible sacred and three-quarters (79% Elders, 74% Boomers) agree the Bible’s contents are sufficient for living a meaningful life.

Overall, Americans hold the Bible in high regard.

Younger Generations Are More Skeptical
Americans with a positive opinion of the Bible and its teachings are in the majority—but the majority is not evenly distributed across the population. Generally, American adults under 50 tend to be more skeptical, or at least more ambivalent, about the Bible than older adults, and this is especially true of Millennials aged 18 to 31. For example, fewer young adults consider the Bible sacred literature (71% of Millennials and 75% of Gen-Xers, compared to 88% of Boomers, and 91% of Elders), and Millennials (22%) are three times more likely than Elders (7%) to say that none of the books considered sacred literature by many religions—including the Torah, the Koran, the Book of Mormon and “other”—are holy books.

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