LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

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Location: Phila Metro, Pennsylvania, United States

Tentmaking Evangelist (Architect). An Evangelist with the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 31st year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, and economic situations, and the producer of two weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many programs on the Internet. John is also a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 38th year working on a wide variety of projects. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 50 years and served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on It's Your Call TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage.

Friday, April 29, 2011

OUR ROYAL WEDDING

I was struck by the absolute wonder of the Cinderella-style wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I have commented to a couple of people that if the people at the service would take the words of the archbishop seriously, England would be a different place next week. He left out a lot I wish he had said, but he did say a lot, and it was all good. As we know, though, the gap between what is professed and what is lived is often a very wide one.

One of the sermon points was that each marriage has a King and Queen, not just the Royal one. God views marriage very highly, and each of us has the opportunity to have the same commitment and mutual adoration as William and Kate. Marriage is highly esteemed in God’s eyes. In fact, it is a public declaration of commitment before God and man to work out the inevitable difficulties of two becoming one. I would add that people who live together without marriage are not only shunning the support of the public before whom married people take their vows, but shunning God himself by not taking the vows he ordained, vows he has commanded so that our intimacies be within the marriage bed and be undefiled. To be without the blessing of God AND man is surely not an advised way to go.

We may not now ride in an elegant carriage or have $30 million to spend on our wedding, or the attention of a couple billion people, but we can have every bit of the rest right here, right now. As they saw on the infomercials – “But wait. There’s more!”

The splendid fact is that not too long from now (May 21st if you, unlike I, believe Harold Camping) we will be with King Jesus, coronated by his Father to rule and reign forever. The fact is that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and as our Lord are engaged to marry Jesus Christ. Now that is a REAL royal wedding. One that will last. One where the King will hold us forever, and pull any of that stuff Henry VIII did. Our King will not step out as Prince Charles did, but shower us with eternal love and eternal security forever.

Further, even though we are “commoners” as Kate is, we do not have to worry about not being a Princess. He is crowning us, and giving us an eternal home that puts one of man’s best efforts, the opulent Westminster Abbey, to shame. Aren’t you glad that our King, Jesus Christ, did what we read in the Old Testament as he describes his love for Israel, a shadow of his love for the church?

Isaiah 61

10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.


Ezekiel 16

4 On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. 5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. 6 Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” 7 I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked. 8 Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. 9 I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. 10 I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. 14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.

I did not include the rest of Ezekiel’s writing here, which details how Israel took all this and prostituted herself to the pagans. Could you imagine Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, going to some college party and hooking up with some loser smoking pot? Giving up the adulation and respect of so many to spurn the one who brought her into a royal life and who obviously adores her and who was willing to covenant with her forever? I certainly doubt that she would remotely consider such a thing. Yet, Christians by the boatloads are in love with so many besides Jesus Christ. So many other suitors get their attention, their time, their love, and their resources. TV, Movies, Sports, Business, Churchianity, the ‘good life’, you name it. We have to die to all these things if we are to raised up to heavenly places to rule and reign with Christ! You see, Christ is going to SHARE his authority with us, and show us how to reign his way! He is giving us new heavenly bodies to be like his. He is showing us the fullness of our salvation. As my namesake said so well, “Even so come, Lord Jesus!”

After today, I am looking forward to my Royal Wedding more than ever. Are you committed to the Lord Jesus Christ? DO NOT SETTLE FOR ANYONE LESS!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

IT IS F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D !!!

(this message was delivered on Good Friday, April 22, 2011, at St. David Roman Catholic Church in Willow Grove. Some additional material I would have presented with a longer time frame is included here in italics. Many thanks to those of you who came or who prayed for me – the message was very well received and for that I am most grateful. I do hope it is a blessing to you.)

In John 19:30, Jesus said “It is finished”. Greetings my friends in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is the time of year when some see Christ as a victim and as weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. We just heard that only God could have withstood the suffering and abuse that Jesus took on himself.

Jesus spoke the truth that caused many to become extremely angry with him. They tried to push him off a cliff and Jesus escaped their grasp on any number of occasions. He certainly could easily have escaped this time as well. I pastor I heard a couple of weeks ago remarked that everything surrounding the arrest of Jesus reinforced his authority.

When he identified himself by saying “I AM He”, the mob fell back – in fact there is a painting in THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by J.J. Tissot published in 1899 that he showed on the screen with Jesus standing alone with hundreds of people on the ground around him. Priests, elders, soldiers, even Judas himself. Simply walking away would have been a cakewalk. But Jesus did not come to walk away - he came to die, so he submitted to the soldiers and went willingly. Further, he told them to take him but leave his followers alone. And so they did, even though Peter had sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And wasn’t it just like Jesus to restore that ear before they left, just so the soldiers knew he had the authority of heaven operating through him? Man is so sinful that the soldiers went about business as usual after first-hand experiencing the power of Christ, as did the synagogue rulers who just a few days later conceived the lie that the disciples stole the body even though they knew he was alive However, Judas had the sense to regret betraying Jesus even before then.

Jesus came to show us God in the flesh, to teach us what God is really after as opposed to what the religious systems of that day demanded, to teach by example how to do the works of God, and of course to suffer, to die, and to be resurrected.

When every single one of the prophecies concerning Christ had been fulfilled, and his suffering was complete, Jesus Christ said “IT IS FINISHED”. Three days later God the Father raised him from the dead and we now can live in eternal life because of that resurrection.

However, this phrase “IT IS FINISHED” has some ramifications we need to look into briefly.

The first is that there are a growing number of people who teach that everyone in the world is saved from eternal damnation because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rob Bell is one of these in his book "Love Wins". I would, just like the apostles desired and just as you would yourselves, that all men would indeed be saved, as the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

However, it is imperative that all people appropriate the sacrifice of Christ to cover their own sins. We have to choose to be crucified with Christ and not to walk away. If we died with him, we shall be raised to newness of life. This wonderful deposit of a new life in Christ is simply one that God will not make unilaterally.

It is like going to the bank. Sometimes I joke with the teller when they ask me for my ID when making a deposit. I tell them that if anyone wants to put funds in my account to let them and for sure not to stop them! Of course, the reason that they are strict about knowing who is making a deposit is that some folks will deposit a bad check into your account, find a way to withdraw the cash, and you are left with covering a bad check.

Jesus Christ will not make a deposit of his blood and his righteousness into your account without your express permission. He is a gentleman and does not force his way on you. Just as he allowed that mob who saw his glory to go their own way, so he will allow you to go your own way. He gave us a free will, and he does not force himself on us. He desires a love relationship with us and while he woos us and pursues us, love does not force itself on another.

You see, the Holy One who will make the deposit of eternal life and His Holy Spirit into our account when we ask him to is the same one who will make withdrawals. And he requires our signature to do that.

That is the mystery of “It is Finished”. HIS work is finished. He is sitting in heaven at the right hand of God the Father. However, as Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, I beseech you therefore brothers by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. God expects us not to simply store up his righteousness in the bank of heaven until we die – he wants us to bless this world and the people in it by causing us to be poured out as an offering, just as he himself was poured out.

Many do not understand the full meaning of what it is to be poured out. Like the crowds of the day, they loved seeing the miracles, being part of getting free food, free healing, and free deliverance, but when he said they must east his body and drink his blood, they made themselves scarce in a real hurry. Many today want Christ for the goodies, but are not willing to be crucified with him, to give up earthly pleasures when required, and to stand for the truths of the gospel no matter what the cost. Jesus wasn’t thrilled about the pouring out either. He asked the Father to remove that cup if it were possible. He did not enjoy his suffering. The Bible says he ENDURED the cross, despising the shame. He was willing to die for the joy set before him. We must be willing for him to make withdrawals from our account – suffering and persecution when it benefits the kingdom of God.

When I taught teens in a Pakistani New Life Church, I learned that when someone in Pakistan was killed for the sake of Christ, it was a celebration for someone to be so honored as to be counted worthy to give their life for the sake of the gospel. Most of us flee not only suffering, but even perhaps shutting off the TV when the Lord simply wants to have a heart-to-heart talk with us. We really have to understand that along with the wonderful benefits of our faith, we must be willing to take up our cross daily to follow him. Otherwise, the work he called us to is not finished.

This living sacrifice of our lives is acceptable to God, and the good things done in us come through the power of the same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.

Yes, Jesus said “It is finished”, and his work indeed is – however, what we have to do is not yet finished, but we should certainly aim to finish it as well.

Paul said in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” We all know the steep price Paul paid to follow the Lord,
But he willingly followed through and was faithful.

He later wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I would hope that each of us could say the same before we leave here to live with Christ in heaven.

In order to do that, we have to have our character conformed to that of Jesus Christ. And as I noted when I was with you last year on Good Friday, the last words of Christ before he ascended were to preach the gospel in the whole world once we are filled with his Holy Spirit. To begin in our own city and proceed to our region, our nation, and finally to all the nations of the world. So remember this afternoon the finished work of Jesus Christ as you work to run your race and finish your course so that the whole earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord.

For our Easter Drama - laying Saturday, April 23, 2011 through Friday midnight, April 29, 2011, log on to our website - www.kingdomgospelministries.org and hit the HEAR A DRAMA NOW link in the lower left corner!

WHAT IS GOD SHAKING IN YOUR LIFE?

Date: Wed Mar 16 14:37:43 2011

(this message is adapted and condensed from one I delivered at Johnsville Assembly of God on Sunday, March 13, 2011)

One is struck by the massive damage in Japan with the recent earthquakes. Though the quake was 1,000 times stronger than the one that killed hundreds of thousands in Haiti, construction in Japan is much more rigorous than in Haiti, or one could not imagine the utter devastation that would have taken place. The tsunami that followed was a major double blow that exacerbated the situation greatly.

Oddly enough, a pastor in Japan has a take on what happened that is totally different from what one might hear in the news media. I received an email from Japan with the following verses from Hebrews 12: ì25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ìOnce more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.î 27 The words ìonce moreî indicate the removing of what can be shakenóthat is, created thingsóso that what cannot be shaken may remain.î

The pastorís concern was for the spiritual welfare of the people, the vast majority of whom have steadfastly resisted the gospel. They listen politely, but usually will not commit their lives to Christ. The Pastor wants to see spiritual good come out of this. There is for sure Christian involvement in relief efforts, but the opportunity must not be lost to present Christ when someoneís world has been shaken so violently.

Many people think that the shaking is some kind of punishment. Not so. It is to remove that which will not stand and to leave the eternal standing alone. Letís see the rest of the Holy Spiritís thoughts as written in vs. 28 and 29: ì28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our ìGod is a consuming fire.î

Anyone who has walked with God any length of time knows that there WILL be shaking. There are financial shakings, marital shakings, health shakings, and all other manner of shakings. I am being shaken right now in many ways due to the severely depressed economy which has hit my work sector worse than most any other. I just visited a friend whose heart failed him and who is now in a hospice. I have a friend who is at severe odds with his wife spiritually, and you could multiply each of these and many others by the thousands if not by the millions.

That is why we need to pray much for each other. I used to think that God called some people to be intercessors and the rest of us could lead more normal lives. I donít think that way any more. In fact, I devote most of my times in prayer to interceding for other people. We live in serious times and we must follow the examples of Christ and the Apostles and the early church in terms of devoting ourselves to prayer. Prayer changes things.

We also really need to get to the heart of what we need to do so that what we do really does remain. I am sure all of you are familiar with Ephesians 2:8 and 9: ì8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithóand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godó 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.î We know that is by grace, not works, that we are saved. No matter how well reasoned or how beautiful the works we come up with are, they cannot save us. However, many of us do not jettison those works. Instead, we view them as a means to sanctification rather than a means to salvation. We do the works we came up with to move toward maturity and feel quite good about it, thank you. We arenít trusting those works to save us, but we are in love with them nonetheless. We really need to read verse 10 to get the whole message: ì10 For we are Godís handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.î Ah, ìworksî again, but these are not works of our design and choosing, they are ìGodís worksî that he designed and which he prepared for each of us to do. God may well have something for you to do that you never dreamed of or which you thought you were not very good at. Only God knows what we should be doing with our lives, and we need to ask him and not assume anything.

The challenge we face is that we take the works we come up with and incorporated them into religious systems that everyone has to conform to in order to pass muster with us. The problem isnít often faith ñ we have had Ephesians 2:8-9 drummed into us. It is what we ADD to faith. We add all manner of things of our choosing, and the results are not pretty. In fact, despite all the talk about unity, there have been a very large number of new denominations formed over the last few years, and unfortunately a plurality if not an outright majority of those are Pentecostal. Compare this to only 17 religious groups in America in 1790. While some divisions are over major issues, others are over the ìformulasî used over baptisms and even much more minor issues.

With so much that we add to faith not being Biblical imperatives, we need to see what God wants us to add to our faith. Yes, Virginia, adding to faith is a Biblical concept. Letís check out II Peter 1, starting with verse five: ì5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.î

I donít know about you, but I want to be effective and productive in my knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I urge you to only add to your faith what God wants added, and that you press in close to him in these serious times. We need to let him shake out of us everything that does not fit his master plan for our live so that the fruit and deeds we do that build up the Kingdom of God will be all that remains.

May God bless you!

ARE YOU CHRISLAMIC, CHRISTOPHOBIC, OR CHRISTOCENTRIC?

Date: Mon Feb 21 22:18:36 2011

There has been a considerable move toward inclusion in evangelical circles. The wake-up call came when Carlton Pearson of Oral Roberts University admitted he did not believe that those outside of Christ were condemned, and similar thinking has been spreading like a cancer through Christian institutions of higher learning as well as many churches.

Robert H. Schueller had his affirming dialogues with the Muslims which combined with his other aberrant theology brought bankruptcy upon the Crystal Cathedral, Then Rick Warren asks forgiveness of Allah and believes Christians can pursue common goals with Jews and Muslims - of course leaving out Jesus in the process. (I knew there was a reason I never bought or read those "Purpose Driven" books!)

We have now heard that some mainline churches are actually placing the Quran alongside the Bible in the pews! Churches in diverse places of the United States are now openly promoting a Chrislamic gospel! It is the most foolish of apostasies and birthed in extreme ignorance both of what true Christianity is and what Islam really is.

Nobody is preaching hate or intolerance, only allegiance to our calling in Christ to win the Jew and the Greek, the Muslims and the Buddhists, the Hindus and the Sikhs, and all others, not to equate Christ to false religions and false Gods. Christ alone is the way to the Father, which brings us to the second term of the day ñ Christophobic.

People are not offended talking about God. Krushchev talked about God. So did Gorbachev. So do almost all American politicians and celebrities when they receive their awards or athletes when they perform well. Sometimes the name of Jesus actually makes it in. Jesus my ìfriendî. Jesus "my most admired philosopher". Even Simon and Garfunkel included "Jesus" in their hit song "Mrs. Robinson". What is important is what usually goes UNSAID. That is CHRIST. Jesus Christ. Paul made those words almost inseparable. Christ means "The Anointed One". Not ìanî anointed one. He is the one and the only. The only God in the flesh, the only way to salvation, the only intermediary between God and man. That title of our Lord God is avoided like the plague. We need to use his title often, and make the words Jesus and Christ as inseparable as Paul did.

In other words, we need to be Christocentric. Christ is the all in all. God the Father crowned him with glory and honor and made him Lord of All. Jesus Christ is the express image of the Father, full of grace and truth. Let us be certain to give Jesus Christ all the glory and honor. If we are in Jesus Christ, we are betrothed to him. He will marry us. As the bride of Christ, we flirt with no others. We do not flirt with Judaism, we do not flirt with Islam, we do not flirt with naturalism, Spiritism, Theosophy or any other system of thought. We are devoted fully to the Lord Christ. He alone is our joy, He alone is our fount of truth, Our God is a jealous God, and he will not tolerate you if you share your love with any other. Some people think they are more tolerant than God is. You know, they are right. In the end, God will destroy all who reject the Lord Jesus Christ or who have other gods besides him. Remember the first commandment? Not a bad idea these days to keep yourselves out of God's woodshed. Blessed be the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

IS THIS THE LAST CHRISTMAS

Date: Fri Dec 24 18:37:26 2010

The famous 19th century minister, Dr. Charles H. Spurgeon is quoted as saying, "In many cases sheer fanaticism has been the result of exclusively dwelling on prophecy, and probably more men have gone mad on that subject than on any other religious question."

Most of you probably know that Harold Camping of Family Radio has predicted that Christ will return May 21, 2011. That would mean this is the last Christmas! It is hard enough to get people to say "Merry Christmas" now - with all the Christians gone, the world will have its way and they can see what Macy's bottom line would really be just celebrating Hanukah and Kwanza!

Now, I believe Dr. Spurgeon's wisdom has been amply proven with the Y2K and endless other prophecies that never came to be. In fact, I don't think it would be a bad idea to make a list of all the false prophecies and who made them so we won't be alarmed when a new one is making the rounds and so we will know who has a less than stellar track record. Such, of course, applies to Mr. Camping's previous prophecies which did not come to be. Then and now, I am no follower of Harold Camping, and not simply on his convoluted reasoning in setting the May 21st date, but as strange as it may seem, I do earnestly hope with all my heart that he is right this time and that this IS in fact the last Christmas and we will be living in incorruptible bodies on May 21, 2011 - in fact, I would be even happier if it were TODAY! Even so come Lord Jesus!

Regardless of whether or not this is the last Christmas, we should live as though it were. We are to live EACH DAY as though it is our last! We should be certain this Christmas to let no loving thought left unsaid, no gift we want to give someone ungiven, and no adoration of Christ left unoffered. We must leave no sin unconfessed, no command unobeyed, and no burden for prayer unprayed. We cannot count on another day let alone another Christmas. Let's make THIS Christmas Day the very best Christmas ever!

That said, we must also be prepared if Christmas is celebrated into the next century by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We must work so that every tribe and tongue hears the gospel, concentrate so that we are faithful in discipling the nations and obeying the Lord in everything, and advocate and pray so that religious freedom is maintained and expanded in our nation and in all the world to facilitate an even greater expansion of the Kingdom of God worldwide for all those who come after us.

Have a Merry Christmas this year - and, who knows, maybe next! God bless you!

CHRISTMAS THEN AND NOW

Date: Fri Dec 10 13:47:01 2010

One could say that all people have faith in something. They believe in all manner of religions. They believe in luck. They believe in people. They believe in themselves. They even believe in God.

But Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift. Mary had faith. Joseph had faith. The shepherds had faith. Simeon and Anna had faith. It did not originate from them ñ it was the gift of God. Soon after that first Christmas, the Wise Men came. They also had the gift of faith. But Herod did NOT have the gift of faith in Jesus. His hatred for competition including Jesus originated with him. He sought to kill Jesus and so did many others. But none were successful in taking Jesusí life. Instead, he offered himself up freely at the appointed time for our precious salvation.

Paul had faith in God, but like so many others, did not really know him at all. He had no real knowledge of God until he received the gift of faith from the very hands of God himself. Paulís new life changed the world. Yet many remained without that gift. They sought to kill him and in fact came close many times until they finally did ñ but only when God was ready for that to happen, and not even one single moment before.

Many today say they have faith. ìKeep the faith Babyî. ìGuidepostsî faith. ìReadersí Digestî faith. ìFoxholeî faith. Faith in positive thinking. Faith in themselves. Faith in religion. Faith in a man upstairs whom they believe occasionally makes them feel secure and fulfilled. But none of those types of faith is saving faith.

Now I belong to a company of faith who was given that gift of faith in Jesus Christ by God himself. It is not of ourselves, it is indeed the gift of God. We believe in him because he enabled us to. His word brought life. His word changed us. He gave us a new heart and a new mind. He has restored our bodies. He put the Holy Spirit within us. God has made himself manifest in us. Yet many hate that faith. They despise it and seek to remove it, to marginalize it, to trip it up. Some even kill all those with the audacity to be loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ. Those without the sword use the pen, the microphone, the camera, legislative initiatives, and words of indignity. At every challenge of life, Satan and his minions join our accusers and are at the ready to suggest we blame God and trash the precious gift of faith we have received.

But this IS indeed the season for faith. Not a Hallmark faith or a generic faith but a faith that moves mountains; a faith that changes lives; a faith that puts us in love with our precious Jesus Christ who has saved us, healed us, and made us his own. Tis the season to celebrate Godís wonderful gift of saving faith to us and to ask that he bestow that gift on others. We can help in the delivery of that gift! Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The preached word raises saving faith in people just as saturation in the systems of the world raises false types of faith that do not and in fact can not save any person from any thing.

We can declare his excellencies. We can speak of so great a salvation. We can exalt the Lord. But will we? Priest or prophet, preacher or plasterer, neighbor or neophyte, family member or friend, let us all declare Godís truths in word, in conversation, and by example, so the glory of God can fill the whole earth this Christmas. Our faith looks up to you, Lord Jesus! We believe! Praise the Lord!

TWO KINDS OF ATHEISTS

Date: Wed Sep 15 14:49:26 2010

"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 Corinthians 2:6-8

I was inspired to write this article after speaking to a colleague who had attended an Episcopalian Church, but who now proclaimed himself an Atheist. I am writing this article for him as well as for many others who find themselves losing faith. Neo-atheists such as Christopher Hitchens sell many books and frequent talk shows arguing their points. They are the media darlings and so he was voted the 5th highest intellectual in the country. There was a time when the greatest intellectual heft was found in those who argued theological points. Many years of rigorous learning in the classics, languages, and debate has empowered many starting with the Apostle Paul, a prodigious intellect. Paul went head to head with the best in Greece and many others with his elegant defenses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From Paul to St. Augustine to Luther to C.S. Lewis, Christian thinkers have changed the world, and always for the GOOD!

Some Christians today have fled rigorous academic pursuits, and that is a shame. However, Godís knowledge supercedes all as was shown through Jesus Christ. Jesus may not have had ìhigherî education, but he studied the Old Testament and had mastered it. By the time he was 12, he dumbfounded the intelligentsia of his time, much like Jackie Evancho dumbfounded the Americaís Got Talent competition singing music no ten year old is supposed to sing with a voice like that. When Jesus matured and began his formal ministry, all the brightest minds conspired to try to trip him up. They never did. They eventually stopped even trying.

You see, God is the greatest intellect of all. He is the creator, and scientists are still amazed as they see irreducible complexity at more and more microscopic levels. God's intellect was manifested through Jesus Christ, just as it was through the 12 Apostles - none of whom was educated, but all of whom changed the world and worked miracles of healing, deliverance and faith.

Dr. Alister McGrath wrote a book about Christian myths called, Intellectuals Don't Need God and Other Modern Myths. He said,

"Christianity is not a verbal religion; it is experiential. It centers on a transformative encounter of the believer with the risen Christ. From the standpoint of Christian theology, however, that experience comes before the words that generate, evoke, and inform it. Christianity is Christ-centered, not book centered; if it appears to be book-centered it is because it is through the words of Scripture that the believer encounters and feeds upon Jesus Christ. Scripture is a means, not an end; a channel, not what is channeled.

"Most intellectuals throughout history have found God at the base of what they discovered. After all, without God, how do you discover information? There is no credible explanation for how information came to be other than through God himself. The order and predictability and knowability of things is consistent only in terms of an omniscient creator."

While I would not claim theological confluence with all and perhaps not even a majority of these scientists, all believed in God as creator and in the book of Genesis. The breadth of knowledge and intellect shows that thinking people can believe in God, and actually most often do. The Bible says, "The Fool has said in his heart there is no God". These folks are far from fools.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Scientific method.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) (WOH) Physics, Astronomy
Johann Kepler (1571-1630) (WOH) Scientific astronomy
Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) Inventor
Walter Charleton (1619-1707) President of the Royal College of Physicians
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) Hydrostatics; Barometer
Sir William Petty (1623-1687) Statistics; Scientific economics
Robert Boyle (1627-1691) (WOH) Chemistry; Gas dynamics
John Ray (1627-1705) Natural history
Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) Professor of Mathematics
Nicolas Steno (1631-1686) Stratigraphy
Thomas Burnet (1635-1715) Geology
Increase Mather (1639-1723) Astronomy
Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712) Medical Doctor, Botany
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) (WOH) Dynamics; Calculus; Gravitation law; Reflecting telescope; Spectrum of light
John Flamsteed (1646-1719) Greenwich Observatory Founder; Astronomy
William Derham (1657-1735) Ecology
Cotton Mather (1662-1727) Physician
John Harris (1666-1719) Mathematician
John Woodward (1665-1728) Paleontology
William Whiston (1667-1752) Physics, Geology
John Hutchinson (1674-1737) Paleontology
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) Physics, Meteorology
Carolus Linneaus (1707-1778) Taxonomy; Biological classification system
Jean Deluc (1727-1817) Geology
Richard Kirwan (1733-1812) Mineralogy
John Dalton (1766-1844) Atomic theory; Gas law
Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) Educator
William Kirby (1759-1850) Entomologist
Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) Geographer
Benjamin Barton (1766-1815) Botanist; Zoologist
John Dalton (1766-1844) Father of the Modern Atomic Theory; Chemistry
Charles Bell (1774-1842) Anatomist
John Kidd (1775-1851) Chemistry
Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) Thermokinetics; Safety lamp
Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) Physician; Physiologist
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) (WOH) Electro magnetics; Field theory, Generator
Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) Telegraph
Joseph Henry (1797-1878) Electric motor; Galvanometer
Henry Rogers (1808-1866) Geology
James Glaisher (1809-1903) Meteorology
Philip H. Gosse (1810-1888) Ornithologist; Zoology
Sir Henry Rawlinson (1810-1895) Archeologist
James Simpson (1811-1870) Gynecology, Anesthesiology
Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert (1817-1901) Agricultural Chemist
James Joule (1818-1889) Thermodynamics
Thomas Anderson (1819-1874) Chemist
Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900) Astronomy
George Stokes (1819-1903) Fluid Mechanics
Rudolph Virchow (1821-1902) Pathology
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) (WOH) Genetics
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) (WOH) Bacteriology, Biochemistry; Sterilization; Immunization
Henri Fabre (1823-1915) Entomology of living insects
William Thompson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) Energetics; Absolute temperatures; Atlantic cable
William Huggins (1824-1910) Astral spectrometry
Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866) Non-Euclidean geometries
Joseph Lister (1827-1912) Antiseptic surgery
Balfour Stewart (1828-1887) Ionospheric electricity
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) (WOH) Electrodynamics; Statistical thermodynamics
P.G. Tait (1831-1901) Vector analysis
John Bell Pettigrew (1834-1908) Anatomist; Physiologist
John Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919) Similitude; Model Analysis; Inert Gases
Sir William Abney (1843-1920) Astronomy
Alexander MacAlister (1844-1919) Anatomy
A.H. Sayce (1845-1933) Archeologist
John Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945) Electronics; Electron tube; Thermionic valve

There are many scientists today, including sizable contingent from Asia who believe in the Bible totally, so do not believe the media who keeps hammering that no one of consequence believes the Bible anymore.

Now folks like Christopher Hitchens mock God and all religion. One of his tomes is entitled, God is Not Great. Now to be sure, I probably agree with a lot of what he has to say about Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and the like. I would also be in confluence with criticisms of those who practice nominal Christianity but who deny the inerrancy of scripture, who follow vain traditions, and who have done much evil in this world. That is why true Christians may be as much of an enemy of ìreligionî as Christopher Hitchens. Yet, Hitchens, like Bertrand Russell in whose heritage he operates, fails to distinguish between dead and contradictory religion and true believers in God who demonstrate the fruits of knowing God. In the manner of a pompous fool, he drags out many recycled and perhaps a few original arguments of alleged inconsistencies in the Bible and arguments made by skeptics against the existence of God.

Time does not permit a comprehensive rebuttal, but one argument Hitchens seemed particularly proud of appears in God is Not Great. Matthew 2:13 says that right after the wise men left, Joseph had a dream and fled to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until Herod died. Luke says that after everything that was required by the law was done ñ and that means Jesus being circumcised the 8th day and Mary's 30 days of purification - Joseph and Mary went to Nazareth. You can feel his glee and self-satisfaction that Jesus could not have been in Egypt and Nazareth at the same time. Such are the joys of those who are looking for contradictions and not really interested in the truth. If I were Christopher Hitchens, I would hate to rest too much on this or any of his other points showing contempt for God. Let God be true and every man a liar. After all, the Holy Spirit wrote through the Apostle Paul that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us it is the power of God.

When I saw his argument, I realized that in 55 years of being a Christian, NOT ONE PASTOR had explained this seeming contradiction. It was simply IGNORED. That is not a good idea. There are many books written on Bible difficulties - Hitchens is not the first to notice passages which appear to have issues - and I value that those more learned than I have looked into them. However, I believe the Bible is true - an a priori assumption if you will, and within five minutes the Holy Spirit explained to me how all this could work and it is perfectly consistent and logical. Here is a sequence which PERFECTLY fits with all scripture I could find on the subject:

1) Mary is impregnated by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:35)
2) Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem as ordered by the government. (Luke 2:1-4)
3) While there, Mary gives birth to Jesus. (Jesus was six months younger than John per Luke 1:36). His birth day was in the fall, based upon the time of Elizabethís conception six months earlier and the fact that Shepherds were in the field. We can get within a month based upon Zechariahís service as a priest in the Abijah or eighth division. Serving twice a year, this would have been at the end if Iyyar (mid-April to mid-May) and again at the end of Marheshvan (mid-October to mid-November). It was the former because the latter would have put Jesus birth at about the Passover, and that would surely have been mentioned as Joseph and Mary would have stayed there for it.)
4) The star appeared to the Wise Men in the East when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:2) ñ they had to see the star, which may have been there a while before they saw it, had to arrange their trip and then travel many miles, which took much time in those days.
5) Jesus is circumcised eight days after birth (Luke 2:21)
6) After the 30 days of purification, Jesus as the first-born was presented in the temple and the sacrifice of a pair of birds was made (Luke 2:22-24)
7) Joseph and Mary go to Nazareth to live. (Luke 2:39)
8) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus go up to Jerusalem for Passover (spring of his first year) ñ Luke 2:41 says that they went up EVERY year, so that included when Jesus was about six months old and about eighteen months old.
9) It is not stated, but also not precluded that they stayed in Bethlehem when they went for the Passover in Jerusalem. Given Jesusí family ties to Bethlehem, it was their most likely location to stay.
10) Matthew 2 says the wise men arrived in Jerusalem AFTER Jesus was born. It does not say HOW LONG after. However, Matthew 2:16 makes it clear that from the time that the star first appeared until Herod realized he had been tricked by the wise men, it was long enough that Herod used two years as the cut off point. They were delayed with Herod before they went to Bethlehem, so we know they were definitely not there with the shepherds as so many manger scenes show it. Besides ñ the wise men went to a HOUSE, not a stable (Luke 2:11). Further, they were likely not to have been expected to find Jesus immediately, and some time transpired after the Magi found Jesus until Herod realized he had been tricked. This fits in with the Wise men seeing Jesus either when he was about six months old or 18 months old, most likely the latter.
11) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were visited by the Wisemen in a HOUSE in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11).
12) The wisemen presented their gifts, all of which were readily convertible for cash or trade as would be needed for a stay in Egypt (Matthew 2:11).
13) Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod would try to kill Jesus, so he fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
14) The Wisemen also had a dream not to see Herod again, so they returned home another way. (Matthew 2:12)
15) Herod slaughtered infants under two years old (Matthew 2:16-18) ñ all this explains and is consistent with why Herod did not simply kill those infants under one year old.
16) Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth once again and remained there to rear Jesus (Luke 2:39-40).

This can be done on down the line of the arguments - some have been explained long ago by people far better than me, others may yet require an explanation. However, God does not lie, and while it may be maddening to some that you have to STUDY to come up with answers, the Bible is not written on a sixth grade level and God wants faith to be in the picture, and he wants us to trust what he says. He wants us to approach our legitimate questions from a standpoint of trust, not doubt. One cannot be neutral, and those who seek the truth will find it.

The fact is, atheists believe a priori that God does NOT exist. They are not intellectually open ñ but they have an agenda. When an atheist truly DOES decide to explore with somewhat of an open mind, they more often than not end up believing in God! C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and Lee Stroebel all come to mind as those who trod the intellectual road from atheism to believe in God. God is the one who said, those who seek me find me if they search with all their heart.

I encourage you to have an open mind with God, and to truly look for all the possibilities if you see something in the Bible that you cannot immediately explain. For thousands of years, people have lobbed assaults against the Bible, but the Bible stands taller than ever. I have read portions from the Quran, the Venas and the Upanishads, and trust me, they are like the work of children compared to the Bible. Man's wisdom pales next to God's. Yet the atheist exalts his own wisdom. Psalm 2:4 tells us that God laughs at this stuff, but we cannot. We must always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us and seek to save the lost, not condemn them. After all, John 3:16-17 say, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Our job is to love and to present - the Holy Spirit's job is to convince.

Here is reason for the hope that lies within me:

I was supremely blessed to have the privilege of being born into a family that loved Christ and worshipped him. I was convinced I was a sinner in need of an atonement at the age of 5. A preacher talked about the Lamb of God and how he paid for our sins, and I accepted than atonement to cover my sins, which I was fully aware of. Our house had many Bibles in it. I read through the Bible three times by the time I was 13. Everyone in our home memorized portions of the Bible regularly. Our family could sit down for an hour and not even open a Bible ñ my mom would recite Romans 8:28, someone else Psalm 91, and so on. I decided to memorize John 15. I was in a program at church that required research, so before I was 17, I wrote term papers on the Inspiration of Scripture, the Deity of Christ, Christian Living and Witness, and the like. I have continued to study the Bible and what people say about it and have read profusely about the experience of others with God and have enjoyed 55 years of personal encounters with God at the most intimate level. I have experienced the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, and spend at least an hour a day in Bible Study and prayer and journaling the thoughts of God as he reveals them to me. So to me, atheism is an alien idea ñ it is impossible to imagine life without God.

However, there are many who have dabbled in Christianity. They did not have parents who guided them along the way. They did not have pastors who taught and lived the word of God. They heard general homilies they could have read in the Readerís Digest. They were taught Bible ìstoriesî much as one would learn about apocryphal fairy tales and Santa Claus, but not the Bible as history, as science, as economics, as our spiritual handbook. Many of these never had an experience of repentance and active faith toward God. They are becoming atheists because it is all at the level of the mind, not the spirit.

Yet, there is a second kind of atheist popularized by a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschell. These are people who have the proclamation of who they are, but live as though there is no God. These are people who say they are ìspiritualî but who are embarrassed around on-fire Christians. They talk about love, and emphasize that aspect of God, they perhaps ìmade a decisin for Christî, but engage in fornication and adultery with no fear of God. Practical atheists. Others plan their lives around themselves and not God. The church to them is a means to an end. They want to be rich so they go to a church that teaches them how to be successful. They give in order to get. There are no solid ethics in their business or spiritual lives. Their word means nothing. They use people to climb the ladder. Practical atheists often have no concept of the church as the Body of Christ designed by God himself. They do not really believe that those outside of Christ are damned because they keep their faith to themselves and totally ignore the Great Commission, Christís ìLast Will and Testamentî if you will which commands us to make disciples.

The question is - do we REALLY believe in God? And if we say we do, are we bound by the ramification of what it means for there to be a God to whom we must give account? I pray whether you are actively resisting God as is Christopher Hitchens, or if you claim to be one thing but in essence are a passive atheist, that the Lord Jesus Christ will be primo in your life. I pray that you would not only truly know him, but love him and fear him and live an exemplary life before him and before the world.


Comment:
Name: JohnTheEvangelist
Date: Thu Dec 9 17:25:06 2010

NOTE THAT FRANCIS COLLINS OF THE GENOME PROJECT AND NOW APPOINTED BY OBAMA FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, BEGAN A SITE CALLED BIOLOGOS. It is intended to allow people of faith to dialogue on faith and science. BEWARE! The current director, Darrel Falk, assumes that the earth is old, and they slide down the slippery slope mighty quickly in denying not only Genesis, but so much more. I have posted on the site, and I encourage others to do as well, but do not be deceived. It ties in uncannily with President Obama's chiding of those who reject secular scientific philosophies - Collins has attacked those who stick with more literal reading of the BIble. Collins was an atheist, and unfortunately, he seems to have not yet laid to rest key atheistic beliefs though he now says he believes in Christ. I find the site very dangerous and not very scientific to be honest. Many of the contributors seem to like bashing those who believe in God's authority rather than theirs, and I see no meaningful exaltation of Christ. If you have questions, ask me!


WHO IS SERVING WHOM?

Date: Thu Jul 22 14:49:52 2010

Did you ever wonder who is serving whom? I hear a lot of people who appear, at least on the surface, to operate as though God were here for OUR pleasure!

We expect every need to be met on OUR schedule.

We expect that God will be pleased with the type of worship that pleases US.

We believe that the omnipotent God runs around ragged like our slave catering to OUR every whim and desire!

We come up with e new interpretation for every scripture that does not agree with OUR desires and preferences.

Is it just me, or do YOU see this happening all around us?

Now to be sure, Jesus came to serve- but it was to show US how to serve others!
Paul proclaimed to the Corinthians - "We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves your servants for ourselves Jesus sake." Paul lambasted those who had imperial attitudes, those who profited inordinately off the people they were serving, and those who were not serving the interests of the Lord.

You don't have to read far in the New Testament to see that Jesus himself served his Father. He did NOTHING he did not see his father doing. Jesus expected his followers to follow HIS instructions and do things HIS way in HIS time.

AFTER ALL, we exist for God's pleasure - He does not exist for ours!

We must not direct him. He directs us.
Look at what Jesus said to those who tried to direct him in the New Testament!

SO HOW CAN WE SERVE GOD BETTER?

1) Focus on God's agenda - to preach the gospel everywhere, disciple the nations, and help each man and woman to have their character conformed to that of Jesus Christ.
2) Prayer much more for others than for ourselves - have a broad tent of intercession.
3) Worship in the Holy Spirit - whether through the gift of tongues or your native tongue, engage in Spirit-led worship, concentrating on God and not on gratifying the flesh.
4) Aim to serve God 24/7. Do not take time-outs from God to pursue carnal pursuits. Maintain a pure thought-life. Desire earnestly the good for others and serve them to facilitate that coming about.
5) Encourage each other in these evil days, helping the weak to stand and those without to be provided for.
6) Follow the Word of God wherever it leads you and NEVER explain away the parts that challenge you or which cross your ideas. It is GOD's word that matters, not ours!
7) Let our lives speak of the goodness of God, and never apologize for being a Christian or for boldly obeying the voice of God!

HE'S ALL THAT!

Date: Sun May 23 19:21:45 2010

When a woman meets a man, she is often swept off her feet. She is blown away by his charm, his knowledge, and the wonderful way he treats her. Often that feeling is short-lived and changes when reality sets in. In some cases, the woman is fortunate enough to see the truth before getting married. Other times, the charade lasts only long enough to tie the knot and then bitter reality sets in.

On the other hand, some people meet the Lord ñ sometimes at an altar when the appeal is to come for salvation. A free ticket to eternal life. A more fulfilled life and a release from the burden of sin is great and euphoric and "all that".

If the relationship does not progress, and if the love freely given by Jesus is not reciprocated by the person, there can be real disillusionment. A life that doesnít bear fruit brings guilt and the relationship with the Lord can decline and become unsatisfying. We like the benefits of a relationship, but we starve the relationship by not reciprocating his love. We believe he will be a great provider for us, but arenít thrilled about all that he expects from us. Often, we begin to pursue other love interests without divorcing him, and believe that his benefits remain intact. We mistake his longsuffering for acceptance of our ungodly lives.

I want to propose a better solution. Rather than trying to milk Christ for what you can get out of him, have a straight-up relationship with him. Come to him and let him have full reign in your life. After all, the Bible teaches us that we are the bride of Christ. Christ is our husband ñ our provider, yes, but more than that our lover, our protector, our FRIEND. Jesus Christ is perfect and he is the only one worth committing ourselves to. HE'S ALL THAT! He's the Rose of Sharon, the Bright and Morning Star, the Fairest of Ten Thousand. He's Wonderful, He''s Counselor, He's the Mighty God. He's the everlasting Father, He's the Prince of Peace.

What more could ANYONE want? Yet MOST people chose a lying chameleon, the Prince of the Power of the Air. They chose as their lover the one who inspires Howard Stern, Britney Spears, Osama Bin Laden and others. The one who expressed himself best in Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Saddam to name just a few. The one who has billions of children of disobedience. The one who set sin and death in motion on the earth. What a loser! Why would any sane person listen to such a deceiver? Simple, he doesn't cross the human will, at least not initially, that is. Drugs? OK. Sexual lust? For sure. Money lust? By all means. Pride? Like Father, like son. They exchange the treasures of God for empty and hollow promises and certain destruction.

Yet, some who have come to know Christ still like to date the devil. They want the benefits of God, the stability of a solid husband while still engaging their desires on the wild side with the Prince of Darkness. This ought not to be. Donít you know you adulterous people that to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God?

Our God IS all that. Our Lord and Savior is ALL we need. We are only truly happy when he is the head of our home and we are satisfied with what he gives to us. He WILL cross our will and ask us to sacrifice for him. He has that right, since he sacrificed for us. Yet, we want the benefits of his sacrifice without reciprocating, without truly identifying with him in his death and resurrection.

I say, forsake all other lovers! Throw away the pictures from all other suitors.
Tear up their letters and be set free from the grip they have on your soul. Throw yourself only into the arms of the Lord Jesus and forsake all others. You will swoon at the love he will shower on you. You will be filled with inexpressible joy and gladness. You will be ecstatic in his love. I have known the Lord for over 55 years. I tell you this, and so will millions of others if you will only listen to them, HEíS ALL THAT!

OBEYING JESUS' LAST WORDS

Date: Fri Apr 2 22:58:08 2010

(this message was delivered at the Good Friday Service at St. David Roman Catholic Church in Willow Grove, PA)

Lord, open our hearts as we meditate on your Sacred Words. We are in The Gospel of St. John, chapter 19, verses 25 through 27.

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His motherís sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Let's consider this.
Women at the cross. It is recorded in both Matthew and Mark that MANY WOMEN were at the cross. Certainly a lot of men were there as well as they mocked and ridiculed him mercilessly. But if it were only Matthew and Mark's accounts that we had, we might get the wrong idea. I am so thankful for Dr. Luke who writes, But ALL those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. ALL THOSE. That means ALL the disciples. ALL THOSE who were close to Jesus. This is so critical as we consider one of the last words of Jesus on the Cross.

26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' 27 Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother''.

There is so much in these few words that inspire AND teach us.

First, Jesus thought of practical matters even while in excruciating pain. This was not just a thought as we was dying. Jesus was very practical throughout his life. After all, he spent many years up until he was about thirty living with his family and helping support them. By the age of 12, he already had surpassed the religious elites in knowledge and understanding. Yet he humbled himself for many years and by the time he began his public ministry, no one could remotely hope to trip him up though they tried for quite some time.

Jesus was always outward-directed, not fixated on himself. That is the sign of a true leader ñ unlike the ruling elites then and now, he sought not to be served and accommodated, but to serve, and to give his life for the sheep. Jesus cared about his family. Mary followed Jesus herself. She knew that Jesus practiced what he preached.

So many do not care about their families. There is a hot new book out now called THE CHRISTIAN ATHEIST. It is about people who claim to know God, but who do not really fear him or do just about anything he says. The Holy Spirit wrote through the Apostle Paul that believers are to take care of their families. The church should only have to care for widows who do not have family. When we were visiting my uncle in a nursing home, so many were eager to talk to us ñ their families were not visiting them. If your parents have passed on, consider spreading the Love of Christ in a practical way by going to places where Seniors live and befriend them, pray for them, and bring them delight. Now the very same Holy Spirit that prompted Paul to write those words was in Christ, and though his mission was unique in all of history, he did not fail to show care for his own mother.

Mary is often mentioned in concert with other women, so she was not alone, and others could have provided a roof over her head and food and fellowship, but Jesus wanted her to have something very special. He was dying, he was leaving, and he wanted to fill that unimaginable void that would pierce her soul prophesied by Simeon well over thirty years prior. He chose his closest friend and confidant, the Apostle of Love. My friends, Christian Duty is not enough, LOVE is that essential main ingredient.

The Apostle John is well known for most accurately communicating the heart of Christís message, and he had a special relationship with Christ. Our text notes THE DISCIPLE HE LOVED WAS STANDING BY. Now Jesus had 10 other disciples to chose from as well as other followers, but he chose John. John was quick to respond. He didnít object. John already had a living mother, as other scriptures mention the mother of the sons of Zebedee was there. John put aside his own personal comfort and his own budget to care for another person, even a non-relative. He didnít count his privacy or his funds his own, but for the use of the Kingdom.

And from that HOUR that disciple took her to his own home.

John did not let grass grow under his feet. He did not think it over. He obeyed his Lord right away.

Mary was also quick to respond. She went without protest. She was losing the best son in the world. Jesus wanted her to have John with her, the one who best understood his message. She was gaining a son who was a soul-mate of Jesus Christ.

John would remind her of the messages of Jesus and doubtless share many secrets that Jesus and John had shared in all those times when Jesus was alone with his disciples.

Today as we consider these words, let us be sure to follow the last will and testament of our Lord that he gave to US after his resurrection in Matthew 28 and in Acts 1:8 - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you AND You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses first in Jerusalem, and in Judea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth."

Will we in the year of our Lord 2010 obey our Lord as quickly and as completely as John and Mary did? I truly trust that we will.

FAITH TO MOVE FORWARD

Date: Wed Mar 31 02:20:14 2010

We are moving close to Easter now, and many people are discouraged. They are disheartened by the terrible times our nation is going through, with political rancor, massive debt, and so many people out of work and out of money. Wealth has disappeared from many, and there is a high level of despair and hopelessness. Some people haven't gotten paid in months. The reduced hours, the precipitous drop in self employment income and the sheer volume of people who have given up looking render official unemployment figures terribly misleading.

About 2,000 years ago, there was also a lot of despair and hopelessness. The best thing to happen in a lifetime was fading fast. Jesus of Nazareth had for three years instilled hope, brought healing, and raised the spirits of a country suffering under Roman bondage. Now, he was arrested, humiliated, tortured, and crucified on an old rugged cross along with common criminals. Hope was gone. Yet another Messiah had come and gone. But did he?

The message of Easter is one of resurrection. If Jesus had stayed in the grave, we would be most miserable. We would have no hope. We would have nothing better than those dead religious figures that others follow. BUT, Jesus did NOT stay in the grave. He rose physically. He defeated death. He is alive forevermore.

We must have resurrection faith in these days - faith that says God is not finished with us.
God has not removed forever our ability to impact society. God has not gone on vacation.

We have a long ways to go as a church and as a nation. We have to put to death the carnal ways and the fruitless ways. We have to forget religion as usual and keep away from all that would keep us from doing God's PERFECT will.

We need faith to march forward and to bring along as many with us as possible. Hard times may well stay, but there must not be hard times in our spirits! We must gather all that God has placed within us to move forward with full faith and assurance that he has wonderful assignments for us to do. Let's be sure we accomplish everything he has given us to do, both here and around the world.

DISMANTLING UNIVERSALISM

Date: Sun Feb 14 21:47:20 2010

There are several cancers in the modern church which threaten to progressively reduce the authentic witness of Jesus Christ in the earth today. It is essential for there to be healing from cancer, as it takes over more and more territory unless it is stopped.

One is immorality. In the world, there is often an expectation of sexual relations on the first of second date. Among Christians, rather, than NO expectation until marriage, there is often an expectation that this will occur as the relationship matures a bit. Faithfulness in marriage is also not absolute, and divorce is far too frequent. In the Southern Baptist Church, the divorce rate is actually HIGHER than the world.

Another is Biblical Authority. In an increasing number of churches and Christian institutions of higher learning, the Bible is not believed absolutely. Genesis, the foundation of faith that is referred to throughout the scriptures, is explained away, and instead of the Bible being our fount of knowledge, the world and its teachers, often people with no fear of God and who trust the shifting sands of man's knowledge, cause many to "reinterpret" the Bible in ways that do violence to it. More and more professors defer to "science" as opposed to God, even though all true science agrees with the Bible, as God is Lord over science. Not helpful is the fact that most churches teach Bible "stories" as opposed to teaching the Bible as science, geology, anthropology, history, psychology, and economics. The Holy Spirit is infallible in all these areas, but so often kids shed their belief in "stories" they learn in church not long after they stop believing in Santa Claus. The cancer of eroding confidence in the accuracy of the writings of the Holy Spirit has been catastrophic for the church. I go to a lot o churches, and I am sad to say I have not been in even ONE where there is not some deviation from he Word of God. Some are much more faithful than others but deviations occur with great regularity, an it is not a good witness to the world. If CHRISTIANS do not believe the whole Bible, why should THEY?

The idea that all roads lead to heaven is one that Christians have long resisted. That is why Larry King asked Joel Osteen SEVEN times about it when Joel refused to say that all who reject Christ would go to hell. Larry knew that true Christians believe that, so he was incredulous. Now Joel may believe that but just clammed up - I mean we all have failed in being bold for the Lord. However, if you read his books, there is an awful lot of general inspiration that is not distinctly the gospel itself.

This soft attitude has infiltrated Christian college after Christian college and church after church. People are saying that God will be "fair". They ignore what Jesus Christ said about hell and who would be there. In fact, Jesus talked a whole lot about hell, though you would think his main subject was getting rich or how to make God your servant or lapdog. What folly! Jesus Christ came as a SERVANT and taught us to be servants as well. We are here to serve God - God is not here to serve us!

This cancer of universalism where Jesus is my Savior but where we allow for other ways to God or for simple annihilation must be dismantled. We cannot accede to political correctness and the increasing moves to marginalize, censor, and even silence true Christians at the highest levels of government.

Pastor Chapman at Zion Baptist Church in Ambler, PA, said recently while teaching Psalm 23 that it says "THE Lord is my Shepherd..." Not A Lord - we are not talking about George Harrison's Khrishna or any other so-called lord. We are talking about THE Lord of hosts. We need to teach Apologetics to the whole church - so many have no clue how to defend the veracity of the Word of God despite God's COMMAND that we be prepared to give an answer. The people have to understand why there is only one way in SO MANY areas of life. Try reaching any destination without following precise instructions. Even with Mapquest, the slightest deviation will get you lost. If you buy a piece of furniture from IKEAm just try not following the instructions PRECISELY. Putting in just one screw out of order can force you to take the whole thing apart and start all over! NARROW is the way that leads to eternal life (read my post on that on this blog - Nov. 2008 archives - the Narrow Road - for an article on just that subject).

We need to preach the BIBLE, just simply our ideas. The Biblical pattern is salvation comes from hearing THE WORD OF GOD. We need to preach the Word without compromise, and never cede an inch to those who say, "That is fine for you, but you have no right to impose your way on others!" The facts are that the world does nothing BUT impose their way on others. The world system controls the universities, and at a major university in Texas, they want all candidates for medical school to put in writing that they believe in the hypothesis of evolution. Never mind that a professor a one of the best medical schools in the country, Washington University Medical School in Louisville, KY, says that in thirty-four years of being a professor, there has not even been ONE instance where evolution was needed to understand a theory or practice useful in being a Doctor or understanding academically what you need to know. Teachers in a California school forced children to pretend they were Muslims including praying to Allah. Mandatory sex "education", which is more often instructions on how to be immoral, is forced on people. Now there is a move to force those in the military to be in close proximity (ask anyone who has been in the military about the rows of toilets without partitions. Godly men would be forced to let OPENLY homosexual men gaze at them in their most intimate and vulnerable state.

The world is MADLY believing that their way is the only way, and that way changes by the whim of the moment and the "cause du jour". On the other hand God NEVER changes, and his word endures forever. We must be kind, but we cannot be wimps! We must have the guts of Elijah in these evil days is we are to face down the Baals! I pray aggressively for the destruction of evil. We cannot play with Satan. Jesus Christ is supreme. All WILL bow before him.

Slavery, child labor, and all sorts of ills were opposed by Christians and were defeated. Did you know there are slaves in 2010? In Asia and northern Africa principally there are STILL people in bondage. There are even some in the US - primarily Eastern European and Asian women brought here under false pretenses and made into sex or sweatshop slaves in New York and other bug cities. There is still Child Labor in the world in 2010. The good in ANY country is there only to the extent Christ is honored! No matter WHAT the accomplishments of any country, without Christ, evil will resurrect itself and tear down righteousness.

We must insist on the truth, making sure we are walking in it ourselves! We need to teach our families and our churches the truth without compromise and be prepared to defend it by the Word of God.

Beyond that, we have o be unapologetic about preaching the gospel to lost, whether they be nominal "Christians", Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Secular Humanists, New Agers, Cultists, Agnostics, and Atheists. God loves them all, but has provided only one door into the ark - the ark Christ Jesus. THE Lord said, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me."

LOVE UNDEFILED

Date: Sat Feb 6 14:14:06 2010

Hebrews 13:4 "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."

If you want to know what is important to God, look at what Satan is attacking. There is probably no other area that is more under attack than marriage and sexual purity. God designed us so that sex is within the realm of relationships he ordains. God puts people together - one man and one woman forever. Once he does and we accept that in the public ceremony of marriage, we can be off to the races with sexual expression. Sex is al outward expression of an inward reality. Just like communion. So many people take the bread and wine without having a real relationship with God - a covenant relationship where we are eternally committed to each other. Paul says that many are sick and even die because they are participating in Communion unworthily. A lot of people are also participating in sex without a God-ordained covenant. The problem is that people want to express sexual feelings without being bound to the person. They are expressing a lie ñ they are NOT spiritually or legally one one with that person, they are NOT committed to that person for life, and the very act is a farce. Just as the act of Communion is a farce without that eternal covenant with Christ, so also is it when men and women try to express the most intimate human emotions to multiple people with no approval by God, no witness of man, and no intent to be eternally one in spirit and soul as well as body.

It is not only the world, but unfortunately also the church that is awash in immorality, and it is a tragedy that even among those who name the name of Christ, there is little understanding of how things really are with God.

Many Christians take their cues from the world rather than from the Bible. They spout off things that they do not know. I heard a pastor not long ago railing on a point that there was no gender in God! Obviously that is grossly uninformed, since gender is very much in Godís mind. In fact, it is impossible to understand our relationship to Christ if we do not understand gender and why God made male and female. Let's review some background, and then I will tell you how we MUST understand gender in order to properly relate to Christ.

The world is on a crusade to confuse gender and to advocate changing genders as one would change clothes, rejecting the God who made them. Many Christians listen more to ìpolitically correctî ideas than they do to God. We had some students from a Christian institution of higher learning on our covered deck, and they were uniformly advocating women in leadership in ways no different from men and were explaining away what the Holy Spirit unequivocally spoke through Paul, contending that the Corinthians were a special case and that those instructions were not for the church as a whole. Of course, any Bible student should know that Paul said he taught the same in ALL the churches and also that Peter taught the same thing, so their argument was obviously fallacious. If they had bothered to study some Greek history, they would also have discovered that there were at least two disparate cultural systems in ancient Greece. The Athenian culture was more traditional, with men and women in traditional roles. The Spartan culture, on the other hand, was rather egalitarian. Women were well educated, economically prosperous, and quite confident. The reason Paul went into as much detail as he did was because he was saying that EVEN WHEN SOCIETY ALLOWS IT OR ADVOCATES IT, the church must be governed by the rules of the Holy Spirit. The Corinthians were not being arrested by civil authorities because it was not a problem with them. Some of the women were simply doing what they were used to doing outside the church. Paul had to put the brakes on that. There are no exceptions. The same applies today no matter what society says! Let God be true and every man a liar!

In the Bible, women are given freedom to worship, to prophesy, to evangelize, to administrate, to practice hospitality and to teach other women and children. What is withheld are positions of rulership over men. It is so much like our relationship with Christ - he gives us many mandates in terms of our service to him, actually identical to these - what is withheld is rulership over Christ! It is no accident that just as too many women today are not satisfied with what God has abundantly given, but wish to be in authority over men, men and women in the church are trying to exercise rulership over GOD! They command, they decree, they "hold God to his word", they demand, and they declare things done by God even when he is not doing them. This manipulation must end. God is sovereign and we are his people. We must operate in the manner laid down to us in every area of life!

I also hear people say that Jesus was bound to his culture, which is why he did not have female apostles. Jesus was bound to no one! That insults the Son of God! He broke many traditions and was not afraid to make enemies. The reason Jesus did what he did is because he only did what he saw his Father doing. The Father is not about the feminist agenda. In fact, everything written in the Bible is contrary to it. God showed us a way where men and women are equal before him, and where women are highly honored, and where there is an orderly system of living that is 100% consistent with God' plan of creation and how he endowed men and women equally but differently to best express the glory of God in the earth and to show the relationship between Christ and his bride.

Jesus prayed for us to be one because he is marrying ONE bride, not many! He will not have an African bride, an Asian bride, an Hispanic bride, and a European bride! He will not have a rich bride and a poor bride. He will not have a male bride and a female bride, a Greek bride and a Jewish bride. He will have ONE bride. We have a lot of work to do! He wants a bride that agrees with itself, that is obedient to him, who holds to the truths of the groom, and whose agenda matches that of the groom!

Yet another line of thinking is that women were cursed because of Eveís transgression, but now that curse in removed in Christ, and ìthere is now no male or female, bond or freeÖî Of course the curse is removed for all men and women who appropriate the grace of Jesus. It is not a curse for a woman o follow a man! It is a blessing rooted in the very design of God. That is why women of God who flow easily in obedience to God accomplish so much good for the kingdom. After all, we are of equal value to God. Where master or slave, male or female, Jew or Gentile, God does not discriminate. He honors all. He gave dignity to all. However, the basic rules of order remain. They PREDATE sin. Just check out Paulís letter to Timothy..

I Timothy 2:11-15
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

It goes back to the FORMATION of people ñ Godís ORIGINAL PLAN, not a permissive will that occurred after sin entered the world. You see, MAN was made in the image of God, but woman was made to be the glory of man. Read Genesis again carefully ñ that is what it says, and I Corinthians 11 is even clearer:

I Corinthians 11:7-10
7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

The order is God, man, woman. Man was created for God, woman was created for man. Man was NOT created for woman. It is essential that we understand that women complete men. Man is the giver, woman is the receiver. This is obvious from the very sexual design of the human body, indicating the intent of God in creation which predated sin. Eve was created to HELP Adam. Yet both non-Christians and Christians want to break down the basic building block of gender. They want to assert the womanís independence from man, they want to pair two givers and two receivers in total rebellion against the design of the human body, and they want to fundamentally change the intent of God.

God's intent is certainly clear.

Ephesians 5:22-24
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

I believe a major reason that the church is in such a mess is that Christian wives very often do NOT submit to their husbands. They have bought into the lies of Satan, and go their own way. They refuse the spiritual protection of their husbands, and think independently. The Holy Spirit teaches women through Paul to ask their husbands on spiritual matters. Yet many Christian women are at odds with their husbands, often being in utter deception. Without the spiritual covering, they are easy pickings or the devil, and the tales of tragedy are endless.

The church has the same problem as the modern Christian woman. It doesnít submit to Christ either. Christ is the HEAD as the husband is to be the HEAD. Christ is the leader, Christ is the initiator. Christ is the one who gives of himself to us. Christ is the one who saves us by his mercy and grace, his unmerited favor. Yet the church wants to do things its own way. They want to be the initiator and nt the receiver. Christ says donít use vain repetition in prayer, but people love vain repetition. He says pray without ceasing but people barely pray except mumbling something before eating. Christ says study to show yourself approved unto God, but Christians would rather be in church for yet another meeting or watching TV than spending time studying the Word of God. God says donít wear expensive clothes, but Christians love to show off expensive duds while letting the poor in the church remain poor. Christ says not to lust with our eyes, but men still gaze longingly at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and the like. Christ says not to gossip, but many prayer requests are 90% gossip and 10% prayer. Christ says all kinds of things, but by and large the church stops its hears, follows its own program, and goes its own independent way. Christ has all kinds of ideas for us to pursue, but we want to put all our energies into our own ideas, our own liturgies, and our own progams.

We have to realize that we are the church and we are here to receive from Christ. We give him honor, just as the wife is commanded to honor and respect her husband. We obey Christ, just as the wife is called to obey her husband. We submit our will to Christ as he did to the Father - "not my will but thine be done". Whether the use of our time, whether to buy a new car and if so how much to spend, which people to talk to that we encounter in life, our will needs to be subservient to his will. Jesus said he did nothing he did not see his father doing. Everything we do should be what we see Christ doing. After all, we are being prepared to live as his bride forever. We will be in eternal submission to him and loving him and following his agenda forever. We must follow his agenda now ñ we are not our own ñ we were bought with a price.

How much happier Christian marriages would be if wives followed the agendas of their husbands, and sought to please them in every area of life! That is Godís eternal plan, so we need to follow it. Wives need to truly be submitted to their husbands, and we all, men and women, need to be totally submitted to Christ.

We cannot share our love with others. A wife cannot have other men in her life who meet her needs. Many women have fantasy lives. They also receive ìvalidationî and comfort from men who are not their husbands. With some it is a pastor, with others a friend. The woman is to have her needs met in her husband. A husband cannot fantasize about other women while making love to his wife. He cannot find emotional comfort with other women He cannot rely on friends, co-workers or a congregation to give him what is solely his wife's to give.

All of us are to have our needs met in Christ. So many of us let Christ do part of it, but we rely on others to satisfy parts of us that do not feel satisfied in Christ. We need to probe why we need that, and determine if there is a reason we are not receiving all we need from the Lord.

Israel time and again had other lovers. God hated that. He is a jealous God. He WANTS to care for you ñ he asks us to ìcast all our cares upon him, for he cares for usî. We simply have to spend time with him regularly and actually walk with him and never leave his presence. The veil in he temple was torn so we can be in the Fatherís presence 24/7. If we are, Jesus will meet every need he knows we have. If he doesnít give us something we want, we need to find out why, and not try to get that need met some other way.

That is LOVE UNDEFILED.
Jesus only - our Husband and our Friend.

GLORY BE - WE CAN BE CHANGED!

Date: Fri Dec 11 21:28:13 2009
(this was shared at the Serenity Coffeehouse in Glenside)

Is change possible?
Ask the abused spouse.
Ask the parent of a drug-crazed child.
Ask those prowling the halls of Congress.
Glory Be.

Is change possible?
Ask the pew who holds someone unwilling to worship.
Ask the preacher who teaches people unwilling to listen.
Ask the Lord who stands and knocks at a door never opened.
Glory Be.

Is change possible?
Ask the spirit who is quenched day by day.
Ask the poor despised in every way.
Ask me, who sees his own faults every day.
Glory Be

Glory Be.
Glory Be.
Yes, Change is Possible.
He is changing me.