Sunday, January 31, 2010


Yesterday, I defined a dispensation as being a period of time in which one has stewardship of his master's goods. While not all dispensationalists agree, most students of the Bible's divisions recognize seven. I will attempt to show how God's revelation to mankind included definite changes in man's responsibility to His Creator. Remember, the amount of light revealed differed throughout time. From Adam until Moses, there was nothing written. From Moses until Jesus, the Old Testament was developing. And, from Jesus until John's Book of Revelation, the New Testament was written. I want to make it clear at the beginning that God does not change (Malachi 3:6). However, His "focus group," His commands, and His judgments do. And yet, He has always required faith in Him for righteousness, and has provided faith for man to be saved.

The Dispensation of Innocence began at the creation of Adam, and ended with Adam's disobedience. Adam was innocent and sinless. But the moment he ate of the forbidden fruit, he was aware that he was naked and he hid from God. This stewardship was limited to Adam and Eve. They were permitted to eat from every tree in the garden except one. As a result of his disobedience, Adam was sentenced to a spiritual death then, and a physical death some nine hundred years later. The first sin resulted in what is known as The Fall. Adam was created in the eternal image of God (Genesis 1:26), but Adam's off-spring were born in Adam's finite image (Genesis 5:3). However, God knew that Adam would sin and He had made provision for his sin before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

I will attempt to show the basic characteristics of each dispensation, so that by comparing them, one may see the uniqueness of each. And, once the differences are shown, the Bible student will have a better understanding of what God was saying, and to whom. The characteristics are: Stewardship, Foods, God's Command, Man's response, and God's judgment.

So, the Dispensation of Innocence might be described as follows:

Stewardship: Have dominion over the earth, and multiply (Genesis 1:26, 28).
Foods: Plant life such as herbs, fruit, nuts, etc. (Genesis 1:29-30).
Command: Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).
Response: Adam ate of the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6).
Judgment: THE FALL Spiritual death and later, physical death (Genesis 3:7; 5:5).

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I mentioned yesterday that the eighth parable in Matthew 13:51-52 has to do with the disciples of Jesus (us) "bringing forth out of His treasure things new and old." The householder always describes a position of responsibility to use wisely what has been placed in his trust. Since all good gifts are from the Father, all of us are answerable to Him (James 1:7). Of course, no Christian questions God's gifts, for the evidence of His benevolence is clear. Even the word "gifts" comes from the same Greek root from which we translate the word "grace" (charis). The stewardship He has given us requires believers to be faithful. Jesus used the parable found in Matthew 25:14-30 to clearly define His will concerning all that He has given us.

Looking again at the eighth parable, we find that the treasure placed in our hands is partly old, and partly new. The steward is to bring out, or reveal His treasure, presumably to others. Since Jesus is speaking of the disciples understanding of His teaching, I believe the old and new are the Testaments of God's Word. And as such, we are to "spread the seed" that others might come to life in Him. Another responsibility we have with the Word of God is that we thoroughly study it. Paul is the only writer to use the Greek word orthotomeo, which is translated "rightly divided" in 2 Timothy 2:15 and as a tent maker, he was familiar with the importance of cutting a straight line. The Word of God needs to be "dissected" (Old from New Testaments; History from Prophecy; Faith from Works; etc.).

There is another way that the Bible needs to be rightly divided, and it speaks to stewardship. Paul's use of the word oikonomia is translated "dispensation" and Luke's is given as "stewardship." They mean the same thing, except one focuses upon the property itself (stewardship), and the other, the length of time (dispensation). It is extremely important that a disciple understand that while all the Bible is given by inspiration and is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16-17), not all of the Bible applies in all situations. The Word of God presents seven dispensations in which He has helped man to better know Him. For example: 1) Adam through Abraham had no Bible; 2)Moses through Jesus had the some or all of the Old Testament; and 3) from Jesus as the Lamb of God through Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, we have the New Testament. These three periods are primarily about Gentiles, Jews, and now, a combination of both as Christians. Each had progressively revealed more about God. Each held man responsible for a specific stewardship. And, each ended in judgment for those stewards who were unfaithful.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will try to demonstrate how each of the seven dispensations effects the interpretation of God's Word. Or, how to "rightly divide" it.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The seventh parable is found in Matthew 13:47-48, and it involves a net cast into the sea, a gathering of every kind, (or one might say all), and workers who pull the net to shore to separate the catch into two groups, the good into containers, and the bad are cast away. In the parable of the pearl, we said that the sea represented all the peoples of the world (Revelation 17:15), with the exception of Israel, which was described as a treasure hidden in a piece of land (Joshua 1:2-6).

Fortunately for us, the Lord interprets the parable of the net in verses 49-50. The time this event takes place is at the end of the world. A better translation of the Greek aion, is "age." Remember, in my earlier interpretations of the parables, I said that the seven parables were descriptions of the Church Age. In other words, the kingdom of heaven in Matthew Thirteen describes the period between Christ's first coming, and His return. Matthew also used the Greek kosmos in 13:35-38 which is correctly translated "world."

Jesus identifies the workers as angels (see the parable of the wheat and the tares where He identifies those doing the sorting - Matthew 13:30, 39-42). After the separation of the good from the evil, the evil catch is cast into the furnace (hell). A much more detailed passage of this judgment is found in Matthew 25:31-46. This takes place at Christ's return, and involves judging the peoples of the world for how they treated Israel, especially during the Tribulation. Those who are considered good are allowed to enter the millennial kingdom of the Lord.

A summary of the seven parables of the Church Age in Matthew Thirteen is as follows:
1. Jesus spreading the Word in the hearts of men, which is the beginning of the Church.
2. Jesus and Satan sowing offspring in the visible church.
3. Jesus planted an herb which becomes a huge tree that provides for Satan's minions.
4. Jesus allows Satan's "kneading" of sin and hypocrisy into the church, thus corrupting it.
5. Jesus giving His life for His people, the Jews.
6. Jesus also giving His life for Gentiles who will place their trust in Him.
7. Jesus using angels to separate those who will enter His Millennial Kingdom from those who enter hell.

There is an eighth parable in Matthew Thirteen but it describes His disciples as stewards of His teaching. Stewards were given a dispensation of stewardship. I will speak of dispensations in tomorrow's blog.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The next parable in Matthew Thirteen is very similar to yesterday's parable in many ways. It is only two verses long (Matthew 13:45-46), and has the same ending. The kingdom of heaven in this parable still refers to the Church Age. I may be the only person who understands it the way I do, but it makes sense to me. Each of the parables has added something new to our understanding of the kingdom of heaven, and for that reason, I do not believe that the Lord was being redundant. The factors in the parable are: a pearl merchant seeking goodly pearls, the discovery of one pearl of great price, and the price he paid to buy it.

We will have no problem understanding that the merchant is Jesus Christ. Just as in the parable of the hidden treasure, the man gives His all to purchase His discovery. We said yesterday, that the Father gave all that He had (His Son - John 3:16), and that Jesus did as well. The value of the treasure can be seen in the awesome price paid.

In the hidden treasure, His discovery was in a field. The field was a piece of land which He purchased to acquire the treasure. In today's parable, the treasure is from the sea. In the Bible, the seas often represent the "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (see Revelation 17:1, 15), or in other words, the world population. The Church is made up of people from all nations, so I believe the pearl is the Church.

Because I believe the pearl is the Church, it makes me wonder if I have interpreted the parable of the hidden treasure correctly. If the Church is the treasure found in the sea, and the seas represent all nations other than Israel, is it possible that the hidden treasure, found in the land, could actually be Israel itself? After all, Jesus came to His people in the land of Israel, the land of promise. And, in the first ten chapters of Acts, all the converts to Christ were Jews. Yes, the hidden treasure is still the Church, but it may be only a part of it, in that it is made up of Jews who have accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike those theologians who see both parables as saying the same thing, I believe that one speaks of the Jews, and the other the Gentiles who make up the Body of Christ.

The hidden treasure is not described, so we don't know what it is. Here, we have a great pearl. We do know what a pearl is. First, it is from within a mollusk and Jews were forbidden to eat them. They were considered unclean (Leviticus 11:9-12). Second, it is a foreign body that the mollusk would prefer not be there. The pearl is made when the mollusk coats the irritant with layers of mother of pearl, in order to make it less abrasive. In its effort to rid itself of the discomfort, it creates something valuable. The Gentiles of the Church were considered unclean by the Jews. Oddly enough, the world also considers Gentile believers as an irritant. And, the world works tirelessly to neutralize the abrasive effect that Christians have on their lifestyle. Therefore, both the hidden treasure and the pearl represent the Church, for which Christ died.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The next parable in Matthew 13:44 is also only one verse. Using the same approach as we did in the other parables, requires us to list the factors involved. They are: a hidden treasure, a field, a man who discovers it, the re-hiding of the treasure, and the price paid for the field (the place of the hidden treasure). There are all sorts of ways one might interpret this parable, but I will give you my understanding of it. Remember, I am interpreting the parables of the kingdom of heaven as descriptions of the Church Age. I believe the treasure represents the Church, a mystery (hidden truth) to Israel (Romans 11:25; 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-10; 5:32; Colossians 1:25-27; etc.). The Author of the Old Testament hid the concept of the Church. The Man (Jesus) comes to the field (the world), finds the hidden treasure (the Church), and He leaves it hidden until He can purchase the hiding place. The price for the field is unimaginable. It cost the Man all that He had. It cost Him His life.

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter tells his readers that God wants every soul to repent and not perish. The Lord is not hindered by time, nor is He impatient (verse 8-9). "Every soul" includes the Gentiles. Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus will save His people from their sins, and in Israel's way of thinking, that meant the Jews. Luke clarifies who His people are. In Luke 2:30-32, those described as "His people" are really "all people." Just as Isaiah had foretold in 9:2; 42:6; 49:6; and 60:1-3, the Messiah would be the Savior of both Jew, and Gentile. Then why didn't Israel understand that God is no respecter persons? Why did they think God only loved them? The answer is found in Romans 11:25; "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (the Church composed of both Jew and Gentile believers), lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." Romans Chapters Nine through Eleven, present a completely new revelation on God's relationship with Israel. Israel is only half of the equation. Paul made that quite clear in Galatians 3:28, that the other half is the Gentile believers. As John 1:11-12 says, and I paraphrase, Jesus came to Israel, and Israel rejected Him, but His offer of salvation by faith in Him was not an exclusive offer. It was to "whosoever will."

God's Word is so amazing! In one, small verse, we see the price paid as revealed in John 3:16, we see the mystery of the Church which was hidden from the Old Testament prophets, and we see something almost unbelievable: we see that He is our Lord because we now belong to Him. O for a thousand tongues...!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The next parable in Matthew is found in a single verse. In 13:33, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to leaven. It involves a woman, hiding of leaven, three measures of meal, time, and work. At face value, one might suggest that the woman is the Church who permeates the world with the gospel, until the whole world is saved. Amillennialists, those who do not believe in a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth, believe that the Church will eventually win the world for Christ. But notice that Jesus has gone from the "good soil," and the "wheat," to a useless tree, and now leavened bread. There is a progression from taking the Gospel away, to infiltrating, to providing lodging to the enemy, and here, effecting the whole loaf. If we view the loaf as the world, and leaven as good, then things would be improving, but such is not the case.

Webster's Dictionary says that leavening is the process whereby yeast, a tiny single-celled fungi which give off carbon dioxide or gas. When used to leaven bread, the yeast produces gas bubbles to form. When this occurs, the dough is said to be "rising." Normally, that would be a good thing, right? However, when used in the Bible, leaven represents sin. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-9, sin is described as leaven which, if left unchecked, will effect the entire Church. Paul tells the Corinthian church to purge itself of leaven (sin). He adds that a "little leaven (in this case, legalism) leaveneth the whole lump in Galatians 5:9.

Jesus warns His disciples to beware of the leaven (false doctrine) of the pharisees and the Sadducess in all three synoptic gospels: Matthew 16:6, 11-12; Mark 8:15; and in Luke 12:1. John does not mention leaven. All of Israel understood what leaven was. When Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were celebrated in the first month of Israel's calendar, Israel was repeatedly warned to purge their entire dwelling place of all leaven (numerous references). I am not certain if they understood why, but Christians clearly understand today. The Passover was the holiday on which the lamb was sacrificed, and it commemorated Israel's release from Egyptian bondage. To the Christian, Passover was a picture of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God. John the Baptist called Jesus "the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world" in John 1:29, and Paul called Jesus "our Passover" in 1 Corinthians 5:7. In the Lord's Supper, the bread (unleavened) represents the body of Jesus, and the "wine" represents His blood. Since wine also requires fermentation, the drink must have been grape juice, or having unleavened bread would be contradictory.

As can be seen, leaven is representative of sin. In the parable, then, the woman must represent someone who hides sin in the whole loaf. The loaf, like the tree, represents the Church. It is easy to discern who the woman represents: Satan. He, if nothing else, is consistent. Our enemy is always vigilant. seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Wear your armor, my brothers and sisters (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Monday, January 25, 2010


In previous postings, I discussed the parable of the sower, and the parable of the wheat and the tares. The interpretation to the latter is found in Matthew 13:37-43. The third parable in that chapter is the parable of the mustard seed. In this parable, we find a sower, mustard seed, a field, time passing, growth into a large tree, and birds of the air nesting. The emphasis of this parable is a singular tree, and not a field of wheat. Here we have a picture of a sower, again planting seed. Even though the kind of seed is different, the sower, the field, time passing, and growth are the same. But this time, the sower only plants one seed. Jesus is focusing upon the change that takes place from the time the seed is planted, until the time He returns to "inspect" His crop. He tells us that what He planted was a very small seed, which is a picture of the small beginnings of the Church. Time allows for the seed to become a great tree, but it is now so big that birds nest in it. Again, we have a picture of the devil's children represented by the birds within the Church.

In the parable of the sower, Satan's opposition to the successful harvest was carried out using three tactics. Where ever he could, he saw to it that the seed was removed by birds. If that didn't work, he persecuted the weak and hindered productivity. If the seed could withstand persecution, he distracted with it with riches (this reminds me of Proverbs 30:8-9). In the parable of the wheat and the tares, both plants are kinds of people, but here, there is only one plant. Clearly, it represents the growth of the visible church. But what effect do the birds have to the tree? Since the tree is an herb, and herbs produce flavor to make food desirable, the Satan's birds eat the seeds, leaving the tree without the ability to appeal to the hungry.. It is still a huge tree, but it is limited in its usefulness. It has, for the most part, ceased to attract the lost.

Today, we are closer than ever to the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride. The visible church numbers over two billion; it is beyond huge. But if one looks closely at it, the birds are clearly seen. They still use Satan's tactics to neutralize the effectiveness of the Church. Doctrinal conflict has produced "branches" that go off in all directions. Only a small minority point heavenward. Super churches are rich and boast of being everything people need for happiness. They have focused upon getting people to spread the good news about their facilities, and in so doing, they have ceased in spreading the Gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, when Christ returns for His Bride, He will not be looking for popular, entertaining preachers or great facilities. He will be looking for His faithful whose focus is on making disciples, baptizing, and instructing new believers in the Word of God.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


In my last blog, I tried to explain the importance of the symbols to the understanding of parables. The symbols are really clues to the mystery surrounding the period between the first and second coming of Christ. In the Ryrie Study Bible, Charles Ryrie explains parables in a footnote. Ryrie says, "A parable is a figure of speech in which a moral or spiritual truth is illustrated by an analogy drawn from everyday experiences. However, the Greek word for "parable" is a broad term and may refer to a simile (Matthew 13:33), a metaphor (Matt. 13:3-8), a proverb (Luke 4:23), a story (Luke 15:1-32), or an allegory (John 10:1-5). About one third of our Lord's teaching was in the form of parables." And in another footnote, he says, "These truths are called 'mysteries' because they were not revealed in the Old Testament." They describe the period known as the "Church Age" which was a mystery to Israel (Ephesians 3:3-10), Jesus spoke in parables so that only His followers could understand the future experiences of the Church.

In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30), we have a clear example of our present age. There is a sower, wheat seed, a field, the sower's enemy, tare seed, the sower's servants, a harvest, and the destruction of the tares. Here, most likely the sower is the Lord Himself for He owns the field. He plants the wheat seed, which become believers, as in the parable of the sower, and the enemy (Satan) plants tares, which are merely professing believers. Both seeds are planted in the same field, and they are so intertwined that to remove one would endanger the other. Sadly, if the true Church tried to purge out those who are not genuine Christians, they would have an impossible task. We do not have the wisdom to recognize which are true believers, and which are not. It is sad, but unfortunately, it is true. This is an excellent picture of those possessing a relationship with Christ like the Church of Philadelphia and those professing to know Christ as in the Church of Laodicea co-existing. When Christ returns with His Bride, the Church, He will destroy the armies who oppose Israel, and then gather His chosen people into His Millennial Kingdom.

Because we can not know who among us is a Christian in name only, and since the Lord said to let Him sort them out when He returns, our one and only responsibly is to spread the good news that God loves His creation, and by faith in Christ's finished work through the crucifixion and resurrection, all who will, can become a child of God. We are to go and tell people about Jesus. When we spend our time, resources, and energy trying to make the church perfect, we waste those very things that are intended to be used to reach the lost for Christ. We only have one life (like Barney's bullet), so we certainly don't want to waste it on foolish pursuits. We must use it on what is truly important: reaching the lost for Christ.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The most common definition of a parable is that it is an earthly picture of a heavenly reality. There is some truth to this view, but it hardly reveals the meaning and purpose of parables. In Matthew 13:10-17, Jesus was asked by His disciples why He had begun speaking in parables. Jesus replied that His teaching was meant to be understood by those who believed in Him, but was to be hidden from others. Jesus called the subject of the parables "the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew is the only Gospel writer to use "kingdom of heaven." The others call it the "kingdom of God." Much has been made of Matthew's terminology, but when one looks at parallel passages in Mark and Luke, it is clear that "heaven" and "God" are interchangeable.

Some have interpreted the parables as a general truth, and suggest the reader not get caught up in details. However, when Jesus taught the parable of the sower (or soils as some call it), He also interpreted it. The parable is given in Matthew 13:1-8, and the interpretation is found in Matthew 13:18-23. Jesus was very clear that each detail had a relevant meaning. The "sower" is one spreading the seed (the Gospel or the Word of God). The "soils" represent four kinds of people who hear it. The first, "the wayside," pictures hard hearted people who hear the truth , but because they do nothing with it, it is quickly removed by Satan (birds), so it has no impact on the hearer. The second "soil" receives the seed and springs to life, but its roots do not go very deep in understanding. When it is challenged by unbelievers, it is easily silenced and thus, is unproductive. The third "soil" is not weeded of a life focused upon worldly riches and pleasures. Because it shares the available sustenance, and is weak, it yields to temptations, and produces no fruit. The last "soil" is fertile ground. It is teachable, and able to share what it has learned with others. The fertile "soil" produces seed for further planting.

As can be seen in this example, each piece of information represents something specific. A sower, the seed, the birds, the packed down soil, the rocky soil, the unweeded soil, and the fertile soil are all part of a metaphor for what the apostles would face as they go into all the world to spread the Gospel of Christ (the King of the Kingdom). As you and I study the other parables, each detail is important to the understanding of what Jesus wanted only His disciples to know. Don't you feel privileged to know His teaching? I do!

Friday, January 22, 2010


"Propitiation" must be a very rare word, because the only time I have ever heard it used is when speaking of its use in the Bible. It appears in the King James Version only three times: Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2 & 4:10. It is translated "mercy seat" once in Hebrews 9:5. Webster's Dictionary defines it as an act which causes one to become favorable or to regain a position of good will. The reference in Hebrews describes the place where propitiation takes place. The mercy seat was the top surface of the Ark of the Covenant. It was there that the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice once a year for the sin of Israel. Hebrews 9:11-28 teaches that the Old Testament sacrifice was a picture of what would take place when Christ, as our High Priest, would offer His own blood, once for all of humanity (John 3:16).

One might ask why was Christ's death necessary to forgive my sins? In actuality, it was only necessary that He die for those of us who are sinners. And, since all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), someone had to die for my sin, if I was to spend eternity with my Creator. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (forgiveness of sin). In a sense, the word "blood" and the word "life" are interchangeable, so when the Bible speaks of Jesus shedding His blood for us, it means that He gave His life (Leviticus 17:11). Propitiation satisfied God's Law and, in a sense, it is the reason we will be resurrected from the dead. Our High Priest entered the Holy of Holies in heaven and, by placing His own blood on the Judgment Seat, transformed it into the Mercy Seat.

The awesome thing about this act of love for humanity, is that in God's plan for us, it was counted as being a done deal before He began creation. Jesus was called "the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world" by John the Baptist (John 1:29). Not only was Christ's sacrifice counted before this world was formed, those of us who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior had our names written in "the Lamb's book of life," which was also written before creation (Revelation 13:8). God knew we would sin, and He paid for us with the blood of His Son. Jesus paid for the sin of the whole world, but only applies to those who receive Him (John 1:12).

Propitiation, while only translated as such three times, has a great deal of significance to the believer. It means that we will appear before Him as sinless, and thereby satisfy God's requirement that we be as holy as He. Did we earn it? No! God's Gift to the world was Jesus Christ. He is both Grace and Mercy to us.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


It is obvious why the word "centurion" does not appear in the Old Testament. The last book in the O.T. was written around 400 B.C. and the Roman Empire was yet future. To the best of my knowledge, no other army had centurions. The word appears only in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts of the New Testament. John does not mention the Roman leader of one hundred soldiers in his Gospel or his letters.

Matthew speaks of two instances regarding centurions. In 8:10, "Jesus marveled, and said to them that followed, 'Verily I say to unto you, I have not found so great (a) faith, no, not in Israel.'" Later in Matthew 27:54, the centurion at the crucifixion of Jesus said, "Truly, this was the Son of God." Most scholars believe Matthew wrote his Gospel to the Hebrews. For him to paint a gentile soldier in a good light is amazing. Luke speaks of the same two instances in 7:9, and 23:47, but he tells us something extraordinary. The centurion "glorified God, saying, 'Certainly this was a righteous man.'" Speaking of faith, wow! Mark speaks only of the crucifixion scene, and his quote is the same as that of Matthew.

The book of Acts, also written by Luke, presents centurions in a very favorable light. In 10:1-48, Cornelius, a Roman centurion was the first Gentile to believe the Gospel and be accepted as a member of the Body of Christ. In 22:26, it is a centurion that listens to Paul, and stops Paul's scourging. In 23:17, another listens to Paul, and does what Paul asks. In 27:3, Julius, a centurion, treated Paul in a courteous manner. It took a storm and severe hunger for the centurion in Acts 27:9-44 to listen, and even protect Paul from the soldiers. Apparently, the centurion rewarded Paul for his counsel by allowing him to stay a week with friends, and later, to have his own private "cell" where many of his friends could visit him (Acts 28:11-16; and several of his epistles or letters).

The reason, I believe, that the Bible reveals the positive actions of centurions during the early years of the Church, is because most of the readers were Hebrews, and as such, needed to lose "their attitude" against Gentiles. These passages clearly "messed with" the prejudice that must have been characteristic of the early Church. Maybe there is a lesson for us, in that, if God could use Roman soldiers to bless believers, it is very likely that members of other races, nationalities, religions, and yes, even political parties can be used of God to further His agenda. After all, God is no respecter of persons, so why are we?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


When I think of the Apostle Peter, I feel like he was a man just like me. In our Sunday School class taught by our pastor, I always have something to add, or a question. I am sure I have adult A.D.D. because when I was younger, I know I had A.D.H.D. (my hyperactivity left along with the rest of my get-up-and-go). I just enjoy discussing God's Word and I absorb teaching like a sponge.

Peter always had something to say, as well. If he wasn't arguing with Jesus about His future crucifixion, he was chopping off an ear. I am sure he was a better fisherman than a soldier. One minute, Jesus is praising him for recognizing Him as the Messiah, and the next, He was addressing Peter as Satan. It was Peter who declared he would never deny Jesus, and of course he did, three times. Even though he was not as fast as the younger John, when he got to the tomb, it was Peter who went in. I can relate to Peter, even though my name is Paul. I admire the Apostle Paul as you will see, but I don't think I could hold a candle to his zeal for Christ.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, Jesus told His disciples they were to wait in Jerusalem until the Father sent the Holy Spirit to indwell them (John 14:7; Acts 1:4). Most Christians agree that the Church actually started on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit took up residence in one hundred twenty believers (Acts 1:15;2:4). Of course, Peter couldn't just sit around in Jerusalem and do nothing for the ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost. He decided to hold a business meeting and replace Judas as the twelfth Apostle. Remember, he was totally acting according to human logic as the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Peter was kind enough to decide what the qualifications were, and then narrowed God's choice to two men, presumably because God was probably too busy to weed through the others. Then, they drew straws to select the new Apostle. It was going to be Matthias. Peter was satisfied.
The only problem was, Matthias was never mentioned in Scripture again.

God had a plan to replace Judas, that was not restricted to Peter's list of qualifications. In fact, His choice would have been the last person Peter would have chosen. God chose a man who was a leader of the men who were gathering Christians to imprison or kill them. Saul of Tarsus hated Christians because they were just like Jesus, Who was given to the Romans for crucifixion. They threatened the status quo of Israel. In what must have been total irony, God chose Saul while he was in pursuit of Christians (Acts 9:1-20). Saul became the Apostle Paul and wrote at least thirteen books of the New Testament. Moral: Wait on God!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Recently I have been feeling guilty because I struggle with prayer. I guess it is a combination of things, but I find it difficult to talk to Someone Who doesn't usually answer. And, since God knows our thoughts even before we think them, it seems unnecessary to verbalize them. Billy Graham said that prayer is us speaking to God, and the Bible is Him speaking back to us. What about before there was a Bible? Of course, there are many instances in the Old Testament and a few in the New, that tell of God speaking audibly, but today, if someone suggests that God speaks to them, most people think they might have a problem.

The philosophical say that God speaks through nature. Others believe He speaks through circumstances. Still others are convinced that He speaks in an unlimited variety of ways. He uses donkeys and bushes, after all. I agree with the last group, mostly because I have experienced "hearing Him" on more than one occasion. In my Christian life of nearly forty years, God has spoken audibly to me at least five times. While I did not hear His voice with my ears, I heard Him speak to me in my mind. Some of His more bizarre statements to me were while I was in the bathroom, once in the shower, and once while using the toilet. I know what you are thinking, but I really don't care. It happened. He said to me, "Jesus wept." while I was dealing with my daughter getting pregnant. It was immediately understood to mean that it was alright that I felt so betrayed and hurt, as His Son felt the same thing about Jerusalem.

Another bathroom experience was during severe depression. He said, "Turn September Second." I had picked up an Our Daily Bread that November day, looking for solace, but He repeated it three times. I finally turned there and the title of the devotion was "God's love softens hearts." Instantly I remembered that two months earlier, while in chapel my first day of Seminary, I had what I thought was a nervous breakdown. I began sobbing uncontrollably. Until I read that title, I never understood what had taken place. Now I remembered and realized that the love of God had broken my rebellious spirit. I became teachable.

Which brings me to the tee shirt. I was at a four day retreat, and after going to the alter and praying for God to forgive my lack of spirituality, I returned to my seat. I had tried to quote Philippians 3:13-14 but couldn't remember exactly how it went. As I stood there, I looked at the man standing in front of me, and his shirt had those exact verses printed on them! I assume he had four shirts with him, and that he could have stood anywhere among the eighty or so there. But on that day, at that time, when I was trying to pray that prayer, he stood before me and gave me the words to speak to God. Yes, God speaks! We just need to look and listen. What is He saying to you right now? What ever it is, it is being said in love. He loves you.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Most folks are too young to remember the 60's with the separate drinking fountains, separate restrooms, separate restaurants, separate hotels, separate.... I remember a mob surrounding a house because a black family moved in. That is not really so hard to believe, except it was in Detroit, not Alabama. I remember our Navy football team being told one of our players could not eat where our bus had stopped in Maryland. I remember a Virginia lunch counter being fully occupied by black folks and seeing no food or drink. I remember a black Air Force General being refused service even though he was a guest of the Mayor of Pensacola, Florida. But of all the things I remember about the hateful treatment of Blacks, the most horrible was the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died. I wept. You see, I heard King give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and for a while, I actually believed it could come true, but the dream died with him.

Today we have a black President. Today is a holiday dedicated to the memory of Doctor King. Today there are roads and highways named for him throughout the land. If I were naive, I would probably believe that the dream was becoming a reality, but I am not, and it is not. Today, we have Black Miss America, Black Radio and TV stations, Black magazines and newspapers, and the worst of all, there are Black churches. As long as there is a focus upon color, the dream will never be possible. As long as there are hate mongers who earn their living by emphasizing differences, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, it will not happen. We have had the Black Panthers, the Black Muslims, the Black Congressional Caucus, etc., all of which divide us by color. There is Black Pride, and there should be pride in one's heritage, but it ceases to be that when it is a rallying cry for division. Yes, we have come a long way, but I am afraid we have left the trail blazed by King, and have simply become a nation of racists, black and white.

The Apostle Paul had the right idea. In Galatians 3:28, he writes, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." He said that then, and I say this now, that there is neither Black nor White (or any other color), and that to feel superior to someone based up such differences is wrong. It is sin. Jesus prayed four times in John Seventeen that Christians would be one. In Acts 17:26, Luke tells us that God has "made of one blood all nations to dwell on all the face of the earth...." We do not have a race; we are a member of the human race, period!

I am afraid that although we have a Black President and a holiday celebrating the life of one of the greatest Americans in our history, the dream will never come to fruition. Few Blacks and even fewer Whites, even make an effort to judge a person by their character. By the time they have sifted through their race, gender, nationality, social-economic status, educational level, religion, and political views, they have decided their worth. The content of one's character does not even come into play until it is decided the person is just like them; then character is important. The dream must wait until the Lord returns and changes humanity into His own likeness. Until then, it is not going to happen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


There are many good things to be said about religion. It tends to correct improper social behavior. It may produce humility in those who see themselves as failing to meet their religion's demands. It provides hope (whether founded on truth or not) for a better afterlife. It motivates acts of benevolence, such as responding to tragedies such as the tsunami that killed thousands in southern Asia, hurricane Katrina, or the earthquake in Haiti. And, nearly every religion has some version of the "golden rule." But is it really religion that provides all of these things? Some of them, such as benevolence, social restraint, and observing the "golden rule" are practiced by atheists, as well. When all is said and done, religion merely "draws a line in the sand," and produces hope in some, and hopelessness in others. Those who are devout see a glimmer of hope, while those who see the practice of their religion as unrealistic or impossible to which to adhere, tend to lose all hope.

There is, however, good news for any and all who want hope in this life, and a certainty of joy everlasting. As I have written previously, religion is doomed to failure. What I would suggest to you is that there is a way you can experience a relationship with God that does not involve religion. In fact, it is the opposite of religion. It does not give you a list of dos and don'ts to please God and avoid His punishment, but it gives you a family relationship with God the Father. Romans 8:15-17a says, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs - heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ...."

So, how does one receive the Spirit? In John 3:1-8, Jesus tells Nicodemus that there is a second birth for all those who believe in Him. Christians call it being "born again." It is a bringing to life of one's spirit by the Holy Spirit. When one does something he or she knows displeases God, it is called sin. Sin immediately kills spiritually. When a person who is dead spiritually believes in Christ, he or she is given new life, life in the Spirit. Paul describes it well in Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins." How did God make me alive? His Spirit convinced me of the following truths:
*I have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
*The wages (payment) of my sin is my death (Romans 6:23a).
*God loved me even while I was still a sinner, and Christ died for me (Romans 5:8).
*God's gift to me (totally unearned) was Spiritual life through Jesus Christ, my Lord (Romans 6:23b)
*When I confessed Jesus as my Lord, and believed in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I was born again (Romans 10:8-9).

Don't you long for a relationship with God? If you do, I want you to know, religion won't give it to you. Only faith in Jesus Christ will make you a child of God. Trust Him and see.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The parable of the sower, found in Luke 8:4-15, has many interpretations. However, there are only two general areas of disagreement over which type of soil produces saved (born again) Christians. One view focuses upon the fruit produced by the good soil, and suggests that only fruit-producing soil refers to saved individuals. Most holding this view use the biblical concept of "by their fruit ye shall know them" (from Matthew 7:16, 20). However, this passage is referring to false prophets who try to pass themselves off as Christians. In the parable of the sower, neither the rocky soil, nor the thorny soil make any attempt to pass themselves off as prophets. They simply react to the seed.

The other major view, to which I hold, is that there are three kinds of Christians portrayed in this passage. No one questions the good soil as being saved individuals who, in sharing their testimony, produce fruit (other believers). The text does not mention either of these two as having fruit, true, but what is the test of whether or not a person is a Christian? Is it out-going, witnessing individuals only that get saved? No. In fact, if it required people to witness and be soul-winners in order to be accepted as part of the body of Christ, a great majority of the members of my church and most likely, every other church, would be considered lost. So, if a person does not have to witness to be saved, why do some believe that the stony soil and the thorn-infested ground are unsaved?

If one simply looks at the passage, it is clear that the first soil, represented as a packed-down soil, could not produce because the seed did not penetrate the soil, and the birds ate it. There is absolutely no life produced by that seed. However, in the case of the stony ground, life begins, and even though this new life dies off before producing, nevertheless, it was alive. The same is true of the thorny soil. Life began. When we look at what happened to these two examples of those having come to life, we see most church members. Some have little or no doctrinal understanding (root), and when pressured, they simply wither away. Others are seduced (choked) by missed place priorities and selfish motives, and make little or no contribution to the kingdom of God.

I guess the ultimate difference between these two views is this: one believes that folks brought to life by the Word of God can lose it or die spiritually. Others believe that once the seed, the Word of God, produces new life, it remains alive spiritually. Either you believe "once saved, always saved" or you don't. Personally, I believe that once God, through His grace, gives a person faith to believe the Gospel, and that person trusts in Christ, they are born again. What they do with their new life produces works that will be tried by fire, and even though they did nothing worthy of reward in this world, their soul will remain saved (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). What can separate us from the love of God? Nothing! If we truly are a child of God, it is He that works in us to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). It is He that works all things for good as He transforms us into the image of His dear Son (Romans 8:28-29)! Praise the Lord!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The root of the Greek word which is translated "gospel," is euaggelion, and it means "good news." It is the same root that is translated "evangelist." It appears one hundred one times as "gospel," and three times as "evangelist." It is obvious then that the work of an evangelist was, and is, to present the good news to the lost world. The Apostle Paul presents the most concise explanation of the message which is described as good news. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul reminds the Corinthians that the gospel he preached produced salvation to all who believed. He then repeats what he had already taught them. "...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" The good news then is that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to life in three days, just as He had predicted (Matthew 12:40), and faith in Him brings salvation.

Salvation from what? Salvation from death caused by the enmity (separation) between God and man. From the day Adam sinned, a sin nature was passed on to all men, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Separation from God by sin was revealed to Israel in the Law of Moses. Paul describes the Law as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). The Law convinced us that we were hopelessly lost, because no mere human is able to live a perfect life. We need a Savior. The good news is that we have One. Jesus died according to the Scriptures (the Old Testament). Jesus was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

Israel's idea of a savior was an earthly king who would defeat Israel's enemies and establish His world government. What they failed to understand was that they had a much greater enemy: themselves. They had spent fifteen hundred years covering their sins with the blood of animals, but their sins needed more than a covering; Israel (and all humans) needed to have them totally removed. The good news is that Jesus came to do just that. By trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection as payment for sins, they gained eternal life. Israel was right to expect the Messiah to come take control of the world, but like most of us, they neglected to include all of the Scripture. They apparently ignored those describing the Messiah's death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; and Daniel 9). He chose to die for us during His first appearance so that we could spend more than a mere lifetime in an earthly kingdom (which will begin at His second appearing). He rose from the dead to guarantee all who believe in Him will spend eternity with Him. Good News: God loves you enough to sacrifice His only begotten Son so that all that believe will live with Him forever (John 3:16). Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010



*THE PAST 1:1-18.

.......The source of the vision 1:1-8.
.......The things which thou hast seen 1:9-18.


.......Divides Revelation into past, present, and future 1:19.

*THE PRESENT 1:20-3:22.

.......The things which are (the Church Age) 1:20-3:22.

*THE FUTURE CONSISTING OF TEN EVENTS (warning to occur first) 4:1-22:21.

.....II....... A picture of the Rapture 4:1.
.....III.......The throne room of God 4:2-5:14.
.....IV......The Conversion of Israel 12:1-13:6.
..........A. The six seals 6:1-7:17 State one of first half.
..........B. The seventh seal 8:1 Silence in heaven.
..........C. The seven trumpets 8:2-11:19 Stage two of first half.
.....V......The conversion of Israel 12:1-13:6.
.....VI......Preparations for Christ's Second Coming 19:1-10.
.....VIII....The Second Coming of Christ 19:11-21.
.....IX......The Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ 20:1-15.
.....X.......The Eternal Presence of God 21:1-22:5.

......I.......The command to warn humanity 22:6-21.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The Olivet Discourse is Christ's teaching that will be read in the future by Jews. In Matthew 24:15-16, Jesus says, "When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever readeth, let him understand), then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains." The people who see the event have read Daniel, and they are to understand that they are in danger from the one who guaranteed them seven years of peace. Notice, it is them, and not you. Christians will not be in Judea, or anywhere else in this world, for that matter, because the Rapture has removed them at least three and a half years earlier.

Matthew 24:4 Only Jews are still expecting the Messiah (Christ)

Matthew 24:6 Israel hears of wars but does not experience them

Matthew 24:7 There are famines, pestilences, and earthquakes elsewhere

Matthew 24:9 Messianic Jews persecuted in synagogues

Matthew 24:14 The Gospel is about an earthly kingdom

Matthew 24:15 Only Jews would be outraged at the abomination of desolation

Matthew 24:16 Those in Judea are warned to flee

Matthew 24:20 The Jews care about the Sabbath

Matthew 24:23 The Jews who flee are still looking for the Messiah

Matthew 24:24 The Jews require a sign (1 Corinthians1:22)

Matthew 24:29 The Tribulation is Daniel's 70th Week is for Israel (Daniel 9:24)

Matthew 24:30 The "Son of Man" refers to the Messiah of Israel

Matthew 25:32-46 Judgment is based upon how people treated the Jews

Monday, January 11, 2010


Our youngest daughter turns forty-one on Wednesday, and in such a short life, "she could write a book." Cheryl has experienced many unique things, and each event could make a wonderful chapter. Oh, of course, there are events that would make a chapter that wasn't so wonderful, but when her life is over, and she is approaching her departure time, she will look back on those chapters as being positive as well. We have a wonderful promise in the Word of God that says He works ALL things for good for them who love Him (Romans 8:28). Yes, unpleasant and even horrible chapters fit into God's plan as He molds us into the image of His dear Son. While I am sure that bad experiences produce many doubts and questions about why God allows such things while going through "the fire," when the trial is over, the wounded are much stronger. It is like a broken bone; the place where the break occurred, when healed, is stronger than before. So it is with life's obstacles.

In the verse I mentioned, there was a qualifier. God works things for the good to those who love Him. For one thing, it is only those who love Him that are able to look back and see His hand in it all. I am not certain, but I believe that He works all things for good to those who do not love Him, as well, but they are unable to see the good in it. In 2 Peter 3:9, we are told that God does not want anyone to perish, but that all would come to repentance. He didn't allow His children to spend over four hundred years in bondage in Egypt because He was mad at them. He allowed it to bring them to a place where they would trust in Him. It is our trust or faith in Him that produces righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Job is a perfect example of one who had the right idea during the trial. He said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15). It is my prayer that Cheryl will be able to praise God every day, during the good and the bad chapters of the book that is her life.

Many years ago, when Cheryl was four, she was sitting at the dining room table eating her supper, when she suddenly said, "Daddy, Guess what." I asked her what? She said, "Daddy, I just asked Jesus into my heart!" I stopped what I was doing and called her to come sit on my lap. I asked her, "Do you know what that means?" She said, "It means that I want to mind Him." In all my years as a Christian, I have never heard an adult put it any better. Four year old and Cheryl got it. To her, God was worthy of obedience. She knew Him as Lord. Even though she has had her ups and downs in life, there is one thing of which I am certain. Cheryl is a child of God, and as such, she will weather any storm that the devil is allowed to send her way. And, God help those who Satan uses to make her way stormy! I am proud of Cheryl. She is a winner. I know that one day, she will be just like the One into Who's image she is being made. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness toward His children (and mine). Amen.

Friday, January 8, 2010


God is very fond of widows. In Exodus 22:22-24, He declares that He will "terminate" anyone who causes a widow or an orphan to complain to Him. After reminding Israel of His power, He tells them that He executes judgment for the fatherless and the widows in Deuteronomy 10:17-18. He says He blesses those who provide for them in 24:19. Israel was to give widows and orphans part of their tithe every third year (26:12-13). These are but a few of the many examples found in the Law. The Writings and the Prophets have much to say, as well. Israel was commanded to protect and provide for their widows and orphans, period.

By the time Jesus began preaching, the religious leaders had not only ignored the many commands and warnings, they had begun taking advantage of them. The synoptic gospels all refer to this (Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). Abuse of widows was one of the many offenses that prompted Jesus to call them hypocrites.

Apparently, the Church understood the Lord's concern for widows. In Acts 6:1-3, the apostles, upon hearing complaints concerning the lack of provision for them, created an office of the Church specifically for the purpose of tending to the everyday business matters including ministering to widows. The office of deacon began as a group of faithful men who would act as servants. I am not sure how deacons became the authority in churches today, but the office was not intended to be one of leadership, but that of a servant. The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, had much to say about widows. Widows were to be honored, especially by family members (5:3-4). He says a true widow is one who lives for Christ (5:5). A widow was to be provided for by family, but if that wasn't possible, widows over sixty were to be cared for by the Church (5:8-9). Paul repeats the need for the widow to qualify by having been married to only one man and by living a Christian life of service (5:10). James declares that genuine religion is expressed by, among other things, visiting widows and orphans in their affliction (1:27).

So this begs the question: If one's wife qualifies by age and behavior, why is it necessary to spend thousands of dollars on life insurance? Wouldn't the money be better spent as an offering to one's church? The answer is obvious. Our churches do not practice this. In fact, most churches do little to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or provide shelter to the homeless; how then could a family trust that the widow and orphans would be okay? We can't. Sadly, we have become much like the Pharisees of Jesus' day. We worry mostly about people's souls, and neglect their personal needs. I wonder how difficult it is for a homeless person, a hungry person, and certainly a naked person to attend church services? I think they are more likely to be totally focused upon survival, and have no time for spiritual revival. It is the Church that needs revival!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


My wife and I had lunch yesterday with some old friends we hadn't seen in years. Gary had called to say they would be in Louisville and wanted to invite us to lunch. Gary, a deacon in the church I pastored, had been the one person who prayed with me, made visits with me, and who was truly closer than a brother in that lonely place. Pastors, from my experience and from my observation, are very lonely folks. Oh sure they are constantly with people with all the visits, meetings, and services, but to really have a confidant and friend is very rare. Gary was all of that and more. We genuinely loved each other like David loved Jonathan. The only regret I have had all these years since being asked to resign as pastor, is I no longer have a person like that in my life.

My wife and I returned to Indiana, and I began teaching at a Christian school, where I even served as Principal for a while. Those years teaching "a captive audience" were the best years of my life. When the school began struggling with financial difficulties, the highest paid were not able to continue teaching there. As the high school Bible teacher, I was expendable because the pastor added that job to his others. Understandably, the church suffered and so did the school; one man can only do so much. The school closed the following year, and to my understanding, the pastor had a stroke. Ministry certainly takes its toll. I know because I suffered great depression for quite some time after leaving the school.

The greatest lesson I have learned in my nearly forty years as a Christian, is that the majority of those who say they are Christians don't seem to try living like Jesus intended. The world sees Christians as hypocrites, and all of us are. No one lives a Christ-like life all of the time. Hence, the world is right. However, I want the world to know that there are some of us who genuinely try to live Godly lives. James wrote that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Christians understand that their sins are forgiven because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Christians also understand that living the Christ-like life is a continual struggle (read Roman Seven). My problem is that few Christians are really involved in that struggle. Most, apparently, have given up trying, and have returned to just being like everyone else. I guess that is why it is hard to tell the difference between the wheat and the tares.

Now that my health has deteriorated so that I am unable to do much, I found myself needing to serve the Lord, but unable to find something I could do. My pastor suggested I write a blog in order to share with others my thoughts on the Christian life. I didn't know what a blog was (and I still don't), but he set this one up for me, and I am very grateful. It is my sincere desire to be a blessing to the body of Christ, and to those who need to become a part of that body. If you read this, please send me an e-mail at and let me know what you think. Ask questions, share stories, and feel free to make suggestions on how I could improve it. I will not shorten it, so don't even go there. I write until I feel that God wants me to stop. Jesus is Lord. He deserves obedient children. Can I get an AMEN?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Christianity in the United States has been under attack before, but of late, it seems that the opposition to it is the focus of the majority. I believe the Civil Liberties Union has forgotten it is for the liberty of Americans, or that it has forgotten that Americans can be Christians. What they used to champion, "freedom of religion," has become "freedom from religion." Oddly though, they do not seem to have a problem with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other "ism." Symbols of other religions are accepted without question, but should one use a cross, a manger scene, or say, "Merry Christmas," they leap into action. Why is that?

The answer is really quite simple. Other religions have a minority status in America, and as such, pose little threat to them. They see Christianity and its huge voting potential, as a hindrance to their agenda. Sadly, a large number of Christians are of little threat to them, because they fail to vote according to the teachings of the Bible. And those who do vote that way are labeled as radical extremists, and lumped together with the Islamic extremists. Understandably, the majority of them feel that way as a few, claiming to be Christians, burn crosses, blow up abortion clinics, and assassinate doctors. But, beneath their fear of the actions of "radicals," lies a more serious threat. Christians, those who are true believers, are Christ-like. They shine a light on corruption, immorality, and hypocrisy . Evil deeds are almost always done in the shadows. Light, more than anything else, causes those committing sin to scatter.

Jesus said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:18-19). Born again Christians are indwelt by God's Spirit, and because we have the Spirit, we serve to convict the world "of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:7-11). Jesus also said in His prayer, "I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14). But that begs the question: How can one who is not hated by the world claim to be a Christian? The answer is there are two kinds of people who claim to be Christian: there are those who profess to be Christian, but are merely religious, and those who possess the characteristics of the One Who indwells them. As opposition to Christianity increases, more and more of those professing will fall away. In a way, opposition is sort of a light as well, because it causes those who are Christian in name only, to scatter. Irony!

I am an American. I live in this world. But I am not of this world. This world is not my home, I'm just passin' through. But while I am here, I want the world to know I carry a powerful "flashlight."

Monday, January 4, 2010


"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and He was seen of Cephas, then the twelve. After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present time, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then, of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."
(1 Corinthians 15:3-7)

If you were to go before a judge having that many witnesses to anything, you would certainly win your case. It amazes me that so many still deny that Jesus rose from the dead. Many false explanations have been suggested to explain it away. The swoon theory, the stolen body theory, the mass hallucination theory, and of course, the "they lied" theory, have all been used to argue with me as I witness to the lost. I could take the time to argue each point, but as soon as I defeated one theory, another would be used to reject the truth. I have come to the conclusion that it is better to present the truth and leave it to the Holy Spirit to wrestle with the hearts of those who desperately need to deny Jesus as Lord, so that they can continue to live as they wish.

Nature declares God's existence but man has decided to attribute nature to a mother rather than to the Father. Isn't it strange that no one finds the concept of "mother nature" difficult to accept, but to believe the Bible that God is our Creator is lunacy to non-believers? "The Big Bang," "String Theory," "Plasma Theory," coupled with the Theory of Evolution, serve to protect man from the idea that each will one day face God. If they accept the Bible, they are accountable and answerable to their Maker. It scares them; it should.

I believe the Bible is truth. The reason I believe it is because the Author has spoken to me in my most difficult times. He has moved in circumstances to achieve an outcome according to my prayers. He has protected me from false accusations by pricking the conscience of my accusers, and they recanted. He has changed my heart from being an atheist, to being a believer who wants, more than anything, to please Him. My human nature would say and do things that are evil and destructive, if it were not for His Spirit "whispering in my ear." I have not "arrived," but I will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2). I will spend eternity with the God Who loves me as much as He loves His only begotten Son (John 17:23).

Unfortunately, if you do not believe the Bible, do not see God as Creator of the universe, and cannot accept my personal experience with Him, there is nothing more I can do to convince you. It is your decision to make. It is your conscience which must be ignored. All I can do, I have done. Now, it is up to you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Our church has a prayer chain of sorts. It is not like the old prayer chains where one person called two, and so on. Ours involves e-mails which pass on to us the needs so that we can pray for them. It is much quicker because there is no additional conversation to take up one's time. There are a couple of reasons that it is not as efficient as the personal call system. First, not everyone has a computer. And, those who do often wait for days to read their mail. If I have an urgent need, I certainly don't want folks waiting to pray; I want intercession as soon as possible. Second, there is no additional conversation to take up one's time. It is sad when time is more important than encouraging a brother or sister in Christ. Most Christians don't talk to one another. It is hard to love the brethren when I don't care enough to find out how they are doing!

Prayer is often the only resource one has to deal with difficulty. Some problems can only be solved by God. When one reads the Bible, the idea of hopelessness apart from God's intervention, is pretty much the whole story. Noah needed a boat. Job needed a true friend. Rahab needed mercy. Moses needed everything including a dry pathway. David needed forgiveness. The biblical list goes on and on. When the Word of God is summed up, what it really says is that without God, we are helpless in this life, and for sure, in the life to come. We need God. We need His Son to be our Savior. We need direction for decisions. We need His protection from a world that hates Him and His. We need food, clothing, and shelter. We need healing. Our list is endless. We need!

But, what does God need (want)? Hebrews Eleven is known as the faith chapter. It lists many of the Bible characters who pleased God with the way they lived. They chose to obey Him. I am not certain that they all understood that His commands were given because He wanted them to know the right way to live. Just like all good parents teach their children what is best, God's Word provides instruction on life. The list of folks in Chapter Eleven is quite varied. In fact, it is hard to understand why some of them are mentioned. Isaac, Moses' parents, and Rahab (a Gentile harlot) are listed, and yet, the author did not have time for folks like Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and the prophets. Maybe God wanted us to know there is absolutely no one that He will not help in the time of need. That certainly gives me hope. In fact, Rahab is mentioned in more books of the Bible than Mary, the mother of Jesus! If God can use someone like her, He can use anyone.

What did all those listed in Hebrews Eleven have in common? They had faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Our faith in Him pleases Him. The only work God requires of us is that we believe on Him Whom He hath sent (Jesus, John 6:29). Believe God loves you. Believe that Jesus died and rose again for you. Believe that your faith in Him produces a relationship with God Almighty. Believe you will spend eternity with the Creator of the universe. Your belief pleases God!

Friday, January 1, 2010


As a pastor, I was asked to preach several funerals. In fact, during my first five weeks as the pastor, I held funerals for three of our deacons. Funerals are fairly easy to preach, because the Word of God is filled with words of comfort and solace. Of course, some funerals were easier than others. When the deceased had lived a good, Christian life, the family and friends were easy to comfort, because they knew that the person was with the Lord (to be absent from the body, (is) to be present with the Lord - 2 Corinthians 5:8). Those are the easiest. Then there is the person who had confessed faith in Christ, but there was little evidence that Jesus was Lord. For those, a preacher must focus on God's mercy toward His children. Whether good or bad, His child will always be His child. It is comforting to know that even though the person did little that glorified the Lord, he was still His child. And though his works be worth little, and they are burned up in the judgment, there is comfort in knowing that the soul will survive the judgment fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

The most difficult funerals to preach are funerals for those who rejected God's offer of forgiveness by rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Comfort for the family is hardly possible. If they are Christians, they know that they will never see their lost loved one again. There is little need to preach about the lost soul, and the awful eternity that will be experienced. Most people know that without Christ, there is no hope. But, funerals of that sort are best focused upon the good news, the Gospel. The preacher needs to preach that Jesus came to save sinners by paying for their sin, and that He offers to whomsoever will accept Him, the opportunity to become God's child (John 1:12). One need only to believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the grave, and confess openly that Jesus is their Lord (Romans 10:8-9). I know it sounds too easy, but salvation is a gift; it does not require works or ritual. Believe and receive!

I closed every funeral with a passage found in Hebrews. It was more a prayer for those attending than it was for the departed. And, with this being the first day of the year 2010, it is my prayer for you and for me. Hebrews 13:20-21 "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." It is His job to work in you that which is well pleasing in His sight (Philippians 2:13). That way, it is He that gets the glory, and not the instrument He uses. We just need to be usable. Let us offer 2010 to the Lord as servants eagerly awaiting His instructions on how and when to serve. Happy New Year!