Tag Archives: Jesus

But I don’t feel privileged !!

I’m pushing a noisy old lawnmower around my backyard trying to avoid dog poo and sweating like a pig when the thought occurred to me – “I don’t feel privileged!”

Nearly two weeks after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police there have been protests nationwide calling for reform. Reforms in the way the police department interact with people of color. Reforms in centuries old racism. Reforms in how we see ourselves and others.

White Silence! Silence is violence! White privilege!

These terms have been in the news as the nationwide mourning of George Floyd continues. Just to be clear I am referring to the peaceful protest that have swept the nation and even the globe. I am not referring to the opportunistic thugs that have looted, burned and assaulted our cities.

These terms which have been part of the discussion will have one of two effects among the white community. One reaction, sadly my first reaction, was to dismiss this as rhetorical and not at all relevant to me or anyone I know. This knee-jerk reaction, I have come to see, is an insult to a community different from mine and serves as a barrier to both any real conversation and lasting change. The other reaction to these terms and others like them used recently is self-evaluation. This is the reaction which hit me as I mowed my lawn yesterday.

But I don’t feel privileged !

I continued pushing that mower as I took a quick look over my life. Especially the early years. Born into a large family which struggled to survive at or just above the poverty line only to later be shattered by alcoholism and domestic violence we weren’t the typical white American family. Raised by elderly grandparents whose passing left me emancipated way too soon. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol as I made my way into adulthood I grew up angry and without any real direction.

Where in those years did I benefit from being a privileged white boy?

Later, as I grew, I enrolled in and dropped out of college, wandered from one construction job to another, in and out of relationships. The aimless wandering continued for years. Eventually I met someone, dated, married, looked into buying a home, etc. Still not feeling privileged my historical search continued.

Then it hit me! How can I know what I don’t know?

What I mean by that is how can I know what awful incidents that I have not suffered because I am white. I have been pulled over by police and sometimes been let go with a warning and others times received a ticket but nothing else. I have never been refused service or turned away because of my skin color. I have been hired for jobs that I applied for but never, until yesterday, considered if I would have been hired were I black.

Throughout all of my 60 plus years I was unaware of what difficulties I had not experienced simply by being white. In looking back I can see how my life got better over time because of the help I found along the way. I can easily say that had it not been for certain individuals at different times in my life I would not be where I am today. I have no way of knowing for certain but I do suspect that these opportunities may not have been made available to a person of color.

If this means that I am a privileged white man I can only say that I never asked for it.

I have never had a problem with color. I know many white people say that but I don’t. I’m more likely to judge you by your behavior, character or cleanliness but not color. Yes, I said I judge. We all do. Let’s not pretend we don’t. My sociology professor gave the class an amazing statistic years ago. He said that 90% of who we are is based on outward influences (the people and world around us as we grow) and that 10% is from our own personality within us. Nature versus Nurture may be a never-ending debate but for me I side with my professor. Racism is genetic. You get it from your parents.

I can’t say how or when we as a people will bring racism to an end but I do know what will not help to bring about change. The violence and retaliation we have seen these past two weeks will not bring about change. I know people are hurt, angry, fed up and frustrated but burning buildings and beating each other up will not work.

We have a heart problem! A type of heart disease that has only one cure!

Jesus!

Jesus is the answer to any and all of our problems.

Until a person gives their life and heart over to Jesus they will be unable to love, accept or understand how another person feels. In our own limited ability we will only thrash about in this pool we call life and never safely reach the shore. Bigotry, hatred, envy, racism, superiority, privilege are not from God. He Loves everyone equally and so should we.

This is my only thought. My only hope for the people around me in my community and for the nation or world wide. I apparently am a privileged white man even if I am stepping in dog poo as I push this mower around my yard. I didn’t ask for preferential treatment. I won’t apologize for it either because it is not what I wanted. What I will do is all that I can do – stand up for what is right. Speak out against hatred and bigotry. Pray for peace and an end to the inequality that has plagued our nation for far too long. I ask anyone and everyone who reads these words to do the same.

Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock got pulled over and it was very insightful. God has a way of getting His point across. In scripture when we see the same thing repeated several times it is God’s way of emphasizing that point. Last night after my revelation while mowing the lawn I watched an episode of Comedians in cars getting coffee. Near the end of the show Jerry Seinfeld is driving very fast in a sports car with his guest Chris Rock beside him. They get pulled over and Jerry thinks it’s the funniest thing considering he is filming a show but Chris Rock is nervous. Chris expresses his nervousness by instructing jerry on what he should do and says that his first thought is “where’s my license, even?” The situation exemplifies the difference between us. One man, white, and laughing at the situation and the other, black, and obviously worried about the possible outcome. It left me feeling sad.

Good Morning

Good morning!

Today is Tuesday. Just another day during this new normal called the covid-19 shut down. I can look out my window and see the sun shining on the flowers in the yard. A breeze blows the branches on the trees and the flag waves in the sunlight. For all intents and purposes it is a good morning.

But that is the problem with superficialities. Things don’t always appear as they are. A duck floats along on a pond looking calm and at peace but below the surface its feet are franticly paddling! Likewise, outside my window the sun shines, birds sing, flowers grow and all appears to be well on my street.

But.

But within the walls of the brightly lit homes on my block are people who are locked down. Locked down, sheltered in place, quarantined, staying safe, flattening the curve, whatever you want to call it, they are not going about living life as usual. It is obviously the same almost everywhere around the world and maybe we can take solace in the fact that we are not the only ones suppressed by this.

And.

“And how are you holding up?”

“Well. We are doing well thanks, considering. It is an inconvenience but we will get through it. Together, of course.”

“Well, be safe and stay well. Please tell everyone at home I said hey!”

Platitudes. The things that we have come to learn are appropriate to say in ever circumstance. We know what to say when someone gets a promotion. What to say when someone looses a loved one. We know what to say to encourage each other when we face an unusual and stressful time such as this.

Why?

Why be superficial and just keep up appearances? Why speak in empty platitudes? Would being real really be so bad? Would it really be so bad if we said how we feel?

Fearful

Frustrated

Broke

Angry

Stressed

Worried

Tired

Hungry

Hot

Cold

Dirty

Defeated

Rejected

Lonely

Overwhelmed

Unemployed

What if we showed ourselves as we are? Drop the facade. Allowed ourselves to be real.

Yell. Cry. Rest. Take five. Take a nap. Call a friend. Hug someone. Ask for help.

Yes, ask for help! How many times have you been willing to help someone? Friend or stranger, have you been ready to help out without a seconds thought? Many people in our world can be so caring and giving. Yet, so many people will not ask for help. They hold it in. They “man-up” or “push through” or “press on” or whatever ridiculous thing they tell themselves just so they don’t have to swallow their pride and be real.

Jesus told us to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 Take note of the words Jesus used – Ask, Seek, Knock – “A” “S” “K”!

The Word of God tells us the we have not because we do not ask. James 4:2

We are also commanded many times to help each other.

Love our neighbors as ourselves. Carry each others burdens. Look after the widows and the sick. Just to name a few. Mathew 22:39, Galatians 6:2, 1 Tim 5:3

But the point I wish to make here today is to be real! Superficialities and platitudes help no-one. Be Real! Be You. Let someone in during these difficult times and let yourself be refreshed by their love and support. After all wouldn’t you be loving and supportive of them if they needed it?

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.        John 4:23-24 NIV

If this scripture isn’t calling for us to let down our superficial ways of approaching God (and each other) then I know nothing and should stop writing. Don’t be locked into platitudes in life and especially not in your prayer life. Be real and be transparent. Love and encourage everyone but also allow yourself to be loved, encouraged, lifted up or even carried if that’s what you need.

I’ll stop now. I’ve obviously gotten carried away with this thought for today. Just be encouraged today and if you need help ask. Ask God. Ask a loved one. But ask. Because pretending you are ok when you are not will not help.

 

Be Blessed A&B

The Seven Deadly Sins – Conclusion

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

   We are all aware of the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God on the mountain top. They are only a part of the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament) that all together make up 613 laws covering every aspect of life.

   We all also know how Jesus summed up all the Law and Commandments to just two Golden Rules. Love God and Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The seven deadly sins in their current form are not found in the Bible. However there are Biblical references that address each of them individually and we will look at each of them.

The seven deadly sins are also referred to as cardinal sins or capital sins and as such these names give the impression that there are degrees to sin. The idea that some are not so severe or problematic to the spiritual state of an individual in comparison to other sins. This, I believe, is a slippery slope and can lead people to believe that they are better then others simply by virtue of being considered less obviously sinful. Such as comparing a yourself  (and your easily overlooked short-comings) to someone whose sin is self evident and appalling.  Sin is sin and there is none that is greater or lesser than the other. Given the opportunity to repent and turn away from ones sins – no matter how great, how many or how shocking – all sins will be forgiven.

In previous posts we have looked at Pride and Greed in depth. Here today I will attempt to sum up the remaining five – lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. As insidious as sin in general can be I believe that some of these seven to be greater traps than others. Pride, greed, lust, envy and wrath are exaggerations of our natural emotions. Kind of like a highjacking of our emotions if you will.

After all we all feel good about doing well and accomplishments we have achieved but pride can be blinding if we fail to see our shortcomings or if we inflate ourselves above others around us. Jesus always pointed to The Father. He said He did the works of Him who sent Him. He humbled Himself as a servant and didn’t even respond to threats and accusations during His trial. Just as God the Father acknowledge Jesus, Jesus sparks of the Father and the Holy Spirit speaks of Jesus. Humility among the deity of the Trinity.

Likewise with greed we see our natural desire to have our basic needs met but when we begin to want more than reasonably necessary it a problem. This, I believe, could be said for the remainder of the seven. Natural instincts going too far even if we are helpless to the insidious spiral.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodRom 3:23 NKJV

All have sinned. Yes, all. That means me. That means you. That means everyone.

But what is sin? Who is to blame for the sin condition? Can’t we fix or stop it?

Sin – by definition is a transgression of divine law/ an act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principal. (1)

It has also been said that Sin is simply missing the mark. The “mark” obviously being the standard set by God.

Who is to blame can be a more contentious topic than what sin is. the Bible tells us that by one mans disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners. (2) This speaks to what is commonly referred to as original sin. What about the sins we accumulate in our lives? Adam can’t be blamed for my lying, stealing, lusting or hoarding – can he?

Paul talks about the human condition when he tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at odds. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Gal 5:17 NKJV This means that we have to put an effort into obeying or listening to the Spirit of God in order to have victory over the flesh/human condition to sin. So does this mean we are to blame for our sins? Yes! But only to a degree.

Paul also explains to us that there is an invisible battle going one around us. He explains that there are forces at work behind the scenes that influence behavior. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12 NKJV

When Jesus met with people who were considered insane or suffering from seizures He cast demons out of them. When Peter told Jesus that he would protect Jesus from those that meant to harm Him Jesus rebuked the devil behind Peters words. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is 2020 and you’re talking about demonic possession? I know you are probably thinking that we are past all that silly way of thinking. But are we? Pick up the paper. Turn on the news. Surf the internet and see the degree to which society has spoiled. Like a jug of milk left out in the hot sun we have spoiled and gone rancid in our decay. The degree of depravation of man against man is a testimony to the darkness that influences our world. The extreme cases exemplified by not only these seven deadly sins but all sin should be a wake up call to how far we have fallen and also how close we must be to the Lord’s return. Paul told us that this day would come – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  2 Tim 3:1-3 NKJV

Road rage, abortion, sexual immorality, the desensatation to blood, gore and death, the applauding of lifestyles and ideals that only a generation ago would have been shamefully looked down upon are only a few examples of just how far we have fallen and it shows the finger print of the one who is behind it. It is not all our own sinful fallen nature but also not all demonic. It is more closely a little of both.

After all, if we had it within us to be victorious over sin then Jesus didn’t need to die for our sins. That is unless you think He died for “Their sins” because you don’t have any or you have conquered those little sins that troubled you when you were young and foolish.

The biggest sin is the one we can not see. Jesus rebuked the religious people who pointed out the small sin in others lives while not clearly seeing the huge sin in their own lives. This brings us back to Pride. (3), (4)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.*                                                                James 4:1-7NKJV

*I heard a great sermon years ago called ‘Formula for victory over sin!’ based on this scripture. the finer point of the teaching was how we need to use the entire formula and not just try to resist the devil. I need to be reminded of that sometimes. Be Blessed A&B

 

Earth Day @ 50!

50 Years ago the First Earth Day was celebrated! 50 years ago I was 12 and my classmates and I were tasked with cleaning up a huge corner lot which later became the new high school. ahhh the memories!

Earth Day, the Environmental movement and Mother Earth have been around for centuries. (1), (2), (3) The worship of the earth as a god or goddess (along with other celestial bodies; sun, moon stars and even animals) is not new. In current times we do not look at Earth Day as a worshipping of the earth but more as an acknowledgment of our impact upon the earth and our combined responsibility to try and preserve it. Reducing emissions, slowing the growth of greenhouse gasses, curbing pollution and various other acts are meant to lessen the impact of mankind to the environment.

What is or should be the Christians stand in all this? Do we appose these ideals because they may have their roots in Earth worship? Do we arrogantly site the Bible which clearly teaches us that this world will be transformed and renewed in some future whether near or distant? Do we comply with any and all mandates handed down by the authorities over us regardless of our religious beliefs? What if doing so violates our beliefs?

Now we all should know very well that our God is a jealous God and demands that we have no other gods before Him. (4) So worshipping the earth as a deity is out of the question. Currently, the earth day ceremonies don’t lean towards worship like they did centuries ago. Our understanding of the prophesies concerning the future of this planet and its condition is good for our own peace of mind and perhaps as a tool evangelism but doesn’t give us the right to be arrogant or irresponsible with the care of the planet/environment.

When questioned about whether or not Jews should pay taxes to the Roman emperor Jesus plainly explained that since Caesars face was on the money the people should give back to Caesar what was his but more importantly to give back to God what belonged to God (their hearts – implied). Other Bible verses tell us to live in peace with those around us and to obey the laws placed over us as long as to do so doesn’t violate our conscience or the laws of God. (5)

So, as long as using a cloth shopping bag rather then plastic or limiting the pesticides used on my lawn or recycling some portion of my garbage, isn’t grieving the Holy Spirit I see no harm. I am secure in the knowledge of the creator of this Earth and my relationship with Him is not in jeopardy by my compliance with local laws regarding environmental concerns.

Let us all remember that Jesus made this earth along with everything in it for us to live with and enjoy. Let us be good stewards of this garden He has given us while we are here. Like any other gift He has placed under our authority and care we want to act responsibly so that we will here Him say “Well done good and faithful servant” (6)

 

Be blessed A&B

New Year New Day New Start

It’s a New Year

It’s a New Day

It can be a New Start

It can be a New Life

 

Nearly two weeks into 2020 and maybe you made a resolution to exercise, or diet, or save money, or to do, or not do, any number of things like many people do each time the  calendar resets. We have the best intentions as we look forward to the year ahead thinner, richer, or in a new job, home, car, etc.. Why not consider a new life at this time of new starts?

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”                                             John 3:1-4 NKJV

Start a new year with a new life – be born again!!

   Nicodemus was a scholar, a Pharisess, fluent in the word of God and able to quote the Book of Moses and The Law (the first five books of the Old Testament) by heart. He was impressed with Jesus and had questions for Him but as we see in the scriptures he came to Jesus by night.  Under the cover of darkness, hoping no-one would see, he came to ask the teacher questions. Jesus knew what Nicodemus was searching for before the question was asked. Jesus’s answer was not what Nicodemus expected.

   Jesus explains that our birth from our mother is being born of the flesh but that the second birth which He is speaking of is Spirit. We are spirit beings in fleshly bodies and souls and it’s our spirits that must be reborn (regenerated) of God’s Spirit.

But maybe, like Nicodemus, you can’t understand how to reenter your mothers womb and be born a second time. Or perhaps you have been raised in the church and feel these words don’t apply to you. Maybe you’re secure in your relationship with Jesus and you have felt the joy of being reborn into His family. Whatever condition you may be in today as you read these words know that there is a better way, a new way, to live this new year. Become a child of God!

But wait! Isn’t everyone a child of God?

   Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a resounding NO! It is true that Jesus is the creator of all things (that includes you!). But He set you free into this life so that you can exercise your free will and return to Him. Accepting Jesus and receiving Him as your Lord and Savior is how you become a child of God.

He (Jesus) came to His own (the children of Israel), and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.                              John 1:11-13NKJV

   In the first chapter of John’s Gospel we see the power and glory of Jesus. In the beginning was The Word! John opens our eyes to the divinity of Jesus. How Jesus is The Word and how Jesus was with God and Is God. How Jesus made everything and how there is nothing that is made that was not made by Him. How Jesus is The Light of the world and that darkness does not comprehend the Light. John goes on to say that he was able to witness Jesus in the flesh.

In the glorious revealing of the very character of Jesus John also tells us God’s plan concerning all of us. God sent Jesus to earth to live among us as one of us and to die for us all. The sacrificial Lamb of God which under the law in olden times was slain to cover the sins of the worshippers in Israel. Only now, this Lamb, would be slain once and for all. His shed blood would not cover up the sins of the worshippers in Israel but rather, wash away the sins, no matter how great or horrific, of all mankind forever. Heb. 10

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   John3:16 NKJV

It’s a New Year – It’s a New Day – It can be a New Start – It can be a New Life

   Give your heart to Jesus. Ask for His forgiveness. Let Him cleanse you of your sins. If you think you have no sins ask Him to show you your sins because He tells us that all (Yes all – that means you) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (seeRomans 3:23!). Then you can become a child of God and inherit everlasting life.

RECYCLE YOURSELF – RETURN TO JESUS

   If you are secure in your relationship with Jesus and know Him as your Lord and Savior then share the good news of Jesus with someone today.  Show them how they can become a child of God.

It’s A New Day!!

Seize the Day Pana

Happy New Year!!!

    2018 is here and the New Year is in it’s second day. A new day in a new year with hope in our hearts as we head down the road! Why shouldn’t we be hopeful and optimistic? We serve a great God Whose Love watches over us each and every day.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23 NIV

    Does this mean that we will live this year free from suffering or misfortune? Will we be isolated from the pain that life can sometimes bring with it? Obviously the answer is a resounding no. As long as we are in this world we will be subject to the effects this world has on its inhabitants. So, where is this “mercy” that this scripture speaks of? It’s in the power to stand the storms of life. The umbrella in the rain if you will. It’s in the knowledge that although we might be shaken we will not fall because God is on our side.

    Paul talked about the fragility of our lives as we carry the Light of God within us –

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;

perplexed, but not in despair; 

persecuted, but not abandoned;

struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV

    Paul knew too well how hard life can be especially for someone who works to spread The Good News to the world. In a rare moment he boasts of his credentials and lists his sufferings for the Gospels sake in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. He shares that before his conversion he had a zeal for the Lord and goes on to describe what he has endured for Christ.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11: 23-28 NIV

    Yet, Paul suffered all this and if we look at  2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 17 and 18 we see that he refers to all those sufferings as “light afflictions”!

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

    So, the mercy of God may not save us from the troubles of this world, it will sustain us and perfect within us a spirit of strength, hope and love if we look past the storm in faith.

Faith in Him Who bore our sins and promised –

I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Matthew 28:20 NIV

 

 

Ps – Before anyone thinks I am sitting on a high horse as I write this I will share that I dispise the pain of a paper cut! I hate drama and the troubles that can knock on my door. I pray for storms of life to pass quickly and can’t always see that the sun will shine again. But I try, by faith, to preserver and not ask “why me?” Because I know the answer to that question is – So, that I may bring glory to God as I learn from the experience.

Be Blessed in 2018 and thanks for stopping by. A&B

 

What is faith?

What is Faith? 

The text book answer is found in Hebrews chapter 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen 

   It’s paraphrased that Faith is an empty hand full of what you hope for. Beyond the text book or the paraphrase lies the personal interpretation – what “faith” means to you! I could have easily titled this post “What do You believe?” Or, “Who is Jesus to you?” First lets consider Who Jesus was to some people He encountered.

   In Matthew chapter 5 we hear the story of a lady with an issue of blood for 12 years. It’s been speculated as to what her ailment was but whatever it was, the Law of Moses prevented her from coming in contact with others. Knowing this she entered the city and made her way threw the crowd to Jesus because she believe that touching the hem of His coat would heal her. She touched Him and was made whole that very moment. In the same chapter we find a man named Jairus whose daughter was home in bed sick. Jairus believed that if Jesus came home with him and laid His hands on her she would recover. Jesus agreed to go with Jairus but as soon as they turned to go word came that the girl had died. Jesus calmed the distraught father by telling him to “only believe.” Once Jesus arrived at Jairus’s home He raised the child from the dead. Lastly, for now, the well known story of the Centurian who came to Jesus on behalf of an ill servant. He recognized the authority of Jesus and believed that Jesus need only say the word and the servant would be healed. Jesus healed the servant and commended the Centurion for his great faith.

   Three examples of who Jesus was to three different people. There are many more. Jesus met them where they were in their faith. He will meet you where you are as well. 

   So, I ask you all again. Who is Jesus to you? Is He your Savior? The God Who became man to die for your sins? Is that all? Perhaps He is also your Lord? Your Lord Whom you obey in humility and reverence? What else? Is He your friend? Your confidante? Aside from being your Savior and Lord just what is Jesus to you. When we look into His face by reading His Word we see a loving, generous, compassionate and patient Savior, Lord and Friend. He is our High Priest Who defends us. He is Healer and our Provider. He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. He will return to take us with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and instruct us. He will never leave of or forsake us. He is our all-in-all.

   If all of that sounds too rhetorical or vague consider the lovely story Corrie Ten Boom told of two ladies who were friends. They were long time friends and enjoyed spending time together especially on birthdays. Now the one friend had a lovely vase that the other always admired. On the occasion of the seconds birthday the one came with a wonderfully decorated box. When the friend opened the box there inside was the vase she so greatly admired. With tears in her eyes she held it in her arms and thanked her friend for it. She then looked down to see the box and ribbons and bows and asked – “May I keep the package and wrapping also?”

Sounds strange right? After all the gift was the vase. The lovely, coveted vase. Why keep the packaging? 

   Jesus told us that He came to give us life and to give it more abundantly. Yes He died for our sins and certainly He should be our Lord – this is the vase. But the easily overlooked gifts He gave, like the brightly colored wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, are the freedom that comes from knowing the truth found in His Word; walking in the confidence that we are children of the King, sons of God; living a life more abundantly then the life we had while walking in darkness before he saved us. 

   Ask yourself what faith is or what you believe or even who Jesus is to you and if your not sure how to answer any of those questions – read, search, pray or ask, seek, knock and the Lord Jesus will show you Who He wishes to be to you. He stands at the door and knocks. 

   As a side note; In the story of the woman with the issue of blood we hear Jesus ask “who touched me?” The disciples were dumbfounded at His question because the crowd was pressed in close with many people reaching out and touching Him! But she touched Him in faith and “the virtue has gone out of Him.” She touched Him and drew on His power. 

We can too and should.  Be Blessed Al

Ps. I admire Corrie Ten Boom and wish no disrespect by the retelling of her story. I am sure that I did not do it justice. If you are an avide reader perhaps you should consider her books or searching the internet for her videos. She was a wonderful woman of God with many great lessons. A

Let Your Light Shine

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:

the night cometh, when no man can work. John 9:4 KJV

    Jesus declared Himself The Light of the World, John 9:5b KJV, and in doing so He challenges us to consider what He meant. Was He saying that He is the very sun that the earth revolves around? I don’t think so! Was He trying to reveal to us some deeper meaning? Most assuredly!

 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 

God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. Gen 1:4 KJV 

   God divided the light from the darkness. So, if darkness is the absence of light and if Jesus is the Light of the world, then the night that Jesus spoke of is a time when there will be an absence of Him. I know what your thinking, “Jesus left the earth so very long ago so how can any of this make sense?”

   Simply put – He is still here.

   He is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. In John 14 Jesus promises the Disciples that even though He is leaving He will send another to comfort, encourage and empower them.  In verse 18 He tells them –  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. I will come to you, in the Holy Spirit, and so He is still here with us. Jesus is here also because of us who believe. We are His body Eph 5:30  and as such we are the light of the world. We have the light of Jesus Christ within us. As long as we are here we must let that light shine because the night comes when no man woman or child can work.

“If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world.

If anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.”

John 11:9-10 HCSB

      The Night is coming. Just look around and you will see that this world is spinning out of control faster and faster every day. Wars, rumors of war, sickness, starvation, diseases, floods, fires, political upheavals and corruption. Immorality, hatred, murder, greed, pride and godlessness are all around us. But this doesn’t have to worry us. We have been warned that these things must happen but the end is not yet here. These are the birth pains that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24.

    Armed with this truth and the hope that lives with in us let us remember the words our Savior said –

“You are the light of the world.

A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father   Matthew 5: 14-16 NKJV

Go out empowered by His Holy Spirit with a smile on your face and a song in your heart because you are a Child of the Most High God. Be blessed, Al

Chasing after Paradise

    As we chase after the intangibles and the fleeting pleasures of this world pondering the questions of life after death or why we even run this race, we overlook the obvious. We fail to see what’s right in front of us and instead we concern ourselves with this worlds treasures and how we compare to those beside us. The world around us sends thousands of bright lights at us each second of every day. Some of these lights are meant to dazzle us with the awe of their beauty. While yet others are meant to seduce and distract us from our course. Some are sent to entice us to envy or jealousy. The last of these lights are meant to fill our hearts with fear. To get us to doubt and mistrust ourselves and those around us.

    Thousands of bright lights to distract and entice us as we search for that ever illusive paradise. Paradise – that place where once there, we will be completely whole and lack nothing. The place where we will no longer need the bright lights of distraction because we will in fact have it all. We will have arrived. But has anyone ever really reached this paradise?
The truth is that this “paradise” is the biggest carrot on a stick that dangles out of our reach no matter how hard we run or how far we go to attain it. It is the brightest of bright lights sent to seduce and distract us. It’s is as much an illusion as it is unattainable. Yet we pursue it.
In reality the paradise we seek is inside of us. It’s there inside us asleep waiting to be awakened by the Spirit of the Living God Who died a humiliating and painful death so that the gates of the only one true paradise would be opened for all who seek it. Turn away from the illusion of the bright lights and lies and turn towards the Light of the World – Jesus
Jesus – Son of the only One True God and Creator of all things. He alone can fill that space within you and secure you a place in the everlasting paradise that is soon to come. The days are short and the light of this world will soon fizzle away but Jesus Christ is eternal and unchanging. Turn to Him now in humility and sincerity of heart and He will reach down and touch your soul. You will be new and you will live forever. FOREVER IN PARADISE!

    Stop running after the illusion and grab hold of the real unchanging hand of the only begotten Son of God – He reaches out for you – NOW

What’s In A Name ?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II,ii,1-2) Shakespeare

   If I understand Mr. Shakespeare correctly it doesn’t really matter what we call something because the “name” doesn’t change the “it”. A rose will still smell wonderfully regardless of what we call it. So, then the name only means something to us. A name makes it possible for us to understand each other when discussing – a rose – for example. When, in conversation, I mention my rose garden, you will have a very good idea of what I am referring to. Maybe not the actual size, type or color roses, but you will know that we are not talking about oranges. Even then, the name Orange brought something to mind – didn’t it?

    Wikipedia says that “a name is a word or term used for identification. Names can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. A personal name identifies, not necessarily uniquely, a specific individual human. The name of a specific entity is sometimes called a proper name

   Another site defines “name” similarly “Generally a name is a label for a noun – a person, place or thing. More specifically a name is a label for a specific person, place or thing.”

   Gods’ Word tells us “A good name is rather to be chosen than great richesProverb 22:1 KJV

   What then, does the names of God tell us? When, in conversation, I mention my belief in God what do you see in your minds eye? Do you see the white-bearded figure painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Or, maybe the Name God brings to mind a vengeful figure who rains fire and brimstone upon those who defied Him? Do you see a young child sitting beside His Sainted Mother? Maybe the name God causes you to think of the suffering Savior nailed to a cross? Or the victorious Lord Who rose on the third day and ascended into Heaven?
   For everyone the answer will be different. Say the name God or Jesus and people will conjure up what they will based on their beliefs. But God can be a vague and general term and Jesus is not limited by what that one name refers to – Jesus means God Saves!
   Our God has many names and each one tells us about His character and nature so that we aren’t left doubting or disputing about Him. In this series I hope to shed some light on the many names of God and hope to pull back the curtain to reveal a little bit more about Who He is based on His Word.

The Old Testament Names of God and their meaning

Jah or Yah – LORD (King/Master/Head) Ps.68:4

Jehovah or Yahweh – I AM/The eternal One/Unchangeable Ex 3:13-14

Jehovah Adon (singular) Jehovah Adonai (plural) –  LORD of lords Ps. 109:21

Jehovah El – LORD God (singular form) Ps. 31:5

Jehovah Elohim – Uni-plural form (3-in-1) – LORD Gods/Strong or mighty an object of fear/God as creator, governing and redeeming man/God of Israel Gen 2:4

Jehovah Elyon – The LORD most high Ps. 7:17

Jehovah Jireh – The LORD will provide Gen 22:13-14 / Phil 4:19

Jehovah Makeh – The LORD smites, punishes sin Ezk 7:9

Jehovah Mekaddishkem – The LORD our sanctifer Lev 20:7-8

Jehovah Nissi – The LORD my banner or ensign Ex. 17:10-12

Jehovah Rapha – The LORD who heals Ps. 103:3; 107:20

Jehovah Roi – The LORD my shepherd Ps. 23:1 / Mk. 6:34; Heb 13:20

Jehovah Saboath – The LORD of hosts (angelic armies) 1Sam 1:3 /James 5:4

Jehovah Shalom – The LORD our peace – Judges 6:24 / Jn 14:27

Jehovah Shammah – The LORD is present Ezk 48:35

Jehovah Tsidkenu – The LORD our righteousness Jer 23:6; 33:16 / 1Cor 1:30

EL Elyon – Most high God, Exalted, elevated Ps. 21:7

 El Olam – Everlasting God Isa 40:28

EL Roi – The God of sight, who keeps watch Gen 16:13

EL Shaddai – God Almighty both powerful and nourishes, sustains Gen 17:1

   Wow! What a resume. These are the very impressive characteristics of our God as revealed to us by His own words. He wants you to know Him intimately. Even as He knows YOU.

   Now, when, in conversation, I say God, I am talking about the great and mighty Everlasting God Who is Creator, Lord and Master of all. The One who sits on high and watches to see everything. The One who punishes sin but nourishes and sustains His people. He Who gives His righteousness to those He sanctifies and shepherds to a place of safety under His banner and provides for. One Who is ever present and ready to send healing and peace.

Can you see Him?

   The next post in this series will be on the New Testament names of God. Thank you for stopping by. Please come back soon and be blessed, AL

The Lord Reigns!!!

The Lord Reigns

The Lord Reigns

The Lord Reigns!!

 

Regardless of what we think

The Lord Reigns!

Regardless of what we see

The Lord Reigns

Regardless of what we feel

The Lord Reigns

Regardless of the nations on earth

The Lord Reigns

Regardless of the troubles we face

The Lord Reigns

The Lord Reigns

and He will be magnified in all the earth

and will show His love to you

No matter whatever you may be going threw today please take refuge under His wings and know that He reigns over all the earth and He will save you because He loves you.

Reality Memories History Fairy Tales

The 82nd Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting will be tonight and it promises to be a spectacular show. Perhaps many of you make this a tradition for your Christmas season.  Maybe you have actually attended this event with family or friends. Whether you saw it in person or watched it on TV I bet you have fond memories of the show and the excitement of seeing all those lights come to life.

 Even as I write this I can hear the Carols being sung as the tree lighting show starts. In a short time tonight’s event will be a memory – like the 81 similar shows before this one.  Our current reality is continually becoming a memory. Memories become history and sometimes history turns into a myth or fairy tales. The passage of time fades our vision and whats real can fade.

My Grandfather built a house in Southampton many many years ago. Last year I was out that way and went by to see it and show it to Betty. It wasn’t there! In it’s place was the entrance to a large cul-de-sac of condos. So I sat there, awestruck, telling Betty what the house looked like and where it stood and how much pride Pop-Pop took in how well it stood for so many years. Betty took me at my word that this home existed and that I saw it and knew who built it even though it was no longer there.

But time waits for no one. The area of New York City where throngs of people are currently gathered to see the tree lighting was farm land not so long ago.  We know this because there are drawings and writings about the growth of the Big Apple. How many children learned in school how Dutch colonists purchased the island of Manhattan for $24 in 1626?

1626! That was less than 400 years ago. Old enough that anyone who was alive at the time has past away but young enough that its recorded as a historical fact. Perhaps in another 400 years it will become a fairy tale or myth. But, that will depend on the prevailing mindsets of that yet to be time.

A little over 2000 years ago Jesus walked the earth in Israel. Hundreds, even thousands, of people saw Him and saw the things He did and heard the words He spoke. Some wrote those words down and told of His great works. These memories were shared with friends and family year after year until they became history – literally – His-story. But with the ever-present passage of time these memories that became history can be seen as fairy tales if we don’t keep the vision clear.

In Reality, Jesus walked this earth and touched the hearts and minds of many many people. Eyewitness accounts were written down and told over and over again as trusted history. Time should not change these facts. Nor should public opinion trun the truth into a fable.

This Christmas Season as we busy ourselves with all that the holiday brings – find the time to open the Gospels and read the eyewitness accounts of the Birth of a Savior, the Great Gift of God and the Love story of the ages.

KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS

Be Blessed and Merry Christmas – Al