Category Archives: 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.

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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?

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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!

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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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