Monthly Archives: March 2014

Counting the Cost – Part 1 of the Hard Words Hard Work Series

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62 KJV

I was a new Christian when I first saw this Scripture verse. It was painted over the doorway to a cabinet makers shop and I thought -” That can’t be right?!?!” I looked it up and found it to be true even if it seemed harsh. As I grew in the Word I found other “hard words” from our Savior – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Without Me you can do nothing; He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him;* as well as others.

In this series I will shine a light on some of these and we can discuss how they may or may not apply to us today. Another translation of this verse says – But Jesus told him, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”Luke 9:62 Living Bible. This may not be any less harsh but perhaps easier to understand. Christ requires our devotion. He has earned it. Total commitment is expected. In the Old Testament we see God telling Abraham – walk before Me, and be thou perfect Gen 17:1 KJV Be perfect! Wow! Add this to the list of some 613 laws that we are commanded to obey and we have a tough job ahead of us. So, we should consider the cost –

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills? Luke 14:28 LB

Consider the cost. What is it going to take to follow Jesus? Mark records an encounter a rich your ruler had with Jesus where the young man asks Jesus “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” To which Jesus repliesYou know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother. The young man answers Jesus by saying he has done all that since he was a child. Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” The rich young ruler went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36 NASB

So, do we take away from this that Jesus wants us to give up all of our worldly possessions and follow Him? Well, maybe. If, as was the case here, those possessions mean more to you then following Jesus into eternity. I think that this young man (who some speculate may have been Nicodemus of John 3) thought that there was an easy way to secure eternity. Jesus saw that this man was proud, successful and perhaps greedy. Proud, because he said he kept all of the law when it really isn’t possible to do so. Successful, well, he was rich so that’s a given. Greedy, because he could not consider the cost of giving his possessions away even if it meant gaining eternity. In reality, he had nothing to loose and everything to gain.

 – TO BE CONTINUED –

 *Matthew 5:44, John 15:5, John 6:56 KJV

Spring has sprung!

Spring John 11 25

Spring. Warmer longer nicer days. March Madness in affect and pitchers and catchers reporting for training in warmer southern states. Children’s thoughts turn to recesses and proms and the soon end of school days. It’s time for Spring cleaning, Spring plantings, Spring flowers and even the putting away of the Winter clothes. We come out of whatever type of Winter we may have had and look out onto the hopeful horizon of Summer threw the eyes of Spring. We are happy that it’s here and walk with a spring in our step (forgive the pun) and a song in our heart. As we should.

Spring is God’s way of reminding us of the resurrection. Spring reminds us that we planted tulip bulbs that were long forgotten by the months of Fall leaves and Winters snow. Buried beneath the cold hard ground they were there all along. Waiting, quietly, for the time to be just right so they could come up and stand tall in the warm light of the Sun. Likewise, this is our hope – if we trust in Him Who said, as He sat near a well, to a woman with a troubled past – ” I am the Resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25 NKJV

This world is not our home and when we die it will not be over. When we die “it” will have only just begun. “It” is Eternity and this life, however long, will be a millisecond compared with the eternity that awaits us all. Where we spend that eternity and what we are resurrected into (life or damnation) is entirely up to us. Jesus came from Heaven and walked this earth to teach us the truth about life and to save us from our sins. Trusting in Him and His sacrificial death on the cross means that when this body dies we will still live. We will live on instantly after death with Him in heaven in our spirit form and we will live in our resurrected bodies when the Lord raises us up. Unfortunately, this will not be the fate for all of humanity. While the invitation may be open to all, not everyone will RSVP.

Your invitation has been sent. It has your name written in gold leaf lettering. It has a raised official stamp next to the hosts’ signature at the bottom so accept no imitations. It has no expiration and is non-transferable but you should reply quickly.  This invitation is for the feast of the centuries. It’s taken thousands of years to plan. The costs are covered by your host who paid for it all with his blood, sweat and tears – gladly! Most importantly – He did it for YOU! He waits for your reply. Won’t you accept His invitation to be brought up out of the cold hard ground we call this earthly life and stand tall in the warm light of the Son for all eternity.

 

Who do you say I am?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But you,” He asked them, who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:13-15 HCSB

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM ?

I am going to bet that everyone has a family member or knows someone, friend, colleague or neighbor who knows Jesus. Growing up I had friends at school whose parents were preachers and classmates who were “born again” and met many a stranger who wanted to know – “do you know Jesus?” Because of these associations I heard what they had to say about who Jesus was to them. I never really gave Him much thought but did have an opinion about Him that I supposed I collected from what others said mixed with liberal amount of ignorance and arrogance. But when push came to shove I had to admit I knew nothing of who Jesus is.

“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine.”

Liar, Lunatic or Lord

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”- C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity

Eternity

So, either Christ is Who He says He is or He is a Liar or a Lunatic. The evidence, that is clearly recorded in the Bible, should remove all doubt. The only thing left to do is reach a verdict for yourself. Disregard what anyone else says about Him and look only at the Word of God. Read Johns Gospel and then ask yourself – “Who do I say that He is?” But, I would strongly urge you to not reach your decision too quickly or lightly. Eternity awaits your decision both with open arms.

Old Earth or New Earth – Cosmos Controversy

To those who may not have noticed, the Internet is a buzz with haters. There are those who hate the TV series called Cosmos. They are taking a stand against the shows host – Mr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, against the Evolution the show promotes, against the producers at Fox and the advertisers and on and on and on. Likewise there are those who are hating the “science deniers” and the “science-challenged” and the conservative “fundies” and the right wing Tea Party.

Ok, the sides are clearly defined in a controversy of the ages and there are also just as clearly a good number of militantly, radically and thoroughly committed devotees on both sides. Unfortunately, these loudly outspoken extremist only help to fuel their oppositions case and so on and so on….

In the midst of all it his extremism there has to be a middle ground. Even if that demilitarized zone is simply that we agree to disagree!

Oh no! I didn’t just propose peace! I obviously do not understand what is at stake here! After all there is only one truth – and it’s not theirs!

Well, maybe I don’t understand what is at stake. Perhaps, if they attempt to prove their point regarding the origins of life, the age of the planet and the birth of the infinite cosmos it will cause the God I worship to cease to exist. Perhaps if they present a state-of-the-art show using all of the cinematic mastery at their disposal it will shame our God into hiding. Maybe they will cause the foundations of our very existence to crumble and we will have to change the past 2,000 years of history to conform to this new “truth”.

Or, maybe, we who say we believe in the God of Creation need to remember a few basic truths of our own. The very Bible that tells us about the Creation in Genesis also tells us God made man in His own image. So when Adam was one minute old he was an adult man. Not a helpless infant crying for his Mommy! Likewise that same Bible tells us that God created the heavens and all they contain and the very same age discrepancy seen with Adam could easily be seen in the cosmos.  This same God who created everything could very well have created it “old”. There is a bit of irony in that some in the science community, who say we believers are limiting science by our narrow view of things, are the very same people who are putting our all powerful God in a small box. Not wishing to be too controversial but there are “old earth” theorists within the Christian community. But they also are met with haters. Whether the earth is old and science is then validating the God of Creation or the earth is new and the Bible is in direct opposition to the science of today, really isn’t the point. The point, I believe, is in how we believer respond. After all the courts removed God from school back in the sixties and we have seen a decline down a slippery slope ever since. We should not be surprised by this TV show or, for that matter, many other secular decisions being made to change the world around us today.

Jesus told us that the world would hate us if we belonged to Him. He also stated that broad is the way and many that shall find it that leads to destruction. Paul tells us in Romans chapter one verses 18-22 that –The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

Or, as written in Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Thessalonian  chapter 2 verses 10-12 – And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

All creation

Perhaps, before we become bad witnesses for Christ as we attempt to defend Him by beating others into submission, we should obey Him and simply “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” and let Jesus defend Himself.

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven – Matthew 5:16    Be Blessed, Al and Betty

But, if you don’t forgive…….

Ever hear of families where one person won’t speak to another because of something that happened long ago? I bet that they don’t even remember what started it but they are sure that – the other one is to blame! Sad but true. Sadder still in the light of what Jesus said when He taught us the Lords’ Prayer – “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV

Forgiveness isn’t an easy thing to do sometimes. Especially if we are sure that we are guiltless or wrongfully harmed by someones thoughtless actions. During a teaching Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21 NKJV Jesus illustrates the need for forgiveness after answering Peter like this – Jesus said to him,

  “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  Matthew 18: 22-35 NKJV

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

70X7

    Unforgiveness hurts us as much as it hurts the object of our angry and all those around us. We are told that we should be angry but sin not Eph 4:26 NKJV. So its not the emotion of anger that’s harmful but rather what we do with the emotion. If we consider the debt we had, that Jesus wiped clean with His blood on the cross, it can not be so hard to forgive someone for whatever they may have done to us. Love keeps no record of wrongs and we are called to love one another. 1 Cor 13:5c HCSB and John 13:14 KJV

     I doubt that any of us knows anyone who we would need to forgive 490 times each day (70×7) but the point here is that we can and should have an inexhaustible wealth of forgiveness towards our fellow man in the light of the forgiveness shown towards us. God bless you as you let the light of Gods love shine threw you today!

After the Event! – Ready or Not part 2

Oh Dear Betty I miss you so much. I talk to you constantly because I hope you can hear me and because the thought of talking to myself this much is frightening. It’s been a week since you left and I am dieing here without you. A week since the mass abduction – the “official” title given to the event, but what they are saying just doesn’t make any sense. They said the visitors wanted to move the narrow-minded religious people who were holding us back and yet all the children are gone too. It seems anyone under the age of 21 can not be found. When pressed about this they refused to comment. Their story doesn’t add up and I don’t think I am the only one questioning it.  Why take the innocent ones? Surely the little children weren’t holding humanity back from the next big step in evolution. I just don’t get it.

They said that there will have to be a restructuring of the monetary system worldwide. So many people are gone and the resulting panic has caused a crisis. The rumor is that we will all pool our resources and hand over our cash, plastic and anything else worth value and in return be given a corresponding virtual account. They say we will do business electronically wherever we go to buy something a debit will be made using a scanner and our ID. Someone said that the best way to avoid identity theft and robbery is to put the ID “in” us. Like a chip in our hand or something. They must be moving quickly on this because we have been told to report to our nearest firehouse, police station or post office to surrender our money and credit cards and accept the new system. Why not do this at the banks? So many questions and very little answers.

The whole town is so busy. Homes, now empty, are being cleaned of all personal objects of those gone and designated as “available” but I haven’t found out what that means. Jimmy, next door, says they are going to be given to homeless people but I don’t believe that. The government cant just take a home and give it away – can they? The DPW has been busy putting up towers but not cell phone towers. These are different, kinda like the old radio towers with a tall singular antenna on the top. Like everything else around here its all very hush-hush.

The news, which is broadcasting constantly, tells us that there has been a rise in suicide attempts but none too successful. It almost seems as if you can’t die even if you want to. The looting that took place immediately after the event was quickly put to an end by the Supreme. I still can’t get over that title. The Supreme – supreme what? He shows up outta nowhere and everyone calls him the guy with the answers. He starts barking orders and the world jumps. He promises a new era of peace and prosperity but will threaten to go to war with anyone who even opens their mouth against him or his plan. He had the police and military kill the looters and put their bodies on display – on TV and the internet – as an example to all. Yeah, the looting stopped alright. In fact crime is down to nearly zero since he showed up.

Some people are calling him god-like. But the priest that he calls The Instructor hasn’t said that….yet. What the Instructor has said is that the diversity of faiths must stop and we all must get under the united banner of Singularity – a new concept where many become One. Churches, synagogues and all other houses of faith are being stripped of any symbols and the flag of Singularity is being raised high over each doorway. Singularity. If the TV isn’t showing the news of the Supreme’s plan being put into action,  its telling us all about the peace and serenity that awaits us when we “become One” with each other through this new religion.

IMG_7169

I still can’t help but think that this guy and his plan were just waiting in the wings for something to bring him out. His plan seems too complex to be thrown together in this short of a time. The pieces of the puzzle called his plan require a lot of planing, building, people and money. You get all this done in one week. It’d take a week to get a committee appointed to look into how to address a crisis of this size. It smells fishy……and frightening.

Dear God. Betty why didn’t I listen to you? Is it really too late for me? Will someone please tell us the truth?

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name Rev 13:16-17 KJV

Jesus, however, invited them: “Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16 HCSB

Ready or Not……

No wait! What just happened?!

We were just talking to each other

You were in the bedroom getting dressed and I was making coffee in the kitchen.

You were HERE. Where did you go? You were here. I know it. Even the dogs are looking for you. What is going on?

TV announcement – we interrupt our regular schedule for this breaking story. The news coming in from all over the world, as unbelievable as it sounds, just moments ago, thousands perhaps millions of people apparently just disappeared. We will go to our man in the street were chaos has broken out as cars have been abandoned and hysteria is………………..

What! What? Wait a minute this is a prank. This can’t be really happening. It sure looks real. The city is a mess and that reporter looks more upset then the day the Towers fell. No, this can’t be happening. Sirens are sounding in the distance. People are screaming and running in the streets….

Betty where are you? Come on Babe. Come on. Come out. Come back. Please dear God, please!

What are they saying now? What! UFO’s?! Alien abductions! REALLY?!?! How do they know that already? This is defiantly a prank. This can not be real. How could they possible know what caused this already? Did they see it coming?

No, no. This is not happening, I have to call…..my phone doesn’t work. Lines must be jammed, too many people trying to make calls. I feel sick.

Who’s this guy? They put him in charge? Who? How? The President announced him and he sure seems confident. Looks sharp and calm but I don’t get how he is in charge. What does he know? What? He met with them (the aliens??) and they told him that if the world was going to make its next step evolutionarily there were some who would have to be relocated to a safe but remote place. Those whose old-fashioned mind-set and self-righteous moral superiority were inhibiting the rest of us from moving forward in our growth……….

No No! I’m not buying it. This seems so staged. There’s no way that they gathered this much info this quickly – it’s been 30 minutes, not even that long. Betty was getting dressed and she usually leaves at………

Wait. She told me about this. I think. Betty used to say that there was a day coming when Jesus was going to take His people home. But, who believes that. I always listened and laughed inside, knowing it would never happen. I used to kid her when we got separated at a store or street fair – Oh I thought God took you! She would always say – some day.

This can’t be that day. No, it can’t be. It can’t be because there’s a priest on the TV now with this guy and he’s here. If God took all His people home then that priest wouldn’t be here, right. Betty! Where are you!?!?……………….

Tribulatios Escape

Watch this and consider where we are and where you are…..ready or not?

 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 KJV

Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about those Christians who have died so you will not be sad, as others who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and that he rose again. So, because of him, God will raise with Jesus those who have died. What we tell you now is the Lord’s own message. We who are living when the Lord comes again will not go before those who have already died. The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive will be gathered up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thess 4:13-18 NCV

PS – Larry Norman is considered to be the first “Contemporary Christian Musician” and a man after Gods own heart. During a time in America when others were singing about rebellion and drugs he paved the way for many others to openly sing the praises of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ using any and all types of music. His message is timeless and his music inspirational. Check him out at http://www.larrynorman.com/