Tuesday, November 6, 2018

THE GOD WHO INVITES, PART 2 - THE MATCHLESS LOVE OF GOD

If someone had a child or a friend who did not feel the same way about you as you did towards them, a certain amount of heartbreak would be absolutely normal. Depending on the circumstances, whether we are talking about a spouse or a young lady, whom your son wishes would give him the time of day, nothing is as disappointing as love not returned.

While relationships are critical to our human condition, on the horizontal or people to people level, the only real relationship which lasts beyond our brief time on earth is the one with our Heavenly Father, Creator and Sustainer.

In light of this absolute fact (God as Creator/Provider/Sustainer/Savior), we who are called by His Name, are provided free choice to a certain extent. There is no such thing as absolute free will,  obviously, but humans do enjoy a significant amount of freedom to choose or reject God’s offer of Grace, Love, Mercy and Salvation. Hell is full of those people.

For the Christian, God does offer a really beautiful invitation, which if we accept, will lead to such a wonderful life of peace, joy and contentment. This, along with the tremendous ability to persevere through all kinds of trials and tribulations, are the hallmarks of all who choose to accept the offer from the Lord to take Him at His Word.

To this end, let us read this tremendous promise and invitation from the Almighty Himself, to all His people, of all time, from Proverbs 8:17 - "I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me".

This is His Word “I love those who love me”This is the foundational statement. You either love God or you do NOT. There is no middle ground, regardless of a world system of grays and shaded colors. You either believe in and love Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world, or you do NOT. On this one, the majority of the world has already decided, on the negative, to their own eternal peril.

“ Those who seek me” - the unsaved person does NOT seek after God. Those of us who are saved, know this to be true because it was the Lord Who initially sought us out, to offer His Saving Grace.  Therefore, this literally means that the Christian has the real, and always available option, to pursue more than a dysfunctional relationship with God. We have the option to maximize and move so much closer to Him that there is the same kind of glow in our spirit, which Moses had on his face, when he came off Mt. Sinai after 40 days with God. (Exodus 34:29 "It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him).

The first thing we see is that Love is the Key. God loves us first. He had to, in order to create us, knowing we would disappoint Him, more times often than not. He does love those who love, obey, place Him in the right order (first above all else) and He acknowledges them. He once said of the Exodus hero, Caleb, (who was with Joshua obeyed God in the desert after Moses died, and were the only two original elders of the Israelites from Egypt who were allowed to cross into the Promised Land). God said of Caleb, “My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly", as He showered kudos on him.  God’s great angel said the following of Daniel in Daniel Chapter 10:11 "He said to me, "O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." 

God loves those who not only loves Him, and especially if we pursue Him in obedience, prayer and service – DILIGENTLY as Proverbs 8:17 says!  This word “diligently” actually implies a pursuit of God which begins early in the day and often….or early WITH purpose! In daily Christian living, it definitely means that we should seek God the very first thing in the morning in prayer and devotion and then have a lifestyle of Godly living all during the day, ready to give an account or word of encouragement to anyone, about “the hope that is within us”.

This is one of THE most significant invitations from God, which ALL Bible-believing Christians should grab on to and never let go.  This invitation with a promise, and the evidence to back it up from Scripture, gives more than a glimpse of the matchless love of God. It underscores it, in permanent marker, in our very souls.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

THE GOD WHO INVITES, PART 1 - COME, LISTEN, LIVE

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Listen, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you; the sure mercies of David". (Isaiah 55:1-3)

All through the Word of God - the Bible - our Heavenly Father beckons, calls, beseeches, begs, asks, summons and always directs us to come. He is the God Who invites us to sit at His table. This table is prepared for His Children because He loves us more than the world will ever acknowledge.

How much does God love us? Ask Jesus - He came off the eternal throne of Heaven, was born as a man in a cold stable on an early Fall night and lived to show us HOW we should live. God loved His wayward children so much, He even allowed His one of a kind (only begotten son), Jesus, to literally die on a cross as payment for all our sin, for all time, before rising to Glory to confirm the defeat of Death, and the hope of mankind.


God not only invites us to Heaven, and one day soon - the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, but while we are alive on this earth, and have troubles, trials and pain, He does summon us to not just reason and test Him, but to find comfort, peace and tranquility in Him. You will not find it in any man-made system or in emptying your mind and brain and soul as the eastern mystic religions do. You will not find it in crystals and new-age ungodly mantras and meditation. You can only find it in the pure, unfiltered Word and Mind of Yahweh, the Great God of heaven.

So here, in point form, is an amazing invitation from our loving, merciful, compassion and relationship-building God, our Father Who is in Heaven. The text is from Isaiah 55:1-3 (seen above). As we read these specific, true and guaranteed invitation, let us apply it to our lives and do as He says. It will transform our lives:
-   Come to the Waters (Verse 1a - for those who are thirsty for a drink of life that satisfies).
-   Come, buy and eat....without money (Verse 1b) - the Grace of God is free. Not for sale.
 Listen carefully to me (Verse 2a) - when God speaks, pay attention, for our own good.
 Let your soul delight (Verse 2b) - come, listen and just sit and rest in the love and grace and goodness of our Father,
-   Incline your ear (Verse 3a) - not just listen, but make the extra effort to move your head closer, so your spiritual ear and heart, can hear better from God. Why? Because He says "come closer".
 Listen and your soul shall live (Verse 3b) - Twice He says "listen" in the last two verses. Hearing the Voice of God calling us to forgiveness, repentance and Faith is the only way to gain eternal life with God in Heaven.

There is no better invitation anywhere in this universe. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

JOIN IN ON KICKSTARTER FOR THE NEW "FARMER AND THE BELLE" MOVIE!

The accomplished actress of the big screen and television (Frost/Nixon; God's Country, Doonby etc.) Jenn Gotzon-Chandler is now a wonderful new Movie Producer and producer of many other things including products to lift up the lives of young girls and women.

The Pennsylvania native now lives outside New York City with her husband Jim E. Chandler, who is himself seen quite regularly on made for TV movies and other television series. Jim and Jenn have produced a wonderful family Christmas comedy called "The Farmer and the Belle". It is based on a true story

This is now in the Kickstarter stage in order to complete the production and distribution of the film, which has already been recorded and directed.

Here is the Kickstarter page for anyone who would love to be a part of this really nice family holiday classic. 




Also check out the following trailer:


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

CRITICAL THINKING - A COMMAND FROM GOD FOR PARENTS

6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
These directives from God is absolutely clear. They are real. They stand for ALL generations.  Lack of financial resources, opportunities or circumstances of birth are of no excuse or import to these Biblical Commands from the God of all Creation, all the Universe and all Mankind. Absolutely no parent is exempt of accountability for these commands, anywhere in the world, at any point in history.

So how does this generation and all future generations (since it is too late for all who have gone before) avoid the fatal eternal mistakes of not bringing up their children in the ways of Yahweh? First we start with these important commands from our Heavenly Father and we establish a home, from Day One, where Jesus Christ is the Head of the Household.

This is so for one very valid reason – Christianity is the only Thinking Man’s religion. We do not need to examine any other fake system out there, which either requires a person to sit like a sponge and empty their mind so the god of this world can fill it with untruths or, some of the other systems which require a certain amount of “good works”, no matter how degenerate the person may be in their personal lives. They never say how much is enough “good stuff” or what percentage their god will accept.

Christianity calls the sinner to not just come and “reason” but to “test” the Words of the Lord of the Bible. He invites anyone and fellowship with and learn from Him. He also has a special place in His heart for the children and raising them in not only in the way they are to go. Educating our children in the ways of the Thinking Man’s Religion is mandatory. Look at the commands from the above Deuteronomy passage:
  • Parents shall have the Word of God in our hearts. How? By reading, studying, memorizing and LIVING them (verse 6).
  • Parents shall teach them DILIGENTLY. This is an active, ongoing command to take painstakingly good care to teach, instruct and demonstrate Godly attributes and His Character as found in His Word – the Bible (Verse 7a)
  • Parents shall use every opportunity to demonstrate the power, majesty and creative brilliance of God in creation (nature) and everyday living.  This runs the gamut from nightly prayer with the kiddos to grace before meals, married with regular church attendance- WEEKLY (verse 7b). Children should be taught that even the act of getting off the bed each morning is a gift from God. Having something to eat at breakfast and clean clothes are daily gifts from our Heavenly Father. Reference Matthew 6: for this….and more.
  • Parents should teach by their actions and when given a choice,  openly where Christian apparel or jewelry where appropriate and as much as possible, since we do not wear the little bible boxes and other items on our person as they wore back in Old Testament days. We are supposed to be the entire package (Verse 8).
  • Parents should have something in their interior décor at our homes which tells the casual visitor; utility or repair man, that THIS is a Christian home. Deuteronomy 6:9 talks about writing the Word of God on “doorposts” – these are the Mezzuzahs which Jewish people still have by their front doors (see photo).  Most people will not do this, but they will have coffee mugs with Bible verses; fridge magnets or inspiring canvases in their living rooms. These are the items which have and even stronger cumulative effect of some verses on the door, in a metallic container. The best Bible is the one which the world reads by looking at our lives.

So, what does any of this have to do with Critical Thinking? The answer is – more than meets the eye. A child brought up in a functional 100% Christian home with two parents already has the tools to win in life, without this child even realizing it. The first thing is salvation. When dad takes the family, or leads the family to church, statistics prove that the child is saved and born again 85% of the time!

What needs to take place next, is something  for which parents are just as responsible. That would be instruction, mentoring and discipleship.  Leading our children to Christ is the main event, but there is more.  If they do not know about their Faith; how to study and comprehend it and then, how to defend it in the public arena, we would have fallen short.

In his book ALREADY GONE,  Ken Ham along with his researcher Britt Beemer, keyed into the terrifying problem of church-raised kids who end up losing their faith by their sophomore year in College…and increasingly now – High School.  While this book was released  in 2009, the underlying discovery stunned the world of church leadership.  Sure, we officially lost most church raised children in college. But the truth was that we lost them in 6th grade Sunday School!

Teens and millennials who walked away  from Christianity; still call themselves “Christians” yet believed “all religions worshiped the same God”, are as lost as a grain of wheat in a soybean silo at Harvest Time.  It is not they do not think, but they do not know how to think and process the information in the Bible…..because no one taught them. Most Sunday School members are well-meaning church members who may or may not have a well-read background in Apologetics (or how to explain/defend the Truth of Scripture).  Most  youth group leaders are even less trained and more apt to direct towards fun, games and entertainment than serious, deep age-appropriate bible study.

So, in light of all of this, how can we get this steadily downward trend to a halt before we can even attempt to turn the tide? We appeal to the mind and the heart of the young person.  It is never too late to start. The following two components are absolutely essential:
  • Take the time to teach critical thinking to your own kids, or hire a tutor.
  • Promote actual book reading (as in physical books) to compliment what is being taught
  • Spend time doing writing exercises with the kids which will cause them to both think and then write it down in a coherent fashion.

Teaching our children, as God commanded, about the Bible and Faith is critical to grasp every other aspect of life.  The reason the vast majority of people under 30 years old have no hope, no core belief and no eternity in mind, is because they were misled in churches or never got to the front door in the first place. 

We must teach them first to think on their own but according to God's Truth - NOT the world and through the brainwashing they receive in public schools and bad private schools.

We must teach them to understand both the meaning AND consequences of Words and especially the long term results of living part from the pure Word of God.

We must teach them to evaluate each situation against the plumb line of Truth, because there is this yardstick called Absolute Truth. There are things which are black and white. 


We must teach them that their misled peers who do not believe there is Absolute Truth are not thinking individuals but are misled into making absolute statements which can be absolutely denied by our children, under the terms of logic.

We must raise them up in the way they should go, because this is our ultimate responsibility, to which we will answer before God, if we fall short - like all of the secular world, and sadly, too many Christians. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

CRITICAL THINKING - CRITICAL FOR LEADERSHIP

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

The majority of people who succeed in either the sciences in school; in business; the Creative process in computer science or the medical sciences engage in full logically thinking, deductive reasoning and processing. These are some of the major components of critical thinking, the ability with which to engage, has been given to every human.

Thinking back to the inventors who have created the things we take for granted these days, they have two great qualities which led to the final success of their work.  Thomas Edison’s knowledge from his hard work, combined with his ability to turn constant failure into discovering what went wrong, in order to take corrective action, led to some of the most well-known things we use across the entire world. The light bulb, record-player and moving pictures, were all Edison products.  Another famous inventor – Benjamin Franklin, who is well-known for discovering domestic use for electricity and more. He invented the bi-focal glasses,  the catheter and even swim fins. He created the United States postal service, the public library system and while at it, even found time to help found the United States of America!

You and I will say that there is no way, we could ever do 5% of what these great men did and we could be right. However, it should not stop us studying HOW they did what they did. Inventors, leaders and other so-called geniuses, were not born this way. They learned skills, worked hard and were critical thinkers, plus.

There will always be heroes and heroines. These are the folks who will charge up an embankment like Sgt. York, to single-handedly capture over 100 Germans with machine guns in World War 1. We all remember the legend of the famed US President Teddy Roosevelt leading the charge up San Juan Hill with his rag tag group of rough westerners called the “Rough Riders”, during the Spanish American War.  How about the quiet Christian man from Arkansas Sam Walton, who turned a group of Ben Franklin stores into the biggest retail concern in America and the world – Walmart.

Men like these and countless others, have certain internal disciplines which contribute to leadership qualities.  Each person is born with those attributes. Very few develop them and even fewer rise above them to be a Sgt. York or a Lee Iaccocca, who rescued Chrysler, or a David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby.  

The first internal discipline was the act of Listening. They listen, learned and took note. They saw things that worked, looked for the smallest  opening to drive a Mack truck through and listened to raw facts. The worse thing a critically thinking leader could do, is to go in with pre-conceived notions, then listen to only the angle he/she is looking for and subsequently, take the meat and through the bones out….with meat still on it.

This leads to the next discipline – accountability. The willingness to be honest with the facts, to think of the consequences of doing or not proceeding with certain actions and then to seek advice from experienced and/or trusted peers or seniors, is the stuff of proper leadership. This is of prime importance, while the evaluation process is in the works. Reading and studying feed knowledge of where we wish to take this thing as we consider more and more research. This applies whether the leadership is in a small ministry, a non-profit feed the homeless project, or a medium sized start-up in the city, which just sort of took off successfully. Methodical research as to demographics, location and other obvious qualities exhibit the thoughtfulness behind the project, thereby determining its result.

The third attribute or discipline is honesty. Those who shade the truth and people who lie always get found out. In all human history, fakes, lies and inaccuracies litter the roadway to success along with their practitioners.  Honesty and truth still make the best ingredients to a successful life. It takes a lot less thinking and conniving to twist the truth than to just be straightforward and make informed decisions, based on the facts.

As the leader of an all-volunteer ministry for many years, and one which has served a growing segment of the community for over 15 years, integrity, honesty and seeking advice were key in longevity. Critical Thinking for leaders, in positions like this, involves accurate information, knowing the limitation, knowing when to both say yes and no.  Mission Statements must be adhered to as well as serious codes of conduct.

A ministry leader’s thought process should be on point at all times, covering every actual and potential weak spot imaginable, as it is the minutest or overlooked item which can bring something down crashing, when people from all walks of life are involved.  The tendency of too many professing Christian men and women to ask “forgiveness instead of permission” is actually sin and very corrosive to the integrity of a group, which is designed to only represent God the Creator on earth. The ability to discern consequences of people going off on their own and doing things to represent similar shortcomings, which can lead to disaster.

To wrap this up,  in order to have even the most minimal impact, which the vast majority of us will ever come close to, Critical Thinking has to be deployed. To wit, the following should be taken into account, right from the start of any project, initiative or proposal:
-  Is there really a need for this item, project or event
-  Cost/benefit analysis (re: promotion; free social media; materials; fees)
-  If it is a discipleship/mentoring project, and is the curriculum thought out towards a goal. Has this or any other project been prayed over.
-  If the project is doable, what is the intended result
-  Are there unexpected consequences and could they be harmful, in the long run.
-  When the event or project is in session, do you have spotters throughout who can be the leaders and bring research back, so decisions can be made.
-  Is a debriefing session on tap, for post- event evaluation for corrective, or repeatable actions.

These are just some of the obvious processes involved in planning and executing, while thinking ahead to the next big thing on the horizon.  Critical Thinking is as natural to leaders as water is to a duck. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

CRITICAL THINKING FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Christianity is the Thinking Person’s religion where the Author of our Faith beckons all to “come let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). This is crucial because the Creator of all things – Almighty God – is inviting His sinful creation to come and speak with Him, test, understand and then come to an independent decision.

To arrive at a decision, when God makes an offer, requires not just thinking but Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking is the process, in which every aspect of our minds, emotions and logic is fully engaged, in order to accurately evaluate ideas and situations. This process determines the accuracy, validity or even the error of such matters.

How a wayward son of God came to Faith in Christ and was born again, is actually the result of Critical Thinking. In July 1988, after an extended time from where I walked away from the Lord to enjoy the pleasures of this world, the Lord had knocked me flat on my back. I was suffering from extreme fatigue, stress, lack of rest and just run down from burning the candle at four ends. When the Lord called me unto Himself, it was not an imposed decision made for me and I had to accept.

Unlike certain faith systems and religions of the world, God is not a dictator Who says “accept me or else”. At the same time, I don’t need a case of Bibles to fall on my head to know that this life is the in-transit room before boarding the one-way flight to Eternity. While no one was witnessing to me, giving me tracts, nor was I listening, I can attest to the truth that eternity is written on the hearts of all mankind.

The reasoning the Lord spoke of in Isaiah 1:18 came into focus. Without much debate, I knew, from days of lying in a sick bed, that I had two choices. It was as clear as day – go down the road I had been going of enjoying the fleeting things of this world, or choose God, and thus Heaven.  Sometimes, we do not need flow charts, a degree in Macro Economics or a computer program to get the correct result. I chose the pathway of God and Heaven, for one reason. The reason was the logic of one destination of unending fire and brimstone, the other was the Way of God. What triggered Critical Thinking in this decision, was a childhood and teenage background of family church activity, combined with the supernatural Law of God written on heart of EVERY human who has ever lived. Instinctively, I knew there were only two eternal destinations. I knew there was no such thing as reincarnation or purgatory. There was and always will be one truth - "it is appointed to man to die once and then the Judgment" 

Each human being ever born has this ability to discern, discuss, decide and deliver after thinking of all alternatives. All facets of our humanity, buttressed by information, must be engaged in this process. Critical Thinking involves more than just this, the most important decision we will ever make in this life. The great author/pastor and famous apologist for the Christian Faith – Lee Strobel – is one of the most prominent examples of how Critical Thinking can change a life forever.

Strobel was a most vehement atheist and the legal correspondent for the Chicago Tribune for 14 years. A  law graduate of Yale University, this atheist’s life was thrown for a loop when his wife was saved and joined the growing Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Il. With his home in turmoil, Strobel set out on a journey to investigate the biblical claims about Christ, from the legal and scientific angle, in order to disprove them, in part. He became a disciple and follower in Jesus Christ on November 8, 1981.  Apart from the Holy Spirit opening his mind to the Truth, Lee had to do all the work of reading, research and traveling all over America speaking to people of Faith with scientific and other background. Just like others who had to follow similar, but parallel tracks (like J. Warner Wallace, a former atheist Los Angeles Homicide Detective). Strobel evaluated all the documentary, scientific and traditional evidence…..and then surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. His life story can be viewed here on YouTube.

“Examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
This is an important directive from the Lord for believers and the principle of Critical Thinking MUST kick in here.

  1. We are to examine, test, research and trust but verify EVERYTHING we hear or see against the Plumb Line of Truth of the Bible. The thing to note here is the word “examine” is first, derived from a word which gives us the English word “document”. This is explicit in us putting every new idea, teaching or movement to the test…then setting it aside before approving it. All of this is wrapped up in the original word used in the New Testament “Dokimazo”. The Bereans of the Book of Acts are still the standard for this. We read in Acts 17:11 that those from the region of Berea“…were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so”.
  2. Next, the examining relates to EVERYTHING….and it must be done CAREFULLY. Does everything mean well, all things? Yes. This means the kindle books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch and the next 30 Days of this or 21 Days of that which comes along the pike.  If Jesus is calling, He is calling from the Bible; His Words are true and we need to not only believe them completely, but handle the proclamation, interpretation and dissemination of them with absolute care. The Christian who thinks critically begins from this following point of reference: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away" (Matthew 24:35).
  3. The Holy Spirit, Who lives alongside the spirit of every born-again believer, confirms that the Word of God is both true and a living, breathing document.  It should then lead the Christian to immediately pronounce that he/she is "not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the Power of God unto Salvation" (Romans 1:16). Thoughtful examination of the Attributes of God; the veracity of His Promises and Prophecies as well as the historical evidence provide information which influence our decision to stand firm in the Faith. The phrase HOLD FAST is not as powerful a translation from the original intent of the original word used ("katechó"). What the Critical Thinker needs to do is not just "hold fast"....but to lay a hold of and own, or take possession of the Truth of Scripture in order to both get it orderly and embedded in our own minds, but then use our intimate knowledge of God, buttressed by increasing archaeological evidence, to become a great proponent of the Christian Faith to both younger Christians and those who do not believe.
  4. THAT WHICH IS GOOD is an exhortation for the Thinking woman or man of God. The Goodness spoken of here, is not just for sharing the Faith but for the edification and spiritual growth of the faithful critical thinkers among us. The Bible says it best here: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16).  

Monday, October 1, 2018

THE FRUIT OF LIVING BY THE SPIRIT

Putting aside misconceptions of what being “spirit-filled” means, living a Spirit-filled life is what all truly converted, born-again Christians actually do. The Spirit spoken of is the Holy Spirit. At the point of conversion from darkness to light, when a person accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, thereby being born-again, the Lord immediately embeds His Holy Spirit in that person.  God gives all or nothing. So the truly saved receives 100% of the Holy Spirit at the point of Salvation. Case closed.

Now, we are to live as though the Spirit of God lives in us. The Bible tells us that before this life altering event, we were once doing the horrible deeds of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21 enumerates this list of horrors. All of us used to belong to one or more of these categories before God saved us.  We were partakers in immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery (for example: witchcraft/New Age/Eastern Mysticism), enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21b).

The Holy Spirit immediately begins turning us away from those things, which unfortunately begin increasing their temptations and presence right up close and personal, in our faces.  Here is where staying close to the Lord, through reading and studying His Word, prayer and going to some form of assembly (home or formal church)  are the pillars.  No truly saved Christian will reject the Word of God. Truly saved Christians have to be taught the value and the mechanics of prayer so they will know how to communicate with our Heavenly Father.  This process can only work if the saved start attended good bible-believing and bible-preaching churches, that believe in Discipleship.

There is a school of thought that a person does not have to go to church to be “spiritual”. Not only is this unbiblical (“do not neglect the assembly of the saints”) but unwise for the person engaged in this spiritual neglect.  It is one thing for doctors, nurses, gas station attendants and others who work on Sundays to not be able to go to service. Many larger churches have Saturday night services to accommodate those who are unable to be in church on Sundays.  So, it is another thing to willfully disobey the Lord and stay away from the fellowship of fellow believers, as well as unwise as to accountability,  true spiritual maturity and service to the Lord.

The Bible basically instructs us to “walk by the Spirit and we will not carry out the desire of the Flesh”. This is absolutely 100% correct. DL Moody says “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible". Modern life is full of enough sin, temptation and distraction. The only way to beat this is to methodically, effectively and clearly walk away from falling into disastrous sin, is to walk almost 24/7/365 with the Lord, so as not to grieve the Holy Spirit.  The word “almost” is key here as nobody will be perfect, until we are completely with the Lord after leaving this life.

The depth of depravity and degradation from which we emerged at the point of Salvation gives way to a whole new world of permanent inner peace and a joy, which are both indescribable. The newly saved Christian is supposed to be able not just “hold those great thoughts and experiences” but use this newfound passion for the Lord to grow in Him. This growth is supposed to then lead, to Spiritual Fruit, which will then be a blessing to as many others as possible, and the Kingdom of God in general.

We get a perfect illustration of how we should live from the Lord Himself in Ephesians 5:15-21, which says:
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

A lifestyle, powered by Christ, such as this (among many other similar characteristics) brings a combination of solid permanent blessings, that embed themselves in our souls. Just like Moses when he came off the mountain and his face shone so brightly, that he had to use a veil so as not to scare the disobedient, our lives then become a reflection of the Holy Spirit working in us.

Calling them the “Fruit of the Spirit”,  the maturing authentic Christian exhibits the following attributes:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

DEBRIEFED: - THE HOLY SPIRIT'S ROLE IN BIBLE HISTORY

A whole lot of Christians are very confused by the knowledge, Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit. This serious misunderstanding stands from such an unconscionable lack of teaching on the Person and Role of the Holy Spirit that Christians populate both ends of an untenable see-saw, in big majorities.

One on end, we have those who completely ignore the Holy Spirit and therefore, go about their church and personal spiritual lives in slow-motion with almost no fruit to show for their self-proclaimed love for the Lord. On the other end, we have a charismatic fringe who misuse the Name of the Holy Ghost (using King James language) to such an extremist degree, that it comes close to blasphemy. 

We will not discuss those things here. What we should do, is live in the Biblical middle of Scripture and prayer, in order to comprehend just Who this Third member of the Holy Trinity, really is.  Here are some major past critically outstanding events which the Holy Spirit of Christ was actively involved in – DIRECTLY from the pages of the Word of God:

THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS INVOLVED IN CREATION:
Genesis 1:2  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters".

THE HOLY SPIRIT WROTE ABOUT THE BEGINNINGS OF MANKIND THROUGH MOSES:
2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness".
There is no way Moses could have known in the natural how God created the Heavens and earth in six days, almost 6000 years ago. Moses could not have known of the Promise God made to Abraham or Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) or all the details of the Exodus. Moses could not have written down the intricate details of the Tabernacle of God (the moving Temple in the desert) which is an exact replica of the one in Heaven.  The Spirit of God filled in all the details from Creation to the Flood and the Post-Babylonian exiled – to the Gospel Writers and the Apostle Paul.

THE HOLY SPIRIT INSPIRED AND BREATHED THE PSALMS INTO KING DAVID
When King David repented from his vile sins of adultery, murder and more by having an affair with Bathsheba and having her husband killed, he repented. He prayer of Repentance – Psalm 51 – is the standard for all sinners of all times who wish to make thing right with God. David confirms that he is one of the extremely few in the Old Testament, to whom God gave His Holy Spirit. David prays to God in Psalm 51:11b “Do not cast me from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me”. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that we are saved and Jesus is our own personal Savior.

THE HOLY SPIRIT PLACED JESUS IN MARY’S WOMB
Luke 1:35 "The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God".
Everything created on the Earth came from an act of God. From the Spirit of the Lord hovering over the unformed earth in Genesis 1:2 to the fish in the sea, the birds of the air…and the baby in the womb. The most famous Baby ever conceived was the Lord Jesus Christ. His appearance on the earth was to a pure innocent young lady named Mary. Mary, a woman chosen by God, experienced a supernatural conception so that no sinful mortal man was involved. Jesus Christ remained sinless, pure and the One True God for the brief 33 years He lived as God Who became man.

THE HOLY SPIRIT DESCENDED ON JESUS THE GODMAN AT HIS BAPTISM
Matthew 3:16-17 "16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
God did not have to show this living and outward appearance of His Spirit visibly descending from Heaven to land on the broad Shoulders of King Jesus, at His baptism by John the Immerser (Baptist). Jesus did not even need to be baptized as He told John (click here). The first ever visible appearance of the Spirit was for the Father to confirm, once and for all, that His Only One of a Kind Son (only begotten) was indeed the Anointed One, the Prophesied One and the Promised Savior.

THE HOLY SPIRIT RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD
Romans 8:11 "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you".
The great song by Contemporary Christian singer Jeremy Camp says it all in his extremely powerful song. As good as this song is, those words actually came from the Truth of the Word of God. The enormity of this is too incredible for words. Let this sink in....really sink in. Let it be permanently engraved in your mind, heart and soul that the same Holy Spirit Who is alive in you and I who trust and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, was in that Tomb, on the Third Day after the Crucifixion. He rose Jesus from His one time mortal human body, back into the Life Giving Spirit that He always was. Is there anything better than this? A million times- NO!

THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME TO LIVE IN THE FIRST BELIEVERS AND ALL SINCE
John 16:7 "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you".
Jesus told His disciples that it is better that He goes away, so that the Helper would come. This Helper is our guaranteed Advocate before all else. The word used in the bible is "parakletos" which means One Who stands up in the Courts of Heaven among other meanings in the Bible! Wow! Other meanings of this word are well-known. Advocate, Helper, Paraclete and others complete the definition of this word.  On Pentecost day, the second visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit was seen in the Upper Room, where the disciples were sitting around praying and listening. This event circles this most significant period in the life of a church, and the true believer. This one time event, marked the next and final phase in life - all from the pages of the Bible.
Acts 2:2-4a "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit".

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

PERSPECTIVE: BE A RIVER OF LIFE

Most people’s point of reference begins from the day they were born and then become aware of their immediate surroundings.  For the majority of mankind, who are not even aware of historical events and key milestones, all that matters is the here and now. Sadly very few even consider their future, on earth and beyond.

So is it with matters of the soul.  One thing the world’s systems have succeeded in is not just removing the Bible and moral teaching from daily life, but they have removed critical thinking from the last three generations of young people, and counting.  However it is more than the inability to think of anything at all, it is the corruption which culture and poor-on-purpose education has wrought on entire people groups, over the last 55 plus years.

Those who are wise, already know that the leaders of entertainment hate the one true God, substitute Him with ungodly idolatry and have slowly boiled the frog to convince the majority of youth to believe either in nothing or a combination of nothing. This combined with a horrible liberal education system, which indoctrinates rather than educates or grows minds to fruitful, happy thinkers, has given us an increasing number of people called "nones". Nones are the fastest growing demographic in America, in that, they represent a rapid growth of people who believe in absolutely nothing at all. Faith brings hope. Lack of hope therefore, results in the opposite.

If you are looking for the root cause of the rampant hopelessness among the majority of the population under the age of fifty, these are the main ingredients: culture and indoctrination rather than STEM education (STEM being: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). But church leaders are not guiltless in any of this. Almost every western church – from Europe to North America and Australia – has failed the Great Commission. The first part of this Final Instruction from the Risen Lord as He ascended back to Heaven was “Go make Disciples”. (A disciple is defined as a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher).

There is no shortage of study, facts and evidence of what has gone wrong.  One thing is apparent, however, and it is that the vast majority of the lost (the wider population) and even weak professing Christians, do not know God, His Word or His Ways.

It is so wonderful to watch the eyes of a baby, toddler or child under the age of 10, who discovers the wonders of Creation all around them. Whether it is a caterpillar changing to a butterfly; or a loving pet snuggling up to a four year old playing with building blocks; or an 11 year old catching his first fish at the lake, Life is new exciting, and full of so much potential. It truly is beautiful thing. Here is where Life begins and all the child and young person can see, is what they have right before them.

It is incumbent upon those of us who are charged with shepharding the young, and those who will come after us,  to pass on the Knowledge of the Ages, which we were taught growing up.  God expects parents and those of us who know better, to share the Truth about Him- Truthfully. This includes the Truth about the meaning, purpose and ways of God, as much as we are capable.

The Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri
One thing which a child could notice, who has been properly educated at both home, school and/or home-school are the wonders of rivers. Ecclesiastes 1:7  tells us that “all the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, they flow again”. This is a perfect observation. For example, when the snow melts at the top of the Mississippi River in the great winter wonderland of northern Minnesota, and flows into the 1.7 square mile Lake Itasca, most people never connect it to being the very start of the Great and Fabled Mississippi River.

This River then picks up steam, width, depth and more and gets bigger as it
The Biblical Rivers Tigris & Euphrates still exist
begins its 2320 mile journey down to the Gulf of Mexico. Then, all that water, pours into the Gulf. Yet, it never overflows. It is the same with every other river, worldwide. The Tigris and Euphrates are the two Rivers from Creation and the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:10-14). They bob and weave, even now, all over the land of the Bible, growing in massive water volume, yet when they empty into the Persian Gulf as one – the Euphrates – that Gulf never overflows. 


Or how about the winds? Where do they originate and to where are they going? Even the best meteorologists are unable to answer these questions.  These items plus the futility of trying to change things we have absolutely no control over. This includes so-called “climate change”, which is a prideful heresy, against the Power and Control of the Lord.

The complete and unquestionable Sovereignty of God remains in place, in this timeless, seamless story where only the personnel changes. Human beings during the time of King Solomon, who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes over 2900 years ago, are the same as those being born in 2018.  Environment conditions and circumstances are obviously different, but the Plans and Ways of the Lord remain constant.

What was always will be. The entire book of Ecclesiastes describes the human condition from birth to death and all the turns, times and turbulence of life. However one thing remains true, and it is that God sees all. He will bring all to justice one day. Each generation will stand in the bright lights with our peers of our generation to account for our time here on earth.

While there is still time, we should be diligent to be aware of our Creator and His Law planted in the hearts of all who have ever lived.  The time to learn from History is now. The time to observe His ways in His creation is now. The time for our redemption is also now. Do not waver, hesitate or procrastinate. Tomorrow is never promised. In the meantime, roll on like the Mighty Mississippi and let your life be a testimony flowing into the Gulf of humanity, in all our immediate communities. Finally, may our lives be a River, through which the very life of Jesus Christ flows through us, to bless and improve the lives of others in our own families and communities.