Isa 44:20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
A rich man comes to Jesus one day and asked him the following: Mar 10:17-19 "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Flattery will get you nowhere with God. This young man according to Matthews account (Matt.19:16-17) was proud and boastful. He sought praise for his life and what he perceived to be a good life, by flattering Jesus with the word “Good Teacher”. In Matthews account the question is phrased as what is good? In which Jesus responds “why do you ask me what is good? The answer either way is not who or what but God. God is good! In Mark’s account, God alone is good. God equals good, He is the very essence of good, it is how He is defined.
Now it has been said and taught that Jesus is saying that we should call no man good in this verse. I want argue with that point, but one misses what Jesus is saying: No man knows what is good except God because God is Good. Truly Jesus is turning the flattery back on this rich man, because he has a false, preconceived notion about what is good. Jesus is asking the man: what is the basis for calling me good? Is it to get something for yourself or do you believe me to be God. Obviously he wants to feel good about his “goodness” so Jesus response: sell all you have, give it to the poor and follow Me – get it! Give up what you think is good and follow that which is good.
The question now arises; should I call men good? The simple answer for me is clearly given, if men obey the commandments of God, they will live with God and thus be like He is – Good. 1Jn 3:2 Dear friends, we are now God's children, but what we will be like has not been revealed yet. We know that when the Messiah is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is. (see also1 John5:1; 2 Pet.1:4; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal.3:26; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal.3:26; Phil.3:21; Col.3:4). The litmus test is: are men doing the will of God? If they are living according to His divine will, then they are trying to be holy as He is Holy) 1 Pet.1:16) They are in essence trying to be good men, and of course they are only made good by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Just recently we have seen a man, reported to be good, turn out not to as good as we thought. I for one highly admired Joe Paterno and the things he represented not only as a coach but also as human being. Over the years that Paterno was at Penn State he carried himself in a professional manner, always a good sport, never engaged in cheating, trustworthy advocate of education first – football second. He was a Roman Catholic, however not devout. He always led his team in the Lord’s prayer before a game. Did these things make Joe Paterno a good man? The world will see Joe Paterno in a different light now, and he will not be regarded as a good man, but a man who did nothing when it mattered. The quote goes “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing”. Attributed to Edmund Burke (who didn’t actually say that but it was paraphrased from one of his writings), it is not found in the bible. The truth being is that man cannot make evil go away, but he can and should act and practice goodness. Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. In this regard failing to help someone in need, or turning your eyes away from evil is not acting or practicing good (Godly) behavior. This being the case, Joe Paterno was not a good man. He failed to help the innocent, and counted his status and his college in greater jeopardy if he exposed the truth. He did not overcome evil with good, and because of that, evil has now overcome all that he might have held dear.
I need to be careful when I look around me and see men doing “good things” and then put trust or faith in them for what I perceive to be good.
Remember Jesus answer to the young man; only God is good. My perceptions are often diluted by the world and it’s idea of good. I lot of people regard Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to be good men; including our potential next president, but they’re behavior and fruits show otherwise. These men, whom millions proclaim leaders of their religious faith, we’re polygamist, thieves, extortionist, and murders not to mention false prophets.
Myself included, we need to be very careful in who we admire or conceive as a “good individual” or what is a “good cause”. Jerry Sandusky, who brought all this evil upon Joe Paterno and Penn State, was for all this time running an organization that would help child abuse victims; a “good cause”. Because all those involved could not see past his “good cause”, they failed to see the truth, that he and his actions were in fact evil.
The flip side of this is that we should be encouraging one another to live good (Godly) lives. 1Pe 1:15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, andRom 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. We should be practicing good behavior, not flaunting it. It should be evident to others around us that our lives are good and not just a show. When we are around those who are of the world and they hear us saying that we go to church and practice Christianity, but see us doing something different, we have not “overcome evil with good”!
In the book “The Help”, the maid and nanny Aibilene tells the little girl Mae “you is kind, you is smart, you are important”. The essence of the way God made us and then proclaimed: And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Gen 1:31
God made us good! We were made in His image and when we seek to imitate that image by obeying His son, we are good. We should tell our children this everyday. If they grow up believing they are good, they will want to act accordling, by obeying God and living for him.
Of course not all men are good, even the ones we might think are good are not. We must teach them and ourselves the truth. God is good! Let’s be like God.
June 24, 2012
Jesus: True Hero John 1:14 The Word became flesh and lived among us. We gazed on his glory, the kind of glory that belongs to the Father's unique Son, who is full of grace and truth.
Religulous (2008), an antireligious diatribe written by Bill Maher that takes on Islam and Judaism in addition to Christianity, presents a list of parallels between Jesus and Horus, the falcon-headed Egyptian deity identified with the sky and the rule of the pharaohs. In addition to other similarities, Horus supposedly had 12 disciples and was crucified, then resurrected three days later. Conclusion: Jesus is a myth. The truth is far from it. The story of Horus has some elements of the account of Jesus, but he was neither born of a virgin nor crucified as was our savior. Bottom line: Bill Maher is a liar.
Bill Maher is not the first, nor will he be the last that refutes the authenticity of the life of Jesus. For centuries, men have sought to define Jesus as a myth from Hebrew history. From the beginning, both Peter and Paul made it abundantly clear that Christ was no myth: 2Pe 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.Tit 1:13-14 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
In the following essay we will show that the very notion of Jesus being a myth does not comply with myths from other cultures or backgrounds.
First, myths begin and, as conceptions, are complete before written history. In all nations the earliest historians tell mythological stories that predate all letters and records. In some nations, fragments of that history went to record before there was a written language. Crude pictures painted on cave walls, cuneiform characters pressed on to clay cylinders, hieroglyphics found on ancient tombs – these all relate of national myths that belonged to a period eons before written records were ever made. The story of Jesus was thoroughly written by four men long after the most eventful history of the Hebrews was recorded.
Second, almost all myths are exaggerations of men or animals. Some are natural forces becoming incarnate in some fantastic shape. If they occur in human form, the fabled characters are gigantic, strange, bordering on the impossible. The accounts of Jesus however, render Him simply as a common man. There is nothing peculiar in His personality that separates Him from His companions or neighbors, other than His words. Mat 13:55-56 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (56) And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" The truth is He was a man among men – one who might have walked unnoticed in the streets of Jerusalem.
Third, myths defy location. Not only can myths not be fixed in time, myths cannot be found in a place. Their origins are shrouded in mystery. In the account of Jesus, the gospel writers are so concise; their descriptions of cities, villages, hills, bodies of water, fields have been used throughout the ages to aid scholars in recovery of relics and fragments of ancient Palestine. The gospel writers don’t just tell us of some vague place in the Middle East. They are specific about locations such as Nazareth, Bethlehem, Bethany, Capernaum, and the Mount of Olives, just to name a few. Even the people of His day knew exactly where He was from: John 7:27-28 We know where this man comes from. But when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he comes from." At this point Jesus, still teaching in the Temple, shouted, "So you know me and know where I have come from? I have not come on my own accord. But the one who sent me is true, and he is the one you do not know. Details so unique, we are able to tell more about where Jacob dug his well by the gospel account than the Genesis record. Ancient myths don’t even come close to giving us such precise topographical information.
Fourth, myths are not completed at once. They require ages for their development. However, the commencement of the character of Jesus comes into the reflection of men with His appearance and has remained the same in the centuries that have passed. There is in no way any likening to it before His coming or after. Consider how finished and complete the Gospels are in regard to Him, yet in such completeness, the four gospels by any standard are brief accounts of His life. There have been attempts to rewrite the accounts such as the apocryphal gospels (gospel of Thomas, gospel of Phillip, gospel of Judas, etc.), but they have failed. No marvelous stories, handed down from one generation to another, have in the least added to or taken from the Jesus of the New Testament. What Jesus was then, he still is today. Rev 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," declares the Lord God, "the one who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty."
Fifth and last, all myths belong to the infancy, never to the last days of any nation. If the story of Jesus had been placed before Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans, it would have belonged to the infancy of the Jewish race. The story of Jesus is recorded during the last days of the Hebrew nation. It is this precise time that God sent Him into this world, to herald a new nation, a spiritual nation, and bring to an end the Jewish nation. The story predates just ahead of the destruction of Jerusalem by Vespasian. When Jesus was born Augustus was emperor; when Jesus began His ministry Tiberius Caesar was in the 15th year of his reign; his lieutenant, Pontius Pilate, governed Judea as a subject province, and his soldiers kept the peace in Jerusalem. All of this is clearly written not only in the Bible but recorded precisely in the history of the Roman Empire. Consider how impossible it is for myths to begin after written history, after a nation has reached its end and is doomed to destruction. Consider the myths and legends surrounding King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table;true myths in the sense that they originate in the period of English history, when there’s not much in reliable written records. We know far more about Jesus at the end of Jewish history 2000 years ago, than we know of King Arthur at the beginning of British history 1000 years ago.
In the end, Jesus is no myth by any stretch of the imagination. The story of Jesus does not meet one of criteria that are deemed essential to differentiate between myth and fact.
Conclusion: Jesus is a true hero and Bill Maher, is not even a good writer.
July 22, 2012
The Grand Delusion
Isa 44:20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
How long does it take for a lie to become truth? It seems that everywhere we turn these days, truth has become to many, a burdensome and loathsome obstacle, in the way of unpardonable behavior. The solution for the erring and ungodly is to diminish the effects of truth by diluting it to non-existence. Make a good thing bad enough, long enough and in the eyes of the wicked (those who hate truth), good becomes evil and evil becomes good. God through the prophet Isaiah pronounced a curse on this: Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! One of the words so frequently used today to convey this is the word “hate”. Now the true haters (those who are lovers of self, full of envy, strife, deceit, maliciousness, etc., read Rom.1:28-32), are quick to proclaim that anyone who opposes their behavior is a hater. They have slowly but tenaciously turned those who teach truth about their sinful behavior into the false perception of mean spirited and hateful individuals. With time they will use “hate crimes”, laws against hate, to incarcerate and persecute those who uphold truth.
Since the very beginning this has been the ploy of Satan, substitute truth with a lie. Jesus said he (Satan) is the father of lies, lying is his very nature (John 8:44). We should not therefore find it at all strange that evil people will lie to justify their means. It is by their very nature to lie and believe in lies. It’s always amazed me that some people believe or buy into the ideas of UFO’s, Bigfoot, 9/11 conspiracy theories, Elvis walks among us to name a few. When a certain individual entertains such notions it often leads to benign curiosity. However, feed that curiosity enough and before long it grows into fixation. Once fixated or tickled by the lies, you will begin to believe that there may actually be
something to it. The threshold has been crossed. The desire to make that which is false true, has become reality. Elvis is alive! (you’d be shocked of how many people really believe this.)
During World War II, Juan Garcia was what we call a double secrete agent. He hated facism and communism and longed to be an agent for the British but they rejected his offer. He then solicited the Germans and was accepted. He went to work immediately providing the Nazis with just enough truth (harmless to the allies) to garner their trust. While living in Lisbon he portrayed himself as a member of the Spanish National Socialist Party and very carefully played the Germans with deception while helping the British with inside information. He became so good that he was the only person during WWII to receive medals from both sides. Eventually the British incorporated him into the MI5 and utilized his trust among the Nazis to help in the invasion of Normandy in June of 1944. The Germans so trusted their agent that his reports of a great invasion coming to Calais, France (the actual invasion took place on the beaches of Normandy) was heeded.
When people set out to believe in lies, God will make sure you get what you wanted. 2Th 2:11-12 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. The Germans had believed in lies to such degrees that they took pleasure in them, and this was their undoing.
As God’s children we are expected to stand up and defend His holy truths. We must work to feed ourselves with these truths and spit out the lies. How long does it take for a lie to become truth? As quickly as it takes for you to entertain its notion.
July 8, 2012
The Narrow Way
Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Years ago Beth and I took a little excursion to Abingdon Virginia via a small hamlet called Del Rio, Tennessee. Now this little short cut was anything but, and we meandered through Hill-billy country for hours before reaching Del Rio. It was an adventure which we both enjoyed and made pleasurable memories. This past month we took it up a notch by traveling on an old mining trail through the high country of the Uncomphagre Mountains of Southwest Colorado. The trip was a total of 65 miles but took us 7 hours to complete. We we’re sore from all the jostling on rough and treacherous roads. Many of the places we encountered teetered on the edge of cliffs with shear drops of 1000 ft. or more. We went from an elevation of 7700 ft. to 14,135 ft. and temperatures that went from 79f to 23f. We were exhausted from the rough ride of the Jeep, the terrain, and the adrenaline of precarious moments (almost flipping the Jeep at a harrowing steep switchback.) You might say, that doesn’t sound like much fun!, but believe me the rewards are worth it. The views alone are some of the most beautiful vistas of the Rockies that I had ever seen. The mountain streams, Glaciers and melting snow are breathtaking. We went places that many have not, saw things few have seen, all the while experiencing them together, not knowing what trouble or difficulties lay around the next bend.
Once you come off the trail, the wide two lane highway of US 550 (which is a beautiful scenic highway that is quite breathtaking) just doesn’t seem the same. The view is somehow diminished. The tight curves aren’t really tight at all and for the rest of the trip, there’s not really a highway that comes close to that narrow goat path up the mountain.
Consider the passage in Matt.7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
This simple teaching by Jesus demonstrates more than just a passage way to heaven. It’s a statement about learning to deal with hardship and difficulity. It’s about learning how to get out of the easy paths of sinners and walk the difficult trials with the righteous (Psalm 1).
To climb up a difficult mountain pass was for moments very scary, but your so busy concentrating on the task that you don’t have time to sit and worry about it. I tend to worry about things usually when I’m least active. When we become bored and don’t stay busy working are the moments we have anxiety and fears of how I’m I going to do this. Our father in heaven knew this of us, and set many examples before us of putting our hearts and minds to difficult task. He knew that the challenges of hard work would only help us and make us be the kind of people that we ought to be.
When we reached the top, we we’re rewarded to the most breathtaking views. The sky was so clear, you could see 100’s of miles in any direction. You cannot get this kind of view from the main or secondary highways in Colorado. You have to take the narrow and difficult roads through gulches and canyons, up trails that switchback on themselves and you’re wondering “how are we going to do that!” (Beth said this very thing a lot, and I thought it even more). The reward was worth it! The ultimate reward will be worth it even more.
The fundamental spiritual truth is that our journey here on earth is treacherous, dangerous, difficult, tiresome, bumpy, dusty, rocky and precarious. Each twist and turn is fought with uncertainty. There are many forks and wrong paths that you have to weigh against. It’s hard work! You’re going to get tired, frustrated, discouraged, have doubts, fears and wonder why I did this. But look out the window, do your best, smile, be patient, don’t worry, trust in the one carrying you up the mountain and when you get their, Wow! What a view!
Everyone traveling the Interstates that day, didn’t get to see or experience what we did. Travel the narrow way! It leads to life!
July 15, 2012
"Can you send forth lightning that they may go And say to you, ‘Here we are’?Job.38:35
I had forgotten the energy and majesty of a Florida afternoon rain storm until I was reminded Wednesday. To watch the dynamics of these thunderstorms unfold is as good as any entertainment one could devise.The typical summer season in Florida is a daily dance between the moisture that abounds and the Sun’s heat bearing down early. Before many even venture from their beds, thousands of puffy white clouds, like sheep gathering to feed, are lining up to begin the race. By mid morning the sheep all seem to have assembled in large but separate groups to see which group can gather the most sheep. It’s almost noon now and the gatherings have turned into stampedes, piled up high into the sky, so many that they are dirty on the bottom of the pile and have turned black and blue. What appeared to be soft fluffy sheep a few hours earlier has now turned into the rage of angry black and gray wolves, snapping and snarling, howling and swiftly running together in a pack bent on devouring anything in their path. As if on cue, someone backstage has turned on the fan, a large fan, driving a cool and pleasant feeling across your sweat-coated skin. The gathering is ominous, but the cool breeze keeps you there, working out in the heat has now been rewarded. Just as you begin to think that the afternoon, though dark and menacing, will be cool and tolerable, the gathering unleashes their fury. Lightning erupts and fills the air with cracks and flashes of white fervent heat. It heralds the angry gathering, it is time to release their torrents, and soon after the heavens turn to a waterfall in which you are directly under. In a matter of seconds, you are as drenched in water, cold, heavy water, as if it were injected into your every pore.
The bombardment of lightning bolts is now all around you. Every two to three seconds, the crack first, the bright flash instantaneously following. Like a duck in a penny arcade you hope to make it to cover before the kid with the pop gun nails you for the prize. These typically Florida storms may start fast and furious, but they all seem to fade quietly. The gathering disperses, the lightning retreats, the sounds of the canons are on another hill far away. The torrent of water has turned into a mist of gentleness as if to say, “We are so sorry for all the ruckus, please enjoy the cool and have a wonderful day.” Such is a summer Florida afternoon I remember.
I watched with awe Wednesday, this great display of God’s awesome power and love. I had a 50 yard line seat to a great spectacle before my eyes and with the show His words echoed forth.
The first thing that is overwhelming is the power, like a hand that grabs you on the shoulder and pushes you down into the seat. Sit down, watch, be still and I’ll show you something. God told Job this very thing in Job 38:1-3 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is thiswho darkens counselwith words without knowledge? Get ready for a difficult tasklike a man; I will question you and you will inform me! How dare we as humans made by His glorious hands, question any of His motives, or incline our ear to any doubt? We get so caught up in the easiness of our days, the comforts of our lives, the abundance of blessings beyond what most men ever had. Yet we can so quickly become distressed over the silliest of things, quick to get mad or angry at one another over trivial matters, discouraged or depressed over minor situations. If anyone had an excuse to complain and be bitter, it was Job!, but God said to Job: Shut up! Sit Down! And observe my power. Tell me how you feel after I’m through with you..
Observing God’s power in whatever capacity is one of the greatest blessings. It should produce humility within you, an unfailing feeling of complete submission. To be under His might and power is to free yourself from the entanglements of this world, to live a life devoted to His cause and purpose, not your own. Things in this life may be bad to your eyes and your heart, but as God told Job, so He tells us: You have no idea what evil is really like; you have no idea how good trusting in Me can really be. Prov.3:5-Trustin the Lord with all your heart,and do not relyon your own understanding.Acknowledgehim in all your ways,and he will make yourpaths straight.Do not be wise in your own estimation;fear the Lord and turn away from evil.This will bringhealing to your body,and refreshmentto your inner self.
The next thing that is overwhelming is that time seems to slow down. The extent of a good thunderstorm from start to finish is typically 4-6 hours (in Florida). While watching the last stage of the storm (when the rain descends and lightning is discharged), a full hour may elapse, but it seems like just minutes. It reflects not only God’s power but also His omnipresence. He is everywhere at all times. Time is subject to him. All the physical elements of this universe are at His beck and call. Job 38:34-36 Do you know the laws of the heavens, or can you set up their rule over the earth? Can you raise your voice to the clouds so that a flood of water covers you?Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Will they say to you,‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the heart,or has imparted understanding to the mind? Even with today’s technology in weather and science, man’s attempt at changing or predicting the weather is pathetic at best.
It is lunacy and arrogance to presume for a moment that I am the master of my domain. The ongoing proposal today for global warming is sheer fantasy, fueled by scientists and academia who long to fund their research with pseudo-science. Trusting in ourselves to solve life’s daily problems is just as absurd. I might with my strength and knowledge, build and accumulate a horde of earthly goods. However, in the time it takes to billow a few puffy clouds into a raging cyclone, my works (which are not my works but God’s) can be obliterated in seconds. Work all your life, drive yourself with the lust of power, prestige, money, and fame. In the time it takes for God to send forth His lightning, your life will be called into account. Luke 10:17-18Thenthe seventy-tworeturned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit tous in your name!”Sohe said to them, “I sawSatan falllike lightningfrom heaven.
That’s how quick it is! Judgment and execution by God are swifter than we can ever imagine.
It would be nice to know what today may hold. Should I take an umbrella, water the lawn, invest in this stock, etc? Most weathermen watch the weather from radar screens and computers. Their observations are based on what that think they see and know from models of the past. A lot of times our methods for dealing with this world are the same. We are too busy trying to predict future outcomes based on wrong information. We are putting our faith and trust in the wrong things. We need to learn to let go of some things and read and study God’s word more.
A good afternoon thunderstorm helps put it in perspective. Take time to observe His creation in action. Listen to His voice, and His words of power and hope.
July 1, 2012
I Told You So
Luke 16:31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"
It seems former British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher was somewhat of a prophet. Her autobiography reveals that Mrs. Thatcher, at the time, warned John Major (pro-Euro chancellor), that, “the single currency could not accommodate both industrial powerhouses such as Germany and smaller countries such as Greece." Thatcher predicted the currency would harm poorer countries because it would "devastate their inefficient economies." Score one for the Iron Lady! You may or may not agree with her politics, but you cannot deny her love and concern for the sovereignty of Great Britain. She was by no means a blind politician who listened to the voices of the populace or caved to the intellectuals who screamed for Socialist changes in Britain. Mrs. Thatcher dedicated herself to knowledge, the knowledge of knowing that Socialism did not work in the Soviet Union, and it would not work in a European Union. If only the powers-that-be had listened to the voice of a woman; who had no formal training in finance or economics, who had held no prestigious post as CEO or CFO of a large corporation, but understood more than all of them put together and history has proven her right.
Jesus warned His disciples nine times in the Gospels of the influence and damage from false teachers. Mat 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
He extolled upon them the need to heed the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Mat 16:6 Jesus said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
He likewise warned them of the scribes and their hypocrisy Mar 12:38-40 And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and
like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
After all these warnings by Christ, surely the disciples took heed to these things, but before Jesus even left this earth they argued among themselves of who would have the greater seats (Mark 10). Paul had to confront both Peter and Barnabas in Galatians, Chapter 2 over the very things that Christ warned them about.
Many warnings have gone forth unheeded in life. The crew of the Titanic ignored the warnings of icebergs; Europe ignored the warnings by Winston Churchill of Hitler; NASA ignored the warnings by Roger Boisjoly of the effects of cold weather on rocket joints before the Challenger accident in 1987, Ahab ignored the warnings from God and was destroyed at Ramoth-Gilead. Likewise God warned His people countless times of the dangers and foolishness of disobeying His word. One only needs to read in Deuteronomy of God’s blessings and curses upon His people. Then, read the rest of the Old Testament and marvel at how quickly they did not heed his predictions.
We may or may not take to heart the things that men warn about. Often the weatherman or the stock broker will get it wrong. Occasionally, politicians will appear as prophetic, like Margret Thatcher. Whether we heed these warning is really trivial, after all, if it rains when the weatherman said it wouldn’t, I’m just getting wet. However, if I don’t take seriously the warnings from God, it will result in dire circumstances. Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Remember the words of the rich man who did not heed the warnings; “I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house--for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' Lk.16:27-28
June 17, 2012
Gen 11:9 Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because Jehovah did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did Jehovah scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
About 150 years after the flood an event occurred that would forever change man’s relationship one with another. In Gen. 10:22-25 we readThe sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. The Lord tells us of the event – the earth was divided. Genesis chapter 11 is the detailed account of this event. God tells us how as man multiplied and began to fill the earth, that they traveled together east to a plain called Shinar and settled there. They began to see that as a community with one language they could accomplish great things. They said, “come let us” as if to mimic God’s sentiments in Gen.1:26. Many things were probably weighing on their decision to build a tower into heaven, least of which was the thought and fear of the flood. They took it upon themselves to fix any problem that God might have with them and sought to remedy another fatal deluge by building a tower high enough to escape destruction. If this were the case, they quickly forgot the promise that God had made and the sign of the rainbow as His affirmation to this promise. Whatever the reasoning for the tower, clearly, lack of faith and trust in God was prevalent.
Great events in life drive our decisions. The war between the states in this country was a little over 150 years ago. More men and women lost their lives in that war than any other; consequently a lot of decisions today are due in fact to that great and tragic event. The tendency for man is to come together and solve the problem that harms us. The problem that harms us is lack of faith in God. God’s solution was to confuse their language.
Faith in God does not require us to all speak the same language, just hear and trust His language. Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. When God told Noah and his descendants to go and fill the earth, He didn’t mean for them to all gather at Shinar. When He told them He would never destroy flesh again by floods, He didn’t mean they we’re to build a tower in order to escape destruction, or make a name for themselves. God intends that we listen to what He says, and believe and trust in Him.
The internet and such social media as Face book and Twitter have in large part brought us back to a larger community, gathered on the same plain. Software programs such as Rosetta stone and Babel Fish (notice the name), have made the difficulty of communicating with foreign languages almost obsolete. These items in themselves are not evil, and could even be great tools in bringing people to God, but this has not proven to be the case! Congregations both denominational and sound who proclaim Christ their Lord, are showing decreases in the number of active members and visitors. Our social fabric is deteriorating exponentially, with the increase of out of wedlock pregnancy, promiscuous behavior among teens, divorce, homosexuality, infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse, rampant addictions to pornography and gambling. The human race is coming together in a new world order, the order of information and technology, but grows further from God because they will not listen to His language and obey His commands. The world in general looks around and knows of its peril. The world leaders and those who speak the loudest say “come, let us” solve these problems together without religion, without God. God is coming down to see about this, but this time the division he has promised will be eternal.
Come, let us preach and teach the gospel to this lost and dying world. We have a name for us; Christ our Lord.
June 3, 2012
Just a Few Words
And when Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,Mat 7:28
Everett was one of the great American orators of the ante-bellum and Civil War era. He is often remembered today as the featured orator at the dedication ceremony of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg in 1863, where he spoke for over two hours — immediately before President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous, two-minute Gettysburg Address. His speech was over 13,000 words long. A lot to say, but nothing memorable.
William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was the ninthPresident of the United States (1841), an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when inaugurated, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1981, and last President to be born before the United States Declaration of Independence. Harrison died on his 32nd day in office of complications from pneumonia, serving the shortest tenure in United States’ presidential history. It was on his inauguration day that Harrison contracted pneumonia. Cold and rainy conditions did not prevent Harrison from delivering the longest inauguration speech in American history, just short of 2 hours. Ironically, Harrison holds both records for shortest Presidency and longest inauguration speech.
Men take great lengths to move or inspire other men with their speech or pen. A few of the great leaders of history have learned that it’s not the quantity of a speech that may make the difference, but the effectiveness of a few chosen words that will stir men’s hearts. Jesus was of course the greatest in teaching and convicting men with just a few words. Consider His teaching on prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, only 55 words. You can read this prayer in less than a minute and should be able to recite it from memory in less than 5 minutes of study. Almost everyone knows this prayer and I’m convinced more can probably quote it better than they can the beginning of the Gettysburg address. Mat 6:9-13 Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
In the King James Version, God tells us everything we need to know about Him, His Plan, His people in 774,746 words. (This was less of course in Hebrew and Greek.) Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time, has 1.2 million words yet says nothing (in my opinion). Better yet the United States Tax Code contains 3.7 million words and even the best tax lawyers are not sure what to make of it.
Pro 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
What more can I say!
May, 20 2012
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, Col 2:6
Honda has done it again. They have developed a new personal mobility device called the Uni-Cub. This nifty little people mover resembles a uni-cycle combined with a comfortable stool that seems to float on thin air. (Check it out on youtube.com: Honda UNI-CUB Personal Mobility Device). With merely the lean of your body forward, backwards or side to side, this device will go where you want it, no reins, saddels or gettit-up to get it going. I thought one day the horse would come back into play, I just didn’t imagine it would come via Honda, Inc. It seems the brains at Honda are tired of walking back and forth from one cubicle to another, and the CBR1000 sport bike was to noisy and much to fast, so they came up with this. Now the benefits for older or less mobile folks will be great, but seriously, why can’t we just walk. The greatest engineering ever was these two things we call legs, connected to my brain which commands it to walk, run, jump, kick, stop, bend and sit, cross each other and relax. Honda has been trying for years to duplicate this in their robot they call Asimo. God did it in a blink of the eye, just by saying it (Gen.1:26-27). God also put man in His garden and then commanded him to work it and keep it. God made man in His Image, but He also made man in such a way that he would have to use his legs and strength to work and to move back and forth through God’s creation.
I’ve heard a few old timers say that if God had intended for us to fly, he would have given us wings. There’s some merit in that statement, although I don’t believe God intended for us not to fly, our Father did give us the means of transporation, namely our feet and legs. Walking is how God wants us to learn a few things. In Jesus days on earth, he pretty much walked everywhere. It has been estimated that Jesus walked somewhere in the vincinty of 20,000 miles during his life
Why all the walking? Jesus had the power to get whatever form of transportation he wanted. He could have even flew to Peter and the other disciples in the boat, but he walked (even on water!). The greek word used throughout the NT for walk is peripateo, and it means to live or deport oneself, follow, be occupied with. This last definition sheds light for me. When I take walks with Beth in the afternoons, we usually start out and reflect on each other’s day, we chit chat for a moment or more then it’s down to business. Walking is a time to mediate and think. I usually pray during my walks. Sometimes I carry an MP3 player and listen to soft music. In whatever capacity, my mind is engaged and for 45-50 minutes I’m truly occupied. I’ve come up with some of my best sermons or topics for this paper, while walking. I’m in tuned with God’s creation, while walking. I’ve seen more different kinds of wildlife, while walking. I’ve Experienced rain, heat, cold, windy, balmy, humid and pleasant conditions while walking. In truth, I’m at peace and feel good about myself, when walking. Now God’s not wanting us to physically walk everywhere like Jesus did, we miss the point. God’s wants us to occupy our time and thoughts, the way Jesus did. 1Jn 2:4-6 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. When our Lord wasn’t walking, He was teaching, rebuking, exhorting, encouraging, and praying. He occupied himself with His Father’s will. To walk as He walked has everything to do with the design in which He created me and floating along is not one of them.
May 13, 2012
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Eph.4:5
Baptism is very pragmatic. Over the centuries countless theory and dogmas have been ascribed to the subject. In reality, it’s teachings and examples given in God’s holy word is practical in the most sensible way. Often we are absorbed with a deeper, more philosophical understanding of most topics within the Bible. Most modern day theologians are skeptical of baptism because they see no empirical value. Even among liberal Christians, the concrete merits of baptism are non important because they see no observable benefit. To some (Catholics. Episcopalians, etc.), it is dutiful to practice and proclaim necessary in order to satisfy superstition. To others it is a form of past cultures, archaic, and thus not of consequence today. Either way, those that hold to baptism as a rite, or those who dismiss it altogether are not looking at it from a practical viewpoint. On the contrary they make it more complicated than God laid out and remember, God is not the author of confusion, man is. (1 Cor. 14:43) Not only is baptism practical, it is logical. There are within God’s word many examples and shadows to teach about baptism, but following are five basic, practical tenets of immersion by water.
First and foremost it is commanded! Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (see also Mk.16:16). God took all the guesswork out of this one! In the vernacular of a Nike ad with Bo Jackson, “Just Do It!” Secondly, we see as we open the New Testament, that a man named John was preaching baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. The whole very notion of Christ coming into the world was to free us of our sins. Thus when Jesus accomplished His mission and established His church, the foundation of entry to His church was baptism for the remission of sins. Act 2:38,41 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be
baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. … (41) So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. In order to enter His church, you must be pardoned of your sins and baptism is the means of doing that.
Third, Christ had to die for our sins so we would be spared. In order for us to partake in the death of Christ without being physically punished, baptism (immersion) is God’s practical and logical way of accomplishing this. Rom 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (see also Col.2:12)
Fourth, the saving avenue is through Christ. Somehow I must put Christ into my life, to imitate Him, walk as He walks, be in the likeness of Him. In order to be saved I have to have faith in God’s promise that I too can be a son of God. When I put on the garment of Christ, I am becoming that son of faith and the means by doing this is baptism Rom 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Finally, sin is antiquated with filth and dirt that covers us. What better way is there to remove dirt than to wash it off. Act 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.'
Baptism, how pragmatic! It doesn’t take rocket science to figure it out.
May 6, 2012
Pigeons in the Park
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Heb.12:11
Grandfathers are a strange lot. They eat strange food like buttermilk mixed with cornbread or rotting bananas and V8 juice. They sleep more in their chairs than on their beds. They love their grandchildren, but prefer them quiet and still (Right!). Their idea of entertainment is a can of sardines and a good rerun of Gunsmoke. All told, Grandfathers see things a lot differently than the rest of us younger, under-sixty crowd. My grandpa was the epitome of these things and more. I fondly remember sitting with him in Munn Park, in Lakeland, while Mom and Grandma shopped. If he got drug into going shopping with them, this was his place, a nice comfortable bench, where he was to keep an eye on me. Now Munn Park (pictured above) was a kid’s paradise. It had fountains (both to look at and drink from), a monument, lots of winding paths and hundreds of pigeons. It was always my job to try and catch the pigeons, which was impossible, and this suited Grandpa fine. He could let me wear myself out trying to catch one of these varmints (that’s what he called them), while he rested and maybe got a quick shut of the eyes. One day, to my delight, I succeeded! I honed in on a big fat pigeon and with little effort, scooped it up and voila! I had caught my very first pigeon. The first thing to do is show Grandpa, who is napping, what a great hunter I am. My grandfather loved animals! He had a way with cats and dogs. He talked to them and they seemed to respond and communicate back. He even talked to the fish he’d catch, telling them how sorry he was for catching them, but assured them he would enjoy eating them that night. Worst of all, he liked spiders and wasps. Surely he would be proud of my accomplishment, how cunning and quick I was to catch a pigeon. Wrong! He quickly shoved it out of my hands, and drug me over to the water fountain, took out his handkerchief and washed me thoroughly. “Don’t pick up the pigeons!” he barked.
“They’re nasty.” Well, that was strange indeed. A man who didn’t mind spiders but gets bent out of shape on pigeons. Grandfathers are a strange lot, especially to youngsters who have no idea what really is good and bad in this world. It’s hard for us even in our older years to fully appreciate our grandfather’s wisdom much less God’s wisdom. The world is full of things we see and perceive as good, but our Heavenly Father knows they are evil and bad for us. We shouldn’t find it strange when God disciplines us, and we’re not sure why. And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scornthe Lord’s discipline or give up when he correctsyou. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”Endure your sufferingas discipline;God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? Heb.12:5-7.
Turns out Grandpa knew a thing or two about pigeons. They can carry all kinds of diseases such as Histoplasmosis, Candidiasis, Cryptococcosis, St. Louis Encephalitis, Salmonellosis, and E.coli. Besides this they can host ectoparasites such as, Bed bugs, Chicken mites, Yellow mealworms, West Nile Virus, just to name a few. Piegons are nasty, and if they bite or scratch, you can get infected. As much as I hate to admit it, he was right about spiders and wasps, too. They are God’s creative device for cleaning up other nasty bugs and pestilence that can harm us and destroy crops.
It should open our eyes to appreciate all of God’s laws and commandments. We should trust Him and His discipline more without question. God knows all things, sees all things, made all things. I should learn to trust this, even when I don’t understand it. Grandfathers, who follow God, have a lot of wisdom. We should trust in this as well. I just haven’t figured out the buttermilk, sardine or rotten banana benefits yet. Maybe when I become a grandpa, it’ll all make sense.
April 29, 2012
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ - 2 Cor.10:5
Isaac Asimov wrote a series of books in the 1950’s called The Foundation, Foundation & Empire, and Second Foundation. The basic premise of these books is set in another part of our galaxy and another time where a civilization of people has set up elaborate libraries in order to preserve their empire. One of the opponents of these Foundations is called the Mule. He has the unique ability to control the thoughts of other individuals, thus making them puppets in order to serve him. Most of the inhabitants of these worlds succumb to his power, but a few are able to withstand his crippling influence. The way in which they overcome the power of his thoughts is to clear their minds of clutter and concentrate on their own strengths, avoiding weakness of themselves. The way in which they overcome the Mule, is clean pure strong thoughts, not cluttered, filthy, weak thoughts. Now, most science fiction writers that I know of are either atheists or agnostics. Their writings are usually set somewhere else in the universe or some other time, but they always are based on the social commentary of that day. Asimov is no different, his background is steeped in the Second World War, and as you read you begin to see that the Mule is Adolph Hitler, who was able to capture the thoughts of millions. Strangely, these writers often hit on basic Godly principles (which they would emphatically deny). God teaches us a great deal about controlling our thoughts or our heart. Pro 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.; and Pro 15:14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. Satan is always scheming and deceiving men by planting harmful thoughts and ideas, which seem right or appealing, but bring separation and destruction: 2Co 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpentdeceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Once we enable Satan to plant bad thoughts within us, they can be removed, but each day we let them grow without acknowledging them is a day we grow further from God.Jer 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you?; Isa 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Controlling our thoughts is indeed a tough chore, but God has provided us a marvelous way of accomplishing this task. Quite simply, it’s the very thing that Asimov wrote about in his novels, feeding our minds with strong and pure thoughts. By reading and studying God’s word every day, we are doing two important things.One, we are cutting out and purging our hearts of bad thoughts or intentions; Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Second, we are filling our hearts with his strength and eternal wisdom . Php 4:7-8 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Don’t let the Mule (Satan) control your heart! Fill your hearts with Christ, and you’ll be stronger, able to withstand evil thoughts. 2Co 10:5 … and take every thought captive to obey Christ
April 22, 2012
What a legacy
The one who conquerswill be dressed like them in white clothing,and I will nevererase his name from the book of life, but will declarehis name before my Father and before his angels. - Rev.3:5
The drive within us to do great and wonderful thingshas been there from the very beginning. In Gen.4 we read that Cain built a city and named it Enoch, after his first born. Tubal-Cain herald in the bronze age by heating metal and forging tools. Genesis 10 records the genealogy after the flood, and again we see men like Nimrod who pursue to build great cities in order to make a name for themselves. In chapter 11, they say this very thing is the reasoning behind their objective of building a great tower that would reach into the heavens.Throughout human history, great or small, men have sought ways to leave their mark. Some write books, some make war; some become martyrs, some leave legacies or monuments, statues, libraries or roads and public buildings. For some it’s only mark is a tombstone or photo in some forgotten album. In 1 Kings 16 is a brief note of a man who was trying to leave a mark: During Ahab’s reign,Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho.Abiram, his firstborn son, died when he laid the foundation;Segub, his youngest son, died when he erected its gates… 1 Kings 16:34. Hiel was obviously a man of enterprise and ambition. Since the days when the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan, some 400 hundred years earlier, the ruins of Jericho remained as they were; ruins. Hiel, taking advantage of an opportunity, sought to rebuild this city. All the stones were still there. It was close to the Jordan River, a good water source, fertile soil, a great place to move to and begin a new life, perhaps even become wealthier. Lot looked upon this same area and came to these very same conclusions. All the pieces were in place for Hiel to embark on a project that might very well create jobs and opportunity for his family and others, perhaps bring him great wealth, and for sure leave his mark on the world forever. In Joshua 6:25, Joshua proclaimed: At that time Joshua made this solemn declaration:“The man who attempts to rebuildthis city of Jerichowill stand condemned before the Lord.He will lose his firstborn son when he lays its foundations and his youngest son when he erects its gates!”Not the kind of mark I’m sure Hiel had in mind!
Thus is the pursuit of worldly fame, in most cases as in this one, the sacrifice of loved ones. Interesting in this account is a simple fact that his first son died when the foundations were laid (the beginning of the project). The death of his son was not a strong enough force and warning to stop him. He finished the project (the gates are the last things to install), and this cost him his other son. Hiel may have had a knack for large enterprises and knowledge for industry but he lacked wisdom. The signs should have been clear, that rebuilding Jericho had not been pursued for all the years because God pronounced the outcome of such pursuit. Our Father does not condemn the pursuit of earthly goals, but warns us continually that such pursuit in lieu of the priorities and devotion to Him are futile. (See Mt.6:33, Lk.18:24, Heb.11:26, Mt.13:22, Ecc.6:2, Lk.12:16-21, 1 Tim.6:6, Mt.6:24, James 5:1-3, etc.). We should ask ourselves some tough questions. Am I seeking the kingdom of heaven first or am I more fixated on building a name for myself? Am I pursuing some endeavor at the cost of my wife, or my children? Is leaving my mark in this world more important to me, or trusting in God to make my name great? Go back and look at the declaration by Joshua in Joshua 6 and notice verse 27: The Lord was with Joshua and he became famous throughout the land. Want to leave your mark in the world? Follow God, listen to His voice, obey His words, trust Him like Joshua did and He’ll leave you a legacy in this world and the one to come.
April 15, 2012
…how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, - Heb.2:3
The fire was beyond hot, it was a cauldron of melting iron. The smoke was so thick and black, it choked every square inch of breathable space. That was the peril of those trapped on the immediate floors impacted by the planes from 9/11. In the south tower of the World Trade Center buildings that day, it seemed that there was no escape from the terror that had been unleashed. When Flight 11 struck the North tower at 8:46 am, it took out 9 floors and thus sealed or cut off all means of escape (six elevators, and 3 stairways). Those who had survived the initial impact were unfortunately dealt the hand of a slow death. Many that day went about their daily routines (stopping for coffee, breakfast, reading the paper, traveling the subway or ferry), unaware that on this day their life on this Earth would end. 1Th 5:3 While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
We don’t often contemplate our mortality, but the truth is it awaits us all. If we have died to Christ and have been buried with him in the burial of baptism (Rom.6), then we have nothing to fear. If we have not accepted this end, we have a great deal to fear. Heb 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
In the south tower that day, the second plane hit at 9:02 am. It also took out several floors, killing many and leaving others on floors above trapped. Again, all six elevators were destroyed or damaged but only two of the three stairways were blocked. There remained one escape route, Stairway “A”. According to some of the survivors who found this open stairway, attempts to convince others to follow went unheeded. Cell phone conversations, revealed motives, immediate clean air was priority. This resulted in time spent breaking windows (which made matters worse by fueling the fire with oxygen), or attempting to go up to the roof (which was forever sealed due to the impact). One of the arguments given to those who had found the stairway was that they were afraid of what might be down there. They were fearful of thicker smoke or the inferno below. They didn’t trust what those who were going down said, but instead insisted that rescue from firemen would be forthcoming. It is an amazing testimony to the fact that even in dreadful situations, people will not listen to sound advice, but instead turn to immediate relief, rather than long term preservation. In this real-life scenario, there was not going to be another way to save them. The way of salvation was in stairway “A”. It brings to mind this scripture in 1Co 10:12-13 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.The temptations of life are about getting immediate relief (fun, drugs, drink, happiness now, merriment), anything that will give me pleasure now from this dark and sinister world. God however, knows what you need -a stairway of escape that will indeed lead you through the valley of death and destruction, but it’s a pathway free of obstruction. It leads to real clean air, and a solid footing. It leads to life! The message is preached and proclaimed every day. The plane has hit! Death and destruction are all around us! There is only one straiway out, it’s Stairway “A”ccept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Godown with Him in to the grave of baptism, that you may be able to stand with Him forever. There’s no time to hesitate, do it Now! This building is doomed to fall.
April 8, 2012
Blessed isthe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort - 2 Cor.1:3
Paul is no stranger to being in a state of total discomfort. Listen to his words:
…we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living.(2 Cor.1:8); …as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, (2 Cor.6:4-5); For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. (2 Cor.7:5); …Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Cor.11:24-27); …a thorn in the flesh was given to me, (2 Cor. 12:7)
If anyone in this world knew something about suffering for Christ, it was Paul! Yet Paul begins 2nd Corinthians this way: Blessed isthe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troublesso that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any troublewith the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferingsof Christoverflowtoward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you.(2 Cor.1:3-5) How remarkable God’s love is extended to us through His son Jesus. In all of Paul’s worst situations, he was comforted! I often think of comfort as cool sheets on my bed, a cold drink of water, quite times, relaxing times, peaceful moments, not too hot, not to cold, a slight breeze on a summer day, the warm sunshine on a cold day, a good hot shower, a nice warm meal, clothing that fit right and make me feel good about myself, a good pair of shoes, cold AC in my car, my favorite chair at the end of a day, a hot cup of coffee at the beginning. From God, comfort is something quite different. The greek word used here is parakale anditmeans to be called to one’s side, called for or summon. In verses 3-7 it is used 10 times, giving credence to the fact that Paul is emphasizing comfort, the calling of God. We see comfort as a physical quality that gives us some relief or joy in the present. God however know that what we need in times of trouble and moments of despair and anguish are true comfort, knowing he is next to us, bidding us to be by his side. God is encouraging us to faint not, don’t fret, be not weary or have a troubled heart. Why? Because he is near and hears our cries, and summons us to be near Him. He longs to have us near him, hearing His voice, obeying His words. Often I’ve seen the children get hurt or have some calamity which preludes crying and bitter anguish. The one thing that always works in settling their troubled hearts, is the comforting hug and affection from a mother or father. It should remind us as parents that children want true comfort, our attention, not toys and candy or other superficial physical pacifiers. As grown children of God let us also appreciate the wonderful comforts of God – His voice calling us home, bidding us to listen and obey, and summoning us to lean upon His bosom and find rest for our weary and troubled souls. These great comforts are extended to us abundantly. Lets reach out and comfort others, by calling them to rest under the comfort of our loving Lord.
March 25, 2012
Enough is Enough
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. -Philippians 4:11
Isn’t it funny how things we obtain in life bring us some measure of happiness, just for the moment? When I was about 12, I begged Mom and Dad for a telescope and with much perseverance and was able to get them to acquiesce. I’ll never forget the night I first saw Saturn’s rings! I was hooked, and spent hours on end familiarizing myself with the constellations, learning the major stars, and tracking the movement of the planets. With time my new found hobby was put on the back burner for more important pursuits (football, cars, and Beth). A few years ago, my love for astronomy was rekindled, and I purchased a large and expensive telescope in order to re-visit places I could not reach earlier. The payoff was grand! I was able to see things that I had until recently only observed in some magazine or book. It was like being in my backyard again 30 years earlier, only this time I could see millions of light years further. My love for the stars was alive again, but upon nightly observations I quickly began to grow disenchanted with my new scope. The telescope was too large, and required a great deal of effort (setting it up, aligning, comfortable viewing, etc.). I grew tired of lugging it out each evening. Soon my observation time was reduced to once a week, then just once a month. I read and studied about different styles of telescopes, and was convinced that a new scope that was lighter and more conducive for mobility was my answer. I bought a new scope that gave me these options, and sure enough, it proved to be a great purchase. I once again went outside each evening and lost myself in the heavens; for awhile. Soon enough, my quest for the perfect platform to observe the stars, met with a flaw. It wasn’t as powerful as the first scope. In order to get what I wanted out of this hobby I would have to build my own observatory! It would require clearing the
woods in my backyard, pouring a foundation, building a round structure with a turret roof and a sliding bay door on the roof for the scope to peer out of. Then the purchase of the scope, a big 20” reflector mounted to the foundation with a German built equatorial drive engine. I would need a couch, a table, computer equipment, video cabling, infra-red lighting, heating, refrigerator, a patient and understanding wife, and a second mortgage. No! The pursuit of this hobby has come to an end, enough is enough! I’m content with what I have, two pieces of equipment that collect dust and remind me of what I should be pursuing.
God says this about material things of the world: Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. (Heb 13:5)
I truly believe, the very reason God put us here in this fleshly state, is so we may understand firsthand that the material world is fleeting and non-satisfying. God is not telling us we shouldn’t acquire things, He’s warning us that we will not be satisfied with them. It’s taken a few years, but I’ve grown to understand, that I will never be able to buy my way to lasting joy or happiness. With things of the world, I’ll always want what’s bigger, newer, more powerful, more expensive, etc. In the verse from Hebrews 13, we should see that if we pursue God, He will always satisfy our needs. He will never grow old or out-dated. He will never break down or need replacing. He will never depreciate in His value. He will always be available and easy to access. He will never fail in giving me the most out of life, and delivering what he has promised to be.
I may grow tired and discontented with my material means of observing the heavens. God however, has given me two eyes to see with and two legs to walk outside, lie down in the green grass (that He made), and look up at the stars ( that He spoke into existence).
I’m more than content, with that!
March 11, 2012
Caught in a trap
But each person is tempted when he is lured and trapped by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (Jas 1:14-15)
The surreal and ominous thing about sin is its ability to draw us into it, and the minute we’ve committed whatever trespass, we long to be freed from its tentacle grip. Like a moth drawn to the luminous foreboding of a lightbulb, caught in its grip, until the heat of the light or the spider which takes the opportunity given it to devour those that come so close. God warned Cain in Gen. If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." (Gen 4:7) Once Cain sinned, he was caught in its web. Listen to his predicament: Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the Earth and whoever finds me will kill me."(Gen 4:13-14). Cain’s sin of murdering his brother, Abel, has dire consequences. God warned Cain not of the consequences but the overall condition of sin – enslavement and separation! “Its desire is for you”, was God’swarning to Cain. Satan wishes nothing better than to trap you in his web. His desire is to have you and hold you there in misery for all eternity. The serpent of old doesn’t care for your soul; he only wants you to react to circumstances that trouble you now. Someone is making you feel unhappy, unwanted, less than you think you should be, over-shadowing your potential, making you to feel unappreciated? The Devil says react, don’t let them do you that way, get even, get back at them, slander them, curse them, hurt them, leave them, do anything that you can because it won’t matter. God says, you must rule over that feeling, you can and you should rule over sin! Cain didn’t listen to God; he listened to Satan and was caught in the web.
David faced the same circumstances in life by giving in to the voices of lust and envy.
David moved further into this spiral, attracted to the false light (Bathsheba), mesmerized by her beauty, hypnotized by want and desire, captured by lust, trapped forever in the sin of adultery, bound by chains to the guilt of innocent blood (Uriah). When these terrible sins are made visible to a blinded King David, by Nathan, David’s sorrow and enslavement has just begun. Once caught in this vicious entanglement, happiness and joy are no longer: Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
The guiltof his trespass is forever there: For I know my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. (Psa 51:3)
The fear of separation from God looms: Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. (Psa 51:11)
The garments of dirt and shame are worn daily: Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psa 51:2)
For David, life would not be the same. Death and sorrow plagued his household, murder, rebellion, rape, incest to name a few. Once he crossed that threshold, he was no longer in control; he had sold that over to Satan. David knew who could purge him from this guilt and with tears and much petition he went to God and begged for mercy. God, of course, heard his prayers, forgave his sins and saved his soul, but the scars of guilt and sorrow would forever be there. Our Lord has paid the price to ransom our souls from Hell. He has freed us from the enslavement of sin with the price of His blood. And being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness. (Rom 6:18)
Since He paid such a dear price, we are forewarned! Don’t get near the web, don’t even think about it. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins,
March 4, 2012
Rejoice in Hope
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (Tit 1:2)
I had a kind of epiphany the other morning when I rose from a restless night. I sat on the edge of the bed and thought, I’m alive! The profoundness was moments later when it dawned on me that going to sleep last night, I didn’t contemplate the possible that by morning I might be dead. It made me think for awhile at how great a hope we have in Christ our Lord. A great many men and women have left this world with no hope! Listen to the voices of these famous atheist, hear their dread –
Voltaire: ‘I am abandoned by God and man…I shall go to hell.’
Thomas Paine: 'I would give worlds, if I had them, that the "Age of Reason" had never been published. Oh, God, save me; for I am at the edge of hell alone…’
Thomas Carlyle: I am as good as without hope, a sad old man gazing into the final chasm.’
M.F. Rich: "Terrible horrors hang over my soul! I have given my immortality for gold; and its weight sinks me into a hopeless, helpless Hell!"
Caesar Borgia: --- "While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die, and am unprepared to die."
Gandhi 15 years before his death: ‘I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it…entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being and I find solace in the Bhagavad and the Upanishads.’ Shortly before his death he wrote: ‘My days are numbered, I am not likely to live much longer, perhaps a year or more…For the first time in 50 years I find myself in the slough of despond…All about me is darkness; I am praying for light.’
Sir Thomas Scott, Chancellor of England: ‘Until this moment, I thought there was neither God nor Hell…Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty…’
Thomas Hobbes, political philosopher and sceptic: ‘I am about to take a fearful leap into the dark.’
Sir Francis Newport, sceptic: ‘I know I am lost forever! Oh, that fire! Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell!’
How great is our hope, how wonderful it is to have it. One of the things that I became aware of was that when I went to bed and said my prayers, I wasn’t thanking Him for this great hope. We are reminded often in the Roman letter of this hope that we have and are encouraged to be thankful for it. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Rom 12:12)
They say that the closest we all come to death each day is when we sleep. Each night we crawl into our comfortable beds and teeter on the edge of this great chasm and with the hope we have in our Savior we drift off to sleep. Thank you God for this peace of mind, thank you Father for this blessed assurance. This is Paul’s appeal to the Gentile Christians in Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
George Eastman was a great entrepenuer and philanthropist who founded the Eastman Kodak Company. He was brilliant in blazing the future not only in photography but also in providing great contributions for health, and education. He pioneered stock options and dividends for his employees, provided them with health benefits and education. He gave vigorously to schools in this country and help funding for densitry and medical facilities throughout the world. He gave a lot of people some hope, to be successful in this world. In the end, he suffered from a spinal deformity and with a gun at the age of 78 took his own life. It’s good to have hope for things in this world, a good home, job, education, happy life. To have any measure of these things are a blessing but in the end these things remain here. Far better to labor and have eternal hope, than hope that is perishing. Thank you God for this great hope.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4)
What a friend we have in Jesus! I’ve had a lot of great friends in my life, still do. I consider my wife my best friend, and we mention this to each other often. My children are close friends and so are my brethren. I’ve also had what I thought were friends in this world that turned out to be much less. David had a friend who served him well for a time. He was at one time David’s closest counselor. Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom. (2Sa 16:23)
David even considered him a close friend and confidant For it is not an enemy who taunts me-- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me-- then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng. (Psa 55:12-14). This of course is what friends do; they confide in one anothers thoughts and ideas. Friends are suppose to be loyal and unwavering. They should be truthful, willing to tell it to you straight, when they know it will be painful for both. These are the characteristics of a true friend. My best friend has had to tell me on several occasions, when I was wrong. Not a pleasant chore mind you but when you love someone, it’s essential.
It doesn’t take long in the narrative of 2 Samuel to see that what was a good friend to David has really turned out to be a worker of iniquity. He has all the marks of a schemer and mercenary. When it appears to Ahithophel that the tide is turning on King David, and the people are falling head over heels for Absalom, he quickly jumps ship in favor of the son Absalom. It is reasonable to note here that Ahithophel is probably the grandfather of Bathsheba (read 2 Sam.11:3, 2 Sam.23:34). If this is the case his first bit of advice to Absalom shows some degree of
vengefulness and a plan which he has waited for the right time to be sprung. In 2 Sam. 16:20-21 Ahithophel advises Absalom to have relations with all of King David’s concubines on the roof of the palace in plain sight of all to see. It is a tactic meant to do two things; encourage the rebels to continue in their rebellion, and humiliate King David. Next, Ahithophel counsels Absalom to not only pursue David, but that he might carry out the deed of killing him with his on hand. Now remember David considered Ahithophel to be a friend. Somewhere during the course of David’s reign, Ahithophel had won this confidence in David. True friendship says I care for your soul. I care when you’ve acted wrong, and I intend to plan ways to help you, not hurt you. True friendship looks to save us from embarrassment and humiliation, not ways to heap it upon us. Whatever motives Ahithophel had in trying to destroy David we may never know, but we do know that he failed in his schemes. He that soweth iniquity shall reap calamity; And the rod of his wrath shall fail. (Prov.22:8). See, David had a true friend in God, and God made Ahithophel‘s second advice appear wrong by the counsel of Hushai (another true friend). Seeing his dismise, Ahithophel put his affairs together and then killed himself.
Loyalty to one another as brother and sisters of Christ, compels me to be the best of friends. Willingness to rebuke when a friend is wrong, stand behind them when they are right, and be patient in love one to another (1 Cor.13). If I see a brother stumbling, I have a duty to help my brother up (Gal.6) not watch or help push him down.
Jesus had many close friends while he was here on earth, one of which was Judas Iscariot. (Mt.26:50) Jesus told Judas the truth and somewhere along the line Judas cared more for the world than his friend and the truth. He schemed, betrayed his friend, got his silver, threw it away, hung himself. Would we do the same to one another? The consequences of not being a true friend is horrible.
to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of GodEph.3:19
Since the first of the year, I’ve taken up a new adventure by learning to play the guitar. What at first was an expression to Beth how I would like to play the guitar, lead to her buying me one and encouraging me to try it. From the beginning I’ve come to appreciate how huge a learning curve there is to playing such an instrument. There are literal hundreds of chords and variations of these chords in triads and many different scales. There is the training of your fingers, the coordination of your hand and mind, learning how to keep time, etc. It is a whole new language, that requires a lot of practice and patience. It is unbelievable the amount of knowledge one must obtain in order to master the guitar let alone any musical instrument. The great thing that God has provided us is the capability to learn and add to our knowledge banks more knowledge. If we are willing to spend the time and energy, and discipline ourselves to learning, there not much we can’t learn or gain. Now comprehend what He has done for us through Christ. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.(Ephesians 3:14-19)
The very power that made the universe can and will reside in you if you have accepted His son. Now with this power is the capability of limitless possibilities. Look at what Paul says, “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,”. The capability that I have to learn and gain knowledge here and now is actually limited. There is something however, that is not limited, and that’s the love of Christ. God gave me the ability to learn and know about Christ, and when I believe and accept Christ, God gives me something greater. He gives me the power to comprehend the fullness of Himself. Gaining knowledge is not the answer, gaining Christ is. Now it would be great if one could say I’m going to learn to play the guitar, then sit down to read all there is about it, and once I’ve read about it I can then play like an expert. However one key ingredient is left out of that scenario, practice! Hours of practice! Days on end of practice! Most of the people that I’ve talked to and can play really well, have been playing the guitar their whole life. The same holds true to being masters of His divine nature(2 Peter 1:3-4). In order to partake of these great blessings we’re going to have to be disciplined and practice. asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)
Partakers of His divine nature, filled with all the fullness of God, having the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge! What power, what glory, what blessing we have in Christ. All this is freely given, I just need to accept His love, obey His command and discipline my life to walk as He walks, talk as He talks. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. (1 Timothy 4:15)
Now the possibilities are limitless! Through Jesus Christ I truly can do all things. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.(Philippians 4:13)
The seal of approval
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13
The human body is the most complex and amazingorganism in all of God’s creation.Of all the most intricate anddiverse systems and subsystems within each of us is the ability to fight off foreign invasion. The ability that we have to attack strange and lethal bacterial infections is truly marvelous. The key component of this defense system is our immune system. Built into our genetic code (like a software program), is all the information needed to attack and fight alien invaders within our body. The simplicity is profound. Within each cell of our body, information is provided for the sentinels (antibodies) that identify it as foreign or domestic. Sometimes the foreign organism is granted approval or more simply, just left alone. Pollen is one example of a foreign organism that in most humans is left alone. However, in some of us that have allergies, the antibodies attack fiercely and send for reinforcements (histamines, which make us sneeze continuous to get the foreign substance out). Chiefly, the antibodies are looking at each cell for the seal of approval. The body is always working, from the time we were conceived to now, in providing these sentinels authenticity for each cell within the host (us). If the sentinel or antibody should see this seal of approval upon the cell, it is left alone and no attack pursues. Amazing, isn’t it?! Now, what intrigues me more is how the natural universe is directionally proportional to the spiritual. By observing the way God made the complex universe, I’m able to see real spiritual application for the good of my soul. Consider our discussion in light of Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2 Tim.2:16-19But avoid profane chatter,because those occupied with it will stray further and further into ungodliness,and their message will spread its infectionlike gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are in this group.They have strayed from the truthby saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are undermining some people’s faith. However, God’s solid foundation remains standing, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,”and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.” There are of course many lessons we can get from this passage, but the main points here are twofold. First, there are cells within the body that have become infectious (false teachers like Hymenaeus and Philetus) , and will infect other cells within the body (church) if left unchecked. Second, not all the cells are infected, and bear the seal of approval, so that they will not be invaded or attacked. The church of Christ is solid and strong and is able to withstand all attacks, both foreign and domestic. God’s immune system is perfect, and we need only to stop and appreciate His church, and its indestructible system. Notice God did not say for us to attack the infection (Hymenaeus and Philetus), we are not the antibodies in this analogy; we are cells within the host (Christ). God is giving us code or critical information to store within our cell, as is illustrated in the above verses (“avoid profane chatter”, do not stray from the truth, and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.”). If we have been baptized into the host (Christ), we are forever sealed 2 Cor. 1:21-22 But it is God who establishesus together with you in Christ and who anointed us,who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment. The dreaded disease of death cannot infect us if we’ve been inoculated with the blood of Jesus. We have been sealed, but dangerous infections (false teaching) still loom. Unless we continue to listen and obey His codes (the word), our cell is in jeopardy, and the sentinel knows who is sealed and authentic, and who is an imposter.