Friday, December 30, 2016


The Book of Jude is amazingly chock full of more nuggets than a San Francisco 1849’er could ever find in his gold mine. There is more substance, more power and more truth packed into 25 short verses of this book, than half of the books in your average Christian book store.

Before looking closer at these Truths therein, we must marvel at just who Jude really is! He is the other half-brother of the Lord Jesus and full blooded brother of the Apostle James (writer of the book of the same name). Both Jude and James were sons of Mary and Joseph, after Jesus was born of the virgin, as ordained by God. Jesus, James and Jude also had two other brothers and three sisters, but there is no mention of who the sisters were in the rest of the Canon of the Scriptures. 

It is noteworthy here that NONE of the Lord’s siblings believed in Him and His Work while He was alive! It was only after the Lord’s Resurrection, when He appeared to 500 followers AND JAMES (1 Corinthians 15:6-8) that James believed and then Jude.  Both of the Lord’s natural brothers (via Mary) were radically saved. James became the head of the founding church in Jerusalem. He became known as “Camel Knees” from praying so much to the Father, in Jesus’ Name and eventually gave his life for the cause of Christ. Matthew gave the names of all four of Jesus’ half-brothers who were born of Mary, after the birth of Christ. There were Joseph (Jr. presumably); Simon; James and Judas (who was called Jude for obvious reasons. Judas was a popular name before the betrayal). James and Jude were the best known evangelists of the family, after their Great Brother, Lord and Savior – Yeshua!  These names are found in Matthew 13:55. The Lord’s three half-sisters are not named.

Jude and James became more than radical believers in Christ. They stood strong for the Faith, were bold and travelled in the beginning with their now believing wives sharing the Gospel. In fact it was the Apostle Paul himself, seemingly concerned that only he and Barnabas were bi-vocational pastors, who mentioned them in his letter to Corinth.

Paul said “5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?" (1 Corinthians 9:5-6).

Evidence of Jude’s complete Faith in Christ is as plain as day immediately in verse 1. Note, first of all that he does not equate himself with the Lord, even though they grew up in the same house with the same earthly mother! It is obvious that both Jude and James encountered the resurrected Christ and it changed his life. From then on, he looked at Jesus as Lord and Master, not his older brother.

Secondly, Jude is positive about the doctrine of election. From a doubter and a scoffer of the Lord during his brief three year ministry, Jude knows positional salvation, having been one of the many lost previously. He knew his lost situation, from that perspective. He also knows that it was God Who called him to this salvation and that neither he, nor any man, just finds God.  It is the Lord Who seeks us out, elects us.

Third, and still in the first verse, Jude expounds emphatically on the doctrine of Eternal Security of the Elect! Using the word “tereo”, under inspiration of the Spirit, he proves the Love of God for all His children in the following phrase: “preserved in the Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV). None of the English translations of the Bible keys in on the full meaning of this. The NIV says “kept by”’. The NASB says "kept FOR Jesus Christ". The New Living Translation comes closest in translating the original word as “kept safe in the care of”…Jesus Christ”! 

This is something to take comfort in and is for all Christians in these last days. The very fact that a Mighty Fortress is our God (which is what the word “TEREO” really means) and He will never leave nor for forsake His children remains the great hope for all followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In just the very first verse of the Book of Jude, the brother of the Lord….and in one sentence, we have the doctrines of Election; Sanctification and Eternal Security, leading to Perseverance of the Saints. What a powerful work and an encouragement to all believers of all time! 

As for Jude himself, no one knew what happened to him, personally. However, his descendants were well known. Some of them were persecuted and martyred by the corrupt Roman Emperor Domitian and historians noted that Jude's great grandson - Judah Kyriakos - was the final Jewish bishop or head of the Christian church in Jerusalem! This is noted by the great historian Eusebius, among others. Quite a legacy from a man, who never believed what he saw with his own eyes, until he witnessed the Resurrected Jesus Christ, his former half-brother!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Each year around Christmas time, we hear a lot of talk of Joseph and Mary, the first family of the Bible, being either homeless or refugees. The purveyors of this social justice misinformation assume that Christians do not read the Bible and thus, know the Gospel Truth! How can anyone read the following and come to the conclusion that (the then-baby) Jesus and His earthly parents were homeless and/or refugees is sophistry.

The underlying basis of this untruth is the inability of Joseph, the caretaker guardian parent of the yet-unborn Jesus Christ to find lodging in Bethlehem for his very pregnant wife, Mary and himself.
Luke 2:1-7:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In fact, if anything, Joseph, Mary and Jesus and all who were forced to travel many miles for a census for taxation purposes, were victims of an unaccountable occupying government!

Secular history has borne out the following facts:
-          Quirinius, the Roman Consul and decorated soldier WAS the overseer of Syria when the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus called for a census. He later became the governor there. The secular historian Josephus and Roman official documents confirmed this.
-          The Census unfortunately caused hardship to a lot of poorer people who had to find their way back to the towns of their birth to be counted in the census. Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (c. 51 BC – AD 21)  was the assessor of property....or the chief Tax Commissioner for the Romans in Syria and Judea! This taxation was so heavy that it created the zealot movement, of which Judas Iscariot was a part. Censuses were forbidden for the Jews and many Christians will recall what happened when King David disobeyed God. David called for a census in his older days, after God had forgiven him of adultery and murder. This census resulted in thousands killed for David's mistake. Jews remembered that census well, even though it was almost 900 years after the fact!
-         The Census was taken that all the known Roman world should be taxed (Luke 2:1 KJV).This tax was area wide across the entire conquered Roman Empire as they needed funds to continue the expansion of their military conquests. The great Jewish historian Josephus, who was friends with the Apostle James wrote the following, from his history of the Jewish people (commissioned by Rome. Josephus wrote: "So Archelaus's country was laid to the province of Syria; and Cyrenius, one that had been consul, was sent by Caesar to take account of people's effects in Syria. Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance." - Josephus - Antiquities of the Jews - Book 18
-          Bethlehem is 7-8 miles south of Jerusalem (still is). Travel for the Census had to have been done in good weather, most likely in late September.  Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus back to the Temple in Jerusalem to be circumcised eight days after he was born and their part in the census was over. Josephus wrote that over 6000 pharisees refused to obey the Census rules to return to their birth town, and were heavily fined.

Will the facts get in the way of the continued misuse of this temporarily transient couple’s plight for political purposes? Not really. As for the rest of the story, as the great raconteur Paul Harvey used to say, it would appear that after Jesus fulfilled the Torah command on the 8th day in Jerusalem. Then, after that the couple returned to Bethlehem for almost two years. This is where the Persian Magi found them, following the Star of Bethlehem. Here is also where Herod committed the atrocity of having all baby boys age 2 and under murdered to prevent one of them from becoming King of Jerusalem.

God, the Father, was way ahead of the evil Herod. God had Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt to avoid this horrible genocide. Jesus returned with Joseph and His earthly mother Mary, to live as a carpenter in Nazareth, until He began His ministry at age 30. The rest of His Story….as well as history is written in the Scriptures. The Scriptures, confirmed increasingly by archaeological finds and the Faith of billions over 2000 years, reveal that Jesus the Christ, is indeed the Savior of the world. The Holy Spirit testifies to this solid fact, in the hearts of all true believers.

Friday, December 23, 2016


Continuing on a sidebar in the Christmas story which is not as well known as the birth of Jesus, we key in today on this stunning incident. What lessons we can learn from this entire event surrounding the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias? 

If you have read and reread the entire chapter of Luke 1 (here), the picture given of Zacharias is that of a solid man of God, faithful and accepting of what God had given to him in life. His wife, Elizabeth, was barren, descended from the priestly line of Aaron (Moses' brother) and also content with her lot in life. 

Then God's Angel Gabriel showed up. God showed up. When God shows up - things happened. When God shows up big time, as He did here, and we don't believe what He says, there could be a small price to pay! The higher our standing with God, the higher the cost of disobedience, unbelief or the smallest doubt. The Lord disciplines those whom He loves...and some of us, He must love a lot! 

So the first and major thing we need to glean from the passage is:- when God literally sends His heavenly messenger, and He comes with a DIRECT WORD - BELIEVE and OBEY.

This is amazing account of God's Mercy, Grace, Love and Outreach to reconcile mankind to Him in 13 short verses! So much Truth inhabit these verses, that it is incumbent on us to just camp there a while.

Then let's look at the following portions of Zacharias' song (from Luke 1:68-79)

68  “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69   And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70   As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71  That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72   To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73  The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74  To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75  In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76  “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77  To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78  Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited[a] us;
79  To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Verse 68: God's plan to save ALL mankind, began when He called an Iraqi named Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans to cross over from his homeland by the Euphrates River and begin the plan. Abraham became the first Hebrew, which means "crossed over", and thus, the first Jew. The plan to rescue mankind from the curse of Adam's sin had begun.

Verse 69: Zacharias the Priest has just prophesied the Messiah - Jesus - before Gabriel has even appeared to Mary!

Verses 70-73: He said that THIS Messiah would fulfill the promise made to and THROUGH the Prophets for the Arrival of He Who saves (the literal meaning of the Name Jesus). It is He Who will rescue many from the enemy and those who despise God's people. 

Then Zacharias speaks about who his son, John, will be and what the true mission of the forerunner is going to be.

Verses 76-79: John the Baptist will become the last "Old Testament" Prophet as he is coming to prepare the way ....with Repentance! This is John's strength and what our take away should be. 

The Way of the forerunner is Repentance. This is the doctrine we should be teaching, preaching and practicing. As Forerunners ourselves, in the tradition of the son of Zacharias, let us then prepare the Message of the Good News of the Arrival of the Savior - not just at Christmas time - but at ALL times. Repentance is the way to Kingdom Living, as John the Baptist, so powerfully started during his ministry on earth.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Over the centuries, much has been made of the great praise song of Jesus’ earthly mother – Mary (or the Magnificat).  However another song/Poem or praise Psalm which is relevant to not just the Christmas story, but the entire prophetic plan of God is not as “famous” (for lack of a better word).

It is Zacharias' Prophesy or Song from Luke chapter 1, verses 67-79.  To recap Zacharias the Priest’s background, he was the great father of John the Baptist and the husband of Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Mary much older relative, who was past her time of natural child bearing. The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to inform Zacharias that Elizabeth would have a son named John, while he was attending to his priestly duties in the Temple. Because  Zacharias did not believe Gabriel’s words of John the Baptist’s birth, as spoken directly from the Throne of God,  Gabriel rendered him literally speechless. Zacharias remained unable to speak until the appointed time of the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ.

Can you imagine the thoughts going through the priest’s mind, after he was disciplined by God for unbelief, not being able to minister in the Temple?! Here is a man who is supposed to not just do the daily temple duties, but to proclaim Torah, read the prophets and speak of the Messiah, yet when God sent His main angel Gabriel, Zacharias doubted! Before we get too high and mighty and look down on this great man, we should look in the mirror. We should be very careful because we can  not only be doubters like Zacharias when he got the good news, but we have also done the same thing literally dozens and dozens of times.

Zacharias' voice only returned to him after Elizabeth gave birth and he repeated the words of Gabriel, by writing on the tablet “His name is John” (Luke 1:63). This simple action underscored his belief in the words of Gabriel, who was sent directly by God to give him these instructions. Zacharias' ability to speak immediately returned when he showed his obedience to God’s commands. He promptly broke out in effusive praise and worship of the one True God of Heaven.

He said here in part, in Luke 1:67-79:
67             And his father Zacharias' was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74     that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”


Tuesday, December 20, 2016


The pure joy and emotion of the Christmas season abounds, even in times which try the souls of many. There is a supernatural code written in the hearts of all people, by their Creator, which instinctively seeks to praise or give thanks to Someone higher. The Christian knows just Who this Someone really is - He is Almighty God, the Father of Lights Who gives good things to all people, and salvation to those who belong to Christ. 

So at a time of year when even some of the hardest hearts are open to days and weeks of build-up to the official observance of the Birth of Christ in a Bethlehem stable about 2020 years ago, we have the perfect opportunity and privilege to share this praise with those around us. But most of all, we are blessed more than others to know the Power, Promises and Love of God in these few verses of Scripture.

Thinking about Jesus, some of the best praise and worship about Him and to our Heavenly Father can be found in Mary's Song below. Some call it the Magnificat. These words pack such prophetic power and joyful thanksgiving to our God. They were given by the Holy Spirit to His servant, the humble young woman who gave birth to her first born child (she had six more with Joseph), so that we can learn from her words. 

Key in on verses 49-50 and let it sink in just how Mighty, Fearsome and Powerful God really is.
Let verses 51-52 teaches us humility as we see the coming Judgment of the haughty and arrogant.
Be grateful in Verse 53, that God gives grace, provision and love to the Humble who serve Him, as the day is coming when the Christ child of Christmas stands at the Helm on that Day, and completes all He has promised in the praise and Glory of His Name. Amen and amen as we all give thanks for this wonderful tome to the King.

Therefore, look at this song in that light:
LUKE 1:46-55
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Saturday, December 17, 2016


The first brand new Christian movie to be released in 2017 is guaranteed to wash your winter blues away. W.W.E. Studios (yes, THAT W.W.E – World Wrestling Entertainment) produced one of the most humorous and clearly impactful Christian films I have ever seen. The RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE (R.O.G.S.) is due to be released nationwide on Friday January 20, 2017 and stars Brett Dalton, as Gavin Stone. Wrestling fans will also recognize HBK – Shawn Michaels, the Heartbreak Kid as one of the main characters in the movie. Shawn is a born-again believer in his real life.

R.O.G.S's swift flowing storyline revolves around the former “child actor” Gavin Stone (TV Actor Brett Dalton, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC TV etc.) who later became a troubled young adult, typical of Hollywood child actors, who made it too big too fast. Like most actual child actors, he hailed from either the Midwest or the South and Gavin Stone’s hometown was Masonville, Illinois. (By the way, Masonville looked eerily like Mason City, an actual small Central Illinois town, where the main attraction is an actual 1920’s era theater, with authentic era seating, called The Arlee). Those Midwestern values went out the window once Gavin moved to Hollywood to become the great child actor with the catchy phrases, the merchandise and more. That is, until it all went south and like most child actors, Stone ended up on the wrong side of the Law.

To work out his drug addiction rehab, Stone was sentenced to 200 hours of Community Service at the local megachurch, as a janitor. His displeasure at this required responsibility is obvious until he notices that the church's Passion Play is about to get going. His ego causes him to desire the lead role of, you guessed it - Jesus Christ. There is only one problem: the Bible preaching pastor (played by TV/Movie actor D.B. Sweeney) mentions to Stone that the role is only open to someone who is a Christian.  Naturally, the self-absorbed actor suddenly declared that he indeed was a "Christian" and did what any self-professing "Christian" does - he mouthed words about Jesus.

This sudden "conversion" began both a series of humorous incidents throughout the movie, which flowed effortlessly into the well crafted and directed narrative written by  Andrea Gyertson Nasfel. She may not sound familiar but some of the most powerful Christian movies with self-effacing, subtle, clean humor were written by Ms. Nasfel! Her increasingly impressive portfolio include Mom's Night Out; WHAT IF; Christmas with a Capitol C and others.

Without giving away most of the plot, the expert weaving of this holy humor
Angelah Johnson- Reyes,  with Brett Dalton
and complex human relationships, speak to regular people who simply do life! There is notion out there that a Christian has to have a great life of health and wealth and great relationships. This is about 180 degrees out of phase with life where wayward teens walk out on their parents and have rough and tough relationships with them. (For example, Gavin Stone and his movie father, played by former Second City actor Neil Flynn). We also see imperfect people seek after goals they can never attain, in this movie. Yet they can come together and worship the same God, staying true to the Bible, under the banner of Grace.

Grace is a huge theme of R.O.G.S. We see a lot of Grace with the former Hollywood "bad boy" Stone being welcome back by his formerly estranged father (Flynn). We see Grace in a church and a group of regular people welcoming a stranger in their midst, who is doing community service. We see the doctrine of the "second chance", which God has given to each one of us whom He saved by that same Grace. 

We see Grace in an ex-con named Doug, who now runs a well stocked automotive shop full of custom choppers and equipment. This former ex-con is now a sold-out man for Jesus who loves to do anonymous good deeds, like repair cars for single moms and use the word "Crush" a lot! This was a perfect role for the former World Wrestling Entertainment long time crowd favorite Shawn Michaels, the  Heartbreak Kid (HBK), who is still a favorite with a lot of folks, and is a real follower of Christ himself. 
For a serious student of the Bible or even a casual one, the best illustration of this Grace, which caused God to come down from Heaven and be born as a man to save to world, was the Grace shown by the main female cast member of this movie. Wonderfully played by Angelah Johnson-Reyes (as Kelly Richardson, the pastor's daughter), she is exhibit A of poise and character who gets double-crossed again by Gavin Stone, just after she trusted him as a close possible romantic interest. Stone had gone briefly back to his old life, another illustration of the attraction of the devil just before real breakthrough,  when he felt the tug on the heart which all of us, B.C. (Before Christ) feel, just before conversion.  As Stone is about to make a mistake which could permanently ruin him, he decides to return from Hollywood to Illinois, only to be welcome back with open arms by those he seemingly betrayed.

Director Dallas Jenkins with WWE
wrestling pro Shawn Michael
What happened after Stone's return and the Passion Play's actual performance is the most significant portion of the movie. Every person of faith, from church leader to congregant, can find absolutely no fault with what happened when Gavin Stone finally understood not just Grace, but atonement and what God really did on the Cross.  As his Jesus character hung on the Cross in a "bloody mess", Stone (Brett Dalton) not just comprehended the truth of the Gospel, accurately, but he verbalized it and then surrendered his life to Christ, right there on the Cross...while playing Him! As a minister of the Gospel, I can say that this alone is worth the price of admission!

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is directed by Dallas Jenkins, the young and accomplished Christian movie director. Dallas is known for directing Kevin Sorbo in "WHAT IF" and others. He is the son of Jerry Jenkins, co-author with Tim LaHaye of the popular LEFT BEHIND Book Series. Dallas is now the director of media arts at Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago, Illinois suburbs. Click here for Dallas' bio and portfolio. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone comes out on Friday January 20, 2017 nationwide and is a FIVE STAR PRODUCTION from WWE Studios.

Friday, December 16, 2016


15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them....Luke 2:15-20.

The Bethlehem Shepherds are an amazing case study for anyone who believes not just in God’s justice, but His favor towards those who are not welcome what the world deems “proper circles”.  They were more than outcasts in people terms even though the sheep they tended over were so crucial to Old Testament worship in the Jerusalem temple. 

In the case of the Bethlehem Shepherds, their flocks were six to eight miles south of Jerusalem, and as far as they could be from the religious people who ran the temple and the crooked side businesses. Yet they were close enough when they needed 1000’s of sheep to sacrifice, according to the Law of Moses. In addition, like most Judean shepherds, they were considered worse than used car salesmen and a lot of them may have been….but not all. The greatest men of the Bible were shepherds – King David, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham and others. No one in their right mind would dare call these men dishonest and corrupt. Yet religious and other authorities looked down their noses at ALL shepherds.

This is the background against which God sent the Good News of Jesus’ birth as a human in a small, cold, dirty Bethlehem stable to men such as these.  It is also telling that He not only choose the outcast, the least likely and the rejected. He chose men who were to become the model of the upcoming church leadership. Another word for congregation is the “Flock” of the faithful and sometimes church people BEHAVE like stray sheep.

We sheep DO need a shepherd. In fact, we need the Good Shepherd because
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way...(Isaiah 53:6)”.  Jesus is that Good Shepherd.  He came to earth to set up the Church Age, after He had paid for all sin for all time at the Cross, which is the Foundation of the Faith. Strangely enough, the Bethlehem Shepherds instinctively knew this truth!

Look at their conduct after God was revealed DIRECTLY to them: 
Luke 2:16  THEY OBEYED "So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.". Their obedience most likely involved a lot of work as they had to look in every stable in the entire town of Jerusalem.  They responded to God’s calling and there is a lesson here for the faithful and available among us. When God calls – don’t wait. Go straightway and do what He says, or lose the blessing or even worse. I am telling you from experience, do not despise humble beginnings.
Luke 2:17 -  THEY CAME, THEY SAW, THEY ACTED: "When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child." The Bethlehem Shepherds arrived at the right stable at the right time, as appointed by God. When we obey, we come face to Face with the King and our lives are never, ever the same! The proof if this is that we act just like these shepherds – WE GO AND SPREAD THE GOSPEL….and plunge headlong into working for the Father, then we are doing what the Father commanded us to our eternal reward in Heaven!
Luke 2:18 - THEY WERE BELIEVED: "And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds." After coming face to Face with the Living God of Heaven, and experiencing an incredible life changing conversion, people notice. There is no hiding the change in visage, lifestyle and speech of a man or woman who has encountered Christ and has had a real conversion. These shepherds saw first hand. Those of us who have experienced His Grace, Love and Forgiveness, believe without seeing Him. This is true Faith. Faith also explains why a Christian can enter a bible teaching church, in any part of this world, hear the same Bible passage read and taught on by a true pastor, and immediately testify to its authenticity and truthfulness. There is one common denominator - the Holy Spirit. He- the very Spirit of God, Who raised Christ from the dead - lives in all saved believers, EVERYWHERE. This truth explains the reason the message can be believed no matter where we are at any given time.
Luke 2:20 - THEY PRAISED:  "The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen". There is no way a believer can ever stop thanking God for His Love, Grace, Mercy, Compassion and the Life He has given us. Even the most ungrateful Christian knows from whence cometh his strength. Throughout human and Judeo-Christian history, men and women have been completely open about their worship, amazement and awe when they come to a full realization as to what has happened. Look at Isaiah in chapter 6 when he realized he was in the Throne room of God and in the sheer presence of pure holiness. He said " Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”  King David praised Him in the Psalms, the very prayer book of the Bible. 

One day, Jesus healed the man blind from birth at the Pool of Siloam. As is recorded fully in John chapter 9, the Pharisees not only kicked this man out, who had his sight given to him, but blasphemed God in the process. Jesus heard all about the incident and went looking for the man, whose sight He had given. The Gospel of John picks it up here in verses 35-38 "35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

The Bethlehem Shepherds saw the King, as a baby. They worshiped and praised and proclaimed Him. The word "Shepherd" here - Poimenes in the original Greek - is the same word used for pastor these days. These men had no seminary training, no etiquette training and were outcasts. In the world today, we are now the outcasts of society. We are the minority. Most of us will never have close to any kind of formal bible training. But if we follow what these humble shepherds did: OBEY, SEE, BELIEVE, ACT, PRAISE AND WORSHIP, there is no telling how many we can influence for the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no limit either. There is also no boundary when it comes to being grateful to God, for His Love for us, so we can celebrate the Greatest Gift of all - Jesus - at Christmas time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Each year around Christmas time, we Christians witness an insidious assault on the Baby Jesus, the Nativity Scene and increasing volume on the War against the Cross. It is absolutely incredibly that so-called “educated and enlightened” people, liberals and academics would work themselves up to hypertension and worse over two pieces of wood, planted on top of a mountain outside Jerusalem in 33 AD.

That is, until we realize what these pieces of wood and the nine inch nails which held them together, signify. It was on this tree, in the shape of a Cross, that God Himself literally gave the mortal side of His Life, for all humanity to be reconciled unto Him – the Eternal. God. This is absolutely something which those who are lost forever cannot comprehend.

In case they are wondering, this is against Whom the godless are fighting against, choosing NOT to know it: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross....(Philippians 2:5-8).

In the Book of Acts, when the Pharisees were debating increasing persecution of Christians, one of their own leaders warned them here: "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."...Acts 5:38-39. Of course, these people did not listen to Gamaliel, their great rabbi. They WERE fighting against God Himself, in the Form of the Resurrected Jesus Christ and His budding church movement!

Today, almost 2000 years later, nothing has really changed. It is not the simple act of removing a Cross from a Christmas tree in Indiana. It is not attempting to remove Crosses from veterans' cemeteries or on top of a hill in California. It is not banning Christmas songs in public schools or taking Charlie Brown posters off middle school doors in Texas. It is not casting away Nativity scenes from the public arena and disappointing entire large groups of citizenry. 

It is the condition of the darkness of their souls and hearts. Though they may have every rich and comfortable perk and convenience this world can provide them. Though they may have every corner of socio-economic, academic or other influence to shut down a kid wearing a Jesus T shirt or even sharing a candy cane with a school mate in elementary school. Though they gain the world, ultimately they are the ones who are to be pitied in their folly. Why? They have their reward in this lifetime. They just don't get it. They never will.

The Word of God, from the very Spirit of Heaven says this, and you can bank on it: "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


(JESUS)... in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. (Hebrews 5:7)
Now think about this for a second - the Ancient of Days, Whose goings are from long ago (Micah 5:2), is offering up prayers and supplications. The Oxford Dictionary defines Supplication as "the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly".

Now, double down on this - Jesus Christ - Yahweh, Who actually created all the Heavens and the Earth and everything on them, is pleading with humility to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity - our Father Who art in Heaven. File this at the top of the Holy Stack.

Then the very Savior of the World, Who gave up His very Throne in Heaven to come down and live as a mere man. The very Savior Who speaks and the winds obey. The very Savior Who commands a fig tree to wither and it shrinks from His presence. This very God, the Great I am, is crying literal tears and crying out loud. The vehement prayers and pleadings indicate a passion and intensity which we can come close to replicating.....if we pray to the Father, as the Son showed us here!

Jesus not only showed us WHAT and HOW we should pray in the Lord's Prayer. In Hebrews 5:7 (above), He gave us the example of the proper attitude for the man, woman and child of God with which we should approach our kind, gracious, wonderful heavenly Father. This attitude of humility is more than significant, it is the very essence of our foundational understanding of just Who God is.

Therefore, here is the kicker. We know, from the testimony and teachings of the Holy Spirit, God is pure, sinless and self-existent. He was always God. Before Abraham was, "I Am". There was never a time in eternity past, when Father and Son - Elohim and Yahweh - never existed. YET JESUS HIMSELF, CO-EQUAL WITH THE FATHER, HAD GODLY FEAR!!

It says so in the God-breathed inspired verse above. The Prayers of Yahweh, called Yeshua (Jesus) in the Hebrew language since He saves His people from their sins, feared God! How could God fear God? This is an obvious truth. Remember just who Jesus was when He was praying, pleading and passionately calling out to His Father as recorded here. He was God Who became mortal. He did not release His Diety in becoming such a mortal. He just chose to set it aside for 33 years. However, He did know Who He was!

He was also wise! The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Solomon, whom God called the wisest man on earth, never had a fraction of the wisdom of Jesus. For most of his life, Solomon disrespected and dishonored God until he returned to his senses in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Jesus never was like that because He, the God/Man, knew the fearsome, awesome Power of the Father Whose Glory will not be denied. He knew it FOREVER! So the Creator himself, respected and showed the proper reverence in prayer.

Here is also what this great verse tells us: Christ was heard because of His godly fear! Because He pleaded and cried out to the Father in all humility with reverence, respect, honor and humility - Jesus' prayers were heard....and so can ours.

They can be heard because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead on Resurrection morning, lives in us. The same Holy Spirit Who is given to EVERY believer from every part of this world, at the point of conversion to a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, has the same power to release power prayers like Jesus did throughout His entire time here on the earth, 2000 years ago.

All we have to do release that power in prayer and energize our prayer lives, is to follow His pattern. It could not be any more clear. For our "knee-mail" to be read in Heaven, after we click SEND- we MUST have the same and proper FEAR of the LORD which comes from a spirit of humility and which will them configure our thinking and attitudes into the mindset we need. It is this mindset which reaches the Throne Room, in Jesus' Name. It is this mindset which will then cause our prayer offering to rise up like a bowl of fragrant incense before our Father, Who art in Heaven. Amen

Monday, December 5, 2016


"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." (Micah 5:2)

(All photos are from the annual Nativity Festival held at the Springfield Illinois CHIARA CENTER. Click here for website)

This Peruvian Retabios is 
unique to the Andes of 
South America. It is used to 
tell Bible stories to local 
indigenous folks who are 
not as educated as 

Native American (Southwestern USA)

 T'is the season for 
Nativity Sets, Nativity Scenes or Creches all over the world!  This is also the time of year when all kinds of debates happen across North America and Europe about Religious Liberty and Christianity.

From Germany, where the
 "Baby Jesus is not added to the
 Nativity Scene until
 after Christmas Eve!
From India, Mary in sari
All of this fades in light of the wonder and beauty of the true meaning of the Christmas season. It is precisely times like this which caused the great Francis of Assisi, over 800 years ago to create the first ever Live Nativity Scene. Francis (the founder of the Franciscan Order of Priests) noticed in his land of Italy, that people were more interested in the festive aspects of Christmas and gift giving than what Christmas really represents. So he got a cave, some real animals and began a tradition which has lasted ever since. We are so grateful to this kind and gentle saint, Francis for what he did.

Handmade classic from Italy
From Springfield, Illinois
Over these 800 years, with the rapid spread of Christianity, Christmas around the world has taken up a most unique flavor, for an event which honors the same person - Jesus Christ, the very Son of God! While visiting a recent Nativity Festival locally, the impressive array of depictions of the Birth of the Christ Child is so amazing to behold. The creativity and cultural differences between the nations are only surface deep when you really boil it down. However, each piece of artistic design and work reflects the strong individuality of every tribe and tongue.

From Korea
The photos here represent such a wide range of cultures: from Native American to Korean....from Honduras in Central America to Central Illinois....from Africa and India to the authentic olive wood, from the little town of Bethlehem. Some of the raw materials used are just phenomenal - from straw, to wood shavings to porcelain to marbel to brass etc....all manner of creation!! These sets of Nativity creches all show the love, devotion and detail which represent just a fraction of the wonder, majesty and magnificent of the Greatest Person Who ever walked this earth- the Lord Jesus Christ!
(Photos from the Nativity Festival at the Chiara Center, Springfield, Illinois - website here)
From Honduras, made from straw
From China, handcrafted w/some wood shavings