Category Archives: 2021 posts

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 Yes, I think we must look at our current moral decadence and realize that our country is severely withdrawn from not just the biblical call to holiness, but also to a civilized moral and ethical code.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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Who is on Your Throne

Ezekiel 1-3: Who is on the Throne?

            As I write this blog, there is a runoff election in Georgia and the United States senate is preparing to vote on the Electoral College for the President. I find this significant in the fact the most powerful position [in my estimation] will be decided and the aftermath will reflect either a positive or negative reaction.

            During the past six months, Americans have been embroiled in the political debate for support of a candidate, the media has played its part, often moving from reporting to persuasion of people. Currently in the world, we are fighting a Pandemic, wars and rumors of wars, famine and cultural differences. So, how are we to deal with all this? In our reading, Ezekiel the priest is privileged to have a vision, a nightmare if you ask me. God through the Holy Spirit allows Ezekiel a very strange vision.

Before we go there, let us take a snapshot look at the setting. In the opening verses of Ezekiel one we have a very specific time and place description. Ezekiel writes during the Babylonian captivity of Judah and Benjamin. [Southern Kingdom] Daniel is in Babylon and Jeremiah has already pronounced doom of Judah.

So here is Ezekiel, a Hebrew priest, some forty years into captivity receiving a vision from God. Ezekiel sees four faces, and figures in a chariot. This reflects the Babylonian deities/gods. Each beast/deity stands for a season and a direction. If we look at this vision, the one on the throne is Nebuchadnezzar, not God. While the Jews were allowed to continue their religious rituals, they were still in captivity because of their stubbornness and rebellion. It would be very easy for the Jews to lament that God had left them. But nothing could be further from the truth. While we will leave God, God will never leave or forsake us.

When we look at the 2020, we could say “What in the world is going on?” Where is God in all this? Why is He allowing all this turmoil to happen? A quick answer would be that God has not left us, but He has let us wallow in our own rebellion and carnality. The problem is that believers think that culture and society is the problem. The truth is “As the Church goes, so does the nation.” If believers were the salt and light they were called to be – we [America] would not be in this condition/situation.

Believers this last year have faced great trials, but the trials and tribulations were not from “persecution for their testimony of Jesus.” Their trials and even anxiety are from being engulfed in the world scheme of things instead of focusing on the mission and task we are called to – You shall be My witnesses – preaching, teaching and baptizing the converted lost souls.  Instead, we have played politics and engaged in societal arguments.

Why was Judah where they were? Because of their rebellion and hard-hardheartedness towards God. Many have asked me “is this the Last Days?” The answer is yes, but is it the cataclysmic last days? I do not know.

Ezekiel was allowed to see who was really on the throne – God, not man, not some deity of a lost nation – but God! This begs the question, who is on the throne of your heart? Have you and I embraced the gods of politics, government, and cultural arguments?

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is my King, my Lord! We are passing through this world – our allegiance must be to the Eternal Father in Heaven and His Kingdom, not this earthly kingdom that will fade away.

So, does it matter who wins the Presidency – yes. But greater still is who is on your throne?

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Turn the Page

January 1st, thinking about all the optimist about the New Year. As I began to think of all that has happened in 2020 and finally the year ended last night, what really changed? I will be accused of being a pessimist from the content of this blog I am sure. But really, what changed?

We turned the page on a calendar, yes we will have to remember to write 2021 on all our correspondence. There is the HOPE that by beginning a new year that things will be different. I think we can HOPE that 2021 will bring some closure to the hardships and difficulties of a pandemic, an election and a record storm season. BUT, there is that word that seems to stop a train of thought and causes our mind to go “Oh No, now what?”

Well, in Jeremiah 8:20 it says, with Jeremiah speaking – Harvest is past, summer has ended, and we are not saved.” Remember Jeremiah was trying to get Judah to realistically look at their spiritual condition and the pending judgement and captivity by Babylonian armies. The the HOPE of the people relied on their King and religious priests to deliver them from the inescapable judgement. Jeremiah was seen as a rebel and a naysayer. Conditions in Judah had deteriorated so bad that God told Jeremiah twice do not pray for these people I will not hear you cry and prayers. [Jeremiah 7:16 and 11:14] I find this remembrance of mine very interesting since it was just last January that I taught a bible study to my churches on Jeremiah.

Where have we come? How far have we as a nation, person, church and denomination fallen? While we may put our hopes in a new president, a vaccine and even a stimulus check – these are false hopes. Simply changing the calendar or turning a page does not bring change. It may bring optimism, but not change.

What we left in 2020 is for the most part still here when we woke up on January 1st. We still have a global crisis, a vaccine that seemingly cannot get properly dispersed, political upheaval, arguments and name calling between political parties, tension in our cities about social injustice, rioting in major cities over Black Lives Matter and de-funding police, Critical Race Theory and intersectionality are all still here with us. All the problems that we thought were left in 2020, are still needing to be dealt with in 2021.

So, how are we to enter into 2021, are we to drag all the problems, failures and sin from 2020 into 2021? Well, if all we did was turn the page on a calendar, then we should expect that everything that existed before we went to sleep is still with us when we wake up!

As I reflect on what could happen in 2021, I am HOPEFUL, hopeful in the strong arm of God, His faithfulness even when I am not faithful. I must be resolved that “in the world you will have tribulations, BUT TAKE HEART I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD” – John 16:33. There is an old hymn that use to be sang in churches, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly trust in Jesus Name, On Christ the Solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand!”

Some trust in chariots, but I trust in the Lord our God! Turning the page on a calendar does not magically make all the bad or undesirable circumstances disappear. If we have not resolved the battle in our soul, then the war still rages. Jeremiah’s words – summer has ended, the harvest is done and we still are not saved rings clear about how that seasons and events of a year do not end the greater issues of life. Judah had departed from GOD, they trusted in alliances with foreign kings, yet neglected the King of Kings. If we are hoping and trusting in a new administration to solve our problems, then we are really naive.

There is one way to make a “Turning of the Page” action make a difference – Turn to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. I know many people will make promises and resolutions, but turning over a new leaf is not what is needed. How I entered the New Year is more important than the New Year/New Day. Last year when the pandemic hit, I made the statement -“This pandemic is a wake-up call to the church and a warning to the world.”

I saw the sun come up this morning, it was really beautiful. My thoughts went immediately to some things never change. The greatest non-changing occurs in Jesus Christ – He still loves me. Jesus still wants to save the LOST. The change needed for 2021 is not a Turning the page of a calendar, but the Turning to the Cross!

Romans 5:1-5 says Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Hope is a good thing – Hope does not disappoint – Pray that your HOPE is in the powerful name of Jesus! Nothing else will make the needed changes – 2 Corinthians 5:17

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