Thursday, December 20, 2007

“It Went Away”

She came to me the other night as I labored at my desk. “Honey," the universal introduction to matters trivial and mighty in a typical marriage, “take a look at this will you?” Since we firmly believe that our union is the product of the intent of God we both treat each other with equivalent respect. “Uh-huh. Let me finish typing this line,” I responded without looking up.

She lowered her head under the desk lamp and, pointing to a spot equivalent to where a label on a shirt would normally be, and asked plaintively, “What is it?” Since the corrective lens in my glasses revealed nothing amiss on her skin, I seized the magnifying glass (see: Sherlock Holmes) and started a detailed inspection of the nape of her neck. Still nothing came to my eye to reveal the cause of any discomfort. Once she took her finger and clearly identified the offending spot I was able, largely through discernment, to spot a pin-prick size interruption in the skin. No color variation, it was merely a deviation in the texture of the skin.

The next question was inevitable. “What is it?” Dear reader, I have decades of experience in the arts of marriage but still confess I have never been able to frame the word “nothing” in any palatable way. Any truthful response is doomed to failure. You are left then with only invention. Serious: perhaps a biopsy could reveal whether it is malignant. Academic: further research and study may be required to fully answer your inquiry. Pious: perhaps we should seek the elders to attend to the matter with supplication and prayer. Flippant: this is probably the result of your last tussle with our pet alligator. It didn’t go well.

As I reflect on the transaction, I extend it to include many interchanges we have with others of our acquaintance whether intimate or casual. Often we encounter those who have issues in their lives, be they physical, spiritual or emotional which are not highly visible. Being out of sight does not minimize their importance to the afflicted one. Failures to attempt to recognize, treat, or simply empathize with others then do not likely acknowledge the scriptural teachings we have in such abundance. The Master demonstrated total understanding of the people He encountered. Not just sin, but also faith and goodness. While we cannot duplicate His gifts, we can acquire an inner atmosphere to better see into the people we love, and genuinely appreciate everything going on their lives. Given His teachings, I assume that includes everyone you meet.

The mere presence of a sincere interest in others can often be palliative. Our most often used throwaway line in common daily use is: “How are you?” Do we really care? Should we really say, “I’m in great shape but I feel obligated to ask about your well being anyway?” The question, “How are you?” should logically be followed by silence on our part to receive the answer and take it seriously. It’s all part of getting out of ourselves and sharing with others.

Returning to the initial narrative, she came in this morning with an obvious insect bite on a delicate part of her anatomy. She embraced the suggestion of a dab of antibiotic ointment but rejected the offer to kiss it and make it well. When I inquired about the spot on the back of her neck, she replied; “It went away.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is America’s Iniquity Full?

With permission from “Apologetics Press,” we offer, unedited, a fascinating article. The author, Dave Miller, has organized some scriptural references and other research and come to some interesting conclusions. If your Christmas preparations are complete and you find yourself with some time available, please read further. If not, we understand.

Apologetics Press :: Scripturally Speaking

Is America’s Iniquity Full? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

When one examines the sweeping scope of human history, it becomes readily apparent that progress is not technically linear. Rather, nations rise and fall. The progress that they achieve is often lost to later civilizations, who must essentially “reinvent the wheel.” Archaeological evidence exists to substantiate the fact that highly advanced civilizations have preceded modern times, creating many enigmas for researchers. The Moche were a highly developed society that vanished centuries ago. The ancient Paracas performed medieval wonders in brain surgery using only crude metal instruments. The fabled Macchu Picchu achieved incredible engineering feats (“Inca...,” 1995). The Nasca (or perhaps their predecessors) produced massive drawings that stretch for miles and are thus visible/discernible only from the air (“The Lost City...,” 2000; “Nasca Lines,” n.d.).

What happened to such civilizations? Why are they now nonexistent? One would expect that the likelihood of a nation’s survival would increase in proportion to the technological, medical, and economic progress. One explanation for this circumstance (perhaps the explanation) is provided by the Bible. Simply stated, the Bible affirms that as a nation moves in the direction of spiritual and moral depravity, becoming increasingly alienated from God, that nation positions itself for inevitable destruction. That destruction may come in the form of natural disasters—like volcanoes (e.g., Pompey). It may come in the form of external invasion—as in the case of the fall of Babylonia or Rome. It can even come in the form of direct, miraculous intervention by God—as in the case of Sodom and the other cities of the plain (Genesis 19:29).

This principle is alluded to repeatedly in Scripture. When God promised to Abraham that his descendents would be given the land of Canaan as their homeland, He noted that this gift would not be given for several hundred years. Why the delay? “[F]or the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). God would not have displaced one group of people simply in order to give another group the land. That would be unjust and prejudicial—in direct contradiction to God’s nature (Deuteronomy 32:4). He eventually allowed the Israelites to conquer Canaan because the peoples that inhabited the land had grown exceedingly wicked. Concomitant with reception of the land, God used the Israelites to punish the Canaanites for their perversion and depravity.

For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 18:25-30, emp. added).

Observe that God gives civilizations a considerable amount of time—even hundreds of years—to choose the spiritual and moral direction they will take. If they are determined to spiral downward in an ever-deepening devotion to idolatry, covetousness, sexual impurity, etc., then God eventually “lowers the boom” and destroys them for their iniquity (cf. the Genesis Flood—Genesis 6:3). The inspired writer of the book of Kings compared the wickedness of King Ahab to the previous inhabitants of the land of Canaan, noting the reason for their destruction: “And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 21:25-26).

This same principle is reiterated in the New Testament. Jesus summarized the history of Israel as one of frequent rebellion against divine precepts. He intimated that they were nearing the limit of God’s toleration and impending punishment when He declared to them: “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt” (Matthew 23:32). It was as if an imaginary cup had been gradually filling up with sin, and that it was nearing the brim—at which time God would respond with appropriate destruction. Paul verified this very understanding when he accused his fellow Jews of having been the ones “who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:15-16, emp. added). As the Jews entrenched themselves against the will of God, they were guilty of piling sins on top of sins, until inevitable divine wrath would be forthcoming—as it did when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Speaking centuries earlier, the inspired writer of Kings acknowledged this principle in his summary of the Jews’ national history:

And the Lord spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day’” (2 Kings 21:10-15, emp. added).

Observe that the writer compared the sin of the Israelites with the sin of the previous occupants of the land of Canaan, thus earning for themselves the same outcome: divine retribution and devastation. As the prophet Ezekiel reported: “‘Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,’ says the Lord God” (15:8).

It is interesting that the Founding Fathers of America recognized this eternal, biblical principle as having been posited in the fabric of the Universe by the Creator. They understood that while God will judge each individual human being at the Judgment when Christ returns (e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:10), He judges nations in history, in time, by bringing destruction upon them when their iniquity is “full.” That is why Luther Martin, a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention, stated in 1788: “It was said, it ought to be considered, that national crimes can only be, and frequently are, punished in this world by national punishments” (Elliot, 1836, 1:374, emp. added). George Mason, often called “The Father of the Bill of Rights,” stated at the Constitutional Convention: “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities” (as quoted in Madison, 1840, 3:1391, emp. added). The “Father of the American Revolution” and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, explained: “Revelation assures us that ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation.’ Communities are dealt with in this world by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general character” (1907, 3:286). Thomas Jefferson likewise warned: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep forever” (1794, Query 18, p. 237, emp. added).

Finally, consider the haunting, if not prophetic, warning issued by Daniel Webster:

[I]f we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity” (1903, 13:492-493, emp. added).

If this pattern of eventual divine retribution has repeated itself many times over throughout world history, and if God is immutable, i.e., He does not change (Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6), will He not respond to America’s iniquity in the same fashion? Yes, He will. So the only question that remains to be answered? “Is America’s iniquity full?”


Adams, Samuel (1907 reprint), The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Cushing (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

Elliott, Jonathan, ed. (1836), The Debates in the Several State Conventions (Washington, DC: Jonathan Elliott).

Jefferson, Thomas (1794), Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia, PA: Mathew Carey).

“The Lost City of Nasca” (2000), BBC, [On-line], URL:

Madison, James (1840), The Papers of James Madison, ed. Henry Gilpin (Washington, DC: Langtree & O’Sullivan).

“Nasca Lines” (no date), [On-line], URL:

“Inca, Secrets of the Ancestors” (1995),Time Life’s Lost Civilizations Series, [On-line], URL:

Webster, Daniel (1903), The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company).

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dachau, a Testimony

In recent days I have been consumed with thoughts about the accusations of America turning into a hotbed of fascism. This coupled with anti-Jewish rhetoric and action both in the Middle East and here at home has been on my mind as well. Thrown into the muddled mix I call my mind, is the historic and God-driven accounts of subject peoples of the Scriptures. The combination has not only dominated my thoughts but also provoked some memories of events which will forever color my thinking. These memories are not of being eyewitness to huge happenings. They are small in the grand scheme of things but keep coming back to me.

On a mild, but typically overcast fall day in 1953, I went to the motor pool, checked out my assigned Dodge ¾ ton 4X4, fueled, and comfortably settled in for the 150 mile trip to Munich, Germany. The mission was to go the US Army depot in Munich for forms, logs, manuals and the other paper work which is really what drives the military. Some general was credited years ago with maintaining that the army traveled on its stomach. Rather, it seemed the army I was in traveled on its paper. Various forms for requisitions, allocations, inventories, and on and on and on, were the order of the day. Actually it was a departure from normal routine and I looked forward to the trip.

The journey through Stuttgart, past Ulm and on, was through undulating forested hills which are the precursor to the Alps. This peaceful drive gave no hint of the violent war less than a decade earlier. The only disturbing factor was when I drove close to recently harvested cabbage fields with the rotting remains of wasted plants. All was well and I arrived early in Munich, found the depot, transacted my business and started back to Heilbron.

About thirty minutes into the return I noticed a signpost indicating the town of Dachau. A prominent name from the so recent past, it piqued my interest and I took the turn. As I neared the town, I came across my real goal, the former internment camp. I turned in and drove to a small cluster of brick buildings and parked. The camp was largely abandoned and completely unoccupied. I was at once aware that it was the loneliest place that I had encountered in Europe. Normally, there is somebody present everywhere you go. My truck (actually Uncle Sam’s) was the only vehicle parked. It was then I picked up on something which I had often heard of but had never personally experienced – the smell of death. One identifies it without question even lacking prior experience.

By then, appropriately, the overcast skies lowered and a gentle misty rain began to fall. I proceeded on my own self guided tour of the facility. A mound in the center of the parking area had an already faded and crude sign identifying it as containing upwards of 3000 souls, nameless and thrown into the pit with slack lime. One of the cluster of brick buildings revealed the crematory ovens embedded in a brick wall within, showing evidence of Teutonic craftsmanship and efficiency throughout. As I left the building I looked to the left upon rows and rows of spare frame structures used to house inmates. I knew for certain that I had a glimpse of hell. That all pervasive smell had not abated. The gentle rain continued.

Dachau had been populated in its history by over 200,000 prisoners. Between the main facility and its sub-camps the death toll was around 35,000. By no means the largest of the camps, it was the first and the model for all the others. It was also the first to be liberated by the 57th Infantry late in the war. The original Kommandant, Theodore Eicke, went on to be in charge of all the subsequent camps both in their design and construction and also their day to day operations. The original was built primarily for political dissidents but came to house persons from 30 different countries. Many later camps were built for the more exclusive internment of Jews, Gypsys, homosexuals and others thought undesirable to the Third Reich, and their death tolls reached the millions. These numbers and other facts do not reflect what I absorbed that day at Dachau.

The smell of death coupled with the reality of examining the actual site of this crime against humanity left a mark on my psyche that is permanent. I could no more dismiss this picture of horror than I could erase the faces of my children from my mind’s eye. I now recognize that I gained a different perspective on nearly every issue from that date forward. Any leftover innocence from childhood was removed. My attitude toward God, politics, my nation, my gifts, other peoples, and my very life was altered. Like most men, I don’t tear up easily. I did that day.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, the German government in Bonn had already declared the site for a lasting memorial. Viewing pictures taken recently I notice new, polished infrastructure, leisurely paths to exhibits, landscaping and an inviting atmosphere. Somehow, I believe my tour conveyed the message with far more impact. Arlington Cemetery is beautiful also until the reality of its purpose reaches your inner being.

Be assured, I do not bring this piece to you to put a damper on your upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I do apologize. My selfish interest prevailed because I love the Godgiven liberty in our Constitution which provided the foundation of a nation which recognized evil and destroyed it. In my life, I have been a witness to the full range of human behavior. As I recently read the false charges of impending fascism in our own administration I felt the need to share one aspect of what it really looks like. I think I would recognize it again if I saw it.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (17)

Reading this weekend has raised several issues which are both heartening and disturbing. I guess I shall have to accept the fact that we live in an increasingly polarized world. If you haven’t been out of your shell much for a while you may have, mercifully, missed much of it. The laws of probability have visited me with a recent avalanche of opinion pieces which pit black versus white.

The first was an offering, surprisingly on a faith based board, of Naomi Wolf’s screed about George Bush leading us toward a fascist existence. That required a rebuttal of about two thousand words to counter the lies, inaccuracies, innuendo and generally cavalier treatment of truth in her offering. What alarmed me most were the subsequent comments to the original which ran the gamut from “interesting” to “boy, I heard that.” Do people actually believe this @$#%? Don’t they realize they are reading political tripe?

In any discussion between Saints, we hear and read nearly every opinion backed by endless references to scripture, biography, church literature, and histories. When offering argument for doctrine we search, research and prod resources for verification to present in support of our understanding. Yet, they somehow manage to accept invalidated agenda driven demagoguery without even checking on just who is making the case. I offer no apology in calling and apple an apple, and not an orange.

For the record, I have no difficulty finding areas of disagreement with the President. His posture on stem cell research and immigration, and former failure to exercise the veto power has caused me no end of angst. However, being a gnarly old cynic, I rarely agree with everything anyone says or does. This is my problem, not theirs. My tolerance level does increase when opposite opinions are presented in a reasonable manner and substantiated with a measure of logical thought. The key for me is to counter the message and love the messenger. Jesus Christ has informed me of this in so many ways that I had best not ignore it.

The second stimulating piece was a treatise on commonality between believers in God and atheists. It was disarming at first because it turned out to be a serious essay on what is normally a humor blog. I kept waiting for the punch line – it didn’t come. The crux of the conflict came in the definition of belief. My Webster’s Ninth Collegiate in the entries for belief and believers uses the word truth as relative on several occasions. The proponents of God have no difficulty being referenced as believers since they acknowledge God as true. The atheists rankle at the thought of “believing” in non belief. I don’t blame them for their ire; proving a negative can be daunting.

Examining the comments on the entry (there were dozens) I found most were associating belief exclusively with a higher power, most often God. Many seemed to ignore the more prosaic notion of recognition of truth as a function of the mind. Truth is learned. At the age of one I put both hands on an open oven door seeking the cake. The truth learned is with me to this day. I have a scar from the burn in the center of my left palm which can easily hide a lima bean. That learned truth has prevented further recurrence. Others may also benefit from my testimony that hands on an oven door equal pain.

The author of the mentioned article then brought us to a logical conclusion. Our beliefs are on display constantly in that corner of the world we occupy. The entirety of our actions exists for the world to see and represent that which we hold to be true. As such, our daily life becomes an ongoing testimony of our belief. Our interaction with others mirrors that which we believe to be true. Can truth be changed? No, but our learned perception can. As Christians, we are on an everlasting quest to enhance our knowledge of that we hold most dear: Jesus Christ. Let us earnestly pray our behavior always follows our belief.
When a sister called to say church had been cancelled again because of weather, I was naturally disappointed. This then presented a review of options available to occupy that five hour (we live forty miles away) time span. Five hours to study scripture, watch the early football games, or get a head start on the “Rant” all went through my mind. Instead, I opted to go to nearby Freedom Christian Center and worship with the Baptist (?) neighbors. I believe them when they say God comes there on Sunday morning too.

I was richly rewarded for my decision. They had their children’s program Sunday morning and it was marvelous. They had an extravaganza typical of a mega church. Singing, dancing, and instrumental music within the framework of a play were presented with the enthusiasm only the youth can bring to the celebration of Jesus Christ. The message was clearly directed to the King of kings. My discomfort over being severely over dressed for the occasion melted as I became involved in the service. My good neighbors provided a wonderful replacement Sunday activity. When I arrived home, I found the Packers in the lead so, all is well.
My brother Craig continues to require your prayerful entreaties to God for relief from the ravages of his cancer. I plan to head north to the Chicago area this week to help, if possible. Fortunately, I have a reliable 4X4 with new oversized tires so weather shouldn’t become a factor. Whatever the outcome, I know that God’s wisdom will prevail. Thank you all for your previous efforts on his behalf.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Note: The church he attended is not Baptist. It's one of those "non-denominational" ones with the horns, bells and whistles.