Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Bible speaks of new beginnings many times. The first book, Genesis, is named for the beginning, and starts out with, "In the beginning...." In Chapter Four, we are told that men began to call upon the name of the Lord (YHVH). It took three generations before man understood his need for God's help. Adam's son, Seth, had a son, Enosh, and only then did man begin calling on the Lord. We are such slow learners.

The Gospel of John starts with the same three words: "In the beginning...." The fourth word in Genesis One, and in John One are the same in meaning, but God used different ways of say it. In Genesis, it is "God." In John, it is "Word." To those unfamiliar with the Bible, the Word is a title for Jesus. If one reads the entire first verse of John, it is clear that Jesus is God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In verse fourteen, John tells us that "...the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."

So did Jesus begin at the moment of His conception, at His birth, or some other time? The answer is that He did not begin! He is God, and God is eternal. Over and over again, Jesus speaks of being with the Father before the foundation of the world, which by the way, Jesus created (John 1:1-3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; and Hebrews 1:1-2). He told His opponents that He lived before Abraham (John 8:58). In John 17:5, Jesus prays to the Father and says, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." The Son of God had no beginning, but He chose to become a man in order to die for us. And because He made that choice, you and I can have a new beginning. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when we believe in Christ, we become a new creature (creation). We begin a new life, a new life that will have its final change when we see Jesus
(1 John 3:2).

Tomorrow is the beginning of the year 2010. Millions will make New Year's resolutions. Why do people do that? I believe it is because they feel that the previous year(s) were a disappointment. It is as though they are saying, I messed up last year, but I am going to begin doing things the right way. It would be nice if that was all it took to change, but in my experience, it wasn't until I turned my life over to the Lord that it truly changed. And, as He reveals areas where I am still falling short (and there are many, many), I turn each over to Him so that He can change the desires of my heart to be like His. God is not finished with me yet. I am a work in progress. But no matter how disappointed I am in myself, He is neither disappointed or surprised. He just "rolls up His sleeves" and stays on task: He is making me like Jesus. I admit He has His work cut out for Him, but I am absolutely certain that He is up to the task. Praise God! So this year, why not accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and let His resolve to change God's children, begin in you? You will not be sorry, I promise.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


During my study of the Bible through the years, I have been amazed at how God seems to divide things. In Genesis One, God divided darkness and light, the water in clouds from that of the oceans, land from the water, and human kind into male and female. In Chapter Two, God explains that He even divided Adam from his rib to make Eve. There are several more examples of how God divided things, such as Abraham from the rest of the Gentiles, the Jews from the rest of the nations, and finally Christians from the Jews. It is almost like God designed into nature the "Law of Division." Nearly every living thing is the result of cell division. The irony is that God divided people and nations, and then instructed them to multiply. How mathematical of Him.

Man has been said to be created in the image of God. Humans have a body, soul, and spirit; we are trinities. Man plans, organizes, separates, invents, constructs, etc. just as his Creator does. But man is different from the One in Whose image he was created in one very important way: man sins! Man separated himself from God through disobedience, and then hid from Him. Since that first experience with "food poisoning," man has discovered a multitude of ways to remain isolated from God. We have become so good at it that few of the nearly six billion individuals in our world know much about God at all. Oh yes, man is infamously religious, but religion is, in many ways, idolatry. Worship of any god other than the God of the Bible honors a false god. Unfortunately, even Jews and Christians often have an understanding of the true God that fails to see Him as He is. We often focus on those characteristics that we need, such as being our Savior, but fail to think about the fact that He is here, He sees all, He knows our hearts, and He grieves over our lack of love of Him and of our fellow man. It is amazing that He allows us to exist!

In Galatians 5:14, we are told that "...all of the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Paul simplifies for us what God expects from His children. He wants us to love one another. If you think about it, the first commandment tells us to love God. Paul is saying that by loving others, we are loving God! We show our love for God by doing "for the least of these." Jesus said our loving acts for others were the same as doing them for Him. But why would God prefer we love others instead of focusing on Him? There are some clues found in Christ's final recorded prayer in John Seventeen. First, in verse eleven, our unity is an example of the unity between the Father and His Son. In verse twenty-one, our unity shows the world that God sent Jesus (only Jesus working in us, can produce love for others). In verse twenty-two, we find that there is a glorious aspect to our loving one another. We share some of what God gets for loving us: glory. In verse twenty-three, we find the most important reason for maintaining unity among the brethren. Our fellowship, again reveals that Jesus came, but John adds a very astounding truth. God loves Christians with the same love He has for His only begotten Son! WOW!

So, while sin separates, love unites. Love unites us with God. Love unites us with each other. And love can unite us with those who need to see God in action in us: the lost. The good news, the Gospel, is that God loves us. It is up to us to be Christlike, and thereby win the lost to Him. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). What describes the three divisions of humanity, Gentiles, Jews, and Christians, is made one in Christ. We are all witnesses to the world, one way or another. What kind of witness are you?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I have heard several people talking about the year 2012 recently. It seems that there are some "prophetic people(s)" who have declared it to be the end of the world. A major motion picture came out entitled 2012, and even conservatives like Jack Van Empe have addressed the subject. To be sure, anything is possible if one has nothing to measure theory against. However, there is much in the Bible that teaches us about how it all ends. For example, the end of this present earth does not occur until after the Millennial Reign of Christ (Revelation 21:1). That period alone is one thousand years! So, at the earliest, the new heaven and new earth could not possibly be before 3009. When one adds the seven year Tribulation Period, the earliest it could be is 3016. Of course, to those who spiritualize the Bible, almost anything is possible.

I heard someone joking during one of the Christmas parties we attended. They said, "Do you know what the two middle numbers of this year's date are?" The answer was "Oh, Oh!" That pretty much sums up the year. I guess we could say that the next year will have a similar slant to the date: 2 OH I Owe! Yes, with the new medical program, the war on terror, and the "big-brother" stimulus money, I, or I should say we, certainly will owe! One of the ironic things about our President's "Cash for Clunkers" program is that those like me who drive a car that qualifies as a clunker are not able to afford a new car, even with the incentives! I have no car payment with my precious clunker, and we are barely making ends meet now. Can you imagine how well I would do at paying a car payment? Oh, if only I was a CEO of something, anything! But, alas, I am on Social Security, and since the cost of living index (determined by the government) did not rise last year, I was informed that I would not be getting a cost of living increase. I wonder if the state and local governments will take that into consideration and roll back my increased utility bills and taxes? Right!

There is good news to report, however. Jesus is going to return to remove born again believers from this world. With the world on the brink of a One World Government, and a One World Currency, I am very sure I will not have to wait long. Shucks, with my health the way it is, I just might beat the rush and get a head start. One way or the other, I'm fixin' to spend eternity with my Creator, my Savior, my Lord, and my King! Needless to say, the sooner the better! Let everyone shout, "AMEN!"

Monday, December 28, 2009


The one thing I shall most regret upon meeting Jesus, is not the multitude of sins He had to bear on my behalf, nor the shortness of life, but it is my waste of time and money that will have defined my life. When I was healthy, I was busy doing things for myself, like work, sports, school, and even the sharing of my faith in Jesus, which was as much to feel good about myself, as it was to honor Him. Once my health went south, I found myself spending nearly every waking hour in front of the television or the computer. Truly, I am ashamed of my wasted life that could have, and should have done so much more for the lost and hungry people of the world.

When I compare myself with others in my family, and even to those in my church, I feel like I have served Him way above average, but the sad thing is, the majority of my time has been spent on myself. When I think about how poorly I have done in living for, and serving the Lord, I see myself as a dismal failure. My life reminds me of the last scene in Schindler's List, where the hero weeps over his failure to save more Jews from death. He had saved so many, but it wasn't the best he could have done. He bemoans the fact that his ring, a gold award, and his car all could have been sold to ransom more of the condemned. Unfortunately, I am afraid I am not unique. The entire Church is comprised of people just like me. And, as a result, there are billions who will never hear about or seen examples of our Lord.

Lately, I have been drawn to the plight of the poor. Our church supports a few missionaries, most of whom serve in poverty areas of the world. Those serving orphans, the lost, and the starving get a tenth of our tenth. That means that if the church takes in $100,000 annually, $10,000 is spent to support missionaries abroad. This also means that the members of the church made at least $1,000,000 that same year. So, bottom line: one percent goes to missionaries. How much goes to feed the hungry? How much goes to food, clothing, and shelter of the poor of the world? Our support goes to provide for the needs of our missionaries. If I were a missionary, and had to sustain my family while thousands were starving around us, I would feel unbearable guilt. It must break their hearts to be unable to feed them. The Church has successfully focused on Acts 1:8, but has lost sight of Acts 2:44-47. Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep. He said that what you have done to help the least of these, you have done to Me. It is little wonder that we have lost "favor with all the people" (Acts 2:47).

Let me be quick to say that it is not the fault of the missionary. He is responsible for taking care of his family while they are there to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard the good news. But, what does it say about us? Compared to world standards, Americans live luxurious lives. We waste more food than most families around the world get. We no longer have something that breaks repaired; it is cheaper to buy a new one. We are no longer satisfied that we have phone service; we have to have the latest edition of sophisticated communication, and have it in our favorite color. Rather than coordinating our schedules so that we can live with one vehicle, everyone in the family has to have one. We no longer are willing to sit together in the living room and watch what the majority wants to see; we have a TV in every room!

My wife and my daughters keep after me about writing down my life story. They know that God has truly blessed me and gifted me. When I was an atheist, He convinced me that He loved me. When I was a young Christian, I witnessed to everyone I met. I went to Bible College and Seminary. I was the pastor of a church and have taught Bible studies for years. They see my life as a positive thing. They see it as evidence of God's use of this tired, old, clay vessel. What they fail to see it the selfish, wasteful, and unproductive human being who is about to meet the "Accountant!" Yes, I am going to have to give an account of my use of gifts, resources, knowledge, and time. And, if it wasn't for the fact that Jesus died for even those things, I would spend eternity in the awful lake of fire. I am so very glad that God loves even me!

I pray that whoever reads this blog, will think on these things. Don't live your life focused upon your needs and pleasures. Live for Christ by living for others! Feed the hungry, dress the naked, shelter the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the hopeless. If you spend your life as a good steward, you will have no regrets when you face the soon-coming Lord. And, He is coming soon!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Once upon a time, many years ago, I thought the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible was on a level with the inspiration of the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew texts. I have defended it many times to my own detriment. It even caused me to break fellowship with some of my "liberal brethren." However, I began to wonder why every preacher who used the King James had to continuously refer to the Greek or Hebrew meanings. If the KJV was as accurate as they, why did it require the preacher to learn Greek and Hebrew? So, I thought I would buy an copy of the original KJV (1611) and find out. Much to my surprise, it was different from the KJV I used. It seems that modern Bibles were based on the 1611 edition, but they had been "updated." Imagine my surprise. Not only that, but the 1611 version included the Apocrypha! How could that be? If the original KJV was so perfect, why didn't the publishers include the Apocrypha in later editions? No one has satisfactorily explained that to me to this very day. Maybe someone reading this will be able to enlighten me.

I have long since become a fan of the New American Standard Version. It has been widely accepted as being the most accurate at translating the original languages. Unfortunately, it is very mechanical in its translating, and fails to translate Greek and Hebrew idioms. So, once again, I must refer to the experts to discover what these strange statements are trying to express. I guess that is why there are Bible Colleges and Seminaries to teach our teachers (pastors). Lexicons, and Concordances are very helpful, as are Bible Dictionaries. They, however, are still merely telling the reader what was meant in the original language

The idea that I need men and women to help me understand God's Word is very frustrating and humbling. I would prefer that it not be necessary because I find very few individuals whom I feel are trustworthy on such heavy matters. Fortunately, I have a pastor who is one of the few. In fact, in all the years I have been under his instruction, I cannot remember a single error. Of course, he occasionally says Noah when he means Jonah, or Peter when he means Paul, but we all know what he means. He is a gift to us, for sure.

I say all that to explain my version of Isaiah 9:6 - "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." I have capitalized "Son" and "His" because it is obvious that the verse refers to Jesus. I am not sure why the translators of the KJV placed a comma between Wonderful, and Counselor, but I believe it should not be there. There are four titles for the One born to the Virgin Mary: Counselor, God, Father, and Prince. It makes more sense to understand the words, "Wonderful, The Mighty, and The Everlasting as adjectives. "Of Peace," is a prepositional phrase and, while serving as an adjective, the phrase in not actually one. What difference does it make?

I believe the verse is teaching that God is a Trinity. I believe that God the Father was in the Son, as was the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells His disciples that the Father is in Him in John 17. So, what do each of the titles tell us about the Man born to Mary? First, He is a Counselor, because the Counselor, the Holy Spirit dwells within Him. Second, He is God (this is the one that separates many Christians and cults, but nevertheless, He is God - John 1:1-3). Third, He is the Father (in that He is the express image of Him and carries out His will - if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father - John 14:9). And last, He is the Prince or the Son Who will one day be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Perhaps He has already been crowned, but long after Isaiah wrote this passage. The verse, therefore, is an Old Testament presentation of God as a Trinity. Sorry, Handel lovers, The Messiah is not accurate if we take out the comma. It is, nevertheless, the greatest music of praise ever written in my opinion.

So KJV enthusiasts, I am sorry I have left the fold. Please pray for me if you think I am a heretic. Pray for me even if you do not. I always need prayer! God bless and have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It has always amazed me that there are so many errors believed among Christians. It could be that many believers get their theology out of their hymnal instead of the Bible. Perhaps folks think that if a hymn makes it into the hymnal, it is accurate. Especially since so many, if not all, denominations use the same songs. Some examples are most easily found in Christmas hymns. No where in the Bible does it say that angels sing. Yet "the herald angels" seem to do just that. And, what about those three wise men? Were there really three? It is taken for granted that because there were three gifts, that naturally there had to be three magi. That they are called kings is also unfounded. The best definition of magi is that they were of a priestly caste from Medo-Persia. They apparently studied the stars, and followed a strange "star" westward to Israel. It is obvious that the object in the sky was unique. First, it moved discernibly on a path that differed from other stars. Second, it stopped over Jerusalem, disappeared, reappeared, and moved over the city of Bethlehem.

The event of "three kings" visiting the new born King, must have occurred much later, as well. It did not occur when the shepherds visited the manger scene, because by the time the travelers arrived, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary were living in a house (Matthew 2:11). It was probably close to a year after the birth because Jesus is called a young child and not a babe. The fact that Herod sought to kill all the males two years old and younger, also leads me to believe that he was bracketing the time when the travelers told him they had seen the star. He was playing it safe. Fortunately for us, he missed!

The fact that angels have wings and play harps of gold or any other metal is also very questionable. The Seraphim have six wings, but there is nothing said about other angels having them. Speaking of instruments, where on earth did we find a little drummer boy? And what about midnight clear? Was it really midnight? Was it really silent? How about those cattle that were lowing? But, I digress.

Christians, both Protestants and a majority of Catholics, think that the Immaculate Conception had something to do with a virgin bringing forth her first born child. The doctrine is actually referring to the conception of Mary by her parents. Some theologian thought a mere human being could not produce the Son of God unless she, too, was without sin. They were mistaken for Mary herself says that she was in need of a savior (Luke 1:49). Just to add insult to injury (theologically speaking), Mary had other children after the birth of Jesus. Joseph knew her not until she had given birth to Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Jesus had at least four half brothers and some half sisters (compare Matthew 12:46-50 with 13"53-58).

I am not sure that five hundred years from now, all of this will make a difference. After all, our relationship with Jesus is not based upon our knowledge of doctrine (thank God), but upon our faith in Him. What I am sure of, is that Christians leave themselves open to challenge and ridicule when they fail to restrict their witness to the teaching of the Bible. The truth is what sets men free, not pleasant stories and beautiful hymns. And, faith comes by hearing and believing the Word of God. Saving faith and growing faith. God bless everyone and I hope the Christ being celebrated is Lord of your life. He is worthy.

Monday, December 21, 2009


The Apostle Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other writer. Thirteen, and some say fourteen, of the twenty-seven books were penned by Paul (some consider Hebrews as being his as well). While in school, I noticed something unique about his letter to the Philippians. It is addressed to "all the saints...with the bishops and deacons." What makes this different, is that he addresses the bishops and deacons as though they were not included in "all the saints." Of course, in the biblical sense, they too were saints, so why did Paul list them separately? Apart from his letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, all of his epistles, with the exception of Philippians, were written to the body of believers as a whole.

There are subtle hints in Philippians which might be the answer. Most people think of Philippians as Paul's letter encouraging the readers to rejoice. It is a constant theme, and to be sure, it is meant to teach his fellow believers to be happy and content with the circumstances in which they find themselves. But underlying the encouragement lies another, less obvious, message. In Chapter One, Paul suggests that there are those spokesmen for Christ that preach because they are envious of Paul (verses 15-16). Paul was suffering much persecution for his efforts to preach Christ. He indicates that he is but a humble prisoner with the distinct possibility of losing his life. In Chapter Two, Paul continues his emphasis on humility by reminding his readers that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, took on the role of a servant, and it cost Him His life. The passage begins by Paul telling them to be like-minded, to humble themselves as Jesus had done (verses 5-8).

In Chapter Three, Paul speaks of men who apparently "were flashing their credentials" in order to lord it over them. Paul counters them by using his own experiences as being superior to those of the Judaizers, and yet he considers it all worthless. He even refers to the works of the flesh as dung (verses2-8). He goes on to say that he, Paul, had not yet "arrived" which suggest that there were those among them who seemed to think they had (verses12-14). He exhorts them to be of the same mind; they were to walk humbly as they focused on heavenly things and not this world (verses 15-21). He continues by specifically naming two of their brethren who especially need to change (Chapter Four, verse 2).

I believe that Paul saw the bishops and deacons in Philippi as being arrogant and proud. It might be said that most churches today could learn from Paul in this area. Pastors, elders, and deacons are servants of God for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ. There is only One Head. Jesus Christ, our Lord, loves servants who are humble, and who love the "sheep." However, it seems that religious leaders will always need to be reminded that, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, it is easy to begin to think of themselves as being greater than those they are gifted to serve. Read Romans 12:3. Humility is the product of gratitude!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I heard a wonderful sermon by my pastor this morning. He spoke of the first Christmas from Luke, Chapter Two. He focused mostly on the message given to the lowly shepherds. He emphasized the humble beginnings of Jesus with a stable for a delivery room, and that the angel did not proclaim Christ to kings or religious leaders, but to common shepherds. Of course, the angel had to begin with, "Fear not." Who would not fear when being approached by a celestial being surrounded with the glory of the Lord? The good tidings (good news) was that the long-awaited Messiah, the offspring of David, the Savior and Lord, was born that very day in the town where it was prophesied He would be: Bethlehem. Simple, humble shepherds, of all people, were the first to see Him!

Most of us living in the United States and in many other countries, know the story. Every year, it is as though the whole world knows, especially the merchants and preachers. The commercialization of the holiday has been ridiculed by many, to little or no avail. Stores remind us that giving is the key to Christmas. It is, but the giving that needs to be celebrated is the giving of God's Son for all of humanity. The angel even says that the message is "to all people." Jesus did not come for the Jews, or those who would one day become Christians. No, Jesus came for all. All of us are sinners, and all of us need a Savior. That is Who came that first Christmas.

That being said, what about all the thousands of Christmas Holidays since? Are they just as important? I doubt that, but nevertheless, they are very important to all the souls who believed on Jesus because a preacher took the time to focus on the birth of Christ. Holidays, as irritating as they have become, still are the occasion to proclaim God's love for His creation. It doesn't hurt for those who have accepted Christ years ago to be reminded, either. Unfortunately, one hears so much about the holiday and so little about the Christ, that most Christians dread the season. Oh sure, we act as though we are full of joy and pleased to attend functions, cantatas, and family get-togethers, but most of us would prefer some of the "peace on earth" of which the angel spoke.

There is one other Christmas that I have never heard spoken or preached. It is the last Christmas. There will come a time when the celebration of Christian religious holidays in the United States will be seen as unacceptable, if not illegal. They will be seen as a way of discriminating against other faiths. Those who support abortion and homosexuality already see Christianity as being a religion of hate and intolerance. I hope and pray that the Lord returns for His Church before it comes to that, but there is no guarantee as to when He will come. Before He returns to establish His earthly kingdom, the world has to be in such dire straits as to be willing to sign over our national sovereignty to a single world ruler. As I understand the Bible, Christians will be removed by God prior to the revealing of this evil despot. But, we can see even today that, with the world economy collapsing, there is a global move to change the monetary standard from the dollar, to the Euro. From there, a cashless society can not be far off. Come Lord Jesus!

So, as you celebrate or don't celebrate Christmas this year, consider that it may be your last one. Even if the Lord tarries, you may not live another year. War, accident, famine, disease, old age, etc. could end one's life. We can not take for granted that God will allow us another day, let alone another year. So let us rejoice in the love God showed so many Christmases ago, and celebrate His love this Christmas. Lord willing, if He grants us another, praise Him; if not, praise Him. Thank the Lord for His marvelous Gift!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Religion is a dangerous thing. It unites people of like mind, but segregates them from all others. Religion tends to offer a formula for this life, and the life to come. It always includes lists. There are lists of things to avoid, and lists of things required in order to be in harmony with each other, and with God. It often produces a feeling of superiority and pride to those who believe in "the right way." There is an arrogance and disdain for those who have rejected their beliefs. For those who do not agree, there is either pity or hatred. Yes, religion is an ugly thing.

One hundred percent of all religions believe in a god, who is either loved or feared, or both. The observance of the lists by the believer determines which is dominate: love or fear. How the believer feels is determined by how closely he or she adheres to the lists. Failing to obey means certain rejection by their fellow believers, and by the god who makes his demands known to them through the "sacred lists." I have been told that the Jewish Bible contained six hundred plus laws with which they had to comply, or they were required to make amends through some kind of sacrifice or works. Not only were the lists mandatory, but the obedience to them was to be in accordance to the interpretation of the "clergy." Jesus had many conflicts with religious leaders who thought He was breaking one or more of their laws. He pointed out to them that doing good always trumped the restriction of another law. Healing, feeding, and raising the dead on the Sabbath was more important than sitting by watching those in need go unattended.

God had revealed His laws to the Jews, not so they could live by them, but so they could realize they needed God's mercy. Jesus did not begin a new religion. Jesus merely interpreted the teachings of the Law and the Prophets by living them. He taught that man could please the One True God, by loving Him, and loving everyone else (including his enemies). He simply reiterated what the prophet Micah had told them. "He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (Micah 6:8). We love God by doing things according to His character (What Would Jesus Do?). We love Him and our fellow man when we delight in showing mercy to those who deserve our wrath. And, we please both God and man when we walk in humility.

Humility. How does one become humble? It is quite simple, actually. When one thinks of how often God has forgiven sins, and how God has provided salvation as a gift, pride and feeling superior to others is impossible. God provided the payment for our sin through the death of His Son. God has given us a hunger to know Him. God has given us faith to believe in Him. What have we done? Nothing. Our relationship with God is one hundred percent the result of His work on our behalf. Jesus didn't start a new religion. Jesus taught us that God, Who alone is worthy of our worship, loves us! He doesn't want us to become religious; He wants us to love Him back! He loved us even when we were living a sinful, godless, selfish life. If we will let Him, He will clean us up and spend eternity blessing us. All He wants is to share Himself with us. Praise Him for all that He has done, is doing, and will do forever! He is worthy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There are 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,101 verses, 783,137 words, and 3,566,480 letters in the King James Bible. That is a lot of material for a pastor to use to prepare his sermon. And yet, a pastor chose one particular passage on one particular day, and it just happened to be the very chapter I had read the night before. As an atheist, I had opened a Bible for the first time because I was bored, and I needed a good laugh. I expected some primitive, uneducated presentation of superstitious myth. What I found was more beautifully written than the writings of William Shakespeare, which I had always admired. I was astonished.

The following morning, I was telling my wife about it, much to her amazement since I had so strongly opposed any sort of religious thinking by anyone. I had made it my calling to challenge any and all who dared to speak of God. To me, there was no God. As I went on and on about it, our children came down stairs and turned on the TV in the living room. Judy and I were in the dining room, and although I could both hear and see the program that was on, I was so engrossed in my story, that I didn't object to it being a church program. They had gone into the kitchen to get some cereal and left it on the station; they intended to return and switch it to cartoons. Before they had a chance to do that, I told my wife that it would really be something if the preacher spoke on the one chapter I had read. He did! I moved to the living room.

I don't exactly know what I saw for the next three hours, but at the end of the third hour, a preacher pointed at the TV camera and said, "You there in your living room, get down on you knees and accept Jesus Christ as you Savior." I hit the floor. My life was changed forever in that instant as I put my complete trust in Jesus. I felt different. I knew that my sin was forgiven, that the Bible was true, and that God would use me to tell others. Don't ask me how I knew. I just did.

Since that time forty-one years ago, I have enjoyed His presence and His Word. I went to Bible College and then to Seminary trying to quench my thirst for knowledge of Him. Today, I have barely scratched the surface, but I love His Word more than ever. Because of it, I know that I am a sinner, saved only because He had mercy on me. He graciously provided His Son, His Spirit, His Word, and faith so that I could have an everlasting relationship with Him. And I know that one day, very soon, Jesus will return and put an end to the evil that permeates this world. We win! Praise the Lord.

Of the 1,189 chapters in the Bible, Psalm 117, the shortest, is the middle chapter. It's two verses call for all nations to praise the LORD. It tells of His mercy toward His creation. The longest, Psalm 119, contains twenty-two sections of eight verses each, all proclaiming the wonder of God's Word. But right in the middle between the shortest chapter, a call to praise God, and the longest chapter, a call to praise His Word, lies the chapter with the middle verse in the bible:  Psalm 118:8, which says, "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." There it is. The Gospel in a nut shell. Trust the Lord.

Trust Him to forgive. Trust Him to save. Trust Him to return.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


As Christians, we know Jesus Christ is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. But did you know that the first person to formally declare Him to be King was Pilate? Of course, when the disciples went to proclaim the kingdom, the fact that Jesus was the King must have been the center of their message. However, in the Bible, the first person who, perhaps in sarcasm or disdain, announced His royalty, was the very man that turned Him over to the mob to be crucified. He foolishly thought that he could "wash the blood off of his hands" with water, but you and I know differently. Just like Pilate, we, because of our sin, all share in the responsibility for such a horrendous act.

All four Gospels tell something about the sign that was placed above the Lord's head. They are as follows:
*****Matthew 27:37 And set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
*****Mark 15:26 And the superscription of His accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
*****Luke 23:38 And a superscription also was written over Him, in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
*****John 19:19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS
Pilate probably had no idea that his sign was correct, but all of us who have been given faith to believe, know that it is true. Thanks be to God for revealing it to us; our faith is the result of His grace and mercy!

Jesus is the King, and He is the Door through which we have access to His kingdom. But, the door was apparently "locked." In Matthew 16:17-19, Jesus says that He is going to give to Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven. What on earth does that mean? The answer is found in a few passages in the book of Acts. In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His disciples that they were to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the rest of the world. This is extremely important, because according to the Jews of that day, there were three kinds of people: Jews (Jerusalem and Judea), Samaritans (part of Israel that differed from orthodox Jews), and Gentiles (everyone else). The Apostle Peter was present when each of these groups of people were acknowledged as followers of Christ. In Acts 2, Peter preached Christ, and the Holy Spirit added 3,000 Jews to the Church. In Acts 8, Peter was present when the Holy Spirit fell upon the Samaritans adding them to the Church. And, in Acts 10, Peter preaches Christ to the Gentiles, and the Holy Spirit bore witness that they, too, were to be part of the Church.

I am not sure why Peter was used of God to authenticate the validity of the Church being made up of Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. My Catholic friends believe it has to do with Peter being the first Pope. I, on the other hand, believe it was because Peter denied the Lord three times. In John 21:15-17, Peter is told to feed His flock three times. Since the flock of Christ, the Church, is made up of three kinds of people, perhaps Jesus was telling Peter to include everyone: it is obvious that God did.

The Kingdom of Heaven has one King, Jesus Christ the Lord. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all would repent (turn around and follow Him). The keys are no longer needed. The Door is open. The Father is drawing us to His Son. The Holy Spirit is giving the lost faith to believe. Won't you turn from leading a life without hope to a life eternal? The keys have given you access to His very presence. Come on in!

Monday, December 14, 2009


One of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible is John Chapter Nine. In many ways, it is the story of each of us who believe that Jesus is Lord. We are told that Jesus saw a blind man. We don't know who he was, but Jesus gave much attention to him. When asked, Jesus told His disciples that his blindness was not due to his sin, because he was born blind. He also tells them that God wasn't punishing the man's parents for their sin, but that the man was born blind for a special purpose. God, knowing that His Son would one day heal him, and that in so doing, provide evidence to support His Son's identity, determined that he should be born blind. This sounds like a very cruel thing to do, but in all honesty, most of us would be willing to suffer and even die to be used of God for His glory.

After Jesus healed him, all those who knew him and knew that he was born blind, were faced with a decision. They would have to acknowledge that Jesus had healed him, or that it was a false miracle in order to fool them. While they debated his true identity, the man testified that he had been blind, but that a man named Jesus had healed him. Later, when asked by the Pharisees who had healed him, he responded by calling Jesus a prophet. The religious leaders, not being satisfied with his answer, summoned his parents to verify his identity. Apparently the parents, and perhaps by this time the man himself, knew He was the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, but none of them dared to say it. When asked again, the man questions them as to whether they, too, wanted to be His disciples. Finally, he tells them that only a man of God could work such a miracle.

When Jesus heard that the religious leaders had cast him out, He went to the man and asked him if he believed on the Son of God. Not knowing that it was Jesus, he said, "Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him ?" When Jesus identified Himself, the man worshiped Him. Jesus had gone from being just a man, to being a prophet, to being the Christ, and now, the man knew Jesus was God, for only God was to be worshiped (Exodus 20:2-5; Matthew 4:10).

At what stage of awareness are you? Can you remember when Jesus was just the name of a historical man to you? I have heard many non-Christians and even Muslims call Him a prophet. But to Christians, He is the promised Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world. We know Him as Lord. He is the Son of God. He is God. And as such, He is worthy of our obedience and worship. It is my prayer that everyone who reads this will acknowledge Him for Who He is: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. God bless you all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Yesterday, I was trying to explain the connection between the requirements of the Law, and the way in which those requirements could be met. I said that love was the satisfaction, or the fulfillment of the Law. I went on to say that while our only requirement to completely satisfy God is to love others (Galatians 5:14), loving others is completely foreign to our nature. Oh, sure, there have been many acts of love, unselfish, self-sacrificing love, but they are rare, and they are only one moment of time in the person's life. The day before, he or she may have been less than loving to someone in traffic, at the job, or even at home. Single acts of love are wonderful, but they are not the fulfillment of the Law. They momentarily satisfy it, but they are not what the Bible requires. In order to fulfill the Law, and thereby be considered righteous, one would have to be that loving one hundred percent of the time. Rare acts of heroism are commendable, but they do not change the fact that the hero has not always been so unselfish.

So, there we have it. The Law is impossible to fulfill all the time, and therefore, it lets us know we need a Savior. If we could obey all of the time, or could love all of the time, Jesus would not have had to die for our sins. He could simply say to each of us, "You are not righteous, because you have failed to love at all time" In order to spend eternity with our Creator, one must be without sin. Perfect. Righteous. We are not. We do not keep the Law, or love enough to satisfy God's call for perfection. That is why we need to accept the Lord's sacrifice for our sin. It is only through faith in Christ that we are accounted as righteous. We are righteous in Him.

I do not remember a time when I thought I was able to obey the Law, and thereby be holy. But I have tried to love others so that I would not continue to sin. After I became a Christian in 1971, I sincerely made an effort to obey God's Law, and to love others. i continually found myself a failure at both. I prayed earnestly for God to help me love others so that I could show my gratitude for His saving me so that I might please Him. Apparently, either He chose not to answer my request, or He had a purpose in allowing me to continue to be a failure. I believe, now, that had He done as I had asked, I would have become so arrogant and judgmental of others that I would never be of use to Him. Instead, He has produced in me what our nature so abhors: humility. The only good in me is the good that He does through me. The rest of my life is a disaster.

The fruit of the Spirit is nine characteristics: Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance (ironically found in the same chapter as "Love fulfills the Law" - Galatians five). What I have discovered is that in order to have the last eight, one has to successfully achieved the first. After all, God didn't say that Joy fulfills the Law, or that Goodness does, but that Love does. When I am experiencing a moment when I am truly acting in love, I also experience all the others as well. When I am acting in my own nature, I experience none of them.

Soon after becoming a Christian, a friend and I went to visit a widow with three small children. As we sat around the kitchen table discussing the best way for her to survive the grief and the poverty she suddenly inherited, I became overwhelmed with her plight. I got up from the table, went to a secluded room and began sobbing uncontrollably. When my friend came in to see what was wrong, I couldn't tell him; I didn't know. He asked what I was thinking about that brought such a response. I told him that I loved this family so much and felt totally inadequate to do anything to help her. At that moment, I was experiencing genuine love. The kind of love that God has for us. And, I know this is going to be difficult to believe, but I sensed God saying to me, "This is what love is. You have been asking Me to put it in your heart, but you are unable to handle it. I will change you little by little until you are one day just like My Son. Be patient." I am still waiting, but because of 1 John 3:2, I know it will happen! "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Living the Law is impossible for us. Loving others completely, all the time, is also impossible. Thank God for acting on our behalf! Without the loving sacrifice of Jesus, we would be without hope. Thank God, too, for the ability to believe.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Love is very powerful. It has motivated many wonderful, and not so wonderful acts. Love has led to acts of heroism even to the point of death. Love has also motivated psychopaths to take lives. Love, in a way, is neutral; it is neither good or bad. Sacrificial love, love that costs, is seen as good. Selfish love, on the other hand, is not considered good. So, the expression of love is judged by its motivation and by its object. We are told in the Bible that the love of money is the root of evil. However, love for one's brother, and even for his enemies is viewed by God as good.

Greek, the language of the New Testament, has four kinds of love: eros, philio, storge, and agape. Eros is used to describe sexual love. Obviously this kind of love is judged based upon the relationship of the persons involved. Married partners expression of this type of love is seen as honorable by God, Who frowns on this expression of love between unmarried persons. Philio is the love two individuals have for one another, and is described as a "brotherly" love. It is the kind of love that David and Jonathan had for one another. Storge is the love that a parent has for a child. This kind of love used to be taken for granted, but humanity has proven that it is not a given. And, agape is the highest form of love. It is totally focused upon the well being of another. It does not require love in return, nor does it even need to be known to the recipient. It is a sacrificial love that puts others first. It is often expressed in anonymity.

An example of agape love is seen in the sacrifice of the Son of God for the sin of the world. In Proverbs 10:12, we are told that "Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all sins." When Jesus was asked which of the Commandments was the greatest, He replied that there were two of equal value (a tie for number one). In Matthew 22:35-40, Jesus said we are to love God AND our neighbor. Paul teaches that "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Romans 8:8-10). Paul, in Galatians 5:14, tells us that "ALL of the Law is fulfilled in one word (figure of speech), even in this, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'" So, if you want to know what the "rules for Christian living" are, they are summed up in the word, love.

This is not a new concept, and it does not apply to the Church only. The people of Israel were told the same thing in Leviticus 19:18. They could have been free from the Law by simply loving others. So God has not changed. He has always wanted people to love one another. But, why didn't He just say so? Why did He give all those many, many rules to Israel? Because, the Law shows us what love is. It is the "How to Love Book for Dummies." If you want to know how to love, keep the Commandments. If you want to know how to treat your family, neighbor, employer, and even your enemy, it is all there! The Law didn't put man in bondage. The Law taught man to recognize that his bondage was self made. He couldn't keep the Law because he did not love. "Love worketh no ill to its neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law!" Now that I know this, all I need to do is ask God to change my heart so that I can love. Only God can change me. Believe me, I have tried! So instead of trying to obey, I need to be filled with the Spirit of God, and the fruit will take care of itself. God bless in Jesus name.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The more I read God's Word, the more I am amazed that anyone believes it. It contains so many passages that boggle my mind. For instance, why didn't He make sure that there were no apparent contradictions, that give unbelievers an excuse to reject its authenticity? I have often wondered why Israel, Jesus, and Christians have accepted both Genesis One and Two as being true? Did God make everything, and then Adam, or did He make man and then make every living thing to find Adam a mate (before the rib thing)? And what about his rib, the sea monster (fish/whale of Jonah), using a king who slept with a married woman and then had her husband killed to cover it up, and picking a mess like Peter? It seems to me that He either wants some to reject His Word, or that He needs a publicist. If I were ghost writing it (isn't that an ironic term when one thinks about Scripture?), I certainly would do a "better job" of dotting my i's and crossing my t's. Like most historians, I would focus on the victories, and ignore the defeats of each of my characters. But not God. God almost seems to be deliberately presenting His Son to Israel as a Person they would automatically reject.

A perfect example of how God's thinking differs greatly from man's (Isaiah 55:8), is in the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew Chapter One. Not only did God include five women in the list, but He chose five that most families would be hesitant to discuss. In verse three, we find Thamar, a woman who played the role of a prostitute in order to become pregnant. In verse five, there is Rachab, a woman who actually was a prostitute, and she was a Gentile. In the same verse, Ruth is mentioned, and she too, was a Gentile. In verse 6, the woman is so bad that her name is not even mentioned. Bathsheba was an adulteress, and later became a thorn in David's side. Finally, God lists Mary, the mother of Jesus. Had an angel not intervened (Matthew 1:18-19), she would have probably been stoned to death for adultery. According to the law, those who are betrothed are considered married. Since Matthew presents Jesus to Israel as her King, and since the Jews believed that Gentiles, harlots, and adulteress were little more than refuse, for him to include these five seems ludicrous.

The fact that with the exception of people like Enoch, Melchizedek, and Jesus, all whose lives are presented as being used of God in the tapestry of His Word, were moral failures. Certainly, one would be hesitant to suggest any of them as a role model. Not one of the disciples/apostles was without obvious flaws. Even the replacement for Judas, Matthias, is an example of the difference between the wisdom of God and that of mere men. Chosen by human wisdom in a "church business meeting" conducted prior to the receiving of the Holy Spirit, Matthias was hardly a world-changer (only time mentioned in all of Scripture). God's choice, on the other hand, Paul, who would not have qualified according to Peter's criteria (Acts 1:21-22), was probably the least likely person to be chosen. After all, it was Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) who persecuted those who believed in Jesus. And what was the result? At least thirteen books of the New Testament were written by him, and the majority of the events presented in Acts, were about him!

Yes, one has to wonder at the way God revealed Himself and His plan for mankind. Apparent contradictions, a questionable genealogy, and those He chose to reveal His glory, all seem very strange to us. If the Bible were a manuscript taken to a publisher, it wouldn't make it past the screeners. It certainly would never be number one on the best seller's list! And yet, it is the Book most purchased in the history of man. Unfortunately, it is also the Book most ignored by its owners and the one most rejected by the world. All I can say is that, ever since the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, it is the only Book I feel is worth my time. Life is short. Why waste it by reading novels, magazines, newspapers, or even non-fiction? It is the only Book that can change one's life from being just a few years, to being eternal. I doubt that those who reject it, often without even reading it, will understand my love for His inspired revelation of Himself. I can honestly say that neither do I; it is a miracle, this ability to believe the unbelievable!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I have loved God's Word from the moment I received faith to believe it. As I have mentioned before, on Sunday, January 31st, 1971, I woke up thinking that God, the Bible, and religion of any kind were ridiculous. Little did I know that by noon, I would have what psychologists call, a gestalt switch. Most of you are aware of what that is, but you most likely do not know it by that name. A gestalt switch is when you look at a picture and see an old woman, and all at once, your perception changes and the picture becomes a young woman. That is what happened to me. For the first time in my life, I knew the Bible was God's Word. It is funny what a little faith does. It changes everything.

Since that moment, I have tried to study the Bible, even to the point of enrolling into Bible College, and then, Seminary. I might mention that in spite of all my efforts to understand it, the greatest thing I learned was that it is beyond my comprehension. For example, I was reading a chapter in Zachariah last night, and I had no idea what it meant. This, after graduating with honors from schools filled with scholars. Either they were total failures at teaching this old guy, or more likely than not, they were barely scratching the surface of the treasure that is buried in the Word. The longer I study it, the more I realize how little I know. It is very humbling.

I have endeavored to share my limited knowledge with children at a Christian school were I taught Bible. I have also been asked by my pastor to teach Eschatology (future things found in the prophecy of the Word) in the Summer Christian University classes for adults at our church. It is a difficult subject to teach, in that most people in the class come from a variety of churches, and find hard to unlearn what they have always believed. Nevertheless, they keep coming and I have really enjoyed seeing the "light come on." While some leave thinking I am nuts, most are very excited about the new perspective. Their enthusiasm is so encouraging.

But, with all my vast knowledge (tongue in cheek), I become like a child at Christmas when I discover some new (to me) connections within God's Word. While reading His Word this morning, for the first time, I was able to see the connection between two parables. I have understood them separately for a long time, but today, I saw what I had taught confirmed. I believed that the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25) is teaching that Christ's second coming was not to a wedding, as we know it, but unto what we call the reception. Even though the word in Matthew 25:10 calls it "the marriage," I found through study, that the Greek word gamos is often translated "wedding feast." Since the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church takes place in heaven before His return, the use of "marriage" in the parable is easy to misunderstand. Well, as I read this morning in Luke 12, I found the confirmation of my belief. In verses 35-41, Christ's return is to be met with burning lamps. He is coming from the wedding. Notice that He is not coming to the wedding/marriage, but is coming to what must be the reception. He is coming to Israel. The Church, His bride, is coming with Him.

I won't get into it here, but this is just one of many passages that support the Rapture of the Church prior to the Tribulation period. So, when Paul says for us to "comfort one another" in 1 Thessalonians, he is letting the Church know that we have nothing to fear. The Tribulation is Daniel's Seventieth Week appointed to His people, Israel (Daniel 9:24-27. Be of good cheer, fear not, rejoice, for the Lord is coming soon for His Body, His Bride, His Church!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Having been born in St. Louis ions ago, I have always been the Missouri kind of guy when it comes to believing anybody or anything. You have to prove it, or as my heritage humorously puts it, "Show me!" Perhaps it is the water there that saturates us with the disturbing qualities of cynicism and skepticism, but whatever is to blame, I acquired it. Years ago, thirty-eight give or take, I was an atheist. People talked to me about God, but no one could prove He existed. And, there was "evidence" that God was merely an explanation for the unknown. If man didn't know what something was or what caused certain things to occur, God was the answer. Lightning, earthquakes, disease, eclipses, etc. were all the mysterious acts of God. Even today, your insurance agent will speak of disasters as acts of God (mainly to avoid paying for the repairs). My theory was, that as man's knowledge increased, God decreased. Eventually, there would be no questions that required a mysterious Being as an explanation. I was very sure of myself.

Ever since the fall of man, caused by his unwillingness to believe what God told him and the instant acceptance of the Serpent's challenge, human beings have had a difficult time believing in the One Who would eventually be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God even says in His Word that "the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:22). The Old Testament is replete with examples of signs and wonders done by God to buttress the faith of His chosen people. Likewise, the New Testament offers the same, and even tells us of miracles being done by mere men. The apostles and others healed the sick, raised the dead, and accomplished the greatest miracle of all: they "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6)! With a beginning of just eleven disciples/apostles, millions upon millions have come to believe in Jesus Christ. How did this happen? Was there unchallengeable evidence or proof that what the Bible says is true? No, actually the opposite is true. It has never been proven.

The Devil demanded Jesus prove He was the Son of God (Matthew 4:1-11), but Jesus refused. He merely used Scripture to ward off the Tempter. When the scribes and Pharisees demanded He "show His credentials," Jesus told them "...there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." He was referring to His own resurrection. Not only the leaders of the Jews challenged Him, the thief on the cross next to His did so demanding "If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us" (Luke 23:39). The Roman guard who carried out the crucifixion did the same earlier, as did the crowd (Luke 23:35-37). Even the Thomas demanded a sign in order to believe Jesus has risen (John 20:24-29). It is easy for me to understand why criminals, Romans, and Jewish leaders failed to believe, but Thomas? How could someone follow Jesus for over three years, seeing miracle after miracle, and still doubt?

The answer is really quite simple. The Holy Spirit was not given to them to believe. Yes the Holy Spirit is eternal God, and He did exist, but He had not produced faith in them. In John 14:17, Jesus tells His disciples that the Spirit is with them, but soon, He would be in them. Without the Spirit, it is impossible to believe in Christ. We are told in Galatians 5:22-23, that faith is evidence of the work of the Spirit in us. In Ephesians 2:8 we are told that faith is a gift from God. The ability to believe does not require proof; it requires faith. Faith believes the truth taught in the Word of God. On January 31st, 1971, God gave me faith. I immediately knew three things were true: my sins were forgiven, the Bible is the Word of God, and that my life would be used by Him from that point on. I admit, He has had a real challenge getting me to be like Jesus, but He is very patient. He knows that one day, I will be just like Him (1 John 3:2).

No, there is no proof that the world will accept. They have creation and yet they believe in the Big Bang and Evolution. They have the Bible, but to them it is just superstition and myth. They have the testimony of Christians, but they are quick to point out that Christians are hypocrites. What they don't understand is that Christians are never to be the standard of truth. We are all sinners. The truth is in Christ. He offers salvation as a gift; no works required! He is not offering us religion. He is offering relationship. Religion requires works and works produce pride. I guess that's the secret. Mankind is too proud to believe in something greater than themselves. It takes the revelation of the Spirit to humble us enough to receive the gift of faith. There is no proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But one day, every knee will bow to Him and declare that He is Lord! Faith will no longer be needed, but everyone will know. He is Lord.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Every year, my wife and I have an uneasy time discussing how to celebrate Christmas. Judy believes in making sure everyone in the family gets a nice gift, and that we should all gather together to exchange them. Unfortunately, our family now consists of five generations! Judy's mother has a nice home here in town, that will accommodate about a dozen people for such an occasion, but at the last event, Thanksgiving, we counted about thirty-five. Such a crowd certainly adds to the stress of all concerned. My sister-in-law is the only one that has a home large enough for a crowd that size, and even then, about half of them spend most of the day on the lower level. The children go there without being asked because they are out of the eye sight of the adults, and are able to exhibit their natural character. Our house is the smallest of all, and when there are more than eight adults, it is uncomfortable, to say the least.

My idea of the ideal gathering is for each family within the whole family, celebrate with each of the other families on different days. That keeps the crowd size down, and provides for better supervision of children. It means we all get more joy out of getting together, if for no other reason than we are not have to take a number to speak. The larger the crowd, the less likely are the majority going to be able to converse with each other. And, as far as gifts go, I suggest that only children in school get a gift from each family, and for the rest of the herd to draw names. Once one begins living on Social Security, buying gifts for so many is absurd. It is difficult enough to pay the ever-increasing prices of food, shelter, and utilities, without going further in debt in order to "celebrate" a holiday. Birthdays, alone, are a great strain on the finances!

After forty-seven years of marriage, I know that I am wasting my breath, so each holiday, I tell everyone that I am not going to participate, only to be quilted into compliance. It is amazing how the majority of people in the world are wondering from where their next meal is coming, or if they will freeze to death due to lack of home, or heat, or clothing. I admit, my buying less gifts and food for our extravaganzas would not necessarily reduce the suffering of mankind, but I really do believe it would. Perhaps, instead of buying gifts for each other, we could spend the amount of a gift on Bibles, or clothing, or food for the less fortunate. We could send a card to each person saying what was donated in their name. Who am I kidding! I would get lynched! I am probably better off just keeping my mouth shut and not making waves.

It is sad that few if any of us realize that what we want more than anything else, is the awareness of the very presence of the Lord in our daily lives. Presents are nice, but His presence is the ultimate in producing joy. I have never been as happy as when I am aware that God is using me. It is those times that His child knows that He is Father. It is then that he knows that he is Christ-like. It is then that he overflows with love from the Spirit of God. I have experienced those times. Unfortunately, they are rare and, as a result, I feel distant from Him. Thank God my feelings do not determine where He is; He is with me every moment, so much so, that He was with me in my mother's womb. In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells us that even before we were in the womb, He knew us, and that before we were born, we were sanctified! He set us apart for His good pleasure! And, after this life is over, we will be with Him (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Isn't it funny that the word presents and the word presence sound alike? You know what is even more amazing? God, being omnipresent (present everywhere all the time), is know by His name, "I Am!" God could have said, "I Was." or "I Will Be." or He could have said, "I Was, I Am, and I Will Be." But He didn't need to. Being "I Am" covers it all. There wasn't, nor will there ever be a time when God didn't exist. He is always present! Don't you wish Christmas could be, for everyone, the experiencing of His presence? Jesus was God's gift to us. All He wants in return is for us to say thank you and for us to pass on His gift to others. In that sense, "re-gifting" doesn't sound cheap, does it? Re-gift this Christmas as a present to Jesus.

Friday, December 4, 2009


If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know that I consider grace as receiving what one does not deserve. It is not earned. It is a gift. And, it tells us much more about the Giver than it does about the one receiving it. Gifts, by their very nature, are most often motivated by love. However, there are other kinds of gifts that are not so noble. There is the gift given to establish or enhance a relationship. There is the bribe given to motivate favorable actions on one's own behalf. But are these truly gifts? Not really, because there are "strings attached." Grace, on the other hand, is a gift given that does not require a response, or presuppose a reaction. When human beings give this kind of gift, it is often given anonymously. These are very rare indeed.

God's grace toward His creation is unlike any of the above examples. When He gave His Son to die for all of creation, He did not do it anonymously. He revealed through His Word that He was the One Who provided reconciliation between His estranged creation and Himself. One might draw from this the conclusion that God's gift of access to Himself was not an unselfish act, in that He was gaining the adoration and gratitude of those who were to become His children. One might even say that there were "strings attached." This, while seeming to be obviously true, is failing to take into account His motive. In the case of humans giving such gifts, the motive is nearly always selfish. God has no such motive. God does not need mankind to worship Him. He has multitudes of angels which do just fine. He does not even need angels for such a purpose, because He is very much aware of His own glory and majesty. God is in need of nothing; He is all-sufficient in Himself. He existed from eternity past without angels or human beings and He needed nothing.

Then what was His motive, if it wasn't selfish? The answer is quite simple. He wanted to share with mankind His friendship and give us the joy of knowing Him. It is like the artist who paints a masterpiece and donates it to a public museum in order to share it. It is as though he understands that his ability, his talent, is a gift from his Creator. God delights in our delight in knowing Him. He enjoys our joy in having Him as our Father. He relishes the sound of our hymns of praise because He knows that our hearts "swell" when we consider His majesty and love for us. He is truly the Father watching His children play and laugh and sing.

God's grace is awesome and complex. It involves the following:
**** God draws mankind to Himself - John 6:44
G * God convicts us of sin - John 16:7-11
R * God gives us faith to believe - Ephesians 2:8-9
A * God regenerates us with the new birth - John 3:3-8
C * God changes us into His likeness - 2 Corinthians 5:17
E * God disciplines us in love - Hebrews 2:3-11; Philippians 1:6 and 2:13
**** God completes the transformation - Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 1:8 and 15:49;
Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:6 and 2:13; and 1 John 3:2

Because all the work involved in our redemption, sanctification, and glorification is done for us by God, the most obvious characteristic of those who understand His completed work on their behalf, is humility. God must receive all the glory for our salvation. Otherwise, we are taking credit for what He has done and is doing. Such is blasphemy and arrogance. What we received as a gift is to His glory alone. Praise Him!

As Christmas approaches, instead of focusing just upon the giving and receiving of gifts with others, save room for remembrance of the greatest Gift ever given: Jesus. He was given for us by God the Father, and He gave Himself through obedience to the Father's will. Be sure to thank Him and share what He has done with those you love. In fact, share Him with those you have trouble loving. Who knows, you might see a change in them that will make them easier for you to love. Remember, God loves them, too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


One of the greatest scientific "proofs" for the existence of the Creator is the miraculous discovery of Johann E. Bode (1747-1826). Keeping in mind that if it could be proven that God exists, there would be no reason for faith, and, after all is said and done, God's plan of salvation requires us to have faith. So the use of the word "proof" is a little misleading. "Evidence" would be a more reasonable term to use.

First, I will present his Law in layman's terms, and then I will explain the miraculous part. Bode's Law is really a mathematical formula for the distances from the Sun in Astronomical Units of the first eight planets in our solar system.

No. Assigned----0------------3---------6--------12------24-------48---------96---------192
Added Factor---4------------4---------4----------4-------4---------4----------4------------4
Divided by ten--.4-----------.7--------1.0-------1.6----2.8------5.2------10.0---------19.6
(the number above represents Bode's estimate of the Astronomical Units)*

The actual distance
from the Sun in

The miracle of this formula is multi-faceted. First, why did he pick the numbers assigned? Why did he know to add four? Why did he know to divide by ten? Ironically, Bode lived at a time when only the first six planets were known. The asteroid belt and the planet Uranus were yet to be discovered. In fact, they both were discovered by scientists using Bode's Law to hypothesize where they sould be. I believe he was divinely inspired to know these factors, and that God revealed them to him as a counter to the scientific stampede to believe in Evolution which is diametrically opposed to the Bible. Unfortunately, science is so myopic in its search to discredit God's Word, that they can't "see the forest for the trees." The Word of God says. "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20) You see, if there is a mathematical design, there has to be a Designer: guess who!

I believe that on the day of creation, every planet was exactly where Bode's formula says it should be. It is so close to his estimates that perhaps the planets were at the distance he presents within their orbits. At any rate, I am so glad the the Eigth Grade Science Text in the ABeka school curriculum presented his wonderful contribution the glory of God.

* (the distance from the Earth to the Sun is approximately 93,000.000 miles)

** (the distance of the fifth column varies because it is the Asteroid Belt and the asteroids are spread out
in the orbit that most likely once was a planet)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The Jews knew that God had chosen them to be a nation unto Himself. They had His promises and assurance that His Son, the Messiah (Christ), the King of Israel, would be born to a virgin Jewess in a Jewish town. They knew He would rule the entire world and His people would rule with Him. Yes, they knew the good stuff of the Scriptures but they failed to comprehend God's method of achieving His ultimate plan. They failed to read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 and they failed to read Daniel 9:26. Oh, I am sure that they read them, but few understood them. It is funny that when Satan tempted Jesus trying to kill Him, Jesus didn't break out laughing. He knew that He would give His life freely. He could have just said, "Just be patient, Devil. I AM going to die soon enough." The same thing could have been said to the Jewish leaders who were so eager to end the "trouble-maker's" life. Instead, He let His actions teach the wisdom of God. Salvation required a blood sacrifice for the sins of the world (Galatians 1:4; 1 John 2:2), and He was prepared to offer His. Praise God!

What changed? Nothing really. God had always desired that mankind would trust in Him. God certainly didn't want anyone to perish (be lost - 1 Peter 3:9). But somewhere along the line, the Jews misunderstood. They thought that in order to please God, they had to avoid the forbidden and zealously strive to do good. What they didn't understand was that being acceptable to God was impossible on one's own merits. We know from Romans 3:10, and 3:23 that there is none righteous, no, not even one. It is God Who graciously declares those who trust in Him to be righteous in His sight. Abraham the very first Jew, believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). Abraham was certainly far from being righteous.

Something did change, in actuality, but it wasn't God's plan. It was the preaching of love of God seen in His grace and mercy. Grace is getting what we don't deserve - salvation. And Mercy which is not getting what we do deserve - damnation. All of a sudden, people were proclaiming "as many as" and "whosoever will" to all who would listen and trust in God's provision for salvation. Everyone had access to God. It was for any and all who would trust in Him. It was no longer understood to be a "Jewish thing," but it was available to any and all of mankind. God never changes and neither does His love for us. The Law merely pointed out that all are sinners. He loved us while we were yet sinners!

Something else changed as well. I have! God has given me the ability to believe in Him, His Word, and in His way of life. I have not arrived yet, but as my favorite verse says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."(1 John 3:2) Yes, I have changed, but I long for the final change when I shall be like Him. Oh, that He would come back soon!