Saturday, March 31, 2012

CHOCOLATE - GOOD FOR THE SOUL?

"TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD...."(Psalm 34:8)


How can something from a bitter bean taste (after being roasted) so good? The answer, and this is the truth, is found in Genesis 1:29 which says "And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food".


This is the Source of everything good! The sauce of everything good is what we do with it. I have been around cocoa or cacao trees a few times in the past, and marveled at the cocoa pod fruit and its rich dark beans. If you hold one of those things in your hands, split open and taste the actual fruit, it is a sweet pulp with between 30-40 seeds. It is only after those same sweet tasting seeds are dried out, fermented and roasted, that we get the beginnings of some yummy chocolate products!


South Americans, Ivory Coast, Ghana and a couple Asiatic countries produce almost all of the world's cocoa plants. But it originated right here in the western hemisphere and was introduced to the Spanish conquistadors by the Aztecs. History tells us that the Spaniards saw Montezuma drinking endless amounts of what was the first chocolate latte when he had huge goblets of ground up cocoa flavored with cinnamon and/or vanilla, whipped up to a froth! This was before Bunn Capuccino machines or Starbucks! The flavoring had to be added because the beverage had a bitter taste.


The Spanish took this amazing find back to Europe. They developed a taste for it and man's curiosity.  Over the centuries, both here and in Europe, various things have been done to the cocoa pod and uses found for the seeds, both by natives of the Americas and northern Europeans. In the Americas, they dried out the beans and ground them into a power. This then liquefied into a mass and molded into a block.  When processed, we get two things - cocoa solids or cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a staple in many beauty health products for women.


We know what cocoa solids can be used for - baking! Our grocery aisles are chockful (no pun intended) of all types of unsweetened baking chocolates or cocoa, which are just forms of varying amounts of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and refine or pure sugar cane. Obviously, the less refined sugar we eat, the better off we are!


There is nothing more satisfying on a cold winter night than a cup of hot cocoa, brewed the old fashioned way - in a saucepan over a fire! All the instant packets are fine in a rush, but to get the full benefit of this God-given fruit, time must be spent and/or invested in what is well, a "food of love"!


There are several health benefits from chocolate - the kind we sip in our favorite mugs, or some of the bars we can purchase at our favorite drug store. The less than 400 different chemicals in Chocolate are still being examined as to why this thing makes us feel so good when we consume it!


It has been proven that chocolate stimulates the secretion of endorphins, which gives us a kind of a "rush" we feel after, say, a brisk walk in cool sixty degree Spring weather for about half hour! It is also a fact that chocolate also produces a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is a well-known anti-depressant! Two other such profiles are theobromine and phenylethylamine, both of which have a stimulating effect.


Phenylethylamine is a word you see associated with a lot of things from red wine to citrus fruits and of course, chocolate. It has been tested to see how it can even be manipulated to fight things like ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) because of its stimulant properties! Yes, all of these things came from the cacao plant of South and Central America!


Finally, we have the famous chocolate bars. We all have varying degrees of a sweet tooth and need to thank British inventor John Cadbury for developing our modern chocolate bar! Being Quakers, the Cadbury did well selling these items to folks who did not wish to taste alcohol! Cadbury was a salesman who sold coffee, tea and self-produced drinking cocoa himself, starting in 1824. He eventually found a way to emulsify milk, water, sugar and cocoa powder into a solid product which he later used to become simple chocolate bars, or to cover various fruits and nuts! Cadbury chocolates are still available in the US and Canada. It is now owned by Kraft Foods and is second in the world, only to the Mars family of Chocolates from Chicago! 


Who can forget the Hersheys?! Milton Hershey of Pennsylvania was a caramel candy salesman who tried and failed and persevered to the end. One of my personal heroes, due to his Biblically sound lifestyle (a rarity among giant American industrialists, even those of modest beginnings), Hershey became fascinated by the milk chocolates he saw at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair from Europe...particularly the machinery exhibited by the Lehman company of Germany.

After a lot of refining and experimentation, Milton Hershey was able to bring this former food of the rich and famous only, to every man, woman and child in America and then the world! He built the largest chocolate factory in the world at the time and created an entire industry and town to support its operation. Hershey gave not just jobs to ordinary folk, but provide more than affordable homes, schools, libraries and churches for them. Milton Hershey was the great American Horatio Alger story.



When God told the Israelites about the land flowing with milk and honey, it meant two things:
1. They will have cows for milk and bees for honey, and the lush green grass and water to maintain them.
2. They will have to work to produce it.
Man has done that with the Cocoa plant and chocolate. With its divine origin at creation; its chemical properties and its availability at the drop of a hat (or simmer on the stove) may I say, that chocolate is indeed, good for both the spirit and the soul! Enjoy!


(images courtesy google)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (VERSES 8-12)

FROM BROOKLYN TO THE KINGDOM!
One of my favorite people in the world to read is also the lead pastor of the greatest church on the eastern seaboard of America - the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. That man is Jim Cymbala, whose books Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and Breakthrough Prayer played a major role in the development of the prayer ministry, which God gave me as a lifestyle. His church has given us the world-famous, award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir!


Many think of the Brooklyn Tab as a new mega-church. However it has been around for almost 165 years! Founded in 1847 as the Central Presbyterian Church, when the presbyterians were the major revivalists of America, the church went through many phases! It was destroyed by fire twice and a thunderstorm once. When one of those fires destroyed it in 1894, it had over 6000 members. After that, the Tabernacle floundered and fizzled until the 1980s when Jim and Carol Cymbala were called by God to take over a dying church of 30 people.


Through many hardships; financial difficulties; spiritual warfare attacks and general days of despair, they persevered. They persevered not in their own strength but in the same kind of love we see demonstrated in today's passage. How did they persevere? Prayer, Praise and the Power of Love! 


So much can be said about the Cymbalas and what God has used them to be as His ambassadors in the most secular city in America - New York City! However, that is a story best told by this wonderful couple in their own books! 


The Brooklyn Tabernacle and David Wilkerson's Church on 42nd Street have become NYC bookends to the library God is building for His Kingdom as the Church Ages rapidly heads for the finish line! This will culminate in the completion of God's plan for the Restoration of Mankind, which He began through Abraham - the Father of Many Nations!


We have previously been going verse by verse through Romans 15, but to keep the context of what the Lord intended, today, we must look at Verses 8-12 as a package.


For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.” (Romans 15:8-12 ESV)


This powerful portion of Scripture from Romans 15 lays out beautifully the Plan of God. First, Christ came as the King of the Jews (the "Circumcised) in order to fulfill all the patriarchs (Moses, Abraham, Jacob etc); the prophets and the Writings and to show Him Faithful and True! The Jews rejected Jesus and crucified Him as the Passover Lamb in AD 33. Thus began the Church Age.

(AS A SIDE NOTE - Contrary to incorrect teachings in modern western churches, the church did NOT replace Israel in God's Plan. This heresy is called "Replacement Theology" - RUN FROM IT!)



We, who are Gentiles, have been adopted into the Family of God with the same blessings, benefits and privileges of Joshua; King David; Isaiah; Jeremiah (my favorite prophet) or the Apostle Paul - all Hebrews! For that reason, because we have Christ (if we are truly saved and made right before God), we should praise and rejoice!

We should praise and rejoice because as Verse 12 says "the Root of Jesse" will come...."to rule...in Him will we (the Gentiles) HOPE"!!! That Root of Jesse is Jesus...who is from the House of David (Jesse's son)!



Which brings me back to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church - anyone who has read or seen anything about this church should marvel. The Spirit of God led me to know once that this is exactly what Heaven will look like - this congregation! Almost every nation, every tribe, every tongue is represented in this amazing 10,000 plus person congregation....and that includes some Messianic Jews! This is a true reflection of the New York City melting pot.


I encourage all to listen to the Tabernacle choir music or an online Sunday morning sermon by Pastor Jim Cymbala and you will hear true joy, praise and as the verse above says  about what goes on there "LET ALL THE PEOPLES EXTOL HIM"!!!

Amen - would you worship Him today? He is able! Christ is Able Still to Save!




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION OF AMERICA



As one might consider pursuing their graduate degree in sociology, thinking about how the Internet has impacted society and changed our lives, will always be a topic of discussion. Since the burgeoning of the Internet industry, the way people live their lives has rapidly changed. The U.S. has seen people turn to their computers for everything, from working to shopping to attending school. 
The speed at which the Internet moves has also changed, shifting from a snail’s pace dial-up connection to wide-spread, high speed WiFi. Every day, people conduct more Google searches, update more statuses, and visit more new sites than the day before. In the world of high speed browsing, no one waits for answers. But it seems that a desire for speedy information has made Americans impatient for just about everything: From fast-food to speed dating, the U.S. has begun its shift toward an instant nation.
BY TONY SHIN

Monday, March 26, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (VERSE 7)

WELCOME...COME ON IN!



Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7 ESV)


My very close friend and brother is pastor of a church alive with Evangelism and outreach. He and I are both men who minister in the Spirit and respond accordingly to the very moves of God. We're both authors and family men with young children, with a heart for the lost and hurting.


Just this past weekend, he left our conference after lunch to fulfill his church duties and immediately ran into a situation. A very nice homeless couple showed up at his church in need of just everything.  They were a beautiful clean-cut African-American couple with nowhere to go, after moving into town to be close to family. Their move from another state did not work out as planned and they were suddenly homeless!


After speaking to the man, it was discovered, not only did he have a very accomplished past career but his technical education in information technology should lead him to a good life down the road.


After some communication between pastor and I and another friend in our network, we were able to land this couple in a safe home. They were supplied with both groceries and hygiene products. This is not the first time, something like this has happened in a church or with loving Christians. We were exhorted in the Bible in today's verse above (Romans 15:7) and more specifically in Hebrews 13:2  to entertain strangers....because who knows, one day, we may even be blessings an angel sent to test us! 


By the way, the guy in this homeless couple, was confirmed as part of the staff of the Dallas Cowboys and appeared in several episodes of Chuck Norris' Walker, Texas Ranger! So an angel was not ministered to, but a cowboy was!


This is Romans 15:7 in action! If we call ourselves by His Name - CHRIST(ians), we had better act it. The couple, now warm and secure until circumstances improve, was in church this morning. They are now more open to a man preaching the Love of Christ who has demonstrated it. 


What we have also demonstrated here is true love. 
What we have to get away from is preaching down to people who need a hand up. 
What is more than evident, for such a time as this is people do not care how much we know, until they know how much we care.


Jesus has the final word on this issue...as He always does, in order for us to close the loop on this short message!!! He said in John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."


Saturday, March 24, 2012

POWERFUL PRAYER MINISTERING TODAY!!

OVER 920 AT OUR MEN'S CONFERENCE IN SPRINGFIELD
STILL, OUR BOYS/YOUNG MEN IN GRAVE DANGER!


When we first started doing the local leg of a brand new concept called Iron Sharpens Iron National Men's Conference in March 2007, we had no clue what we were doing. We were just a bunch of guys from Business Men in Christ (BMIC) investing about $3500 of our income to bring a Discipleship men's ministry to town, which ran with the big dawgs in Colorado, New England or Orlando, Florida. Tom Cheshire, who spearheaded that in 2007 has since moved on from BMIC and now leads the successful Relevant Practical Ministry for men, which focuses in growing this movement to disciple men across central Illinois.


As the leader of the Prayer and Marketing Committee that first year, my job was to run two prayer rooms - one with men and women praying all day as intercessors for the day long conference - and the other with another minister and myself, open to men only, to counsel and pray with them.


That first year, less than 10 days out, we only had 45 men register. On conference day, over 550 men showed up! This year, 14 days out, we only had 175 registered. Today, over 920 showed up. All the classrooms for the 16 Equipping Seminars were so packed, we had men overflowing out the doors! God showed up and showed us Who was in charge! Not us!


DR.VODDIE BAUCHAM
This year's main speakers were Dr. Voddie Baucham, famed Southern Baptist Apologetics expert who is well known for his conferences with Answers in Genesis leader Ken Ham,  and New Life Church Associate Pastor David Perkins. Dr. Voddie was the all-out hit he always is and drew men from a tri-state area - Indiana/Illinois and lots of church vans from around St. Louis, Mo! This is in spite of the same St. Louis area conference last month! Not just that, but the Chicago area has two where the Indiana guys could have gone and saved two hours driving!


But the most rewarding part of this ministry for me each year, the privilege of ministering - first at the Chapel before the Conference starts with main speakers, leaders etc and communion with them and secondly, praying with and counseling with men from all backgrounds and stripes! Each year the needs get more critical and intense! Each year, we see and are blown back by the hurt, problems and issues some men are finally 'fessing up top and facing out there.
DR. EARL POWELL (RIGHT) WITH BEARS CHAPLAIN
RAY ELROY, FORMER DB FOR BEARS/LIONS/COLTS

Today Dr. Earl Powell (who has been ministering with me for 6 years now) and I and  occasionally some other leaders, prayed with and counseled more men in the space of a few hours than we ever did in one year! Without naming names, we dealt with issues of bi-polar; alcohol and drug use; living in sin with women; unforgiveness and more. 



Even more stunning that counseling and spiritual warfare with some demons some guys were battling was what happened in a seminar my friend Sam Mehaffie was conducting. Each year we bring him back for a reason. The reason is we have more and more boys from 12-18 years old who are brought there and have no father; or a father in name only...or are dealing with emotional neglect etc. It is uncanny! I ministered to a 13 year old named Isaac who is already dealing with all kinds of temptation and a couple of us to a most heart-breaking case - a giant of a kid, crying his eyes out because his dad just left his family for another woman, breaking his kids heart.


This guy, Chad, had never heard about Abba Father - Daddy, Father God - loving him so much that Jesus the Son took the hit for him. We believed, prayed into and cried out for a long time for God to send a Godly man alongside this teen to be his spiritual father. We try not to leave these poor boys hanging but hook them up with resources to start them off. These boys, and increasingly they are from wealthy or good suburban/urban families - never heard this kind of talk in their churches, from their pastors or parents!
WITH CHICAGO BEARS CHAPLAIN RAY MCELROY

The question remains - what on earth are they hearing?!!! Has the church become so focused on playing games, they threw out the ONE THING Jesus commissioned us to do - MAKE DISCIPLES! Everyone is to blame for this, include us who are finally doing something about it. 



This summer, our Decatur branch guys are doing a summer boys camp to teach young men that Sexual Purity is demanded by God for Righteousness but it is going to be out by a private lakefront, so they can have fun while learning. Many of these kids/teens have never been outside the inner city. So that's exciting. Folks we have to do something because our next generation of men, now still boys and older teens are in huge danger. The corrupt and morally bankrupt public education and political systems, and increasingly - the church body - are failing our future men big time. They, every single one - from president to pastor - will be called to account for this travesty one day. This is in the Book, don't doubt it!


I ask you to pray for all the men we personally ministered to, one on one today as well as all those broken teenage boys who never knew that God believes in them. If only we can catch some of this generation before they slip through the cracks into the bad part of eternity, it will make all of this more than worthwhile! It is more than worthwhile, because our Savior, Jesus Christ, is MORE than WORTHY of our Praise! Amen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (VERSE 6)


ONE LOVE, ONE VOICE, ONE BODY
...that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ(Romans 15:6 ESV)


Jesus' Disciple John saw the future when he was allowed into Heaven and given a preview of the distant future. What he saw there stunned him and he wrote in Revelation 7:9 "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands".


While they walked with the Master for three years, John and the other disciples knew their work was to reach the Jews first. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 15:24 that He was sent ONLY to the lost sheep of Israel. It had to be so because, sadly, He knew they would reject Him. This would enable the Good News to be sent throughout the globe so that every tribe, tongue and person would hear and believe.....that is, until the time of the Gentiles (or the church age) is over.


At the time John saw this vision called the Book of Revelation, he would have known of the Evangelistic or Missionary Journeys of his former nemesis from the Temple hierarchy Saul/Paul. He would have known of all the churches planted in former pagan towns by Paul from Macedonia to Ephesus. But it appears that nothing prepared him for what he saw - a mass or possibly millions of humans dressed in white worshiping the One True God!


This is a powerful exhortation and precisely why there should be Unity in Purpose and Love in the True Body of Christ, until He calls us home! Romans 15:6 is there to remind us that we should get used to functioning as that united Body. Why? Well, because this is what we will be doing in Heaven for all times - worshiping God, glorifying God!

The one voice he talks about in this verse, with which we glorify and praise the Name of Abba Father literally means sharing the SAME faith naturally and without conflict! Anything that deters, dilutes, destroys or distorts the songs of Praise will never reach the Pure and Holy Ears of God. 



Such conduct disrupts the flow of the Spirit and could limit what He was sent to do.
Such conduct limits the blessing we receive from Father God and stunts the growth of the church!


So Father, in the Name of Jesus, I ask that You seal this Word in our hearts that we may keep our eyes on You and not on pettiness, conflict and useless chatter which turn many away from You and keeps Your church from functioning as You intended. Help us to remember Whose we are and just Who our first Love is - and as long as we remember it is all about You and not us, we will grow in the love (agape) we show each other, we will live better with each other and thus live mightily for You, in Jesus' Holy and Precious Name, amen.


(Graphic from Google Images)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (VERSE 5)


CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus...(Romans 15:5 ESV)


Euodia and Syntyche are two names you won't find in the Boston phonebook....not even the one in Dublin or Belfast! These two women are not runway models from Greece but two Godly saints who constantly fought each other! No matter how much they tried or how much their friends pleaded with them, the conflict there was too much...and these were Christian women!


Look at what their good brother, the Apostle Paul, says about them here "I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life" ...Philippians 4:2-3 (ESV)


We all know that Paul was Jesus' personal emissary to bring the Gospel out of the Middle East into western Civilization, which he said with stunning success. Yet, here is the man of God pleading for his co-laborers in the mission field to "can't we all just get along"?!


These are leading members of the church at Philippi and hence the reason Paul was spending so much time trying to get the intense disagreement squashed before it damaged the work Christ sent him to do! Sometimes, we Christians can be real stumbling blocks to others seeing the True Love of Christ, by the way we conduct ourselves! If he did not stop this dangerous conflict between Euodia and Syntyche, the vision Christ gave Paul for the model church in Philippi would be in danger!  This may sound like just another Bible story. But here is why the Philippian church is important to us today in 21st Century America - it is the same model we use today!!!!!


1. The Philippian church is the first church to be planted in Europe. 
2. The Philippian church  is the only church in the New Testament that is used as a model for other churches to follow. 
3. The Philippian church is THE main model that gives us an entirely different standard for tithing, giving and free-will offerings! This is how the west got to have generous churches who feed and clothed the homeless and finance missionaries!
4 The Philippian church helps us to define the kind of true fellowship, love and unity we have today....among most believers!


There are some other smaller points but we get the point. If Paul had not buried the bone of contention which Euodia had with Syntyche and vice versa, the western church would be in  heap big trouble and not what Christ intended.


This is what Romans 15:5 is telling us - we have to live in Unity, NOT Kumbayah with EVERY FALSE doctrine, but Unity in the True Body of Believers, so that God will give us ALL the ability to persevere and make it through these worsening times! True Bible believing Christians are the only ones who will make it through to the end and the only way to do so is to have each other's back in prayer, supplication, constant care and checking on each other and true fellowship as a worshipping body and neighbors!


They will know we are Christians by our love...and not by a verse in the New Testament, so the entire world for 2000 years know that you and your fellow saint were women who hated each other!
They will know we are Christians by our long lasting, enduring and magnanimous love we show each other and the Lord. 
They will know we are Christians because we live as in this Psalm:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.
(Psalm 133 ESV)



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (VERSE 4)


BASIC INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LEAVING EARTH


For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 ESV)


You and I meet people all the time who will ask us "do you really believe all the stuff in that book you're always carrying around" or how about this one "what kind of God is that in your book? All that's in there is murder, mayhem and adultery". Then there is the piece de resistance "Judge not less ye be judged" etc etc...


It is no wonder that the unredeemed will quote misconceptions about the Old Testament more than any other! Many of us consider the first part of the Book "Christ Concealed" and the New side - "Christ Revealed". For unbelievers to keep harping on the Concealed part is revelatory of their unsaved state. For if they truly knew God, they will realize all those stories of greed; murder; deception; fraud; idol; lust; adultery; perversion and just plain evil are no different than what we read and see on the news; in movies and in modern culture!


I was just studying the account in Judges 13 last night, for a collection of 4 sermons (which I will be recording this Thursday for my weekly Bible Teaching TV show in Decatur called Plumbline). That chapter tells the amazing story of Jesus Himself having conversations with the parents of what the Lord Himself set apart for His Worship, Leadership and Work. I urge you to read it yourselves because when you read that account and what God designed for greatness and as an example of righteous living, gave us what we have now come to know as Samson and Delilah!


There was no greater start in life than Adam and Eve of course, but a close 2nd or 3rd is Samson. This man used his God anointed and appointed gifts to squander EVERYTHING because of his pride and lust for sex. He thought his God-given came from him and spent it in pursuit of a life that rivaled Hugh Hefner and his pagan women. It cost Samson his very life as the Lord "departed from him" and left him the blubbering mass he became. 


Over in the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit about their tithes and offerings and God killed them as an example of His immediate expectation of Holiness for Christians and intolerance for sin. The stories go and on. Can't we see the parallel here between folks today and then? It does not matter if sin happens today or Zedekiah bowed down to an idol in the Palace in Jerusalem 2700 years ago - both will be held to account on the Same Day by the Same God.


That is why God gave us His precious, precious Word! He gave it to us, who are so hard-headed; full of ourselves; stubborn; stupid and more that we can't remember a lesson we learned last month when we promised God that we would not do such and such again "if He got us out of this one". The Bible truly is BASIC INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LEAVING EARTH!


It will serve us well to heed the Word of the Living God therein, as Verse 4 instructs, because life will become more bearable for each and every one of us! Amen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (Verse 3)

BEYOND REPROACH


For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” Romans 15:3 (ESV)


Chris Tomlin has a wonderful worship song called JESUS MESSIAH, which starts off like this:
He became sin

Who knew no sin
That we might become His Righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross
Love so amazing, Love so amazing


Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

This song defines perfectly what Romans 15:3 is all about! Here we have the King of Kings, Who created Heavens and all the earth, not just being born as a baby in a cold and stinking animal stall, but One Who lived life as a man with no riches, comfort, palaces or boats. 

He suffered from pompous self-righteous over-educated men who tried to trap Him with what they knew were stupid and evil questions....blasphemous, if you will. Just like those in academia, media and government today who continue to revile, ridicule and insult Him.

This is what the word "REPROACH" means. This describes all I have just mentioned that was done to Christ and more - shame, disgust, disapproval.

Yet, Jesus Christ took all that reproach so we would not have to. Due to our original sin and rebelliousness, we inherited the reproach of Adam. So the Father, Abba, being the loving Daddy that He is, sent the Son to intercept His Coming Judgment and stand between Him and His Wrath against us! Do you realize what an act of Love that is friends?!!

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich". This one time act, the greatest act ever done for Mankind since Creation, stands out as the Pinnacle of All History!  This is the one act which determines your eternal destiny.

You can either choose to do like most of the world and refuse to acknowledge Him and His Sacrifice for us, or you can be so grateful, there are not enough tears, surrender moments and the lingering sense of worship or gratitude for Jesus Messiah's rescue of us. Because, my friends, if we choose His forgiveness and accept His Grace,  this will be the only way we can be beyond reproach, on That Day, when an unrighteous world stands condemned before the Judgment Throne! 

Have you accepted the Word of Truth of Romans 15:3 - Salvation? I urge you to. Amen



Tomorrow: Romans 15:4

Monday, March 19, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (Verse 2)

LIFT UP TO BUILD UP
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up...Romans 15:2 (ESV)


Have you ever been asked by someone the following questions:
"Why should I believe you?"
"Why should I believe your Jesus?"
"Why should I go to church, all they want is my money?"
"Why should I go where all the hypocrites go?"

All good questions these are, and for some reason, most professing Christians cannot answer even one of them!

I will attempt to answer each of the above in one short paragraph each:

"Why believe me" - Don't believe me, believe God! If you wish to live Romans 15:2 to your "neighbor" tell them your story through HIS story! Tell what God has done in your life!

"Why believe your Jesus" - Because I know He is real, He is my Savior and the King of the World! Every prophesy from Genesis 3 to the end of the Book of the Revelation, written over 1500 by 40 different authors, point to Jesus!

"Why go to church...all they want is my money" - Do not confuse crooked TV evangelists and their jets and Bentleys with the local corner pastor, who works harder than most men about 8 days a week. When someone is sick, guess who they call! Most people who go to church do not even tithe or give even close to the expected 10%...it is more like between 1%-2% in America! Most people spend more at McDonald's than they give to the church.

"Why should I go where the hypocrites go" - Are you sure you want to go there? Not all people are hypocrites. If someone has been treated rudely, unchristian-like or just plain inhuman by 'church' people, do you blame God for that? If one day, you drink a warm cup of milk from your broken fridge, do you give up drinking milk for life?

These are just some of the examples of things thrown at us all the time, by those we wish to reach out to, both with kindness in their time of need and/or the Gospel. The above attempted responses are equal to the second part of Verse 2 where he says "to build him up" for his own good.

The first part, when actually translated in the spirit of the message from the Lord is "do all you can to "aresketo" or meet with someone's or gain their approval, in order to do what I just said - build them up, lift them up, be an encouragement to them ....and therefore, love them to Jesus! This is the Spirit of the Great Commission!

TOMORROW: VERSE 3

(image courtesy google images)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A WALK THROUGH ROMANS 15 (Verse 1)

.....ALL WE NEED IS LOVE....



We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1 ESV)


This week, I begin a verse by verse look at a wonderful chapter of Scripture which will accomplish two things:
- Bring Hope to Others
- Bring Strength to Us.


Many of us live by the Westminster Confession of Faith which says "the Chief End of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever". I can launch into 15 sermons on that alone because it is so rich, it will cause your spiritual heart to explode with joy unspeakable at our God Incredible! Amen!


This leads me to the Greatest Commandment, according to the Lord Jesus, which is "Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your might"! Moving on, Romans 15, for the most part, is similar to a farewell love letter from the Apostle Paul, who is exhorting us to be like Christ. We are called here to be the Example of Christ...to love like Christ, Who said that the Second Greatest Commandment was to "love your neighbor as yourself".


These two Greatest Commandments are the fulfillment of the Law, from the Lawgiver, Who demonstrated that love in EVERYTHING He did and said...even unto the Cross!


Therefore, if we say we love God, we have to love our neighbor - there is no other way. So, unlike what Cain told God, we really are our brother's keeper as we see in Romans 15:1 where the following is obvious:


A. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to assist a family member, friend or a complete stranger in their time of distress and need. In some cases, we even have a legal duty to pull someone out of the soup. What sort of Christian will see his or her unemployed neighbor down the street with five small kids, hungry and cold....walk by them in church or on the street and then say to them "I'm praying for you"??!!! 


The answer is too many of us! First of all, when somebody says "they're praying for you", most times oft, they ain't! Secondly, what's stopping you from sharing half of your Sunday pot roast with that family, or buying them a bag of groceries AND checking frequently or rounding up some warm winter clothes for them in December? Nothing!


But it is not just the basics. If we can assist someone because we, or someone we know, have expertise in electrical, or mechanical or even medical etc...nothing is really stopping us from connecting someone who is in dire need of such a service! This may well be a Divine Appointment, set up by God, not just to help that person, but to test your own character... especially, if you keep telling people at Bible Conferences, as they pat you on the back, that "your Chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever"!!!! Ouch!


B. We have an self-defeating or lower opinion sometimes of ourselves, than God has! We never know how much more we are capable of until we really dig in and BOOM...we see all the blossoms bloom in beauty and doors fling open and then opportunity after opportunity to assist with or minister to others, present themselves. If we have that "Chief End" in mind and then comprehend that God has given us EVERY SINGLE THING we need to live - from His Word to His Spirit - there is no way, we will ignore the weaker among us. 


This realization will lead to a burning, a desire, a fire within us to please others rather than ourselves! Think about that! Why do we work, apart from paying our mortgages, utilities and car loans? We work to provide for our families and ensure our beautiful children have the best life we can give them. Along the way, we are a basically good and charitable people. There is no country like America when disaster strikes anywhere in this world, even in these tough times.


I led the opening prayer and invocation at an orphan banquet two weeks ago - In His Hands Orphans Outreach - a ministry I have been involved with since 2007 and watched as my friends' visions went from providing blankets and heaters to orphanages in China (and then adoption of some of the kids), to just less than five years later - having a presence in five countries! Yes, I said FIVE COUNTRIES - China, Uganda, Philippines, Haiti and Kenya as well as locally here in Illinois. These are just ordinary working folks like you and I, led by a fearless young mom with six kids! How about that?!


Being this ministries unofficial chaplain since it was fully organized, I can tell you that nothing came about without the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Word of God and many people walking in the Truth, with love. My friend Michelle, who runs In His Hands, out of her home with a small board of directors now,  is living proof we don't need a large ministry or building or all the money on K Street or Wall Street....all we need is love...and love right here....on Main Street!


GLORY TO GOD!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

THE REAL ST PATRICK OF IRELAND

MIGHTY MAN OF GOD!

"I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many." "I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is Mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up." (PATRICK OF IRELAND)

A few years ago, I wrote a gospel Tract for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and had 7000 printed for distribution (most of which were handed out to thousands of parade goers here in Springfield, Illinois). For most of the last decade, up to a month ago,  our men's ministry owned a 1955 Classic American La France Fire engine pumper and we used that as a hook to attract hundreds of thousands to the Cross of Christ.

My reason for writing my own tracts, (which I do from time to time) was to show an entire generation of people here that Patrick of Ireland is NOT about getting drunk on green beer each year; doing outrageous things to get green beads or eating corned beef. In fact, none of that stuff is Irish and/or Christian.


Born in the year 390 AD in England, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish Pirates and sold into slavery on the Emerald Isle around the age of 16. He was the son of a deacon but according to his own writings, he really cared nothing for God! All of this changed once he experienced slavery in Ireland. By the way, this selling into slavery thing sounds a lot like Joseph's brother selling Joseph into slavery, from the Book of Genesis!


"I must not, however, hide God's gift which He bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity (... the gift so great, so salutary - to know God and to love Him...); because then I earnestly sought Him, and there I found Him, and He saved me from all evil because - so I believe - of His Spirit that dwells in me...."(Patrick of Ireland)



Around the age of 22, Patrick had already decided to follow the Lord, Who had sustained  him while he was a slave. He escaped slavery and returned a changed man to his family where he promptly began to study the Bible. Patrick felt the call of God back to his training ground of Ireland, a country rich in paganism, witchcraft and full of Druids! He responded in 435 AD. 

This call, according to Patrick's own words in his famous letter "Confessio" (or DECLARATION): "I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us"


I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun

Brilliance of moon

Splendor of fire

Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind 
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.


I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s host to secure me
against snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd...(from the LORICA, by Patrick)



Patrick fought the evil druids and pagans of Ireland for many years through Prayer and Preaching the Truth from the Gospel of Christ. He baptized thousands of adults and children including kings, judges and men and women of all walks of life. As a real man of God, he refused to take payment from Kings for his ministry work. He is also credited for making Ireland a Christian country, lo, these many years ago.

Many things are associated with Patrick, including the Legend of the Snakes, where he is said to have banished all the snakes from Ireland via prayer and a 40 Day Fast. This has been in doubt. According to National Geographic etc, there were never any snakes in Ireland except a viviparous legless lizard. What they could have been referring to is the Serpent of old - Satan! The pagan druids had snakes as their symbols to honor their own god - the serpent of the Garden of Eden. Those are the "snakes" Patrick defeated and drove out of business!


The most famous symbol of St. Patrick's Day is the Shamrock! Legend is Patrick used the extremely beautiful greenery and three leafed Shamrock to teach all of Ireland about the Divine Trinity of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit! The color Green is an expression of life, spiritual rebirth and eternal life.


In brief, this is the real story of Patrick of Ireland...the same man of God, whom too many, especially here in the United States, use as an outrageous excuse for lewd and public drunkenness in cities across this country.



Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,

against drowning, against wounding,

so that there may come abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.


I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Thrones,

Through confession of the Oneness

Towards the Creator.
Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Lord

Salvation is of Christ

May thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us (Lorica) 

Friday, March 16, 2012

IF YOU DON'T HAVE ANYTHING NICE TO SAY...

KIRK AND WIFE CHELSEA NOBLE
VERSE OF THE DAY: 1 Peter 3:16 (ESV) "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Continuing from this headline,  you know the rest of the story "...don't say it"! That is drilled into our lives from the moment we can understand the first words our moms say to us. Apart from the time I was once part of the media stream in the mid to late high-flying 1980's, I don't know anyone who wakes up in the morning thinking or saying to themselves "I am going to get someone today"!

Granted things are different in the political and business world, but that is not where most normal people live. But what about some of the things going on these days. I am not talking about the Rush Limbaugh controversy or so-called comedian Bill Maher's personal attacks on conservative women. I am not even talking about all this garbage about "the lack of civility" by people don't practice the opposite. But what has seemed to have gotten under a lot of people's skins are the comments by Kirk Cameron, about an oxymoron called "gay marriage"!

In brief, here is what the former GROWING PAINS star, Cameron, said on the Piers Morgan Show (CNN) recently: 
- He called homosexuality unnatural.
- He called it  "destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.
- He said Marriage between a man and a woman was "older than dirt"

So was he correct? Yes, on all counts.
Why did he say it? - He was asked by the interviewer, Morgan and did NOT volunteer it.
SHOULD he have said it or punted like most modern day American christians, including Joel Osteen, who can't take a real stand for anything Biblical? Yes on all counts again!

But what if Kirk offends people?  Doesn't he know that in 2012 his belief in the 6000 old story of Creation and the Bible is outdated? Doesn't he know that more and more young Americans and even seven American states are allowing 'gay marriage'?

I have seen and heard Kirk speak as well as spoken to him when he came to town about 10 years ago. First of all, this brother is the real deal. He has not changed his beliefs one bit and neither has his sister Candace Cameron. They are firm believers in God; live according to the Bible and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. 

The new move in America, according to certain high government officials is this - it is okay to have these views and "freedom to worship", just don't take it outside the walls. This is not only wrong, but unAmerican and unconstitutional. The very first Amendment guarantees Freedom of Religion. That is, freedom to practice whatever your religion is! This is how the country was established - by people who left oppressive Europe and sought out the new world!

So not only did Kirk Cameron call homosexuality a sin against God (as is adultery, lust etc) but he had the nerve to quote God in Genesis 2:24 " Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." This is a most important Scripture verse because Jesus Himself quoted it in Matthew 19:5 and other parts of the Gospels.

Marriage was instituted by God Himself at Creation - for Adam and Eve. Why can't a man who believes the Truth speak it? Have we gone totally off our rocker that we must bow down to the false gods of this world and deny Him? This is what the god of this world wants. This is what many so-called Christians from the highest positions in the land to the lowest, live in the course of their lives. 

Knowing Kirk Cameron and his ministry, he will never back down from God's Word. The man is as solid as it comes. He may not sell as many books or TV shows as the rich TV preacher from Houston with the big smile and positive message. However, when he stands before God, he will not have much answering to do as he stood firmly in the face of the culture and lived up to the commands of the Word, in our Verse of this Friday at the top of this page!


This verse is not just about what the Word of God says about the Great issues of the Day. It has everything - from cover to cover - about the only Hope of ALL mankind, if they (all the world) will only receive it. 


This animosity to Kirk Cameron and anyone who proclaims the Word of Truth in the public arena, is really an attack on the One Who gave it, not just His messengers. Those potential attacks should never deter us from preaching the Good News of Jesus from sea to shining sea, no matter what the cost! Those attacks should never detour us, from preaching the Gospel and if possible, at times, even use words! Amen.



But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
(Romans 10:8-11 ESV)

Keep on speaking up, men and women of God! He will honor you for it, on that Day! Amen!