Category Archives: Misc. commentary

Of Course Bethlehem

This year I am bringing a Christmas series titles “Because of Bethlehem.” I have borrowed from the author Max Lucado, the title of his book about Christmas. While I have used the title, that’s probably as close as I will get to his brilliant authorship.

We know that Micah 5:2 tells us the prophecy of where Jesus, the incarnate Christ will be born, just now when. Bethlehem has a history of sorts, for that is where Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob is buried. It is also the city of David. I find it interesting that while the prophet foretold the location of the Messiah’s birth, many were not looking for the Messiah. Now we can make the connection, but even while Jesus walked the earth, the Jews also had His birth in Nazareth of Galilee.

But why Bethlehem? It is an obscure place, some 5 miles distance from the mighty renowned Jerusalem. In Micah it even tells us the Ephrathah was so small a clan of people; they were not even counted or included in the Promised Land division.  It is like the Lord, for in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 we find that our Father uses people and places that the world overlooks. Significant in His plans but lost in ours.

If it weren’t for Bethlehem, we don’t get Calvary. What I mean by this is that if Jesus doesn’t come as the incarnate Christ Child in Bethlehem, we don’t have a Cross crucified Savior.

In John 1:1-4; we read about how that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This brings to mind that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God, co-equal with the Father. By this we must understand that Jesus is both divine and human. In other words He is both flesh and deity. Jesus had to come in the flesh to accomplish the work of the Cross. While He never lost His deity or His power, He did submit himself to the Father’s plan.

In the Old Testament, the sacrifices of bulls and lambs could never deal with sin of fallen mankind; it could only “cover it up.”  The Law and sacrificial system was a shadow of what Jesus would do for us at Calvary. Man cannot save himself. We had to have a Savior. The plan of God from the Beginning always included the Son of God descending to earth to accomplish redemption’s plan of salvation. We celebrate Bethlehem for that is where our salvation begins. In an obscure village, with two unknown parents; graced with the challenge of raising the Son of God – raising the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world.

There must always be a starting point for restoration and reconciliation – the Old Testament sacrifices were inadequate. That which needed to be accomplished required God’s intervention and initiative – The father Sent Jesus! There must be a Calvary for all of us, but likewise there must be a Bethlehem. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as the ONLY begotten Son, sent by the Father!”

Because of Bethlehem, we have a Calvary and because of Calvary we were delivered from our sins and restored to a joyful relationship with God. But it was God who started this all so long ago – Romans 5:8, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, the godly for the ungodly.” Surely God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten [one of a kind, unique] Son; that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life! Praise God for His infinite wisdom and love for us.

Merry Christmas my Beloved family in Christ!

Pastor Jim

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How in the World do I vote?

In the last 2 years the American people have been inundated with political rhetoric and viewpoints. I have heard that many are thinking of not even voting, for they find both candidates undesirable. There is a lot of anger, stress and opposition within America. The election is important, and we all must exercise our constitution rights. Voting is more than just a right it is also a responsibility. While I agree that all eligible people should be registered and vote; there is more to voting than casting a ballot. As Believers we are commanded to respect and honor those civil authorities over us [Romans 13]. We are to “render unto Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. We live in two worlds, as believers were are to be “pilgrims and aliens” for we seek a city whose builder and maker is God; having said that we do live life in the earthly existence so we can just ignore civil issues. I have been in a dilemma as many of you asking “how do I exercise my citizenship in America, while remaining faithful to trusting God?” Well I know that Caesar is always going to be Caesar, therefore I must seek what God’s will is in all things. Our voting responsibility means that we must be informed about each candidate, and seek to understand what God is doing in our country. As the Holy Spirit illuminates your understanding through reading and listening to the abundance of material – you have to ask “How does God want me to vote?” Let me give you two examples from scripture that will show you that God’s choice isn’t necessarily man’s choice.  The first is when Israel wanted to be like all the other nations and have a king. Samuel told them they didn’t need a king, they had Jehovah. Pressed by the people, God instructed Samuel to let the people have a king. God gave them King Saul, he was the tallest and most impressive “candidate,” needless to say, Saul last a year before the Holy Spirit was removed from him by God. [1 Samuel 9-11] The second example was King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. The Father in heaven chose to elevate Nebuchadnezzar to a lofty position as the greatest kingdom to ever exist. God used the Babylonians as His instrument of discipline towards the unfaithful Israelites. The reigning king Zedekiah was flabbergasted that Jeremiah would proclaim such a thing to the people of Judah.  The point I am trying to make is that people want a king of their own liking and supportive of their own agenda and issues. However, God is the reigning King and will remain so. We may not like what He is doing – but we must accept His judgment and person He chooses to raise to power. Now I know that the situation for my two examples is opposite. God chose Nebuchadnezzar to discipline an unfaithful, carnal people of God. They went into captivity for 70 years – only 4600 people were saved after the disciplining of God. I don’t think I have to explain the condition of America. But I do want you to know why we are in such a condition. I believe that the “Church” is the fault. The Church has followed the demise of Israel then; it stands to reason any people who refuse to live for the Lord will be the object of His punishment and anger. If we want to see the morality and ethics of our nation changed to a biblical standard, then it starts with us. We must live out what we say lives in us. Jesus Christ is the difference maker, not an elected official. I am reminded of how the early Church was persecuted terribly by the “Caesar’s” yet they turned the known would upside down with the Gospel. Who do you vote for? Be educated on the candidates, be fervent in prayer and listen to the Holy Spirit being convinced of what God in doing in our midst – then vote accordingly and leave the results to God.

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Fight the Good Fight

During the month of May there is many activities that will command our attention and participation. There are graduations, weddings, Mother’s Day, National Day of Prayer and Memorial Day. How e choose to celebrate these special events is just as important. There are two specifically that I want to highlight in this article. My choices are Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

Mother’s Day is always a high point for families and church sermons. The moms are recognized and applauded for their great effort in raising children, keeping the household running smoothly and their own professional accomplishments in or outside the home. All well-deserved accolades; my focus really is on Memorial Day. It used to be called Decoration Day, a day that was initially set aside to remember the Civil War soldiers and their high cost of battle. It became officially Memorial Day in 1971. Major General John Logan, and representatives of the Grand Army of the Republic, observed Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery, by decorating the graves of the Union soldiers. Other places have claimed to be the originator of the day; one such place was in Columbus Mississippi, while placing wreaths on the Confederate graves, in plain sight were graves of the Union soldiers left barren; so the women also placed wreaths on the Union graves as well. In the passing of time Decoration Day came to be seen as a day of reconciliation for the nation, as well as honoring the dead.

No many of you know that I just returned from a trip from Washington D.C.; where I was able to take in many of the memorials that our nation has erected to recognize the many military personnel who have fought and died for our country. I was left with many emotions as I viewed each of the major war tributes to the fallen. I believe that it is absolutely essential to continue to recognize the Fallen Soldiers who fought for the “rights” of all people to be treated equally and fairly within our borders as well as foreign soils.

As a retired military man, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the vast innumerable graves that dotted the land side overwhelmed me. I stood watching and listening to the dedicated Marines pace back and forth in front of the Tomb. I was equally impressed with the hush that enveloped the crowd of spectators. It reminded me of how important that every person’s life is in the scheme of things. Often the Unnamed go unnoticed. Rather than being identified, they can quickly become just statistics on a piece of paper. I am proud that out nation continues to revere the men and women of our armed forces.

Today the world we find ourselves living in is a very confusing one. It seems that so many are fighting for their OWN individual rights. But this bothers me for the pursuit of personal rights and freedoms and deteriorated the rights and freedoms of the masses. We live in a day when the rights of the minority override the betterment for all of mankind.

When I apply the various institutional and systemic battlegrounds I cannot but help think about “what are we really fighting for anymore?” I say we, because while I am retired from our countries military, I am still a Soldier. I am a soldier of the Cross. Again, when I read the scriptures, I read about love for God, fellow man and the betterment of the world. The Gospel is that power, not kings, queens and presidents. It is the Lordship of Jesus in our lives, being visible to others which make the difference.

In light of the presidential election that looms over our nation; so many are fighting for things that are surface issues, not core issues. I grant you that our election will determine much of the future for United States, but also for the world. I have always viewed the USA as the model for the world to see, that may be a bit naïve. America use to be a place where all people could feel a self-respect and honor. Now I know we haven’t always gotten it right, the Civil War is a clear example of that. But I am perplexed at the state of our Union. Instead of being a “light of the Gospel” it seems that there is a dark ominous cloud hanging over America. We all know there are many issues – mostly cultural issues that have really divided the people. Depending on your perspective, you will view these issues as absurd or worthy of the fight. As I looked across the grave filled cemetery of Arlington, there was a sense of pride and joy for a nation that got some things right. I walked away as a multi-faceted soldier and wondered to myself, are we just fighting battles, having already lost the war?

Some of you may think this is just a political-laced article, I hope not. Something I was reminded of recently – “If we desire to change our communities and country’s moral and ethically culture, we have to first change the culture of our churches.” It starts with us, soldiers of the Cross must wage war against the adversary – I think we have lost who the real adversary is; let us fight the “Good Fight” – and know what we are fighting for!

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Rainbows and Promises

Amidst the onslaught of message traffic from the SCOTUS decision yesterday I pondered whether to post anything about the Homosexual marriage decision. The rainbow [symbol of the movement] was used by Jehovah God to promise that the world would not be destroyed by water again. The rainbow has been plastered everywhere since the decision, even on the White House in D.C.

I cannot help but think of the significance of God’s promise not to destroy the world again, and the use of the rainbow by proponents of homosexual marriage.

God could no longer “strive” [Genesis 6:3] with man and his sinful condition. One man – Noah was found to be righteous. Through Noah 8 people were saved/rescued by God from total destruction.  Genesis 6:5 – God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. It grieved God that He had made man, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land.”  A huge word every time it is used – “But”. In this case But Noah found favor with God.[Gen 6:8]

The word “But” gives hope to mankind. All it takes is one person to live righteously before God to extend His grace and mercy. This was the case with Abraham too, the Father of our faith.

All mankind is sinful – Romans 3:23

All deserve death – Romans 6:23

All Can receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal Life – Romans 10:17

Confessing the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and His work of redemption on the Cross of Calvary

All Can be made a New Creation – 2 Cor. 5:17

While mankind elects to live in rebellion to his Creator, the Creator stills offers love, forgiveness, pardon and everlasting Life.

Mankind/Satan [the liar and deceiver] has always distorted what was made “good” by the Father.

We cannot change mankind; we cannot legislate morality; we cannot expect “the World” to embrace Gods ways.

The Church [Bride of Christ] has not kept herself chaste for her Groom; Israel did not do it; nor has the 21st Century Church. We have chased after gods of comfort and convenience; pleasure and popularity. When we look at the world and the condition it is in; shall we not also look at ourselves , the Church and find what condition we are in as well?

I believe that the world is just living out who they are; the world has not found the “God mandate for marriage successful.” The marriage by the world has been found broken with its divorce rates and dysfunctional families; is it no wonder that they are looking for other “options to marriage.?”

I think that the Church has been so enamored by the need for “attendance levels” to continue their way of doing church, that we have sacrificed the scriptures to accommodate the sins of people who can fill out church buildings.

I believe that the ruling by SCOTUS is a reflection of society, Satan and the failures of Believers.

“But” – there’s that word again; just as God used Noah and Abraham along with others, He was able to Restore His cultural of holiness and righteousness. Will God find anyone willing to stand in the Gap and pray for the land so that God would not destroy it – Ezekiel 22:30-31

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