Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Devil Made Me Do It!

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led
astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.   2 Cor. 11: 3

It's who Eve blamed. He is the great deciever, the father of lies, author of all sin, prince of the power of the air; the names go on and on. He is right there to tempt and make sin look
like an option when it simply is never a good one. 

As I mentioned yesterday, he is often thought of in these times as an afterthought, someone
who really isn't a big deal any more. I had a friend tell me that he felt that 'Satan got a bad rap.' People really don't want to acknowledge his power and his relentless efforts to rest
souls from the path of righteousness, even after it is known that he has been defeated by
the glorious Resurrection of Christ Jesus. His time is limited and he knows it. Yet, he seems
determined to go out swinging and he's swinging at each of us with reckless abandon.

I've used the expression in the title before. Usually it feels somehow a relief to 'blame'
a sinful moment on someone else. Surely it wasn't I who made the choice to do evil, I
must have been duped. Well, not so much. God presented us with a dubious gift when He
gave us free will. We are born with a conscience, knowing right from evil, and we are
totally responsible for each decision we make that leads to sinful behavior. We can blame
it away; yet, we really know that we can stop sinning if it is in our hearts to do so. Easy?
No. Will we be unsuccessful? You betcha. So where does that leave us?

It leaves us with the challenge of calling upon all the help we can muster. The Holy
Spirit within us will gladly draw our attention to slip ups. Prayer before making decisions
is a mighty tool. We need the armor of God upon us because in the end, without the
power of Jesus, we will stray; it's in our nature.

So the devil did not make me do it! I made me do it. First I need to admit this and
give up excuses. I need to strive with all my heart to avoid re-crucifying and adding
sins onto the precious back of glorious Jesus. He died for me to remove my sin account; I need to ever show my appreciation by honoring Him with my best!

Praise God!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our Good Shepherd, Indeed!

I've been reading a little, but powerful, book by W. Phillip Keller entitled A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.

If you've not read this book, may I greatly encourage you to do so for a number of reasons.
It comes from one who knows the jobs, dangers and wonders of actually being a shepherd. It
brings into clarity the work done by our precious Lord Christ Jesus as He cares for us. It
shows, in a frightening way, just how much our behaviors mirror those of the sheep being
cared for; thus, we are in the loving hands of the greatest Good Shepherd, Jesus. I also
learned to love this beautiful Psalm, one that we are all familiar with, more with a greater
understanding of what David was trying to do, here.

I would like to just copy down two wonderful and interesting excerpts that I really found
valuable. They are really not ones that follow the shepherd metaphore; yet, they seem
truly insightful and wonderful.

From the book A Shephed Looks At Psalm 23....

It is rather fashionable in  some contemporary Christian circles to discredit Satan. There
is a tendency to try and write him off or laugh him off as though he were just a joke. Some
deny that such a being as Satan even exists. Yet we see evidence of his merciless attacks
and carnage in a society where men and women fall prey to his cunning tactics every day.
We see lives torn, marred and seared by his assaults though we may never see him

It is not always apparent to us what a tremendous personal cost it has been for Christ
to prepare the table for His own. Just as the lonely, personal privation of the sheepman
who prepares the summer range for his stock entails a sacrifice, so the lonely agony of
Gethsemane, of Pilate's hall. of Calvary , have cost my Master much....
Here we commemorate the greatest and deepest demonstration of true love the world
has ever known. For God looked down upon sorrowing, struggling, sinful humanity and
was moved with compassion for the contrary, sheep-like creatures He had made. In spite
of the tremendous personal cost it would entail to deliver them from their dilemma,
He chose deliberately to descend and live amongst them that He might deliver them.

What a glorious God we worship! Praise Him! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Your Personalized God of the Universe!

Better start with a disclaimer, here. This is not a God that you may create to fit your image of what God should be. God is not subject to anyone's personal needs or design; His glorious attributes were always His and will always be so. He is not in need of re-development or anything else because He is Holy, unlike any other. His word is truth, His promises always kept, His knowledge unlimited, His love unchanging and pure. He is everywhere at all times, His capabilities know no bounds. He is worthy of praise and glorification just by being God. He is sovereign.

I called Him your personalized God because He knows you, His creation, personally. In fact He knows you better than you know yourself. He formed you from in the womb and to this day knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows every tear that falls and why, He knows your very thoughts and words before they are formed or spoken, He is aware of your life's path and fully capable of leading that life path to conform to His purposes. You can hide nothing from Him, no sin goes unnoticed. He knows the answer to every question. He has the solution to every problem.
He knows your cares, your dreams and your weaknesses. yet, He loves you unconditionally.

This personalized God listens to you. You can go to the very God of the Universe, responsible for the billions of stars in the galaxies, the very intricacies of the smallest necessary elements of life, one equally tuned in to every one of His created and He will hear your words and respond to them. He woos and pursues you because of His great love for a creation that has been tainted but never discarded. Yes, He is big and we are so small, but His grace and love show that this size difference does not matter!

He has provided, at a great personal cost, one way to salvation and forgiveness. He has sent the message loud and clearly that one must trust Lord Jesus Christ as savior, repent and love God with heart, mind and soul. He loves and cares for you because you are His. He would not lose you because He is a gracious, forgiving God.

Praise Him!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Covenantially speaking.....

Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV 

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Saw a beautiful rainbow this morning! I always enjoyed "rainbow hunting" with my daughter.. it's really a wonderfully predictable science. You need rain drops or moisture and sunlight at a certain angle, and you have it- God's beautiful reminder.

He is, of course, reminding us that He has made a covenant with Noah agreeing never again
to "rain down" His anger for "40 days and 40 nights" with the intent to destroy evil. Oh He
has no problem destroying evil, in fact, at the appropriate time, Christ will return with the
hammer and take care of all evil. 

Covenants are agreements, not unlike contracts, where two sides agree upon something. God's covenants do not require a signature for proof because God never goes against His word.

The Bible is a covenant document.  The Old and New Testaments are really Old and New Covenants.  The word "testament" is Latin for Covenant. 

The Eternal Covenant is the agreement between the Father and the Son regarding the elect, a covenant made before the universe was created that the Father would bring to the Son all who the Father had given Him. The Covenant of Grace is made  between God and man through the work of Christ Jesus to bring eternal salvation to those who trust on Jesus.

So it's all a about how God has chosen to  deal with His creation. There is nothing complicated about the terms, they are spelled out in the Bible. The conditions are quite clear and based upon a loving God who is willing to provide a means of redemption, even to the extent of delivering His only Son as a propitiation. What do we have to do?

Accept the glory and the grace of our Covenant God, Jehovah! He is LORD; He is God!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It ain't trivial pursuit!

Yes, I know. it isn't really proper English usage to throw an ain't into a title, but it did get your attention, right? That's actually an advertising technique. However, this blog is not
about advertising; it's about God.

That's right Jehovah, the covenant God, and He is in pursuit of all His creation that has not accepted the grace-filled promise of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15: 4-7 

It can be a perceived tap on the shoulder, a soft whispering voice hardly perceptible or 
it can slap one upside the head with vigor, but God is after those who He seeks and He
will not give up that pursuit easily.

We all know people who spend a lot of time denying the existence of God, who strive to
come up with reasons why they do not go to church, why they do not have time or the need to be Christians. They have defense mechanisms in place, favorite arguments to present,
ears and eyes closed to the obvious existence of a Creator. Truth be told, it is often
impossible to get past this stubbornness, but God is not deterred. 

We all know that lost sheep. He or she is out there with the mistaken impression that they
are in charge, that they can handle all life has to throw at them. They are prideful, stubborn, egotistical and ignorant of the one thing they need above all others; God.

So join me in prayer for those you know and for those you do not. Join me in praising
our God for His persistence and loving kindness!

He is a wonderful, magnificent LORD!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Olivia Suzanne is 27!

What a sweet privilege it is to write this blog about my precious daughter, Olivia! Even though the titles and topics, heretofore, have all been Christian, in nature, this one fits quite nicely for, without the grace of God, I wouldn't be able to write about the wonderful gift of my daughter. 

She is, after all, a child of God, wife to Matthew Moore, God-willing a mother-to-be and, quite literally, the best thing that has ever happened to me! 

I am writing this on the day before her actual birthday since I have access to a computer
lab. On the real day of her birth, I still remember, vividly, many things.  Holding her for the first time, obviously, is right there among my most cherished memories. It was one of the hottest summer nights I can ever remember in the Columbus, Ohio area, the place I had
lived for the majority of my life. I left St. Ann's hospital at about 4am, and it was just
beastly hot, and I've now lived where it is often beastly hot. Despite the early hour I remember just being so wide awake, having gone through the easy part of a many-houred
labor process. I remember needing to prop Olivia between two small pillows as she was
just so very tiny.

She was such a wonderful baby. Not much fussing, ever. That baby Olivia quickly turned
into a little girl that would steal your heart with a smile. There are simply too many 
memories to even begin listing them; yet, they are securely stashed away to be
fondly recollected. It is my belief that these memories remain with us into eternity,
never to be forgotten. 

Just like in any other child's life, there have been some tough times. Olivia has
always handled them with such class and understanding. Luckily, she has been
quick to forgive. She is a sparkly person; someone who just sparkles from within with
a presence that delights. I know a few, taught quite a few and am blessed to be father
to one.

Many who read this have not met her, so I will just tell you that she is a true friend, a cherished daughter and a lover of Jesus Christ. No wonder I am such a blessed father. Thank you God for Olivia. Thank you, Olivia, for all you have done in my life. You will forever be cherished and loved. Forever!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hellfire and Brimstone... maybe we should hear more!

Every human being is in the process of becoming a noble being, noble beyond imagination;
or else, alas, a vile being beyond redemption. C. S. Lewis

"Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."  Revelation 1: 17-18

In his book, One Minute After You Die, Erwin Lutzer paints a picture that
suggests that all of us will be eternally somewhere. We all, every one of us, faces the
eventual end to our present existence when we die. Even though death is a topic that
beings fear to many people, it is one result of the original sin, the physical ending of
our lives here of earth and the beginning of something. It is a passage. For those in Christ 
it is a welcome moment that beings us into immediate contact with Jesus who will walk
with us, as He promised, as we pass through the dark shadow into eternal light and grace.

But what of others? What about those who have chosen not to believe, trust and follow the
Good Shepherd? Well, the book presents some clearly frightening scenarios, the most
important of which is the realization that this type of post death experience is one that
cannot be changed through means of purgatory, reincarnation or any other way. 

"Once we have passed through the door of death we can't pick up our suitcase and move out 
because we don't like the accommodations." M. R. DeHaan  (from Lutzer)

From the book... Admittedly, hell is an unpleasant topic. Unbelievers disbelieve in it; most Christians ignore it. Even the staunchly biblical diehards are often silent out of embarrassment. Hell, more than any other doctrine of the Bible, seems to be out of step
with our times. 

The book also suggests that once a soul is cast into Hell, the person will have a resurrected
body just as those who are saved in Heaven and will be totally in agreement with the
just, Holy decision made by God that sent him there. 

In this short blog, I am trying to make the point that there are plenty of good reasons to
hear, often, of the unpleasant and eternal suffering that will be a part of existing outside
of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We all need to be reminded, daily, of the grace that has been shown us, the blessing we have undeservedly been given, the gift of eternal life in the presence of God Almighty.

I will gladly listen to good preachers and read good books like the one, here, that
show me the glorious life that awaits those in Christ upon their passage from this life, and warn of the impending doom for those outside of His loving care.

Praise our God!!!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Yes, Virginia, the Bible is the Inerrant word of God!

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  2 Timothy 3: 16

Just heard the awesome news that a cherished friend is in Christ! Now that's a wonderful present! He suggested that I read a book by Marcus J. Borg, entitled The Heart of Christianity. I'd suggest you try the book, also. It is, in part, a look at two paradigms, a
traditional view of Christianity and a more modern approach. I believe he presents both
fairly and allows the reader to examine some of the ways things seem to be changing in the
Christian church.

One of the things brought up is the whole debate over whether the Bible is the word of God.
I find this to be something frequently brought up by those who are digging as hard as possible for ways to reject Christianity. Being less than a good apologist, I can only come
up with one set of reasons why I believe it to be so.

But don't you know that the Bible was actually written by men?

Yes I do. Poor Moses would have gotten very very tired had he had to carry all those stone 
tablets down that mountain. Men, obviously, were the writers. Your point is......

And don't forget that the Bible was translated into different languages. Surely their
were changes in the process!

Indeed from Hebrew to Greek to Latin... etc. Thank God that the Bible is available in so many different languages today. Your point is.......

But in the passing down and eventually the copying, surely there must have been
changes, omissions, etc.

I cannot even write a sentence, usually without a mistake or correction. Your point being.....

Oh, I see. You are saying that the Bible, through all these processes, probably changed and is, therefore, not the word of God and, thus, not believable. You must mean that the God of the Universe was incapable of seeing to it that the Bible, through the ages, remained inerrant and the truth.

Let me make a list of the things that God if incapable of doing....


The list is an empty set! God is capable of anything He sets out to accomplish. If God
breathed out the Bible through the helping guidance of the Holy Spirit into the hands of
those who developed it, that's what He was able to do.... because He is God.

Did you ever take a moment to think about all of the events, people and circumstances that had to fall into perfect order leading up to the stone being rolled away and Christ Jesus being raised? God, unable to do His will?

No glorious way! Praise our God!

Friday, July 11, 2014

When you check the box for Christian.....

Definition of a Christian:  Someone within whose heart Jesus is happening.

Back not too many years ago, if I was filling out some sort of questionnaire which asked for religious preference, I automatically checked the box for Christian. The problem was that
I WASN'T! I certainly wasn't Hindu, or Muslim....yet, I didn't understand, nor was I internally filled, with what makes one a Christian.

So how do we know if we are truly a Christian? Here are some of my thoughts....

1- The name JESUS is paramount in importance and reverence. This happened slowly to me, even after being baptized. As time went along, the name, even saying it, began to mean more and more. It's not only the name above all other names, it's the word above all other words!
As you know and understand His walk, His task, His loving-kindness, His sacrifice... Jesus begins to mean the ultimate in so many ways inside your heart.

2- The Bible becomes your book of choice. Now I still need loads of work in this area; yet, having now become so much more aware of the purpose of the Bible, the story it tells of Jesus and salvation, the guidance it provides for our lives, it is #1. If one is not reading from The Holy Book, I'd hesitate to check the box.

3- Sin is less a center of our lives. This is through the grace of the Holy Spirit and our own desire and efforts to turn away, repent for our sins. We will continue to sin because it is in our DNA, but we should be both more aware and more determined not to be centered in sin.

4- Our attitude has changed. Here we mean the fruits of the Spirit are developing within us and becoming our normal way of living. Again, it's a process and a trek, but we can begin almost immediately to see a change in the way we live, think and communicate.

5- The desire to share the gospel has become important. This blog is one example of what we, as individuals, can begin to do to try and share the blessing of God's grace. There are a myriad of ways to share and we will be helped to find those opportunities to engage in
the work of bring the Good News to others.

6-We have a great desire to learn much much more about our God. There are so many wonderful resource out there to aid in this process; the desire to know Him and love Him becomes a primary effort in one who is truly a Christian!

Now days, I would certainly still check the box for Christian as my religious preference. The
difference is that now I would be correct. I am honored to be so!

Praise our God!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

He who hesitates is... LOST!!!

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son on Man.  Matt  24: 27

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Matt 24: 42

For the most part I find that hesitating is a good thing. I have the tendency to write or say things quickly, when a little reflection can eliminate a lot of problems. Rather than to think
through situations and consider both prayer and alternatives, I tend to want to jump at an
answer rather than to take my time and analyze, a bit.

Well, in the case of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, hesitating, even for a short
time, might prove to be eternally problematic. He is coming again and even He, according
to what He said to His disciples, is unaware of when that moment will transpire. He will come 'like a thief in the night," taking many by surprise who should have been "actively
waiting" for His glorious arrival.  Yes it has been 2,000 years since His ascension, but that
time period is only for the benefit of man. In God's time and good will, that is a day.

In many ways it mirrors the Passover in Egypt. Thresholds not painted with the blood of
a sacrificed lamb resulted in the death of the firstborn as foretold by Moses. When Jesus
comes in on the clouds, those not washed by the saving blood of Christ will be lost and
will face both judgment and eternity in the absence of God. The message should be very
clear. HE WILL RETURN. We best be ready.

There are many fence straddlers. These are folks who know about Jesus, to some extent;
yet, for a myriad of poor reasons, they have chosen to avoid or put off calling on the name of
the Lord as their King and Savior. They will do it later. Things are going pretty well right
now and they do not see the big rush. These are folks who have not rejected God's son;
they are folks who are too busy or prideful to realize their plight.

They need a wake-up call! The wonderful day of Christ's return could be imminent. We
do not know what will happen to folks who have waited. What we DO KNOW is that
we who love and cherish Jesus and who have accepted Him as Lord will be taken with Him
to an eternity of care, love and blessing.

If you have waited; wait no more. Do what needs to be done today... better, yet, NOW.
Do not hesitate. 

Praise our God of grace!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I pledge allegiance to...

Well yesterday's church service was a new experience for me. I am attending, on a temporary basis, a Baptist church in Panama City Beach, Florida and the service began with
several pledges and associated songs. First the Pledge of Allegiance, then the Pledge of
Allegiance to Jesus followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the Bible. Of the three, I
had the most difficulty with the one I learned as a young guy... the Pledge to the Flag
of the USA.

Obviously, I feel most thankful for the many fallen men and women, over the course of
time, who have given their lives that I might enjoy the freedoms of living in America. Yet,
the direction that this country, especially the more secular elements, seems to be
heading is troublesome for those who believe in the Law of God as written in the Holy Book.
I said the pledge with hand over heart and sang the song, "Proud to be an American," but
it was a bit difficult in some ways.

Having said that, I want to suggest that what I feel we, as believers in Jesus Christ, do not
want to do is isolate ourselves from others, hunker down and avoid interaction with those
whose actions seem to be at odds with where we would like to see society's direction.
To become non-associated with those who are lost would be diametrically opposed to
the very actions and words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus did the exact opposite of isolating himself. He came, by His own words, to heal
the sick, to walk among those who were in Spiritual need and to interact with those
some members of society would not even speak to. He ate with the tax collectors, spoke
to the Samarian woman at the well, befriended the woman caught in adultery... the
list goes on. Unlike the Pharisees who looked down on the downtrodden, He walked
among those in need, those at the low end of society, those who needed to be saved.

The message of the gospel is one that all people on this planet need to hear. It is the
message of salvation that provides the only possible means to a life with meaning
and purpose. It isn't, as far as we know, our place to limit who hears it. We do not
know whether all are to be saved or some who have been chosen. We are to heed the
Great Commission and walk among our fellow men with the purpose of glorifying
God. We do not have to agree with what we see, we do not judge what we see,
we do not condone what we see,  we simply need to spread the blessed gospel
message of deliverance from sin and acceptance through Jesus Christ.

That's what I pledge to do!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

From briefest moment to eternity

to me
Time is certainly fascinating! One thing that strikes me as an older fellow is how my own perception of time has changed over the years. It's as if time speeds up the older we become. Remember when you were a child how summer seemed almost endless? Remember how driving trips seemed to last and last until one day you realized how very short they really were?

Well scripture suggests that God is not burdened or limited by time. One day is likened to a thousand years in our time perception. I have read a quote that suggests that...all time and space is laid out before the face of God. This would mean that He is capable of seeing time in its entirety; from beginning to end and all that is in between. This ties in with His omnipresence and omniscience.

Our time here on earth is likened to a vapor. We are here so very briefly and then home, again. This brings to mind the realization that we are, therefore, somewhere else for eternity. My apologies to the nihilists out there.

In one amazingly crucial and blessed moment, if we ask with all our heart to belong to Jesus Christ, to believe on Him, and trust in Him.... we can be assured that for time eternal we will live in the presence of God instead of the absence of Glory. One small moment in the baptismal or on our knees in a quiet place can bring purpose, hope and blessings beyond our ability to comprehend.

Grasp that moment, won't you. Do not wait because there may be a time when that moment of deliverance disappears. Do it for yourself, those you love, and most importantly, for our Lord and King, Jesus. He is waiting to hear your prayers!

Praise God!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

So what would I say about Jesus?

1 John 2:2 ESV / 

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

 I have met a new friend here in Florida who mentioned to me that he likes the preaching
at his church because it is about," Jesus and me." That got me to thinking.... what would he say about this Jesus and his relationship with our Savior.

Well he hasn't responded yet, but it brought to mind the question...What would I say about Jesus? Until a few years ago, I would have had very little to say, and that's very
sad and frightening at the same time. I would have mentioned Christmas and probably
done what many lost folks do... called Him a great teacher and moral man.

Well, thanks be to God, I know a bit more now. So here goes, briefly.

He, Jesus, is God. That can be a bit confusing, right? I mean isn't God the Father and
Jesus the Son of God? Yes, and no. Without even trying to explain the Trinity, I'll just
say that Jesus is fully God. The relationship between He and  His Father has existed for
eternity, is never changing and as strong as ever. Jesus was God on Earth. God incarnate.
His glorious attributes are the essence of God.

He, Jesus, is Lord of Salvation! There is simply no other path to forgiveness and
acceptance by God. The actions of Jesus provided the culmination of a plan that began
before time to bring God's creation into acceptance. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins,
He has paid the debt in full, He is the Great High Priest that can walk with us into the
very presence of our God. Without our accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, we are
eternally lost and separate from God. That's simply not a good place to be!!!!

He, Jesus, is our shepherd! Without Him, we, like all sheep, will tend to wander
and get lost. He cares for us and protects us when there is no way we can contuinue to
safely exist without Him. He gathers us to Him and uses His staff and rod in the
process of bringing us to safe keeping. He is strength, gentleness, compassion and
the truth. He is our friend with a capital F. Our lives should be full of the desire to
follow Him, cherish Him, glorify Him and Trust Him!

He, Jesus, is the light of the world! He has defeated darkness. He has defeated
even death. He has dealt a death-blow to Satan. He is the final judge of this world
and, upon His return, will make all things right and just! He is warmth and hope.
He is King and Lord.