Thursday, June 27, 2013

A painted hindsight gloves a chocolate past the hungry plastic.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Your Father is Less than Perfect

On this the dawn of another Father's day, many of us will celebrate the presence of a father or "dad" in our lives. Many of our "dads" have done the best they can for us, and have been there for all all of our successes and failures along the way. Some of our fathers have taught us how to play sports. Some have taught us right and wrong. And still yet some have taught us the family profession, whether it be truck driving, pastoring, or running a business among other things.

On the other scope of things, however, are those who have a father who is "less than perfect". Maybe he struggled with a bad temper. Maybe he struggled with alcohol and drugs. Or maybe he is even incarcerated or has had other brushes with the law. When you have a less than perfect father, it's easy to have animosity about it. It's easy to get mad about the things he does (or did) and want to throw up your hands and say, "Oh well, it's too late for us to have a relationship!" But here are a couple of things to remember:

1) Those who have an imperfect earthly father have a perfect heavenly father. We must remember that God is a "father to the fatherless." (Psalm 68:5)

2) Even if we have a less than perfect father we should seek to reconcile the relationship and forgive him if at all possible. Remember that Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) In a sense we all, in some regards, "know not what we do" because we have been marred by this sinful world. We might realize something is wrong, but the sins of pride and the blight of denial cause us not to realize what we are doing. The same goes for our earthly fathers at times.

3) We should pray for our fathers. Whether we have a father who is "perfect" in our eyes, or who is less than perfect, we should keep them in prayer, especially if they are unsaved, but even if they are saved and are a professing Christian.

Whether you have a perfect or "less than perfect" father, may God bless you this upcoming father's day!


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Illustration: A Visit from a Back-up

I remember not too long ago when the Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl in 1998. There was a lot of fanfare and a great deal of excitement.

One other thing I remember is that the high school of our little town actually received a visit from one of the back-ups from that team. I noticed something very interesting about that visit. The speaker was Patrick Jeffers, who was a back-up wide receiver for the Broncos that first year they won the Super Bowl. If you look at the career of this man, his stats were not all that special. They weren't hall of fame caliber, you could even say that they were barely even Pro Bowl caliber.

But one of the things I noticed in my little high school is that people started talking about him and idolizing him even though he was at best average. They talked about good he was and different things.

The moral of the story? Sometimes people don't care what you know until they know that you care. The very fact that he took the time out of his busy schedule elevated him in the minds of many of our high school's athletes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"She's not a prostitute..."


At one time an individual had the opportunity to visit some of his friends who lived in a very large city in the United States. Everyone in this circle of friends was a Christian, and these city friends had a rather unorthodox ministry.

They desired to minister to people who for whatever reason or another were on the street, so their weekly ritual was simply to walk up and down a given neighborhood and familiarize themselves with the people that were there. While they were doing this, they would pray for opportunities to witness about Jesus, to minister, or simply just to serve others in some way.

The visitor noticed several interesting things as his friends pointed some things out to him. First of all, walk slowly, they said. Next, walk close to the curb, they advised. Another thing they told him was to make sure to stay out of alleyways that could be dangerous. Finally, they said, be careful to note gang colors to understand gang turf and the like.

The visitor noticed a woman on one of the curbs who was very scantily clad. He asked one of his friends when they were out of her earshot, "Was she a prostitute?"

There was a long, somewhat awkward, pause from this friend.

Finally, he said, "She's not a prostitute...she is a person....caught in prostitution."

Let us remember this day to have a heart for others, just as this group of friends on that night, for the "Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve." (Mark 10:45)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Personalizing John 3:16

A new way to look at John 3:16.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Anointed People: "That Boy Will Never Be a Preacher!"


Growing up in the rural Southern U.S. in the 20's, 30's, and 40's, many mothers dreamed that their sons would grow to preach the gospel, much like many today dream of their son growing up to become a doctor or lawyer. During this time, there was a young man in North Carolina named Billy. He was a bit of a quirky youth, and a lot of people did not think much of him. Many people said that "that boy will never grow up to be a preacher". And they were right, in a way. That boy did not simply grow up just to become a preacher. Billy Graham grew up to become one of the most remarkable men that God has used since possibly the Apostle Peter or the Apostle Paul. So the next time that you feel the need to "limit" one of our youngsters, consider that if God wanted to, he could make anyone the next Billy Graham.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Anointed People: "The Minister is Upstairs" (3 of 5)

It's been a while since I have posted on this blog, but I thought I would share this one. I'm not even if this is a true story or not, and I could not find it anywhere on the internet, so if you know the story and it is a little embellished, my apologies.

At one time there was this widowed Christian minister who had been pastoring different country churches for over 40 years. He had had a very fruitful ministry and many people had become Christians because of him and many people were better people because of his leadership. He was now getting older, and sometimes his back would hurt him and he would have various aches and pains.

Even though he was nearing retirement, he felt led to accept one more pastorate before he retired. So he put his resume out all over the state, and the only church that responded was a smaller church of about twenty people in an inner city. He went to candidate for them, they put it to a vote, and he was called to the church, and to the surprise of many of his friends and family, he accepted the call.

He packed up his belongings and fit everything he could carry into his tiny car, and he drove out to the large city to begin his pastorate in this large city. He preached his first sermon at his new church, and many people responded for healing and to rededicate their lives.

After church, he began apartment hunting in order to find a place to live (the church was too small for a parsonage). He encountered a lot of resistance, but a couple of days later he found an apartment. Unfortunately, the only one that he could find was a walk-up directly above a bar. To make matters worse, there was no outside entrance; he would have to go through the bar to get to the stairs and to his apartment.

He told the owner of the bar, who was also his landlord, of his plight. The landlord agreed that he would remind the bar patrons to not get too loud by putting a sign on the wall that said "The Minister is upstairs", which he did that same day.

Time went by, and the church grew to about 30 members. The minister also became very well-known at the bar, and sometimes he would stop before going to his apartment and would get a Pepsi (non-alcoholic of course) and sit and listen to the jukebox before going upstairs. As time went by people at the bar got to know the minister and of his kindness. Even though it was a normal bar, the minister became very well-respected. And always, the sign "The minister is upstairs" would be tacked to the wall once he went upstairs for the night.

A couple of times, the minister would even volunteer to take people home for the night who had had too much to drink. At times, people would decide to stop coming to the bar and would join his church instead. The landlord, who had become good friends with the minister, (and even swapped war stories with him a time or two as they had both been in the service in their younger days) would joke with him that he was "taking away my business!"

One cold November month no one from the church or from the bar had heard from the minister for a couple of days. After going upstairs to investigate, they found that the minister had died in his sleep a few days prior to that.

At the funeral there was a standing-room only crowd of the many people that the minister had touched over the years, including the landlord and some of the other people from the bar.

After going back to the bar to get ready for the crowd, the landlord noticed the sign "The minister is upstairs" hanging in its normal place. He paused from wiping down the counter top to remove the sign, but he didn't have the heart to do it.

The sign "The minister is upstairs" continued to hang in the bar for well over the next twenty years, and took on a new meaning as, of course, the minister was still, in a much better and glorious way, "Upstairs."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anointed People: Pastor Kevin Bradford and the Congregation of First Pentecostal Church in Bakersfield, CA (2 of 5)

One of the things that we as Christians have a tendency to forget from time to time is that God can and does take our lowest moments and can use them for his glory. When Pastor Kevin Bradford of Bakersfield, California received the news in December 2o10 that he had diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he was devastated. After announcing it to the congregation, he had surgery to remove one of his lymph nodes and began chemotherapy treatments. However, he did not plan for what happened next.

As he was beginning services in January, he realized very quickly that this was going to be a different kind of service. He smiled as he saw the stream of men who came into the sanctuary all with little or no hair. They had decided to shave their heads in solidarity and support for the pastor that they had.

This is what Christianity is supposed to be.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anointed People: Sojourner Truth (1 of 5)


I have decided I am going to start a series about people that were used of God for a certain time and place. The first person I have decided to write about is Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 in Swartekill, New York. She was an individual that was mightily used of God both for the Christian faith and for the purpose of equal rights for people of color eveywhere. By the time of her passing in 1883, her many activities and accomplishments included the following:

  • Received a life-changing vision at a stream that proved to her God's love for her.
  • After running away and getting her freedom in 1826, she began a small ministry to city prostitutes.
  • Felt the call of God to become an itinerant preacher at the age of 46, and said of the experience, "the spirit calls me and I must go."
  • Recruited black soldiers to fight in the Union army during the Civil War.
Here is an excerpt from her famous "Ain't I a woman" speech in 1851:

"I could work as much and eat as much as a man---when I could get it---and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most of them sold into slavery. And when I cried out with a mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?" Sojourner continued, saying "that little man in back there, he says women can't have as much rights as men 'cause Christ wasn't a woman. Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from?" She answered her rhetorical question and said, "From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with it!"

This just goes to show you that long before Joyce Meyer, there was Sojourner Truth.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Big Picture

There is a popular story about blind men who are feeling an elephant and trying to describe it. One man feels the tail and says, "the elephant is like a rope". Another blind man on a ladder feels the elephants skin and says the elephant is scaly and large and flat. Another man feels the elephant's ear and says that the elephant is thin. Still another feels the trunk and says that the elephant is thick, and narrow like a snake.

Obviously, someone who can see the elephant would be able to describe it in its entirety. God himself is a lot like that, because He can see the big picture. For the Christian, we can see the "big picture" as well, because we have the closest understanding to why things are the way that they are. For example, when we notice the problem of evil in the world, we know that the world is this way because of man's sinful nature. When we see love for each other, (not just romantic love either) love for country, and caring for people because they are all created in the image of God, we can get the "big picture". When we realize that God in His Son Jesus died for people all over the world, we get the "big picture" in how we are supposed to react to others.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Poems of Helen Steiner Rice Part 2


God, Are You There?
=============================

I'm way down HERE!
You're way up THERE!
Are you sure You can hear
My faint, faltering prayer?
For I'm so unsure
Of just how to pray----
To tell you the truth, God,
I don't know what to say....
I just know that I am lonely
And vaguely disturbed,
Bewildered and restless,
Confused and perturbed...
And they tell me that prayer
Helps to quiet the mind
And to unburden the heart
For in stillness we find
A newborn assurance
That SOMEONE DOES CARE
and SOMEONE DOES ANSWER
Each small sincere prayer!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Poems of Helen Steiner Rice, Part #1

This Christmas Eve 2010 I'm going to take a few blog posts and devote them to the poems of Helen Steiner Rice, who was a prolific Christian writer. Here is the first one:

Someone Cares
-----------------

Someone care and always will,
The world forgets but God loves you still,
You cannot go beyond His love,
No matter what you're guilty of---
For God forgives until the end,
He is your faithful, loyal friend,
And though you try to hide your face,
There is no shelter any place
That can escape His watchful eye,
For on the earth and in the sky
HE'S EVER PRESENT and ALWAYS THERE
to take you in His tender care
and bind the wounds and mend the breaks
When all the world around forsakes. . . . . . . .
SOMEONE CARES and LOVES YOU STILL
and GOD is THE SOMEONE who always will.

So, after reader Mrs. Steiner's words, remember that God does indeed care, and you should "cast all your cares on him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)



















































*From the book the Collected Poems of Helen Steiner Rice, 1972: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Importance of Christmas

Have you ever stopped to wonder why Christmas is just so important and why it is so important? To some, Christmas is a good time of year for the family; to others it is the time of year that helps their retail business stay afloat and keep them in the black for the rest of the year, but for others, the real meaning of Christmas is the fact of "Immanuel" or "God with us". The reason that we as Christians celebrate Christmas is because of the seemingly inconceivable miracle of the fact that God saw our sinful condition and decided to enter time and space in the form of a baby boy named Jesus born to Mary in the Roman backwater of First-Century Palestine.

Think about it this way, with this illustration:

Many years ago, there was a middle-aged farmer with a wife and two kids. The farmer was a loyal Christian and church-goer for most of his life, but that particular year he was feeling disheartened. His church had went through a very painful split and the pastor that he had grew fond of ending up having to resign. As a result, he felt that most Christians were hypocrites, and he was beginning to doubt his faith altogether. The church had their usual Christmas-eve service, and his family went as they always did, except this time he decided not to go. His wife and kids left him alone, and now he contemplated his life. As he walked to the barn he noticed some birds huddled together on the ground, apparently having missed the migration. The birds were freezing, he knew, and would likely die if they stayed where they were. If only he could get them to the safety of the warm barn....he tried everything he could think of, but the birds were scared to death of him. He even tried shooing them into the barn, but with no luck whatsoever. He finally had an epiphany. The birds are afraid of me. If only I could become one of them, then I could guide them into the safety of the warm barn. He then realized that Immanuel, or "God with us", had done just that on that cold evening thousands of years ago in early Palestine. That, my friends, is the purpose of Christmas. To remember that God in all his majesty entered time and space to be our Savior is the most important way to view the Christmas holidays.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

God Story #10

It seems some time ago there was an Iranian Christian minister that was driving through the Iranian countryside with his wife. They stopped in a small town on the way to their destination to get some water. As they went into their equivalent of a grocery store to purchase the water, the man and his wife noticed an individual standing against the wall holding a machine gun. The wife pulled her husband aside and told her that he needed to give him the Bible that they had in the car. The husband prayed about it as they continued shopping in the store but ultimately decided against it. As they went back to the car and were putting their items away, the wife asked him once again to give him the Bible. The man refused because he was afraid. They drove away and made it out of town, and the wife continued to pray, and finally the man relented. "All right," he said, "I will go back and give him the Bible. If he shoots me, then he shoots me." They drove back to the store and the man with the machine gun was still standing there. The minister walked up to him and placed the Bible into his free hand. The man with the machine gun immediately began crying. "I don't live here," he said. "I had to walk for three days in order to get to this village. But three days ago an angel appeared to me and told me to walk to this village and wait until someone had given me the Book of Life. Thank you for giving me this book."

Because of this event, the minister became a courageous witness for Christ. Eventually, along with many other co-workers in the Iranian church, he was martyred for his faith.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Will there be pets in Heaven?




This is a very interesting debate for sure. There are some that say that animals do not have souls, so cannot go to heaven. There are some to say that animals do have souls, but they do not have an accountability of sin so they will. Wherever you would fall in this issue, its an interesting debate nonetheless!

Links:


Monday, November 01, 2010

Teaching of the New Testament



The teaching of the New Testament is that now, at this very moment, there is a Man in heaven appearing in the presence of God for us. He is as certainly a man as was Adam or Moses or Paul; he is a man glorified, but his glorification did not de-humanize him. Today he is a real man, of the race of mankind, bearing our lineaments and dimensions, a visible and audible man, whom any other man would recognize instantly as one of us. But more than this, he is the heir of all things, Lord of all lords, head of the church, firstborn of the new creation. He is the way to God, the life of the believer, the hope of Israel, and the high priest of every true worshiper. He holds the keys of death and hell, and stands as advocate and surety for everyone who believes on him in truth. Salvation comes not by accepting the finished work, or deciding for Christ; it comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt as his own and paid it, took our sins and died under them, and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ; nothing less will do. (from the pen of A. W. Tozer)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Powerful Movie


To Save a Life
----------------------

The movie To Save a Life is all about the tough subject of teen suicide, and is a powerful movie. The movie begins when the film's protagonist, star basketball player Jake Taylor, decides to reevaluate his life after the loss of his once-childhood friend, a kid named Roger, to suicide. Jake literally reevalutes everything, including his relationships, life choices, and future dreams. The movie touches on a variety of teenage issues, including self-mutilation, divorce of parents, teenage drinking, and a variety of other subjects including of course suicide. The movie is also very effective in touching on the positive influence that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can have on teenagers as well.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Have you "arrived" yet?



I was asked about a week ago by a friend of mine if I thought I had "arrived yet", because there are a lot of things in my life that are beginning to fall into place. As I reflect on his words, I really wonder about life and how we as humans always make it about a destination. If you are one of my five readers or even if you were just scrolling blogs, seriously, think about it for a minute...we humans are always looking forward to something in some stage of our lives. "Oh I can't wait until I'm in Junior High" we might say, or "Oh I can't wait until I graduate high school and can be on my own", "I can't wait until I get married!", "I can't wait until I start that new job!", "I can't wait until my baby is born!", "I can't wait until I get a promotion!", "I can't wait until I retire!", and we could go on and on for eternity if we wanted.

When we reach that seemingly impossible goal---that is usually when our human nature tells us that yes, we have arrived. We have arrived if we graduate high school. We have arrived if we get married. We have arrived if we get a promotion. We have arrived if we, after a long hard-working career, are able to retire. But....what if our arrival is only a dead end? Then what? What if our marriage, despite all of our best efforts, ends in divorce? What if that promotion places us in a position that brings too much added stress? What if our retirement is marred by a cancer diagnosis? What do we do?

While there are no simple answers, I do understand what it's like when someone's "arrival" is only a "dead end". When we arrive and find out its just a dead end, God is there! God is not just some ethereal tyrant up in the sky, some disengaged clock-maker, or just an imaginary being made up for comfort. When you have reached a dead end in your life, God is there! And for all those who call on the name of Jesus and are Christians, the final destination where one will actually truly "arrive" is Heaven, which Jesus said in his word: "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero...




I don't usually weigh in on controversial topics, as I prefer to usually keep this blog inspirational and about love, but I have to say I am not in support of the Muslim desire to build so close to Ground Zero in New York City. Do they have a constitutional right to build it? Yes they do. Should they? I don't think so. I think the best analogy is one of the following:

Consider the following scenario. Let's say that there is an individual who moves into a given community, and one day he decides to kidnap a young child walking home from school. He does many horrible things to her, but ultimately the man is caught before he can do any fatal harm to the girl. The girl is, however, severely traumatized, as is the community. The man ultimately receives a 25-year prison sentence, but is paroled after seven. He is now considered a Sexually Violent Predator and must register as such for the rest of his life. He sincerely believes he is reformed, however, and wants to move back to the same community where this terrible offense occurred. How would you, as a hypothetical person living in this community, feel about this situation? Would you support him taking up residence in the same area where he committed his crime? I think not. There is no doubt there are peace-loving moderate Muslims, but because we were violated and lost our innocence in the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11 it is NOT a popular decision at all, much like the above hypothetical situation I mention. Have a good day everyone.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Hero Grandmother



Sharrel Blankenbaker was an ordinary everyday person. She was a grandmother, mother and wife. Last Tuesday she became an extraordinary person when she was shot and killed saving the life of her granddaughter Cassidy from a kidnapper at a Love's convenience store near Amarillo, Texas. She also was a strong Christian, who for 12 years was involved in the Kiros prison ministry. Says Cassidy: "She would do anything for anyone.. She prayed with us when we were going thru something hard...she was so great." Yes, Mrs. Blankenbaker exemplifies John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Or, in this case, granddaughters.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote of the Week





"If Jesus can change Duch, he can change anyone." ---Christopher LaPel

The reason that the pastor above would say this would be because of the following:

Are some acts of evil simply too heinous to be forgiven? Not according to Cambodian-born pastor Christopher LaPel. Three years ago, he baptized a man he believed to be a teacher in the muddy waters of the River Sangke in western Cambodia's Battambang province. After more than 20 years of hiding the truth, that same man recently revealed his true identity: Kang Khek Ieu, better known by his revolutionary name Duch, head of the Khmer Rouge's secret police. The man also confessed responsibility for the deaths of at least 12,000 people. "I was shocked when I found out who he really was, because what he did was so evil," says LaPel, whose parents, brother and sister died during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror from 1975 to '79, along with nearly 2 million others. "Then I reflected: it's amazing; it's a miracle. Christianity changes people's lives. If Jesus can change Duch, he can change anyone." Few other Cambodians are likely to share this view or forgive the man who presided over the Khmer Rouge's security network. Many have reacted to news of his conversion to Christianity with skepticism. Duch, who was arrested by Cambodian authorities in May following his confession, is awaiting trial at a military detention center just a few blocks from S-21 (or Tuol Sleng), the top security prison he once commanded. Thousands of men, women and children were interrogated and tortured there before being executed. Clad in a baseball cap, T shirt and flipflops, LaPel is an unlikely looking pastor. Though he makes his home in Los Angeles, he returned to Cambodia last week to conduct baptisms and training sessions so Cambodians can carry out missionary work in their communities. LaPel first met Duch (pronounced dook) in late 1995. Calling himself Hang Pin, Duch arrived with a colleague to take part in a two-week Christian leadership training course in the village of Chamkar Samrong in Battambang province, a former resettlement area for Cambodian refugees. According to LaPel, Duch initially was quiet and withdrawn. He said he was not a believer but had come at the urging of his friend. After listening to LaPel's sermons and teachings, however, Duch asked to be baptized. "He changed totally after receiving Christ--180 degrees," says LaPel with a smile. "He turned from hatred to love. He said he had never felt love in his childhood or when he grew up. So when he turned to Christ, love filled his heart." LaPel says Duch's transformation took on physical dimensions. The gaunt, withdrawn man began to appear more relaxed, teasing his fellow students. He even began dressing better, tucking his shirt tails into his long pants. A group photograph taken in 1995 shows a smartly dressed Duch in a pressed white shirt and dark trousers. He is standing next to Pastor Christopher, whose hand rests protectively on Duch's shoulder. LaPel remembers Duch well. Then 54, Duch was older than the others but also one of the brightest. After his baptism, he began sitting in the front row of the sessions, taking meticulous notes and asking questions. Duch, the pastor recalls, was full of enthusiasm and said he couldn't wait to return to his village in Svay Chek district to start a church. He later went on to establish a "house church" with 14 families. In retrospect, LaPel says there were signs pointing to Duch's real identity. "Before he received Christ," LaPel recalls, "he said he did a lot of bad things in his life. He said: 'Pastor Christopher, I don't know if my brothers and sisters can forgive the sins I've committed against the people.' He said he felt remorse for what he had done to innocent people, adding: 'Thank God that the Lord forgives me.'" LaPel did not probe further. When he leads people to Christ, he says, he doesn't inquire deeply into their past; instead he focuses on their present beliefs. "If they are willing to repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and saviour, I will lead them to the Lord, no matter what they've done wrong in the past." LaPel still wasn't aware of the notorious Khmer Rouge security chief's true identity when they met a year later, during a second Christian leadership course. But if he had looked closely at a photograph that's now displayed in Tuol Sleng prison, he would have known straight away. LaPel has visited the jail several times: a close cousin, a former science professor, was tortured there and later killed; her photograph also hangs on the wall. Still LaPel says he doesn't feel personal hatred for the only member of the Khmer Rouge to have confessed a role in the movement's killing machine. He sees Duch's willingness to admit his guilt, stand trial and testify against others as positive--and proof that his conversion to Christianity is genuine. As LaPel wades into the murky waters of a small village in Banteay Meanchey province to baptize more than 100 people, he is convinced that Duch's conversion can only help the cause of Christianity in Cambodia, a predominantly Buddhist country where Christians make up less than 0.5% of the population. "This is a story of hope for the Cambodian people. They've been going through darkness for years. Accepting Jesus Christ brings light to their lives. It's time for Cambodians to turn from hatred to love."


*Originally written by Caroline Gluck for TIMEasia.com.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

We Could Learn a Lot From...

Kristen Jane Anderson
------------------------------------------------------

Kristen Jan Anderson has an infectious smile, and she has an inspiring story to tell. Behind that inspiring smile lies a past where she battled severe depression because of personal issues in her life. Because she had a rough home life, and because she was the victim of a sexual assault by an individual she thought was her friend, she decided at the age of seventeen to try to commit suicide. She decided to lay down in front of the train tracks when the train passed by, and she was looking forward to a release from her pain. However, God had other plans. She did not die as she had expected, but the train ran over her legs. She was able to dial 911 and the doctors saved her life before she bled to death.

As someone who realizes how depressed someone can get, today she is a public speaker who has written a book about her personal life story. In this book, entitled Life, in Spite of Me, she chronicles how she arrived at the drastic and terrible point of attempting suicide and how to minister to someone who is suicidal. I would recommend this book to anyone, and she has an awesome testimony. She is someone we could truly learn a lot from.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Petals off of a rose



Your life is like petals being taken from a rose. Consider this analogy:


There is a person named Sam, and he is a preacher's kid. He first hears the gospel at the age of six when he and his father are on a camping trip. Although he fully understood, he told he dad he would think about it and maybe do it later. There is one petal off the rose. At 15 years old he is still unsaved, but goes to a Bible camp. He hears a message that stirs his heart and he feels led to get saved, but he thinks, "oh, I'm young, I've got plenty of time to make a commitment." He loses another petal off the rose.
Later on, he goes to college and gets involved in sororities and dorm life. He goes to a lot of parties, sometimes has a little bit too much to drink, and generally has a good "worldly" time, but every now and then the tug on his heart about what he needs to do with Jesus is still there. He loses another petal off of the rose.
Sam graduates college and goes to law school. He is now not a partier, but a hard-working student. He works long hours day and night. He sometimes listens to a television evangelist and the pull on his heart is still there, but between his classes and studying for the Bar Exam he does not have the time to consider the claims of Christ. Another petal falls of his rose.
Sam graduates law school and immediately lands a position at a lucrative law firm. He once again works long hours, but finds a girlfriend and eventually gets married. He settles down, they buy a two story Colonial, and start a family. His wife is a Christian, and every now and then tells him he needs to get right with God. He tells her he is too busy. He loses another petal off his rose.
Years go by, and Sam continues to work hard at the law firm and he eventually makes partner. They sell the old colonial and buy an even bigger house, and things are going well. Then one day his wife is killed in a car accident. Instead of drawing closer to God, he grows bitter. He loses another petal off of his rose.
Years go by, and his son eventually moves away and starts a family of his own. Sam retires and decides to go live by his son and grandchildren. His son is also a Christian and takes his family to church, and Sam agrees to go as well. As he listens to the preacher, he felts that old tug on his heart again, but he still puts it off. After a while, he goes to the doctor, and finds out the terrible news....Cancer! He starts treatment, but his heart grows bitter again toward God. He loses another petal off his rose, and only has one solitary petal left.
After several months, his condition worsens, and he is left in the hospital bed hanging by a thread. The time is drawing short, and his life is almost over. The tug on his heart is still there, and the rose petal is hanging by a thread....he calls his son's pastor and finally gets saved on his deathbed. He is overjoyed and finally has peace for the first time. But he wondered, what would his life have been like if he would have responded to God when he was the child?
"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" ---Mark 8:36

Thursday, June 03, 2010

We Could Learn a Lot From...


"Major Candy"


Major Ron Brooks was stationed overseas with the U.S. Army during a recent war in the 20th century, he would often visit the villages near his base. Being a fervent Christian, he wished to share the gospel with the children he would come across, looking at them and thinking I wish I could tell you about Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, that was impossible because he did not speak their language and they did not speak his. After prayerfully considering some way to do this, he decided to start sharing some of the candy that his wife would give him with the children of the villagers. It wasn't long before every time he went to the village the children would crowd around him, stick out their hands, and cry "Candy!" The major would give them the candy, and try with all his effort to share with them the gospel by drawing pictures of a cross and Jesus in the dirt. Unfortunately, there was too much of a language barrier for this to occur effectively. After writing home to his wife, his sons, Ronnie and Jeffrey, told the school about their father's activities and desire to share the Christian gospel, and the teacher told the principal (and although nowadays there would be an ACLU lawsuit) and the principal, a Christian himself, donated several boxes full of candy for Major Ron to share with the children. Major Ron then suggested that his wife helped him find some Gospel Tracts for these people in their own language. With the aid of a pastor, his wife was able to send him two boxes of equipment, gospel recordings, Bibles, and preaching of the word. The next time Ron gave out the candy, he began playing some of the songs. The eager school children began singing along with the recordings. After putting on the gospel recording in their language, he was thrilled to see that several individuals (three adults and one child) bowed their heads to receive Christ as Savior. "Major Candy" referred them to local pastors for discipleship. Many many more decisions followed, and many seeds were planted. There were so many seeds planted, that a church was even started in the area. Only the God of the Bible could use something so seemingly insignificant as pieces of Candy to bring people to Himself!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Quote of the Week...




"Your Life is a Sermon!"


I read this some time ago in a book that was given to me by my mother:

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day,

I'd rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.

The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;

Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;

and the best of all the preachers are men who live by their creeds,

For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.

I can soon learn how to do it if you'll let me see it done.

I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

And lectures you deliver may be very wise and true;

But I'd rather get my lesson by observing what you do.

For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,

but there's no misunderstanding how you live.

---Edgar Guest



Monday, May 31, 2010

Interesting poem




I came across this poem in one of the devotionals that I subscribe to through e-mail.


Assurance in Jesus
May Jesus assure you that as you follow Him

you will never meet a fear He cannot conquer,

you will never face an enemy He cannot defeat,

you will never enter a battle He cannot win,

you will never have a need He cannot meet,

you will never face a temptation He cannot overcome,

you will never have a burden He cannot lift,

you will never face a problem He cannot solve,

you will never have a bondage He cannot break,

you will never have a moment when He does not care,

you will never have a time when He is not there.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What does the Bible say about Illegal Immigration?


While the Bible doesn't say much about illegal immigration specifically, it does say a great deal about whether we should obey governments, and the answer is that we should always obey government except when they disobey God's law. The Question of the Week forum at www.gotquestions.org provides a good response to the how the Bible would probably treat the illegal immigration debate:

Romans 13:1-7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The only exception to this is when a law of the government forces you to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29). Illegal immigration is the breaking of a governmental law. There is nothing in Scripture that contradicts a nation having immigration laws. Therefore, it is a sin, rebellion against God, to illegally enter into another country.

Illegal immigration is definitely a controversial issue in the United States (and some other countries) today. Some argue that the immigration laws are unfair, unjust, and even discriminatory -- giving individuals justification to immigrate illegally. However, Romans 13:1-7 does not give any permission to violate a law just because it is unjust. Again, the issue is not the fairness of a law. The only biblical reason to violate a governmental law is if that law violates God's Word. When Paul wrote the Book of Romans, he was under the authority of the Roman Empire, led by perhaps the most evil of all the Roman emperors, Nero. Under that reign, there were many laws that were unfair, unjust, and/or blatantly evil. Still, Paul instructed Christians to submit to the government.

Are the immigration laws of the United States unfair or unjust? Some think so, but that is not the issue. All developed countries in the world have immigration laws, some more strict that the USA and some less strict than the USA. There is nothing in the Bible to prohibit a country from having completely open borders, or to have completely closed borders. Romans 13:1-7 also gives the government the authority to punish lawbreakers. Whether the punishment is imprisonment and/or deportation, or even something more severe, it is within the rights of the government to determine.

The vast majority of illegal immigrants in the United States have come for the purpose of having a better life, providing for their families, and escaping from poverty. These are good goals and motivations. However, it is not biblical to violate a law to achieve something "good." Caring for the poor, orphans, and widows is something the Bible commands us to do (Galatians 2:10; James 1:27; 2:2-15). However, the biblical fact that we are to care for the misfortunate does not mean we should violate the law in doing so. Supporting, enabling, and/or encouraging illegal immigration is, therefore, also a violation of God's Word. Those seeking to immigrate to another country should always obey the immigration laws of that country. While this may cause delays and frustrations, these reasons do not give a person the right to violate a law.

What is the biblical solution to illegal immigration? Simple...don't do it; obey the laws. If disobedience is not a biblical option, what can be done in regards to an unjust immgration law? It is completely within the rights of citizens to seek to change immigration laws. If it is your conviction that an immigration law is unjust, do everything that is legally within your power to get the law changed: pray, petition, vote, peacefully protest, etc. As Christians, we should be the first to seek to change any law that is unjust. At the same time, we are also to demonstrate our submission to God by obeying the government He has placed in authority over us.

While we as Christians hearts go out to people who are only seeking a better life, the sad reality of the situation is that the borders are also used by drug traffickers as well. Those in Mexico who want a better life really, in all honesty, would do better to go through the years of red tape necessary to become a legal citizen of this country. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We Could Learn a Lot From....

* Ruins in the city of Tangier in Morocco


Marcellus and Casian (circa A.D. 298)

In A.D. 298 in the city of Tigis (now called Tangier) there was a Roman Centurion by the name of Marcellus, who was a Christian. The Centurion was observing a banquet where there were sacrifices being offered to the Roman gods. Marcellus declared in a loud voice: "I serve Jesus Christ the eternal king." He proceeded to throw down his arms and added that "hence forward I cease to serve your Emporers, and I scorn to worship your gods of wood and stone, which are deaf and dumb idols. If such be the terms of service...then I refuse to serve." Marcellus was sentenced to death at his trial. A court clerk by the name of Cassian was busy recording the testimony of Marcellus when he angrily threw down his pen and notebook. When asked why, he came to the defense of Marcellus and declared that the sentence was unjust. He too was cast into prison, and he too was sentenced to death that same year in the same court where he had worked. He testified of the Christ as well. The two men were executed, but received their just reward in Christ's kingdom as martyrs for His cause.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Most people don't...



* Spend a little extra time outside of their schedule to listen to a stranger in the supermarket who is having a hard day.

* Wear themselves out in a kitchen because they believe that good food feeds hearts and warms bellies.

* Help their enemies.

* Serve overseas caring for lepers.

And yes, most people don't.....

* Build an Ark like Noah.

* Go up against a giant like Goliath who is three times your size and trust in God for their protection like David.

* Wash others dirty feet as Jesus did.

Finally, absolutely no one would be willing to.....

* Send their Son to be in harm's way for strangers.

* See that Son later have to endure a painful, humiliating public execution to die for the world's sins.

*****Except for God, that is****** He would be willing to, and He did.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

If You Continue to Serve Yourself....(Quote of the Week)



I have not posted a Quote of the Week to this blog in quite some time so I thought I should. I came across this little gem in a teaching series by Pastor Andy Stanley, who is the son of Pastor Charles Stanley, who was posted about here: http://ordinary80.blogspot.com/2009/08/we-could-learn-lot-from.html However, his son Andy Stanley has an effective ministry in his own right. In one of his teaching series, he made the following quote: If you continue to serve yourself, it won't be long before you are, in fact all by yourself. In other words, if you continue to do things for your own goals, only think of yourself, and only care about people for what you can get out of them, then yes, you will alienate them. This message of Mr. Stanley's is quite contrary to the "me-first" culture that we are all experiencing and are in.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

One more easter thought...





Just wait three days

-----------------------


Sitting in her usual place inside a small archway was the old flower lady. At her feet corsages and boutonnieres were parading on top of a spread-open newspaper. The flower lady was smiling, her wrinkled old face alive with some inner joy. I started down the stairs—then, on an impulse, turned and picked out a flower. As I put it in my lapel, I said, “You look happy this morning.” “Why not? Everything is good.” She was dressed so shabbily and seemed so very old that her reply startled me. “You’ve been sitting here for many years now, haven’t you? And always smiling. You wear your troubles well.” “You can’t reach my age and not have troubles,” she replied. “Only it’s like Jesus and Good Friday . . . ” She paused for a moment. “Yes?” I prompted. “Well, when Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, that was the worst day for the whole world. And when I get troubles I remember that, and then I think of what happened only three days later—Easter and our Lord arising. So when I get troubles, I’ve learned to wait three days . . . somehow everything gets all right again.” And she smiled good-bye. Her words still follow me whenever I think I have troubles. Give God a chance to help . . . wait three days.
NOTE: originally posted at http://www.ourprayer.org/three-days

Monday, April 05, 2010

A little belated but...


Happy Easter Everybody!



Thursday, April 01, 2010

What makes a Christian education Christian?



I had this rather interesting question posed to me during one of my required discussion forums for my online seminary classes at Liberty University. Here was my response:

To sum up, the purpose of Christian education is basically to produce, both individually and collectively, better followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I agree with one of the previous posters that "what makes education Christian" really does, indeed, lie in ensuring that Christ is the key ingredient.

Of course, one can be "educated" in a variety of areas, and just to be does not necessarily make the education Christian. One example is that I can be educated constantly that we are all just the product of billions of years of random chemical reactions, but that education would be secular and, I believe, untrue. Thus, for education to be Christian, it must have the right content.

Christian education, for it to be Christian, must be, as mentioned in lengthier terms above, Christ-centered. It also must be Bible-based, and it should uphold the Judeo-Christian ideals and promote the sacrificial death of our Savior on the Cross and help believers to have a continued walk with Him and point those who are yet to believe to Him as well. It should also, in my humble opinion, uphold the virtues of Christian service as well. We would all do well to remember that the "Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28) In that regard, a true Christian education will always strive to produce individuals who wish to imitate Christ, the supreme example for us all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We Could Learn a Lot From....




Tite Sufra and Stephen Ocean
-----------------------------

Tite Sufra and Stephen Ocean were two individuals who, on the seemingly ordinary day of February 7, 2010 were gunned down in Boynton Beach, Florida. Unfortunately, this murder wasn't the result of random gun violence or a drug deal gone bad, but was the result of the fact that these two were sharing the Gospel with the individual who ended up shooting them. Jeriah Woody, who was the recipient of the witnessing, shot and killed the two men for doing so. Praise be to God that we have individuals who are willing to share the Gospel and if you who stumble upon this blog happens to be Christian please pray for the individual who killed these two men.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Example of Medical Evangelism...



Is a Hospital officially called the Karolyn Kempton Memorial Hospital in the country of Togo. This much-needed hospital was born in 1985 in an populated area of Togo where no adequate medical care existed. Besides providing the important humanitarian work of providing an economically-depressed area such as Togo with top notch medical care, this hospital also provides a ministry by providing an open door for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the compassionate medical care they provide. On any given week they might treat the following ailments: congestive heart failure, Malaria, Typhoid fever, Anemia, and various infections. It is a fully-staffed missionary hospital, and is doing an excellent work. More information can be found at http://abwetogo.homestead.com/files/hbb.htm

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Real St. Patrick



The real St. Patrick was indeed the Patron Saint of Ireland. Born in either a Scottish or English family in the 4th Century A.D., he had a rather inauspicious beginning to his life. Early on he was captured by a man named Niall of the Nine Hostages and was sold into slavery in Ireland. He became a devout Christian for comfort while working in these awful conditions, and one day he had a dream that encouraged him to flee his captivity. There would, if he traveled on foot to a town called Wexford, be a ship waiting for him if he left is what the dream told him. He awoke, following the dream to the letter, and sure enough there was a ship.

After arriving in England, he was once again captured and sold into slavery. Escaping two months later, he spent the next seven years of his life roaming England seeking his destiny. During this time he furthered his education and studied Christianity in the Lerin Monastery in France.

During this time he also had another dream which encouraged him to go back to Ireland to minister to the people there. He would not, however, go back immediately and was eventually made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in 432. After this, he finally was able to lead a delegation back to his native Ireland.

The webpage http://www.chiff.com/a/st-patrick.htm explains the ensuing events well:

Patrick confronted the most powerful man in Ireland Laoghaire, The High King of Tara as he knew that if he could gain his support that he would be safe to spread the word throughout Ireland.

To get his attention Patrick and his followers lit a huge fire to mark the commencement of Spring. Tradition had it that no fire was to be lit until the Kings fire was complete, but Patrick defied this rule and courted the confrontation with the King. The King rushed into action and travelled with the intention of making war on the holy delegation. Patrick calmed the King and with quiet composure impressed the King that he had no other intention than that of spreading the word of the Gospel.

The King accepted the missionary, much to the dismay of the Druids who feared for their own power and position in the face of this new threat. They commanded that he make snow fall. Patrick declined to do so stating that this was Gods work. Immediately it began to snow, only stopping when Patrick blessed himself.

Still trying to convince the King of his religion, Patrick grasped at a shamrock growing on the ground. He explained that there was but one stem on the plant, but three branches of the leaf, representing the Belssed Trinity. The King was impressed with his sincerity and granted him permission to spread the word of his faith, although he did not convert to Christianity himself. Patrick and his followers were free to spread their faith throughout Ireland and did so to great effect. He drove paganism (symbolised by the snake) from the lands of Eireann.

Patrick died on March 17th in the year 461 at the age of 76. It is not known for sure where his remains were laid although Downpatrick in County Down in the North of Ireland is thought to be his final resting place. His influence is still felt to this day as Nations the world over commemorate him on March 17th of every year.


So it goes without saying that the real St. Patrick was a man of great faith! Happy St. Patrick's day to you all!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jesus of the Scars





This interesting little poem was done by Edward Shillito shortly after the horrors of the first World War in 1918.

Jesus of the Scars

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.


The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Monday, March 01, 2010

"Mr. Spammer, Jesus Loves You Too!"



Lately the comments section in this blog has been taken over by spammers. While I appreciate comments, I do not appreciate obvious spam. I will still allow anonymous people to post if they want, but every post will be moderated from here on out. With that being said, those who feel the need to post spam on things, whether they be a real human or a human who created a bot to do such things, are still a human being created in God's image regardless. Jesus died for every one of us, including druggies, prostitutes, ordinary people, spammers, scammers, gypsies, tramps, and thieves.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kayleigh's Story



One of the blogs I've been looking at lately is all about a little girl named Kayleigh who was born three months premature. Now, I imagine that it would hard enough for any baby to get born, but imagine how much harder it would be if you were three months premature! This little girl is truly a miracle, and my thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family. For anyone who would be interested in this little baby girl the link is here: http://kayleighannefreeman.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-01-14T13%3A48%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=5

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Does God hate Haiti?




Pat Robertson, who is an evangelical commentator on a program called the 700 Club, recently made some very eye-raising comments about the recent earthquake in Haiti. If you haven't heard already, Pat Robertson feels that Haiti's current suffering is a result of "a pact that country made with the devil in 1791." I want to tell anyone who visits this blog, is a regular on this blog, or is just stumbling upon this blog as a result of a Google search that most Christians, including myself, very very vehemently disagree with Mr. Robertson's approach and comments. The answer to whether or not God hates the country of Haiti can very confidently be answered in an emphatic and adamant NO; the answer to whether or not God loves the country and people of Haiti can be responded to in an enthusiastic and empowering YES, indeed He does. Rev. Albert Mohler, who is a man much more eloquent than myself, recently posted an article on this subject that describes my feelings on Haiti to the letter:

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God's direct and observable judgment.

God's rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment.

The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake -- at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense -- in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.

Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?

Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God's perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts -- there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe. The entire cosmos awaits the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out for the hope of the New Creation.

In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti -- and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ's people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ's people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God's message to Haiti.


The best thing that we as Christians can do for the country of Haiti is to prayer for the quickest recovery possible and for the relief efforts. We can pray that this tragedy will bring the Haitian people closer to Him. The one thing we should not do, however, is pretend to know the mind of God and say that this is His judgment on Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The fighter still remains...(Quote of the Week)



*Photo from Cinderella Man

Though it is a secular song, some of the lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel song "The Boxer" are very profound. "In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade, and he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down and cut him until he cried out in his anger and his shame, I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains."

You see, the fighter never gave up, even though every obstacle that was thrown his way made him want to, for sure. Another interesting facet to this song is that the fighter hypothetically only had his own strength to rely on. We as Christians don't have to rely on our strength. We can and should "cast all of our cares on Him, for he cares for us." (I Peter 5:7, paraphrase). Praise be to God that we have a friend closer than a brother and that we can do that!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Greatest Gift of All....




As we reflect on the holiday season that has just passed and the new year that is upon us, we would do well to remember what is really important during the holiday season and throughout the year as well. A dear friend of mine---actually my wife's grandmother---asked me a rather thought-provoking question: What was the FIRST Christmas gift? She said that a lot of people did not answer right, and interestingly enough, I stretched my mind trying to determine what the gifts of the three wise men were in order to answer her question. Finally, I said that I believed it to be the "gold, frankincense, and myrhh given by the wise men."

"That's a good answer," my wife's wise grandmother replied, "but not the correct one. The answer is that Jesus Himself was the first Christmas gift."

Wow! When one realizes the magnitude of that statement and the implications it is truly eye-opening and humbling. Three areas then become important:

1) The materialism and commercialization of Christmas becomes much less important to the believer.

After realizing that Jesus truly is the "Reason for the Season", so to speak, then everything secular becomes less important. What is important is thanking God for getting us through another year and most of all, thinking Him for Christ's sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary.

2) Doing good for others becomes more important to the believer.

Visiting shut-ins, helping the homeless, volunteering in a soup kitchen, stocking the food pantry, helping those who cannot the commercial aspect of Christmas, and helping ring the bell for the Salvation Army become more important for the believer as a ministry during the holiday season. The reason? It can and does expand the testimony of the believer to the Salvation that is in Jesus Christ. We must all bear in mind that we never what good things and good works we do for others might have eternal value, because as James states, "faith without works is dead." (James 2:17)

3) Letting your light shine becomes more important to the believer.

As Christians, we need to be people of peace, love, and joy. During the Christmas season and the rest of the new year, we must exhibit the fruits of the spirit in all that we say and do and pray for God to help us in these areas as well. To all who are reading this who are Christians, I pray God's blessings on you this new year and that He will use in a mighty way!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas (and an interesting article excerpt by Bayless Conley)









The holidays can be a depressing time of year for many people, even, surprisingly, for Christian people. Although Christmas for the Christian is a time of great rejoicing because of commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, many individuals can get to the end of this year and feel like they have run a marathon and that they have had a "kick me" sign on their back all year long. Those feelings are nothing to be ashamed of and are not uncommon. I think an interesting excerpt by Christian devotional writer Bayless Conley can be useful to the Christian in dealing with the trials of our everyday world. He begins by talking about Jesus, and the article is presented now:

In Matthew 3, we find Jesus at an absolutely critical time of transition in His life. We have not heard from Him since He was 12 years old. There has been about 30 quiet, unnoticed years where He presumably was working in His father's carpentry shop.

That is when we read in Matthew 3:16-4:1,

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Jesus is about to enter public ministry. The sick will be healed; the poor will have the gospel preached to them; miracles will be worked; the Father will be revealed. So from this point, the battle is on. And we are given a bird's-eye view of the conflict that occurs between Christ and the devil, which we will look at in more detail in the next several devotionals.

But I want to submit something to you today. If it seems that all hell has broken loose in your life, maybe, just maybe, it's because you are on the verge of a breakthrough in your life. Maybe it's a time of very important transition where God wants to lift you into a place where there is going to be greater influence and greater impact through your life.


You see, at about this time last year I was coming to a very difficult crossroads in my life, and yes, I did feel like I had that "kick me" sign on my back. Without going into too much detail my previous chosen career was not working out and I was having a large degree of personal trouble as well. However, I found out in a strong way that God is faithful and He had other, more fulfilling plans for me. If you are a regular on this blog or just a visitor just passing through on the information superhighway, I pray that God will richly bless you this holiday...Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Archaeological Evidence for the Bible Part 2 (New Testament)





Existence of Jesus:

*In Jewish historian Josephus' work the Antiquities, written about the same time as the Gospels, the following is mentioned:

About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him, and the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day." (Josephus—The Essential Works, P. L. Maier ed./trans.).

*Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote the following: born 52 A.D., wrote a history of the reign of Nero in 110 A.D. "...Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberias was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time only to break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself, .. " (Annals 15:44)

*Suetonius: AD. 120. In his Life of Claudius: "As the Jews were making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."

*Pliny the Younger: Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, wrote the emperor in A.D. 112 about the sect of Christians, who were in "the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day, before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God."

Although a lot of these references were written about the same time as the Gospels what is truly fascinating is that these references are OUTSIDE of the Biblical account yet match them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Archaeological Evidence for the Bible Part 1 (Old Testament)



Surprisingly, there is a lot of historical evidence for the places named in the Bible, especially in the book of Genesis. Here are some of the recent finds:

* Ebla tablets were discovered in the early 1970s which verified the existence of the "cities on the plain"---Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela—also called Zoar.

* Ebla also made mention of the city of Canaan, which many liberal scholars had said earlier was not in use at that and was used incorrectly in the Bible.

* A papyrus was found in Egypt in the nineteenth century which describes in detail many of the plagues and the Exodus itself. This papyrus, which currently resides in a Dutch museum, is known as the Ipuwer Papyrus, which was written by an Egyptian who was an eye-witness to these events.

* The Hittites were once thought to be a biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered in Turkey

* In 1993, archaeologists uncovered a 9th century B.C. inscription at Tel Dan. The words carved into a chunk of basalt refer to the "House of David" and the "King of Israel." And the Bible's version of Israelite history after the reign of David's son, Solomon, is believed to be based on historical fact because it is corroborated by independent account of Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions.

* Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablet was found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus' son.

* The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea. Evidence at the site seems consistent with the biblical account: "Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens." The destruction debris was about 3 feet thick and buildings were burned from fires that started on the rooftops. Geologist Frederick Clapp theorizes that that pressure from an earthquake could have spewed out sulfur-laden bitumen (similar to asphalt) known to be in the area through the fault line upon which the cities rest. The dense smoke reported by Abraham is consistent with a fire from such material, which could have ignited by a spark or ground fire.

Reference: http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/maps/archaeological-and-external-evidence

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We Could Learn a Lot From....

Evangelist Wally Tope




Evangelist Wally Tope, who had a history of risky evangelistic ventures smuggling Bibles into communist countries, died on this day in 1992 trying to stop the L.A. riots. The LA Times carried the original story:

Street evangelist Wallace Tope Jr.who was beaten and kicked when he tried to stop looters during the 1992 riots has died after lying in a coma for 19 months, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Wednesday.

Prosecutors said they have not decided what additional charges may be filed against Fidel Ortiz, 22, and Leonard Sosa, 24, both of whom already have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and aggravated mayhem in the attack on Tope.

Tope's death is the 55th fatality linked to the riots. Officials at the Pasadena convalescent hospital where he died Nov. 24 at the age of 54 said he never regained consciousness after falling into the coma a few minutes after the April 30, 1992, attack.

Police at first were mystified as to why an evangelist such as Tope would venture into a dangerous riot zone to urge an end to the violence. But his friends said he had a history of risky evangelical missions smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union and Christian literature into Eastern Europe before the fall of communism there.

The friends said that when the riots began last year in Los Angeles and Tope saw the looting on television, he asked associates at William Carey International University, a Christian college in Pasadena, to join him on a pilgrimage to halt the violence. When they refused to go, he went alone. Police say Tope drove his battered 12-year-old car to a shopping center near Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood and started passing out religious pamphlets.

When looters broke into a drugstore, Tope confronted Ortiz, told him to repent and warned him that he would go to hell if he continued looting, according to court records that include statements by witnesses and police. The statements indicate that Ortiz threatened and punched Tope, who left hurriedly for his car.

Sosa, who was watching from a distance, joined his friend, Ortiz, and the two men chased Tope, beating and kicking him for several minutes, according to the statements.

"This wasn't some hit-and-run type thing," said Los Angeles Police Detective Ernie Basset, who investigated the attack. "They really thumped on this guy for awhile." A bystander flagged down an ambulance. The attendants said Tope immediately began proselytizing, telling them they would find their salvation in Jesus. "God bless you," he said softly on the way to the hospital before lapsing into the coma from which he never recovered.

"I know one thing," Tope's brother, Dennis, said later. "If anyone makes it to heaven, it will be my brother."

Sosa and Ortiz, both of whom wbrked as warehouse workers for a concessionaire at Dodger Stadium, were arrested a few weeks later after co-workers heard them bragging about the beating, police said. The two defendants have been held since their arrests on bail of $750,000 apiece. Marvin L. Part and Harvey E. Byron, attorneys for Sosa and Ortiz, have argued that the defendants did not plan the attack and did not intend to injure Tope so severely.

"They are two working guys who never had been in trouble with the law before . . . who were involved in actions that are still not entirely clear ... who had a momentary lapse of rationality," Part said. "They feel terrible about what happened."

A memorial service for Tope is scheduled for Dec. 10 at William Carey University.


While this is a sad story, Mr. Tope was and continues an excellent story to pattern after. He was a man more than willing to take a bold stand for the Christian Gospel!