Category Archives: Misc. commentary

Esther -Queen for the Season

Esther 1-3

Growing up there was a reality show called “Queen for the Day.” Basically, it took normal women, many being homemakers and put them through an elimination process, to get the final contestant and she would be crowned Queen for the Day.  In our passage this week, we have the young maiden-virgin Esther who would be crowned “Queen for the Season.” As we will read later, Mordecai, her cousin will make the famous statement – “Who knows but for such a time as this, you are queen.” [paraphrase of Esther 4:14]

I find that many times looking back at my own life, wondering why now, why here? Of all the places and times I could have been born and lived – I find it both challenging and mysterious that people were born at the exact right time – Galatians 4:4 tells us that Jesus was born in the fullness of time. When the timing was right, God sent forth Jesus born of a virgin. This tells me that there had to be a particular environment for Jesus to be born. Investigating this we find that the world was under “Pax Roman” – peace of Rome and the roman road system built; also the language was Greek, and the unrest within Judaism.  People were looking for a Messiah figure, several imposters have been documented in istory.

Back to Esther; in the first two chapters we find King Ahasuerus reigning over 127 provinces and living in Susa. This is also during the Babylonian Exile period.  During a “look at Me” gathering the King having drank a bit too much, commanded the Queen at that time to present herself – I have no idea why Queen Vashti refused, other than not wanting to be a spectacle. If we look at this story, we find that both King and Queen were feeling their oats so to speak.  Well, the King didn’t take the rejection lightly and held a court counsel to determine what to do. Basically, Queen Vashti lost her title. The problem then if the episode was let stand without any action, would that the women would look upon their husbands with contempt. This issue in itself is worthy of future study beyond this blog. Basically, to prevent the empire to have marital upheaveal – Queen Vashti was expelled.

Well, you can’t have an empire without a Queen, so the plan was to have a “Beauty pageant.  At this point, I’m sure many of the readers are saying “How sexist and demeaning!” I’m just telling the story, okay. So all throughout the empire, beautiful virgins were sought and put under the care of Eunuch Hegai “and cosmetics were given them.” Yes even back then women adorned themselves with cosmetics. This is when Mordecai suggests that Esther [aka Hadassah] participate. Esther must have been something to behold, for every one who sees her is taken back with her beauty.  For a year, the ladies were doted on  with all beautification spices and cosmetics. Each lady had one night to influence the King enough to be slected. This almost sounds like the “Bachelor” reality show. ANyway, Esther is called to the King for the evening – I won’t speculate on what happened at this point.  Anyway Ether finds great pleasure and favor from the King. The favor would result in Esther being crowned Queen – “yet Esther had not yet revealed who here kindred people were.” An incident involving a spoiled plot against the king is thwarted by Mordecai and written in the annals of the Empire history.

The plot thickens when Haman, an Agagite; [ancestor of Esau, and an Amalekite, Agag and Amalek  have always been against the Jews “Jacob’s offspring” – we find that this fight has been on-going for centuries; Herod the Great was an Idumean and a relative of Esau – so the war rages on] is advanced to a great position of authority and given the King’s signet ring. All were to pay homage and bow down before Haman – except Mordecai refused. Haman filled with rage tries to get King Ahasuerus to enforce an edict that anyone who did not bow, would be killed. Haman indicted all the Jews – saying they were against the king and needed to be destoryed. So the edict was released to all 127 provinces and the people are terrified.  Chapter 3:15, while drinking with Haman in Susa, the rest of the city was in confusion. This is usually our state of mind when we don’t understand why thinking happen as they do.  Too often we react rather than respond to life situations and usually then it is an emotional one. Just like Covid-19, this story of Esther must be seen in its entirety before we can get some semblance of understanding. Next week the rest of the story and why each episode is important to the end of the story – which plays out during our own life time.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Elijah Syndrome and Covid-19

Passage from 1 Kings 18-19

The Famous Mount Carmel battle between the Baal Prophets and God’s Prophet is well known. The display of God’s power when the man of God prays is unlimited. James 5:17 – Elijah was a man like us; he prayed for it not to rain for three years and it didn’t. I want to focus on the “Man Like us” part of the verse. We know that Elijah was a great prophet, but he was a man. While there were great episodes in his life where the power of God was on display against the enemies of the WORD and His prophet.  1 Kings 18 tells us about the great victory Elijah was a part of in determining who’s god was God. Equal test, sacrifice a bull on the altar and cry out to your god and the god who consumes the sacrifice is God.  Of course the Baal prophets cried out and shouted, cut themselves all day and nothing happened. We know that Elijah ridiculed them and even made fun of their god, saying maybe he is a sleep or relieving himself. After the Baal prophets succumbed to the futility of their efforts; Elijah had his turn. He rebuilt the altar, had water poured on the sacrifice not once but twice. He called out to Yahweh and fire came down and consumed the sacrifice and licked up even the water! Wow, Yahweh is God, then Elijah slew all the Baal prophets.

The connection with Elijah and the Covid-19 is this; Elijah had a melt down after a great victory over the Baal prophets to the point that he ran for his life because of the threat from Jezeebel. For the last 8 weeks or so pastors and ministers have been working overtime to ensure that their congregations got a sermon and service; with the “going back” to church starting even this week, I think there may be a severe let down that the crisis is over. I have been really impressed with the “CHURCH” and how it has stepped up during the “stay at home orders and social distancing.” I have learned that mankind usually will rise to the occasion to meet a threat or crisis. The Church hasn’t been the only people to rally around defeating this virus; first responders and medical personnel are to be lauded for their great compassion and sacrifice to help other people. I have seen the effects like this when natural disasters occur here in Texas and other parts the world. BUT, after the majority of the crisis is over or at least been over come and a semblance of “normality” has been restored, the mind, body and soul have a “crash.

I mean that there has been so much energy expended to keep the “machine” going that there may be a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual let down coming back. Elijah rose to the task of defeating the Baal Prophets, but after the adrenaline rush wore off, he succumbed to a depression so great he ran to a cave to hide.

My whole point in this blog is to possibly warn us about what could happen POST COVID-19. We know that the Hand of the Lord was on Elijah; but He was a man like unto us – human! Hearing the threat that jezebel was going to kill him, he ran. How often do we forget the way God responds to our prayers in the past when facing another dillemma? Lest we miss this depth of this depression look at 1 Kings 19:3 – “He was afraid, and he rose and ran for his life.” This Elijah who took on 450 Baal prophets ran because of a threat from an evil woman. 1 kings 19:4- so Elijah goes a days journey and sits under a juniper tree and asks that he might die; saying “it is enough; now LORD take my life.”

After that God comes twice and provided food for Elijah, that will enable him to go into the wilderness for 40 days; specifically Mount Horeb – the very place where God speaks and gives Moses the Law. In the cave, hiding – God speaks to him “Elijah what are you doing here?” Of course Elijah like many of us we will spew forth our allegiance to God and how we have served Him and we are all alone in doing so! I’m all alone, even i only am left and they seek my life!  Then Elijah is told to go stand at the opening of the cave – first a great wind, then an earthquake and then fire; but God was not in any of them. Then Elijah hears a low whisper, so he wraps himself in his cloak and goes and stands at the opening of the cave again. Again God asks “Elijah what are you doing HERE?” Elijah presents his testimony of allegiance to God. God tells Elijah – Get up and get back to work! [paraphrase].

God was not in the big and magnamous; he was in the still small voice. Too often as believers we look for the huge and gigantic miracles to prove that God is; but He is just as present in our quietness and silence. With the Post Covid-19; my fear is that too many of us will have a let down emotionally, physically and spiritually where we experience a sort of Elijah Syndrome – of collapse after the crises is brought under control. Our God is the God of the big, the threatening, the small and even things we think are insignificant. God is God over all, and through all. We don’t need to go hide in a cave and think we are the only ones serving God righteously. He has servants we do not know about. We are not alone!!

Let us not fear because there is no longer a major threat to our lives and “we have overcome” but let us rejoice in the Power of prayer and faith in our God who reigns surpremmely!  Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and of good courage!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Not WHEN BUT HOW

The last month has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions and news announcements about the Covid-19 pandemic! I am sure that all of you are stressed out and tired of hearing about the every-changing, daily updates as I am. We have had to deal with the morphing of the virus and movement across the world. The daily updates and statistics have now moved to a new demanding answer -WHEN can we come out of Stay At Home orders and resume our life as normal? This includes getting our economy back moving, shop openly, eat out, go back to work and last of all the number one question I hear is WHEN can we go back to Church?
I have passed on as much information from various sources to our pastors and leadership. This question is being researched and scrutinized by everyone. I have heard some churches are looking at going back as soon as April 26th. Others have taken a more cautious approach and looking at Mid-June. So, what is the criteria that will determine when we are allowed to “congregate” again? I made a public statement yesterday and supported the Union Baptist Association and the Austin area of not moving too swiftly on this matter. Basically, I support a first part of June return date.
I know everyone is antsy to get back to NORMAL. But coming out of this GLOBAL PANDEMIC we have to ask what is normal, and what do we think we are returning to? I have been persuaded to ask many questions about that last question – what are we going back to? I posted a blog  last week at “preachbetweenthelines.com” on GOING BACK IS NOT AN OPTION.” Israel always wanted to go back to Egypt when there were obstacles and struggle along the journey to the Promise Land. I want to share an “Exit Strategy” from Covid-19 as we come out of the stay at homme order and return to the NEW NORMAL. Before I talk of the strategy, there is a burning question every person and church must ask; HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED because of the pandemic and WHAT IS THIS NEW NORMAL? I ask these questions because in reality we have to ask DID NORMAL WORK? To return to a system or status that did not work, seems ludicrous.
As we come back to our Churches, then we must make sure to get this right – for if we miss this eternal moment in the life of Mankind, I fear there may not be another opportunity for repentance and revival of the Church and salvation for the Lost. That being said here are five principles every church and pastor must consider: [these principles attributed to my friend Dr. Tom Cheyney of Renovate ministries]
1. Be Clear in your Directions; make sure you communicate clear, leaving no doubt as to what you want the people to do or not do.
2. Be Confident in your Desires; this means being sold out to the ideas and actions you are going to implement or change.
3. Be Committed in your Decisions; no waffling – stand strong in the direction you are going. People will need to see confidence and your personal commitment to the plan.
4. Be Corrected by your Defeats; this means be flexible and allow for somethings that will not work but be ready to adjust when necessary. I would add, do not be in a hurry.
5. Be Conscious of God’s Dependability; God is faithful, He is immutable -does not change. God the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I would add that is more important HOW we come Back than it is WHEN we come back. Our return to the buildings we call the Church cannot be about our assembling together again. It must be about the praise and worship of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.
Many churches will probably return back to the same “routine normal” they left. Seeing this period of the virus only as an interruption and nothing more – that would be a grave mistake. The Churches have filled the airwaves and internet with their services and sermons. These have engaged and impacted the lost world. SO much has been done to help mankind to weather this storm. My prayer is that the LOST will not look around in a few weeks and ask “WHERE DID THE CHURCH GO? Only to have someone tell them “OH, THEY WENT BACK TO THEIR BUILDINGS!”
Blessings
Jim Grant
Executive Director

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Going Back Not an Option

Exodus 14:11-15; 15:22-25; 16:1-12 ; 17:1-3

Grumblings, fear, obstacles and impatience. As we come out of this pandemic, many are starting to devise “way forward” plans. When we read about Israel coming out of Egypt, we find that at every turn the people GRUMBLED at Moses – not the LORD GOD, but Moses. Leadership must always be on display during and after a crisis. As Pastors, State and country leaders all across the globe look to move past the quarantine orders and try to move their respective areas back to a “Normalcy,” there will be must scrutiny about plans and progress.

I have written a couple Facebook entries that expressed the concern that people, institutions, churches and governments will try to “Go Back” to what life was like before. To me that is like trying to put the genie back into the bottle after it has been let out. Israel always wanted to GO BACK to Egypt when something became inconvenient or uncomfortable. Even when they were on the cusp of going into the Promise Land the first time, many let their fears and anxieties rule the day. Something that Israel never did learn the during the 40 years of “Wilderness Wanderings” was that GOING BACKWARDS was not an OPTION. No matter the problem they faced going forward [armies in pursuit, no water, no food, or giants in the Land] going back to what Egypt offered was never considered by GOD.  It was HIS plan that Israel should always live in the Promise Land. He made this known to Abram, Isaac and Jacob multiple times.

Now, as Christianity has stepped up during this pandemic to make sure that services and care for their congregations took place; the NEXT STEP is a vital one. Will Churches and Believers move forward? During this critical time, there has been great outpouring of people providing humanitarian relief and support – AMEN. But we must remember that the CHURCH must be the Light in the World not Government bail outs and stimulus packages. I laud the great benevolence and care provided by the masses – But I know they are looking to get past this time and return to their normally comfortable life.

This begs the question: what have we learned from all of this?

  1. In difficult times mankind will pull together to help those in need
  2. Governments will try to eradicate the problem
  3. Money will be the first choice to eliminate the discomfort from the crisis
  4. The Church can be counted on to COME out of isolation to be a Light to the World
  5. People will always grumble against Leadership
  6. There will always be those who rebel against the PLAN
  7. People are more in a hurry to get past an issue than to learn the LIFE LESSONS of going through it
  8. People are always in a hurry to get control back of their lives
  9. God is God in the good times and the difficult times
  10. Life adjustments must be made individually, not levied by Public opinion
  11.  Mankind can live without all the excesses; basic needs always outweigh the wants in a crisis

These are just some thoughts I have about this phase of the pandemic we are experiencing. The bold question to be answered by all of us; believers and non-believers alike: WHAT DID THIS PANDEMIC DO TO ME? WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF? God has provided this time for a reason. If we only look at the minute details of the pandemic, which I am sure many books will be written about- then we have missed this ETERNAL MOMENT!

I think this pandemic is a wake up call to the Church to get busy with God’s mission of saving the Lost through the Gospel and charity. In that this is a global problem I also believe it is a warning to mankind to become human again. Mankind had gotten to a point of such myopic living the reins had to be pulled back. A third thing I think should be that we learn what is essential and what is luxury.  I had hoped we would stay in this until Christians become unified and collaborative – my fear is we haven’t learned anything.

So Going Forward, not Backward what is it that the LORD GOD wants you to learn and do?

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Resurrection Sunday- From Rumors and Rabbits to Reality and Relationships

April 12, 2020

While we have celebrated the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection; we find that the disciples didn’t have the reality of the day. We do have scriptural accounts of what happened after the women returned and told the disciples that Jesus’ body was gone. They [peter and John] ran to the tomb and yes they found the tomb empty except for the grave linens. Two places give us insight to the Resurrection day – Luke 24 and John 20.  While we know Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the disciples discounted her, thinking she was speaking {nonsense}. They hadn’t seen Jesus’ resurrected body yet. They like Thomas needed first hand evidence for themselves. Before we get to the John20 passage; we are given a conversation with two on the road to Emmaus. The two were returning home; the fireworks are over – No Jesus, No overthrow of the Romans, and no hope, the “Messiah” was dead and now missing. The two had heard the reports and conveyed them to Jesus. NOTE: I am amazed that Jesus doesn’t allow himself to be “seen” until He is ready to be seen. The two walking along discussing the last few days trying to make sense out of it all. Suddenly Jesus joins in and ask them what are you talking about. What are these things, What Things? Are you a visitor and don’t know what has happened the last few days? Isn’t it interesting that even though they do not believe the reports of what happened, they are readily willing to pass on the story. The HOPE that Jesus was the Messiah, who would redeem Israel, and now it is even the third day. Relating the visits to the Empty Tomb and yes it was empty – But they didn’t see Jesus – It does make sense that if Jesus was resurrected that He would be seen.  “O Foolish men . . . . ” Then Jesus teaches them what they should have already known from the scriptures. Their hearts and minds were on fire – and their eyes were opened – then Poof Jesus is gone. Now think about this next scene – already home, they turn around and head back to Jerusalem to tell the others. Think about this, the disciples have been in the Upper Room all day; nothing to report other than the women and their “vision”. The two return and start relaying their story to the disciples and yep you got – Jesus shows up. Could it be that Jesus was giving the disciples time to reflect and be ready believe then see? The two from Emmaus  – “He is Risen, the Lord really is risen!” Validation of the testimonies of us who have experienced the REVELATION OF JESUS BEING ALIVE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO HIM AS SAVIOR; IS affirmed by His presence in our Lives – Jesus’ resurrection changed the world, changed men and changed eternity forever.

I once heard that seeing isn’t believing – Believing is seeing; we call that FAITH!

I’m not really sure where the Rabbit comes into all of this – but the RUMORS were no more; the stories were TRUE – REALITY was finally settling in to the disciples hearts and minds; when Jesus appears.

John 20 – two different times Jesus appears; I mean walks right into the room, not using the door! And we wonder why they didn’t believe? I’m sure right about then, I would be jumping out of a window or something – this can’t be, Jesus is right here and He is talking to us! I have done nearly 300 funerals in the last 20 plus years. I have never had anyone sit up in the casket!

No more rumors, rabbits don’t have a place in this story. But RESURRECTION AND RELATIONSHIPS DO!

Jesus’ death was necessary for the blood sacrifice for sin; His resurrection was necessary for HIS LIFE IN US.  Salvation relationship is SOMEBODY [Jesus] IN SOMEBODY [Me]

As we close out this day  we have to remember it took all day before the disciples understood that Jesus was Alive. We know how the story ended before we got up this morning, they however had to wait until Jesus REVEALED  Himself to them.  It is my prayer for all of us – don’t lay your head down tonight until Jesus has revealed Himself as risen LORD, not just Jesus on the CROSS!

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Silent Saturday

April 11, 2020 – The Jewish Sabbath, a day of rest according to the Mosaic Law

I was thinking of the various day names surrounding Easter:

Ash Wesnesday

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

Easter/Resurrection Sunday

But there is a day that rarely anyone talks about – Silent SaturdayWe have plenty of commentary on the other days, but what happened on Saturday? Only in Matthew 27:62-66 do we have anything said about Saturday. The greatest fear the religious leaders had was that Jesus’ body would be stolen and give credence to what He said about raising up “This Temple”.  So a seal was put on the stone to let them know if the grave had been tampered with, that and a guard was placed to keep watch.

Seals and Soldiers – Okay, so the Tomb is secure, the guard in place and the rest of the Disciples are huddled up in the Upper Room waiting for the Sabbath to be over. The Sabbath is suppose to be a time of rest and worshipping God. Instead I think inside the Upper Room the disciples were asking all the questions they could think of – but we find that the answers didn’t come until Jesus arose from the grave. [Then the disciples remember what He said, after  the resurrection – Luke 24:9.] I can’t imagine all that went through theirs minds and hearts during that long day. I’m sure they were in shock at what happened; guilt ridden for how they ran from the scene; pondering the suicide of Judas; anger and remorse of how the crowds and religious leaders used mob tactics to have Jesus killed on the cross.

But there are some other things that went on during that day. The scene of the religious leaders securing the grave as I mentioned. But what about where Jesus was? We know that Psalms 16:10; I will not leave your soul in Sheol [place of the dead]. This begs the question  – what happens when someone dies? Where do they go? We have the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31, a place called Hades. The Rich man in one part and Lazarus in another part in “Abraham’s bosom.  There is a great divide between the two, one cannot go from place to place. Wherever a person finds themselves, that is their lot until the Judgment. [Revelation 20:11-15]. To help us answer the question of where Jesus went, we also have to ask where the Old Testament saints went when the died. Obviously, they didn’t go to Heaven, access was not available yet. So they waited – Waited in a place called Hades. John 14:6 tells us that no-one can come to the Father except through Jesus. We know that Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection; Ephesians 4:8 tells us that Jesus when He ascended having first descended, led captive those who were captive. It is my understanding that Jesus liberated those who had been waiting for their eternal Salvation. SO as Jesus ascended to the Father, He led the Old Testament Saints into the presence of the Father. Their HOPE was in the Coming Messiah; ours today is also in the COMING, but His 2nd Coming! The great gulf had been spanned through the precious Blood of the Lamb of God. Also today we know that – “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord [1 Corinthians 5:8]. Today when a person dies, he/she can go into the presence of Yahweh because the “wall of separation has been tore down.” [Eph. 2:14-15]

So, imagine while the rest of mankind was waiting and hiding; those who by faith had trusted in God, their waiting was over! Imagine if you can what it must have been like for them to see Jesus the Messiah enter into their presence – I can hear Him say “Let’s Go Home.” As saints are in Heaven even now waiting for US – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18!

I think God likes Gardens – Of course there is the tragic rebellion incident in the Garden of Eden; also the place where the first sacrifice for sin was slain; and that was done by God. We also find that the Garden of Gethsemane; God provided another sacrifice – the Last Sacrifice for sin. There have been preachers and commentaries that think A “Jesus had to present His blood in Heaven, to the Father as a Passover/Sin sacrifice.” I’m not so inclined to follow that thought. All I know is that the shed blood of Jesus Christ was the price that was necessary as the Lamb of God to satisfy the “death penalty of sin, and cleanse/forgive all who trust in Jesus as the Son of God and sacrifice for sin. The Blood of Jesus was the ONLY way mankind could come to the Heavenly Father; reconciled back to HIM – the offense of SIN which began in Eden had finally been revoked by Faith in Jesus.

Silent Saturday – not very much, for while mankind was SILENT; God was in Christ, but He was anything but silent. We must wait, as the Old Testament saints waited. But our Wait is with anticipation that a trumpet will sound and Jesus will say for a second time – “Let’s Go Home!”

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Quarantined Easter

April 10, 2020

Stay at Home orders, pandemic issues, quarantined people, drive-in and videoed services, financial upheaval and the list goes on. Obviously this is a different time for all of us. I think it is admirable how so many churches/preachers are making sure that their Easter services and sermons are going to be on the internet. My prayer is that the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified and honored by what is done. This is serious times, so many are trying to understand the impossible situation the World is experiencing.

Sometimes I think that this Easter is analogous of that first Easter. The had self-quarantined by this time Friday; Jesus has died on the Cross with the words “It is Finished.” The disciples have all ran for fear, and wound up in a holy huddle in the very Upper Room they had been enjoying the Last Supper only hours ago. Bewildered and shattered to the core, the unbelievable has happened – Jesus is gone! In a mere week, everything changed. For us today it was about three weeks. We find ourselves also asking questions about the UNKNOWN. What do we do now? When will all this end? What will NORMAL look like?

These obviously are not the same questions the Disciples had at the time. But, questions they did have. For them as well as us we have been taking actions of SURVIVAL. As this horrific scene on Golgotha’s Hill settles into their minds, they have become isolated, and dependent on each other. They could at least embrace one another and have the comfort on not being alone.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus have taken Jesus’ body down, with the help of the women, His body is laid in the TOMB. The stone is rolled to seal it. The haphazard BURIAL is complete, so they return to the Upper Room. We like they are trying to make the best of the situation. [We have the end of the story and know what is coming then, but we don’t know the end now]

WAITING – none of us like it, most detest it! Our question is HOW LONG? Theirs was restriction because of the SABBATH – 24 hours to think, cry, lament and fear. I don’t now what happened during that SABBATH, but it must have been a very dark time for all of the Believers then. Surely, nothing like they had ever been through before. Besides, the ONE they turned to was JESUS and He was dead. We, believers must turn to Jesus during this time of QUARANTINE – use it to reflect ad think about our lives and the future of the Gospel we are to share. Many unorthodox actions have been taken by the Government and Churches. We must learn from this time – like it or not our NORMAL is no longer ACCEPTABLE. Good Friday changed everything for the WORLD; this GOOD FRIDAY should change OUR world as well.

There was so much the early believers were not in control of at the time; likewise for us. We are not hunted or persecuted, but we are stressed and stretched right now. As we go into a Friday evening into an early Saturday, I pray we will ponder where we are with Christ and renew our HOPE that this unknown – unstable time will grow us stronger in our FAITH.

Just as an additional note: I always wondered WHY IS IT CALLED GOOD FRIDAY? After some research, Good used to mean HOLY. While we might struggle with what happened, when we think of the result of Jesus’ death for SIN and the LAMB of GOD, then we can see that the actions were not accomplished by men, but the loving Heavenly FATHER. Surely, salvation is a GOOD or HOLY thing. We look at the result of something to determine if it is good or not – my opinion while going through something may or may not be accurate. Surely, it was HOLY FRIDAY!

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Character Building

“It was the best of Times; it was the worst of Times” – this line from Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities; seems to capture our current state of life. Depending on what you listen to through news programming or social media sites, our perspective of this pandemic and Corona Virus will change. I have many more questions than answers right now, and I will not insult your intelligence by trying to make you think I do. None of us have been through such a crisis on a personal or global level. Our generation may be experiencing our own “Great Depression or Bombing of Peral Harbor” life altering event. Our ancestors came through their own crisis and establish the world we live in today. The question for all of us is “will this be a great character-building time or a chaotic disappointment?
I have tried to talk to people and bring a real perspective to this time in eternity – it is just that, a certain people at a certain time in eternal history. The pandemic is GLOBAL. We must remember that we are not the only ones going through this crisis. Right now, we seem to be dependent on our Governments worldwide to solve this problem. They may help steady the boat so to speak; but the answer is found in our sovereign God!
The bad news keeps getting worse. This pandemic has a mind of its own it seems. Every time I turn around, it has morphed into some other phase. People are dying, industry has stopped; people are quarantined and yet we have no answer for a cure in the foreseeable future. That’s the Worst of Times.
The Best of Times [as I see it] is the mobilization of so many agencies working together to some how soften the effects. There has been a great thrust within Christianity of getting the Word of God out through on-line applications and social media. Many churches are reaching audiences they never touched before. Some churches are launching into the 21st century technology for the first time.
I had a friend of mine tell me that if we don’t experience repentance and revival through all this, then we may have missed the point of the virus happening. That is quite a statement! I know before all this happened millions were praying earnestly for REVIVAL. Simply we may be getting what we asked for! In every Great Awakening and Revival in history it began with Prayer. We all know that our entire world needs the Gospel, and the Church to awaken from its slumber. Our world was in a deep degenerative condition. We had opioid and drug epidemics, Cannabis and CBD oils sales skyrocketing and every imaginable sexual orientation accepted, then the senseless killing of unborn children. Were we in need of revival? Unequivocally yes!
While we could easily get wrapped up into an apocalyptical frenzy, we must stay grounded. Our Faith not Fear is our foundation. 1 Peter 1:6-7, the trying of our faith. We – believers of the Only True God and His Son Jesus Christ have the ability to preserve in trials with overcoming faith as the Holy Spirit gives us strength in our very souls!
I don’t know when this will end, but I do know that our “cure” is from the Lord God. James 1:2-4 is our mandate. Let this be the Churches defining moment to bring great Glory to our Heavenly Father. Psalms 85:4-7; Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself [revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Some things never change

Ecclesiastes 3:15 “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been for God seeks that which has passed by.” I just finished the Winter bible study in Jeremiah. It is a sad book, and quite understandable why Jeremiah is called the “Weeping prophet.” Oh, how far Israel and Judah had fallen from the LORD!  Jeremiah is tasked with bringing the warning of impending judgment from God on the city of Zion and Jerusalem. The people of Judah and Benjamin are all that remain after the Assyrians took Samaria and the Northern Kingdom and disbursed them to the four winds of the known world. The kings of Judah refused to acknowledge that God was behind the discipline and judgment. The Northern kingdom fell along with Samaria in 722 BC. God uses the gentile kings to bring judgment on HIS PEOPLE. Something we must remember that the prophets preached and prophesied against the “Church of the Old Testament.” I wonder why is it that God can get Gentile nations to do His will, but cannot get HIS own people to be faithful? I cannot imagine what it would be like to hear God say – Do not pray for these people, I will not hear or answer your prayers.

I’ll be doing a conference for the next two weekends, one in Hawaii and the other in Fort Worth. Both conferences have to do with renewal and revival of the Church. Looking at the Church today, especially in America, must cause God to lament. It seems that the “local church” is only good for one complete generation – the founding people. Sometimes it may extend to a second or third generation. Church planting was  and I guess still is in some areas of United States the tactic to curb the dying churches. However, that alone cannot be expected to remedy the growing number of closed churches across all denominations. We could blame the people in the church, the pastor, the community or even the culture for apathy and decline in the church. But the real reason is not new – the Church is a spiritual entity and should be handled and treated like the spiritual body it is supposed to be.

Now I realize that not all churches are a product of God in their formation. Many churches have been formed out of spite for other people. Sometimes that is good and necessary, but not always. My work has been with pastoring and church revitalization situations. Trust me it wasn’t my idea! It is difficult and demoralizing at times to try and convince the Church that they are not in tune with God. Change has to happen in the church – but the change I’m talking about is the change in the Church people! Many times the changes that are tried consist of changes music, pews to chairs, lights on stage and dark in the audience, café and atriums and dress down clothing. However, what I see in this attempt is to draw the world into the church – to get attenders that are comfortable – Oh, I forgot you can carry you Big Gulp into the service.

How did we get this so far way from the awe and reverence of God? No way would a high priest go into the Holy of Holies with some of the attire we wear into the sanctuary. My thought – the World has dictated to the CHURCH what is acceptable and what is now in our church services. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just gone to a youth rally instead of Church! We as the Church body of Christ should take out lead from Christ Jesus – Be Holy as I am Holy! Holiness in character, action, behavior and thought. How we do something can be just as important as why we do something.

Now, I have rambled – my thought for today is the origin of why America is in the condition it is in – Judges 2:11-15 explains what happened then, and what is happening now to us. The people of God – turned from God and served Baals [other gods]; the forsook the LORD [rejected HIM] they provoked the LORD to anger and the anger of the LORD burned against them so that HE was not with them, but actually against them – so that they were severely distressed.  Israel and American churches [believers] have left God and served humanism. I mentioned the problems we have today in the CHURCH is a spiritual problem.  REPENT  and RETURN was Jeremiah’s message – they refused and God let Nebuchadnezzar to take them captivity.  What will America do? Refuse until it is too late? Or is it already to late for the Winds of Revival to blow?

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

Incarnation of Christ

We all know the various prophecies that tell of Jesus’ birth in the Old Testament. These predictions come to fulfillment in the New Testament. There are many questions of how Mary could conceive a child without a man; the conception being through the Holy Spirit. When we try to imagine God putting on flesh like the very creation He, himself fashioned – well that becomes mind blowing. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we beheld His glory as the Only Begotten Son, full of grace and Truth.” [John 1:14] In the beginning was the Word, The Word was in the beginning with God, and the Word was God. The incarnation is the revelation to Mankind of the presence of God in visible form. Jesus told His disciples “if you have seen Me, then you have seen the Father; I and the Father are One.” [John 14]

When I think of the story line of scripture, from Genesis with God making man from the dust of the earth and breathing into him the “breath of life, and man becoming a living soul, I am overwhelmed. When I think of the Fall in the garden of Eden and the devastation as a resulted, that even Creation cries out for restoration and reconciliation – it again is overwhelming. The Law of Moses given to try and reveal to harden mankind the failure and inability to be holy and to restore ourselves to the Only God – our creator, the situation seems hopeless.

Thinking through the past four and half years of blogging, the scripture reinforces the fact that only God can restore mankind back to Jehovah. No matter how holy or righteous we are in our behavior and attitudes, we will always fall short. Even today in churches across North America the clarion call is for “disciple making” instead of sharing the Gospel through evangelism. Men must be saved, not instructed on how to live better lives.

Jesus came because the Father in Heaven so loved us. Jesus came because it was the Trinity’s plan to do so. At the end of the Law there was not the restoration of mankind. Sin had not been dealt with, and mankind had become institutionalized by religious performance. The Pharisees and Sadducees in particular revealed the hypocrisy of performance oriented religion that makes us feel good about ourselves; yet does nothing to reconcile us to God.

Jesus came to show us the Father; He came to make the invisible, visible – Col 1. Jesus is the second Adam, for the first Adam, although created holy and innocent, rebelled and believed the lie of Satan, that man could live without God. Jesus, as the second Adam, revealed what mankind “could have been” had they lived in obedience to the Father.

Jesus was subjected to temptation and sin like as we all are, yet without sin. He  [Jesus] came to be the vicarious atonement for all sin, the enmity that separated man from God would once and for all be dealt with, and the Accuser of the brethren – Father of lies would be dealt an eternal blow. Jesus came to deal with our sin, defeat Satan, and rose again for our justification – all by faith that the Father would be faithful to His own word. In the Birth of Jesus, a new era or day came. No longer would men be shackled by The Law requirements. Faith in Christ as the Anointed, Messiah to do for man, what man could never do for himself – to give life instead of death, to give hope in a hopeless situation. This Jesus born of a Virgin, lying in a cradle would change history forever, regardless of who sat on the thrones of kingdoms of earth. This Jesus would serve and be sacrificed as a Lamb before God, and God would be pleased – opening the pathway for all who would call upon Jesus as Savior and Lord to begin “New Life” being a “new Creation” having the Breath of Life breathed back into them. Oh, what a story of redemption!

Thank God for His amazing Love, Grace, Mercy and Hope – all because Yahweh acted on our behalf. The Plan of God is not complete, for this Jesus will return in like manner one day. Acts 1.  Until then let us rejoice and live out that which is now living in us – Christ in You the Hope of Glory [Col 1:27]

Merry Christmas!

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary