Monthly Archives: February 2021

Freezing, Frazzled and Frustrated

Welcome to the continuing saga of 2020! I know there were a lot of hopes that 2021 would finally bring an end to the crazy 2020 year, but like I mentioned before, turning a page does not change anything; it takes HEART change to make a difference.

I want to thank all who have called, sent cards, and inquired about my multitude of surgeries! Even while I type this article, I am waiting for the Dr. to call about when the vocal cord reversal surgery will happen. I know that I am not the only one with medical issues. So, prayers for all are a comforting assurance that our Lord will be the Jehovah-Rapha!

I recently read a book [not much talking] called “America’s Expiration Date” by Cal Thomas. The book is very interesting and brings a message of truth from scripture and history. In our present time of civil, church and community turmoil, Thomas calls us to return to the biblical mandate of “Loving God and Loving Others.” I recommend this book highly, it captivated me because of the review of history and the various rise and fall of nations/empires beginning with Persia and then applying all the lessons to our present USA time.

There is a bit of a sobering point to all that Cal Thomas says, the fact that no nation/empire has ever rebounded back to supremacy after a moral and ethical decline. Yes, I think we must look at our current moral decadence and realize that our country is severely withdrawn from not just the biblical call to holiness, but also to a civilized moral and ethical code.

So, what was the answer to all of the failure, demoralization, and depravity? Thomas quoted a single verse, a verse that has been used over and over through the years – 2 Chronicles 7:14. We all know this verse, can probably quote it perfectly. REVIVAL is a MUST! Thomas is not calling for meetings or revival services to be scheduled – He is calling for what the Old Testament prophets advocated to Israel; Repent, Return, Reconciliation, Restoration and Revival. The message then and now seems to fall on deaf ears. We know that even Israel was taken into captivity because of their continual rebellion and idolatry. I just read a blip today where the writer was asking the question – Does anyone hear the voice of John Wesley today? The question was not asking for Wesley’s oratory abilities, but for the prophetic message from God to fall on our knees and submit to the authority of God and His Word.

I think we are all guilty of apathy in our lives at times. This cannot be one of those times! The clarion call to all of us in leadership of the churches and people of Faith in Christ to be about restoring the “glory of God” back into our worship and living!

Is there still hope? Absolutely! I am reminded of a wayward back-slidden preacher named Jonah who was tasked with preaching a prophetic word to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire. He reluctantly [after much persuasion] preached through the city for three days. God displayed His mercy and long-suffering by granting a 100-year reprieve of destruction because the people heard Jonah’s message, acted on that message, and were spared the wrath of God. Will we as Americans, Christians, and heir and joint heirs with Christ do anything less for our lost world?

The government is not the answer. New polices are not the solution. We are the solution; we are to be salt and light. Have we lost our flavor and our brilliance? As the Church goes, so goes the nation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!

Dr. Jim

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Philippians 1-4; The Koinonia Church

Philippians 1-4; The Koinonia Church.

I think the book of Philippians may be the most often quoted book. I think of this because it has so many uplifting verses. In Paul’s other epistles he always has a nice opening paragraph then he dives into the issues the particular church has. This is not the case with the Philippians.

            The church at Philippi was started in Acts 16. Paul wanting to go to other regions but was directed by the Holy Spirit to wait. While he was waiting, the Macedonian Vision came to him. As was Paul’s custom he goes to the Jewish synagogues and seeks out God-fearers. I must have been such a joy to minister to the people of the Macedonian region. We find that they are a loving church and a giving church. When Paul asks the gentile churches to give an offering to the Jerusalem church in harsh persecution and a deep famine; the Philippian church not only gave generously, but first gave themselves to the call.  They were probably the very opposite of the Corinthian Church, who seemed to be very self-centered, childish, and carnal. Yes, the great Apostle Paul had to deal with bad churches!

            This short book if filled with strong doctrine and theology. Looking at the “Kenotic passage” Philippians 2:5-11; we are confronted with the humanity and deity of Jesus. Now there have been Councils in the Early Church to debate whether Jesus was human and/or deity. Our minds cannot conceive how someone can be fully both. Jesus never ceases to be God. It took me a long time to understand how this could be. Jesus being God, “Set aside” His deity so as to be fully obedient to the Father, not on the basis of His own power, but the power of the Father working in and through him. I believe that Jesus is the perfect man. As we know from 1 Corinthians 15:45, the second Adam was a living spirit. Jesus was what the original Adam was supposed to be had sin not entered in him.

            There is several verses that admonish the believers to conduct themselves as the Children of God that they are called to be. Particularly Philippians 1:27-30. Unity comes out of this book; which Paul has repeated before in Ephesians 4:1-6.

            When we think about Paul writing this letter while in prison, I am amazed at his upbeat tone. Obviously, the Philippian church is very dear to him. Of course, they have ministered to him directly. Even though Paul is in a Roman prison, awaiting sentencing – he can speak joyfully “for him to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Phil. 1:21]

            Paul knows that death is near, yet he is so intense about serving and being found faithful with his remaining days. In chapter 3, we find the wonderful testimony of Paul. He could have boasted about both of his lives, his pre-salvation and apostleship. Paul was already a successful man in the Jewish religion. He had the right schooling and blood lines. He has ascended the “success ladder.” But when Jesus comes to him on the Damascus road – Paul considered everything prior to his salvation worthless!

            Paul had known pain and agony. He did have an unknown “thorn in the flesh” that kept him humbled. Yet, in his last days, he says that he is a “drink offering” already being poured out before God. He had an amazing missionary ministry, yet his desire is to “know Christ and the fellowship if His suffering, being conformed to His death.” [Phil. 3:7-10]

Paul is writing this heart-felt letter to his dear friends in Macedonia. They have supported him when no other church would even identify with him. [Phil. 4:15-18] Paul, it seems is reliving his life through the letter. He does not know his future, yet still he is encouraging and complimenting the Philippian church. I have always thought the Philippian church was sort of a church that lived “in the trenches” of culture. It was not like Rome or Ephesus or even Corinth. Yet it was a strong, mature church.

I wonder how we would write our memoirs. What would we focus on? If this were our last will and testament, what would we think was most important to say to those we love?  Paul pours his heart out to this group of believers. Yet his focus was not “oh, look at me, pity me for being in prison.” No, Paul energizes and encourages the church to “Press On to the high calling in Christ” as he has.

Oh, that pastors and congregations would have this mutual loving relationship. No struggle for who is in authority, but a clear focus of Kingdom building and living. May it be so!

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What is it Going to Take?

Ezek. 4-10 – What is it Going to Take?

In the reading this week we find the looking back to the destruction of Jerusalem through the eyes of the prophet. We must remember that Ezekiel wrote about the same time frame of events as Jeremiah, just from a different vantage point.

In chapter 4, the illustration of lying on either left or right side relates to the number of years that Israel and Judah were in rebellion against God. There is the repeated word of the “SIEGE” in our chapters. We probably do not understand this tactic in warfare, but it was the most effective way to raze a fortified city in ancient times.

While reading these chapters I had two thoughts that prevailed: first, what was it going to take for Judah to get the message of famine, sword, and pestilence at the hand of God? Second, was the thought by Jonathan Edwards – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon. While these two thoughts prevailed; I had a third thought of “what about the American Church?” I find that we are living in a very difficult time, politically, spiritually, mentally, and culturally. I have watched the news after there has been some natural or man-made disaster. I would listen to how people would say they would rebuild their homes and lives, calling on God for hope. But lately, I find that even though there is a world pandemic and millions of lives being lost, not to take into consideration all the residual issues, that people are not turning to God in heaven, but seem bent on solving the problem themselves. While this is admirable, we fail to realize that we are not in control.

In these chapters of Ezekiel God tells of the devastation and death that will occur, yet the people continue to rebel in their idolatry against God. Now we also must remember that Ezekiel is writing to the “People of God” not to the lost world. So, we cannot say they were ignorant of God – but we can say they were adamantly rejecting God in their life.

The graphic word picture of cannibalism, plagues, famines and the like made me cringe. Yet Israel and Judah continued their adulterous and idolatrous ways, having rejected the message from the prophets. When I read of their obstinate, arrogance, and violent ways, I cannot but help think that they deserve what they get.

Then I think of 2020 and all that America and the rest of the world has been through and ask the same question of us – What will it take for us to humble ourselves before God and repent of our own adulterous and arrogance?”

The condition of Judah was not confined to the people’s private lives but saturated their public and religious lives as well. In chapter 8 we have the abominations that were going on underground of the Temple. Up top in the “Sanctuary” everything looks correct and holy, even authentic. But below the surface, or better yet in the basement there was great idolatry going on. As I think of the situation I am thrust into my own world and how the “Church” is worshiping. Has the Church become hypocritical in its form and function? In other words, are we just going through the motions on the outside, but really living an abominable life on the inside?

Ezekiel 8:17/18 gives us the inside look into God’s mind, revealing the frustration of God with His people. “He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have provoked Me repeatedly? For behold they are putting the twig to their nose. Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath.”

So many of the words found in these chapters are filled with emotion and angst. Words like wrath, profane, iniquity, famine, pestilence, arrogance, abomination, tumult, doom, disaster, and desolation. These are not positive, hope filled words. Yet Judah refuses to acknowledge the message. What about my earlier question of the Church today? Where are we? Are we listening to the Word of God? Scripture tells us these things were written for our example. [1 Corinthians 10:6-11]

Have we heeded the warnings from scripture on what happens to idolatry and arrogance? Do we understand the wrath of God upon disobedience? And Judgment must begin at the House of God – the church! [1 Peter 4:17]

What will it take for us to capture the essence and spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Or will we continue in our rebellion and reenact Romans 1:18-31? Our choice!!

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