December 19, 2007

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord

“For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,” Luke 2:30, NKJV.
Scripture tells us that a man named Simeon was a just and devout man among the Jews. He was known to be a man who was approved by God as a righteous man, one who was of a good reputation, well received, or of high standing among the people.


God had made a promise to this just and devout man that there would be a time in his life when he would see the Messiah and then would be able to die in peace (v. 26, 29).


What joy that must have been for him to hold the Lord Jesus Christ that day! How awesome it must have been to know that the baby he was holding in his arms, was also the One through Whom all things were made and there was nothing made in the world that was made without Him (John 1:2).


This was the Child whom an angel had announced to shepherds that in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord was born (Luke 2:11).


This was the Child whom three wise men traveled a great distance to see, following the star to Bethlehem and when the arrived, they fell down and worshipped Him, presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).


Whenever we see a Nativity scene somewhere in a neighborhood, we should live with a conscious recognition that this Child, is the Light of the World where people should not walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12).
This was no ordinary child, but God himself who came to dwell among us (John 1:14).


It's a Girl!!!
There is a couple whom I know that just had a baby girl over the summer and her name is Hope. She is such a beautiful little girl too. My friends and been trying to become pregnant so that their first daughter, Grace, might have either a baby brother or sister to enjoy her life with.


When I saw this little baby girl just about a week after she was born, I was ecstatic with joy to see her. I was probably as excited about her birth as her parents were and had such a pleasure to hold in my arms. This tiny little baby that was recently curled up in her mother’s womb who had now brought such a joy to her parents and sister, who will certainly bring as much joy to the lives of many people who would watch her grow up and become part of her life.


I am sure that many of you can relate to holding a baby for the very first time, whether it is your own child or someone else’s. Do you remember the joy someone had of holding your son or daughter for the first time? Do you remember how beautiful they looked in their arms, so innocent, so precious?


I can only imagine those same feelings and more when Simeon held God’s salvation for the first time. The joy he must have had to know that he would die in peace with God’s promise fulfilled to him.


Prophecies of the Messiah
There is so much in the Bible regarding the prophecy of the coming of God’s Messiah and in just a few days, the world will celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.


Prophecies of the Messiah are found in nearly three hundred references throughout the Old Testament and each of these were fulfilled by just one person, Jesus Christ, as solid confirmation and credibility as the Messiah.


Let’s take a look at just three prophecies and find them in the New Testament.

Prophecy #1 – Son of God
“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” Psalm 2:7 (see also 1 Chronicles 17:11-14; 2 Samuel 7:12-16.)



New Testament Fulfillment 
“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:17.


Prophecy #2 – Born at Bethlehem
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings for the are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2.


New Testament Fulfillment
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,…” Matthew 2:1 (see also Matthew 2:4; Luke 2:4-7; John 7:42.)


Prophecy #3 – Shall Be Immanuel (God with Us)
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14.


New Testament Fulfillment
“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:22-23.


Three Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament, where there are still 297 others that establish a compelling truth, to the life of Jesus Christ.


I found this to be an interesting set of figures concerning the overall probability of the odds of the Messianic prophecy occurring without God and these numbers are incredible.


Messianic Prophecy Chances Without God's Orchestration
  1. Jesus would be a descendant of David. Odds without God: 1 in 10,000
  2. Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Odds without God: 1 in 100,000
  3. Jesus would be a miracle worker. Odds without God: 1 in 100,000
  4. Jesus would present Himself as King riding on a donkey. Odds without God: 1 in 1,000,000
  5. Jesus would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Odds without God: 1 in 1,000,000
  6. Jesus would be crucified. Odds without God: 1 in 1,000,000
  7. Jesus would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem. Odds without God: 1 in 1,000,000
Total Probability (without God): 1 in a 100 billion, billion, billion, billion. 
(Retrieved from http://www.messianic-prophecy.net/Messianic-Prophecy.htm)

"in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;" Titus 1:2-3.
So, Jesus Christ fulfilled all the prophecies in the Old Testament as they are revealed in the New Testament. Those yet to be fulfilled relate to His return and the coming judgment of the world.


The probability of God not orchestrating the prophecies of Christ, his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection are astronomical compared the fulfillment of the Scriptures.


With that, the burden of belief lies upon each person, to choose to believe the compelling and concrete evidence, or to deny it and risk being eternally wrong without a second chance to make an appeal of forgiveness.

For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? Hebrews 2:2-4.


References
McDowell, J. (1999). Support of Deity: Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In The new evidence that demands a verdict (chapter 8). Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Who is Jesus?

December 11, 2007

Right Where He Belongs

There is a small church near where I live that frequently display various messages that are easy to read while driving by. I am grateful that this signage is simple and direct. A message we should all reflect on personally, to see if Christ is truly in our Christmas.


There continues to be an aggressive push to remove Christ from Christmas and replace it with a broad and general greeting for the season, which severely takes away from the meaning of Christmas.

I know of a friend of mine, whose mother will always say, "Merry Christmas" to people as they leave the store where she works. She will not be politically correct with people for the sake of offending someone. I am the same way too and I have yet to hear someone be offended, in fact, they are quite happy to hear someone say "Merry Christmas" to them.

Just as a person can choose to be as general as they want in acknowledging to others, "Happy Holidays," so too can a person be as specific to everyone by saying, "Merry Christmas!"

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ.

As a Christian, I feel it is important to acknowledge those whom I know who are Jewish, wishing them a Happy Hanukkah at this time of the year. Why should I take away from their celebration of any Jewish holiday, just to be politically correct? It is as important to them as any celebrated Christian holiday is to me.

So, where is Christ in your Christmas this year?


"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Romans 1:16, NKJV.

Reference

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Additional reading

Losing Christ at Christmas - Greg Laurie, WorldNet Daily

December 5, 2007

Rightly Dividing the Word

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV.

Have you ever received an email from someone that said, "if you send this to 15 or more people in the next 15 minutes, you will receive a miracle/blessing from God!"

I received one a few days ago and it came from a Christian friend of mine, whom I was surprised that more care was not taken to really understand if what was sent to him, lined up with the Word of God. I know his intentions were good, but biblically the content of the email was way off.

The email suggested speaking positive confessions of blessings for every person whom would receive the email, where God would bless their emotional or physical health, finances, relationships, children, jobs, homes and/or marriages.

There is power in prayer, no doubt. I am a firm believer in prayer. But there is no power of God to bless anyone, in such an email that has been forwarded and then forwarded again and again and again.

God is the only one who could say something and it come into existence (Genesis 1). We do not have such power to do the same thing. We must also look closely at Scripture to make sure it is not being used out of context too when it comes to its application in and for our lives.


In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, was Jesus really teaching the disciples that they could speak to a mountain and have it thrown into the sea? (Matthew 21:21). No, He was teaching them how to exercise their faith, not how to have a supernatural vocabulary.

If that were true then we would all be like the cartoon Superheroes with amazing super-powers that could be used to fight the enemies of truth, justice and the American Way!!!


Did God say we should be like the Superheroes or like Jesus Christ?


Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23.


No amount of positive confession moves God to bless our lives. Only our obedience to His word does because, "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Diligently seeking God is what pleases Him, not forwarding emails about being blessed by God if that email is sent to everyone on the internet.

Just because Jesus taught whatever a person asks for in prayer does not mean that it will be automatically given to them (Matthew 21:22, check out the commentary on this passage too (Matthew 21:18-22), when you can). He was speaking about something totally different. We need to dig into the Scriptures to understand the spirit of it and not just look at the letters on the page.

In addition to that, Scripture interprets itself and does so referring to Matthew 21:22 when you read 1 John 5:14-15, which says, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." The key words are according to His will.

So, if I ask for anything in prayer that is according to His will, I should believe that God has heard and answered my prayer, according to His will.

We must ask God in prayer what is according to His will, not by positive confession to be blessed, nor by forwarding emails.

Please don't misunderstand Proverbs 18:21 either, which is often misunderstood. I misunderstood it too at one point. Just because the verse says "death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit," this is not a justification to speak positive confessions of blessings.

That would be like a person confessing Christ as their Lord and Savior but showing no evidence of a conversion of becoming born-again. Confess Christ all you want, but if a person hasn't repented of their sins, become born-again, converted their life to Christ and away from sin, they won't see or enter heaven (Luke 13:2-5, John 3:3-7, Matthew 18:3).


Some might even refer to Matthew 7:7-8 for argument, where Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."


Can a person just ask for anything from God and He will give it to us? No.


Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage (Matthew 7:7-11) is very insightful for our understanding, which says,


Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith. It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.

John Gill's exposition of the same passage provides further understanding of the text, "ask and it shall be given you,"


This is to be understood of asking of God in prayer, for such things as are wanting; whether of a temporal nature, as food and raiment, which Christ, in the former chapter, had warned against an immoderate and anxious concern for; or of a spiritual nature, as grace, and wisdom to behave in a proper manner, both towards God and men: and such, who ask according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and under the direction, guidance, and influence of the Spirit, who ask in faith and fear, and with submission to the divine will, shall have what they ask for; not as what they deserve, but as a free gift.

If you look up the definition of the word blessed it means holy; sacred; consecrated.


Why should God bless a person's emotional or physical health, finances, relationships, children, jobs, homes, marriages if it is not holy, sacred or consecrated to Him from the beginning?


We should be praying for people to repent from their sins and to become born-again, to be saved from eternal punishment in hell. We should also pray for people to be more obedient to God, to be led by His Holy Spirit, to serve more, among many other things too, which demonstrate their lives as being holy, sacred and consecrated to God.

I remember a girl who went missing last year from a church in Connecticut and a bunch of people from the church organized a search party to go and find her.


No amount of positive confession of blessings over that family's household would have prevented that girl from running away, nor did it bring her back. How much do you think her parents and others, were praying for her safe return and not just walking around the house speaking, "she's going to come home today, she's going to come home today," because any number of things could have occurred negatively to crush those positive confessions. That family endured a trial and needed to rely on their faith in God to bring their daughter home.

If all a person does is speak positive confession of blessings, how can they profit from a trial God has allowed in their life (read James 1:2-4)?


Let's look at the power of the words that Jesus spoke when He was betrayed by Judas who led the Roman guards to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:6, emphasis mine)


Does anyone on earth possess such power to make men fall to the ground by their spoken words?


Jesus did not positively confess the fall of the soldiers, nor did He positively confess the storm to be still when He was on a boat with His disciples (Mark 4:39). It was God Himself who spoke. He is the only one to possess such power of spoken words that command His obedience.


We cannot cancel any of the devil's plans or schemes against those who are called God's children either. Look at Job! Or how about Joseph? Jesus? Peter and Paul? There are too many examples in the Bible, which completely nullify this type of theology, "name it and claim it." No one can cancel the plans of the devil except God himself. No matter what is spoken in advance or in the present moment, tragedies will come, death will come, divorce will come, unemployment will come, bankruptcies will come.


Until Christ returns, everything negative in this world will take place because of sin. Sin is the result of why all those areas are in need of receiving God's blessings, but those blessings will only come if people begin to see a greater example of another person being obedient to God, in those areas of their life that are holy, sacred and consecrated to God, completely.


Unless the power of God and the anointing of God is behind any word that is spoken from a person's lips that is the will of God, it will have no affect whatsoever.

If I could make a recommendation to the reader, please listen to Pastor Carter Conlon's sermon from Times Square Church dated April 29, 2007 titled, "Footsteps in the Hallway" based on Matt 21:18-22
. I would also recommend his sermon titled, "Escaping the Theology of Babylon" dated December 4, 2005.

These sermons would help enhance the Scriptural understanding of Matthew 21:18-22 and hopefully add to your ability to discern similar emails or preaching by any minister who stands behind a pulpit, especially what is seen on television these days.


Reference
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4, NKJV.
This song of praise should be considered as a prophecy, and even used as a prayer, for the coming of that time when all people shall know that the Lord he is God, and shall become his worshippers, and the sheep of his pasture. Great encouragement is given us, in worshipping God, to do it cheerfully. If, when we strayed like wandering sheep, he has brought us again to his fold, we have indeed abundant cause to bless his name. The matter of praise, and the motives to it, are very important. Know ye what God is in himself, and what he is to you. Know it; consider and apply it, then you will be more close and constant, more inward and serious, in his worship. The covenant of grace set down in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, with so many rich promises, to strengthen the faith of every weak believer, makes the matter of God's praise and of his people's joys so sure, that how sad soever our spirits may be when we look to ourselves, yet we shall have reason to praise the Lord when we look to his goodness and mercy, and to what he has said in his word for our comfort. (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, Psalm 100:1-5).
To all of my family and friends, Happy Thanksgiving!


Enjoy this short video, from an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, where the late Johnny Cash sings a Thanskgiving Prayer.

God bless you all.



"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy," Philippians 1:3-4, NKJV.


Reference
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 19, 2007

Preaching the Word of God on the Staten Island Ferry

Then He got into one fo the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. Luke 5:3, NKJV.

Rocking the Boat: The Man With the Bible, by Emily Brady. New York Times, October 28, 2007.

As the Spirit of America’s engines sputtered to life early last Tuesday and the ferry began its trip from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan, Michael Nwadiuko strode purposefully toward the back of the main deck, where groggy commuters read the morning paper and nursed cups of coffee.

In his navy suit and gray tie, Mr. Nwadiuko looked as if he were headed to a job on Wall Street. Only the Bible in one hand revealed his more spiritual aspirations.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” he said loudly to the strangers around him. “May God bless you today.”

Almost nobody looked up.

Undeterred, Mr. Nwadiuko, who says he is a pastor with the Christ the Lord Evangelistic Association, began to preach about heaven and hell, as he has every weekday for the past two years during ferry rush hour. He is among the handful of evangelists who in the last few years have found the boats an increasingly opportune place to spread their message.

Although no one is sure what caused the increase, many passengers find little that is heavenly about this practice. In the past year, the No. 1 ferry-related issue called into the city’s 311 complaint line involved onboard preachers. The matter was the subject of an article in The Staten Island Advance.

Lawyers for the city’s Department of Transportation are exploring the city’s options. “We want to keep the ferry quiet for our passengers, but we’re not sure what power we have,” said Seth Solomonow, a department spokesman. “We don’t want to limit someone’s freedom of speech.”

For the moment, preachers aboard the ferry are allowed to spread their gospel as long as they don’t stand in one place. On Tuesday, as Mr. Nwadiuko preached his message of salvation, two police officers patrolling the boat walked by, at which point some of the formerly indifferent passengers suddenly sprang to life.

“Can’t you get him out of here?” one man wailed.

The officers encouraged Mr. Nwadiuko, who had been standing still, to move on.

Later that morning, as Mr. Nwadiuko continued his roving sermon, he found more sympathetic ears. When he paused to say, “God bless you” to a group of elderly women on the upper deck, they greeted him with smiles and thanks.

In another area of the boat, Jennifer Kowalski, a 34-year-old resident of the island’s Westerleigh neighborhood who was on her way to her job at Wall Street holding company, said she found the preacher’s message uplifting.

Mr. Nwadiuko, 45, who was born in Nigeria and preached in Kansas, Virginia and the Carolinas before coming to New York two years ago, realizes that his sermons sometimes annoy people but says he has their eternal salvation at heart.

“There’s a way to avoid hell,” Mr. Nwadiuko said as he took a break in the St. George terminal after completing two round-trip sermons. “And to not tell these people would be criminal.”

November 17, 2007

Acrobatic Strength or Anointed Power

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18, NKJV, (emphasis mine).

6:55 a.m. Saturday morning, November 17, 2007. I have just awakened from a very frustrating dream.

I was in a room that seemed like a college lecture hall, only those who were sitting in the seats were Christians. The room was somewhat dimly lit and the host for the event was a person whom I knew fairly well and he asked me to preach that evening.

I had no idea this was going to be happening this particular evening, but his request created an incredible excitement within me and now I had to prepare my sermon in just a matter of minutes. How was I going to do that? I needed a few hours of time to prepare for something such as this but I only had a few minutes, 20 at most, but it really felt like I had only 2.

Then the host handed to me a toy model of an Air Force F-16A fighter jet and he said, “Here. Use this for your sermon.”


I thought it was odd he would hand this to me to use something like this as a visual aid, but considering my military background as a Marine, I could do this with no problem.

So, I headed to the front of the stadium style lecture hall and walked through a large door that was cut in half, top and bottom, to begin preparing for my opportunity to preach.

Behind those doors were approximately 12 -15 people who were grading tests and my father was there as one of the officials reviewing the answers on these tests. Now this was odd for sure.

I walked over to my father and said hello and he asked what I was doing with the model fighter jet in my hand. “I need to use this as an illustration to preach tonight.” In my father’s typical fashion, with excitement in his voice he smiled and said, “Well, good luck!”

Time was running out and I needed to get going, so I departed for a place to sit and write as much as I could in so little time. Then the room seemed to get busier and filled with more people.

I found a couch to sit on which was by the door that I had just walked through earlier and I attempted to write down some notes.

With a small notebook in hand, a pen and my Bible open, I wrote at the top right-hand side of the notebook, The Supremacy of Christ.” As I wrote the title, I felt it was odd that I would write the title on the right, where one would normally write the date, but I continued.

Then my father called for me and said, “Kurt! I have your test here!”

I quickly got up and walked down the long room to stand near my father to look at how well I had done on this test. I do not even recall what the test was for either, but I did want to know how well I did.

So, my father had checked it over and noted the wrong answers for me to determine my score.

When I asked how well I did, he said, “Well, let’s see...” and began counting, but I became quickly frustrated because I had not done anything to prepare for this sermon, except for writing the title and time was running out, so I left the table where he was sitting and walked away in frustration saying, “I don’t have time for this! Just tell me later what I got!”

Back to the couch, I sat down and began to try to prepare this sermon. Through the doorway, I could hear the host say, “We’re going to worship the Lord with one more song and then Brother Kurt will deliver a word from the Lord for us.”

Great! Now I had about 4 or 5 minutes at most to do this when a woman sat down next to me and placed her head on my left shoulder, as if she was tired from some arduous work she had just completed. This, to no end annoyed me because it was interrupting my preparation time for this sermon.

I rudely gave her a lift with my shoulder and yelled, “Can I just please be left alone!” Then I heard my father yell at me in correction, “Kurt!”, which I ignored because I could not get this sermon ready and all I had was “The Supremacy of Christ” written on the page.

The woman got up from sitting next to me on the couch and left.

Then I tried to look up Isaiah 40:31, as I thought this verse could be used within what I would speak in just a few minutes.

It seemed like forever and I just could not find the book of Isaiah in the Bible! I have read that verse many, many times before and I just could not find it. Was I going crazy here?

I know the verse too, which says, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

The book of Isaiah is practically in the middle of the Bible and I could not find it for the life of me! What was going on?!?! Why was it so difficult to find this???

Then I could hear, what appeared to be the voices of Israel Houghton and Darlene Zschech’s (pronounced like check) singing, “Eagle’s Wings.” (This is a great worship song that I love too.)

Then I heard from God as I looked at the model F-16 in frustration as I had accomplished very little and had too many distractions.

He said to me, “Do you want to do this with acrobatic strength or My anointing power?”

I was humbled at that moment and ashamed when I heard this. How foolish of me to think that I could preach the Gospel without the help of God? How foolish of me to think that I could do so in my own strength and wisdom? It is just simply impossible to do without God.

I closed my Bible and notebook, grabbed the model fighter jet and walked over to the host, looked at him and politely said, “If I am going to preach tonight, I need to hear from God. Would you mind if I could go and pray while you continue to worship until I come back with a word from the Lord?” The host smiled at me like a teacher who was proud of one of his students and said, “Of course. We will all look forward to what the Lord will place on your heart to share with us tonight.”

Then I woke up and looked at my clock and it read 6:55 a.m.

While I was writing this blog, I could not figure out why I had written the title on the right-hand side of the page where the date goes. And as I thought about it, the Holy Spirit quickly revealed to me why and that was because Christ was not at the center of the message in my dream.

Was this a rebuke to me or was it a reminder? This was one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had and one that I could recall rather well too.

In each of my blog messages, I firmly strive to place Jesus Christ at the center of each blog. If I do not, then I am wasting my time as well as those whom read it and furthermore, people would be drawn to read it, if His name is lifted up (John 12:32).

In the following 11-minute video by John Piper, from one of his sermons, he illustrates for us the supremacy of Christ. Despite being cutoff in mid-sentence at the end, it is well worth the time to watch and listen.



“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.” John 19:17-18.

I find it interesting that Jesus was in the center of two thieves who were crucified with Him. Each of these criminals represents us, but which one are we? Are we the one who blasphemed Jesus demanding to be saved from death while ignoring the guilt of our sins (Luke 23:39), or are we the one who recognizes that we are guilty of our sins and deserve to be punished and that Jesus had done nothing wrong, but died for our sins anyway (Luke 23:40-41).

"It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, retreived from using e-Sword).

How sad, for any man or woman to live and die, with a heart hardened in unbelief of salvation through the cross?

The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses each person from all sin (1 John 1:7) and to believe that it cannot, that our sins are too great from being cleansed by His blood is completely a lie.

Each person must repent and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15) and we must become born-again (John 3:3-5), to see and enter the Kingdom of God.

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:5-6, emphasis mine).


Related reading - The Sorcerer's Profession of Faith and The Sorcerer's Sin (Acts 8:9-24)

Reference

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary of Luke 23:32-43.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 15, 2007

Unexpectedly Unemployed

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3, NKJV.

Just the other day, I received some very unexpected news and I was unemployed. A few hundred more people would hear the same and the coming days would not be very pleasant for those families. Despite the compensation that has been offered to these individuals, this sudden drastic change in their lives is very unsettling, especially as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (December 4th this year) and Christmas near.

In my three years of employment with this company, I gained the following experiences:
  • How revenues and profits are generated through its transactional processing systems
  • How risks are managed across the entire enterprise
  • How the organization managed and maintained several hundred business and technical recovery plans
  • How the company tested those plans to ensure a sufficient capability of business continuity in the event of a disastrous event.

Then the unexpected occurs and I was handed a notice of termination along with some additional information, pertaining to my involuntary dismissal and I am grateful for what has been given to me from the company.

I had been through a lot this past year at work. There were challenges and struggles I had faced, disappointments too that just did not seem fair and I was looking forward to finishing this year strong and preparing for the New Year with an attitude of accomplishing more.

My involuntary dismissal has brought a number of encouraging messages from various people that I would like to share with you. I hope that their words may be a blessing to you and your life, as they have been to me, when your trial comes.

Hold fast, nothing comes into our life that God is not aware. God is taking you somewhere better. I will be praying for you. Tim K.

God is preparing you for GREAT things. He is setting you apart for His service. He does not want you to forget your calling. There is no telling what He will do for you, with you, and through you. Simply, Believe and Trust that your Creator knows what He is doing. Place your hands in His hands and He will carry you into the destiny that He prepared for you before the foundations of the world. He knew this would happen and He is not one bit nervous, so, do not be. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. Again, we will keep you in our thoughts and hearts. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Hazel F. & Jenny R.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation, but I'm glad you're doing well. I will keep you in my prayers. Whitney P.

Well, as a person of God, I am sure you agree that when he closes a door he opens two others....I am sure he has something better and very special for you. Everything has a reason. Mercedes G.

I am shocked and extremely disappointed to hear this news. I know that your faith and studies coupled with your training will take you far... it's just a bit of sidetracking here. I also want to extend my assistance to you in any way. Please stay in touch and let me know if you need a reference, an ear, or a friend. Donna B.

Yes, count it all joy! The Master has something better in store. Priscilla H.

God will see you through and He will be your rock and your fortress. Yes, your emotions may go up and down because God did create us with emotions - however during those times He will fill you peace that passes all understanding. Joe Q.

Thank you for your message, I'm shaking my head at what goes on around here. With every door that closes an new and better one will open, stay positive. Send me your resume and use me as a reference, if I can help - I'd like to. Stay in touch and keep me advised of your progress. God love ya’. Stephen O.

Sorry to hear that brother, I know you will be OK, you’re to positive not to be. Joel L.

It's amazing how we, as Christians, face similar trials at the same time. I've been tried for the past 3 months and stretched thin but I just kept holding on to faith. I will pray for you. Rest in me, says the Lord, and I will work all things for good. Frances D.

Okay, that's not how I wanted to start my morning off. I’m sorry to hear about your job situation. But you of all people know that when God closes a door, he opens a window! I will keep you in my prayers. What a horrible time to tell people they're loosing their jobs. HUM BUG. Yolanda B.

Why settle for a job, when you can have a ministry? I will be praying that God uses this opportunity to move you into full time ministry. The world needs you. Fear not, God knows what He is doing, even if we do not. Praying that He will soon reveal to you the open door, which He has already placed before you. Praise God for this “priceless" opportunity. Holly L.

You are standing on very fertile ground my friend and the enemy knows it which is why the testing. The past few days I have been singing, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." It's not the first storm and it won't be the last, but He is faithful. Nancy S.

Nancy had forwarded to me a devotional message from Oswald Chambers, which was very appropriate for me. You can read it by clicking here.

Sorry to hear about this. Boy, big business just grinds on. Well, I wouldn't worry if I were you. You are talented, trustworthy, honest, and intelligent. All the qualities so hard to find in an employee. I would hire you in a minute. Myself, I keep some of my stuff packed into boxes in my office just in case my turn comes someday. You can never tell. I am squared away and ready to ship out!! Robert M.

It was truly a pleasure knowing and working with you. I hope that someone continues to carry the torch and schedule those periodic fellowship meetings. Even though I was not able to attend all of them, every time I did, I was blessed and encouraged. My prayer is that God may continue to use you wherever you go. He knew way in advance that this was coming and He will bear you up during this difficult time. God knows all things and He sees the bigger picture. You were a light here and now God is carrying that light to shine elsewhere, where someone needs to hear and see God's love in action. Stay focused, be encouraged, and God will open up new doors for you. I will definitely keep you in my prayers. Damaris Q.

I'm sorry to hear that you were impacted because you'll be missed here. I believe that, having served your ministry here faithfully for a few years now, it is time for you to do something new and interesting. I know you have a heart for ministry and that you've been preparing for it consistently, so I will pray that you have no lack in your life as you continue towards your goals. Vernon B.

I hoped that, in a small way, I helped the situation by making sure the other staff was not around so we could ease a bit of your discomfort. I regret that I did not get to say good-bye. Abby W.

I was surprised by what happened yesterday but I'm glad to hear that you're doing well. I'm still in the habit of looking over my shoulder expecting you to come from behind and scare the daylights out of me! Laura L.

Keep trusting Him. After all, it is times like this when our faith is truly tested. I will give you a call later today. Your brother in Christ, Tim B.

I have also enjoyed knowing you and will miss you very much and want to thank you for your prayers for my son (and me), as I'm going to need a lot of prayers in 2008. Semper fi, Linda M.

You've exhibited a good deal of grace and demonstrated mercy in the note you sent yesterday - I can honestly say you're a better man than I - and I know this is the power of Christ at work in you. Let me know if I can help - even if it's to talk, and we could still do lunch in December if you're up to it - we can meet somewhere for a bite and fellowship. Jason L.

Brother Kurt, I will be praying for wisdom for you. God has great plans for you. Could this be the time to pursue the Chaplain position? I know the situations that could pop up that ugly head of concern. I had many of them when I was out of work for a year. God was and is still faithful. If you need me brother, I will be there for you. Daniel M.

I am so sorry this happened to you. I believe God has his plans all laid out for us so I am sure this is just where you are supposed to be - the door is opening on a new adventure. I will pray for you. Check Pepsi's website - close to where you where and benefits are incredible. Jen D.

That's awful Kurt. I can only imagine your disappointment at frustration to get this news, especially during the holiday season. I wish you the best of luck and am confident that a man of your caliber will have no problem finding adequate employment. If times get really difficult please let me know and I'll see what I can do about finding something at the base. Your prior service in the Corps makes you eligible for entry in the Guard. Please give me a call if I can help. Best wishes and God bless, Rob D.

I am writing you with mixed emotions. From the tone of your email, I perceive that you no longer work here which is very unfortunate. You truly have been an inspiration with your Zeal in serving Christ, which is a pure joy to see. I want to thank you for your wisdom in being our "Pastor" of the prayer group. I wish you the best during the Holiday Season and I know from my own in experience that in the midst of any storm God will always show us a rainbow. Marjorie C.

The email that I received from Damaris had this verse in closing, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:2.

These words from the Old Testament are so fitting for such a distressing situation as I and many others will face in the coming days, weeks and even months. How much more do these words also apply to our lives spiritually?

Since there is very little that can be done to prepare for such unexpected news as an involuntary dismissal, a person can and should be prepared for the unexpected and untimely visit of death.

Is God your salvation? Have you trusted in His Son Jesus Christ and His death for the punishment of your sins? Are you afraid to face God in the unanticipated visitation of death, if Christ cannot be found in your life by God, or anyone else?

Last night I read a devotional message by Charles Spurgeon who wrote the following, "The cross must be carried before the crown can be worn. We must follow our Lord in His humiliation or we will never rest with Him in glory."

So the question is, are you carrying the cross of Christ in your life, to one day rest with Him in glory?

Click on either the Know Greater Love or the Are you a Good Person links on the right hand side of this page to learn what you must do to be granted eternity in Heaven.

Whatever I can do to help you learn how to walk in a new life in Christ, please let me know.

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 10, 2007

Happy 232nd Birthday Marines!

Today on November 10th, Marines around the globe will celebrate, or have celebrated the birth of our beloved Corps.

On 14 February 1991, I graduated from Platoon 1017, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. What a beautiful and great day that was! I had become...a Marine.

Each year it is a celebrated and honored tradition, to recognize the birth of our beloved Corps.

I am proud to have served my country, proud to be an American and proud to be called a United States Marine.

To my fellow brother and sister Marines around the globe, God bless you all, Happy 232nd Birthday and Semper fi. OOOHRAH!

Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway's Birthday Message.



Marine Corps Birthday Video from the Commandant and Sergeant Major, of the Marine Corps.

Proudly displaying my Marine Corps flag oustide of my house.

My bumper sticker on my car, right next to my Real Men Love Jesus bumper sticker.

Once a Marine, Always a Marine.

November 5, 2007

Reconciled to God - Part 1

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, NKJV.

What would be the need for a person to be reconciled to God? To be reconciled means to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent, according to the definition from Dictionary.com. Would this imply that there is an existing disagreement, something incompatible or inconsistent between each person and their relationship with God? Why should I or anyone else have to tell others their need to be reconciled to God also?

Where many people diligently ensure their financial statements are reconciled properly, they completely ignore the need to be reconciled with God. As the debt of sin goes unreconciled and death arrives, often unannounced, it will then be too late to “get right with God.”

Too often in life, one family member holds onto a grudge against another and when it is too late and death has come, the opportunity to reconcile any differences is forever gone and regret is the weight that will be burdened for the rest of their life.

The Need to be Reconciled with God
Apart from Christ, each person is an enemy to God because of sin. Sin has separated humanity from God since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). The Bible clearly expresses those offenses such as: sex outside of the bonds of marriage (fornication), idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, theft, covetousness (a strong desire for the possession of worldly things), drunkards, revilers (those who speak abusively), or extortionists, none of these types of people will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9:10).

“The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
No one can escape the judgment of sin by God. We have all sinned and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23) When we explore the Greek meaning of the word reconciled, it is translated to katallaso (pronounced: kat-al-las’-so), which means to change mutually, that is, (figuratively) to compound a difference: - reconcile. Compound means to settle, increase or add to something to another.

When God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, he was essentially making the cross superior to anything that could satisfy Him for sinning against Him. Paul’s letter to the church in Colosse expressed that it is Jesus Christ “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14).

As he continued to preach the Gospel, he told those in the church of Ephesus that through God’s sacrifice of His Son, “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). God, who was manifested in the form of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-8, Romans 8:3), compounded the difference between the debt of a person’s sin by punishing His only begotten Son on a cross and this was and is the only way to satisfy such a debt to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). There is no other way of satisfying the debt.

“For He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus Christ.]” (2 Corinthians 5:21, emphasis mine).

One day, each person is going to stand before God and the judgment seat of Christ, to receive what is deserved for the good or bad things that have been done prior to death (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Too many people have a false sense of eternal security. One preacher explained to people exactly that and his name was Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). This portion of his sermon was preached in Enfield, Connecticut in 1741 titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It is so worth the time to read.

“All wicked men's pains and instruments which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, does not secure them from hell for one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one determines in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that his strategies will not fail. They surely hear that only a few are saved, and that the greater part of men that have died have gone into hell; but each one imagines that he has a better plan for his own escape than others have come up with. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take sufficient care, and to arrange the concerns of his life so that he will not fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in the confidence of their own strength and wisdom; they trust in nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who have lived under the same patient grace of God, and are now dead, and have undoubtedly gone into hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive; it was not because they did not determine for themselves how to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of that misery, we, doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had determined otherwise in my mind; I thought I had a good plan for myself: I thought my strategy was good. I intended to take sufficient care; but it came upon me unexpectedly: I didn't expect it at that time, and in that way; it came as a thief: Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. O my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do after the life on earth; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."

Will that day be an open and shut case for the guilty and unrepentant sinner, with no ability to plea bargain with God?

For many who have ignored the Gospel, or rejected God’s love demonstrated through Christ (Romans 5:8), He will ignore them and it will not be God’s love that will be seen but the physical experience of the just punishment of His wrath for rejecting Him. No one should consider His efforts foolish to save a person from hell pointless because He does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 9:27).


Please click here to continue to Part 2 of this message.

References
Reconcile. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved November 03, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reconcile

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Unopened Letters. Daily Walk, May 30, 1992. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=1233

Additional reading
Graham, W. F. (1949). The Road to hell and the way to salvation. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.billygraham.org/DMag_SpiritualHelp_Article.asp?ArticleID=489

Edwards, J. (1741). Sinners in the hands of an angry God. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/JE-sinners.htm

Reconciled to God - Part 2

The Jealousy of God
Because of sin, the wrath of God will come upon those who are disobedient to Him (Colossians 3:5-7).

God is jealous to want humanity to love Him and only Him (Matthew 22:37-38). Lucifer was jealous of those who worshipped God and desired to be worshipped above God and it required his banishment along with a third of the angels from heaven, to a permanent residence in hell. (Isaiah 14:12-15).

He is jealous if you have created an idol to worship in your life other than God Himself, His jealousy is like a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:23-24, 6:14-15).

God is Holy and He is jealous. He will not forgive the transgressions or sins of a person if they forsake Him and serve other gods “He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” (Joshua 24-19:20).

“God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” (Nahum 1:2-3).

His jealousy is so because He knows the consequence for disobedience, for rejecting what can spare a person from an eternity in hell.

Why take that chance? Why not accept what He has done to satisfy your punishment for sinning against Him? Why attempt to achieve God’s satisfaction on your own efforts that will only be futile and a complete waste of time and energy?

Avoiding His Wrath
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

God does not want anyone to experience His punishment for sin as it was laid upon Christ when He was crucified. He wants every person to be spared from His righteous indignation against sin by personal appropriation of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34). His death for the punishment of my sin. Your sin.

Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15). He also said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:7). Without a spiritual rebirth, no one will see nor enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-6). Whoever believes in Him, not in mere mental intellect, but through a spiritually newborn life, will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The Reconciliation
When Jesus shed his blood on the cross, it justified the proclamation of “Not Guilty” before God, for every person who has become born-again, saving them from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:9). We should not walk our remaining days on earth casually thinking that all will be well when we die and that Heaven is a guarantee in the next life. It is not. No one can guarantee waking up the next day, to read this blog. If the very next second of our lives are not guaranteed neither is the promise of tomorrow (James 4:14).

Here again, Jonathan Edwards illustrates this for us as well.
“Wicked men cannot find even a moment's security in the fact that death does not appear to be at hand. The unbelieving man has no security in the fact that he is healthy, and that he cannot perceive of any accident taking him out of the world, and that there is no visible danger in any of his circumstances. The diverse and continual experience of the world in all ages shows this is no evidence that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world.”
Therefore, as the apostle Paul said, “do not receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, Isaiah 49:8).

Unopened Letters

“A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to
lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846.

“There’s more to the story. In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father. When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father’s disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Not once did they reply.

“After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened! Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her
parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored.”


As much as we should strive to reconcile with others and live peaceably among them, even more, we should be reconciled to God, by obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 12:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The Word of God, His Holy Word we must open and read daily. His will for each person’s life can be found within the pages of Scripture. The message shared with you now, in fact each epistle of the New Testament itself should be read as if Christ Himself were present, urging you to be reconciled to God.

Consider beginning to read the Gospel of John. If you were to read the Gospel of John for the month of November and December, not only will you experience a new understanding of thanksgiving and Christmas, but you will have a new life in Christ, by the power of God’s Holy Word.

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11).

References
Reconcile. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved November 03, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reconcile

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Unopened Letters. Daily Walk, May 30, 1992. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=1233

Additional reading
Graham, W. F. (1949). The Road to hell and the way to salvation. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.billygraham.org/DMag_SpiritualHelp_Article.asp?ArticleID=489

Edwards, J. (1741). Sinners in the hands of an angry God. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/JE-sinners.htm

October 31, 2007

A Muslim Becomes a Christian

Earlier today I read an article about a group of people who frequently go to the East Carolina University campus, to preach the Gospel to the students.

Kerrigan Skelly, one of the evangelist leaders, has been praying for one young Muslim man in particular, whom he has seen each time they visited the campus.

This young man, a Muslim, had heard enough and decided to write about it in the school newspaper that is provided in the link below.

That's it - Opinion

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12, NKJV.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

September 28, 2007

An Opportunity to Apply the Golden Rule

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12, NKJV.

On Thursday, I received an email from a good friend of mine Joe Quattro, who works at the First Assembly of God church in Brookefield, Connecticut. He forwarded to me the message below with hopes that anyone may be able to help this single mother, who lost her fiancée in a tragic car accident on Friday evening, September 21, 2007.

This is a legitimate request and situation having confirmed it myself. Please read the message below and if there is anything you would like to contribute, a mailing address is provided at the bottom. All items can be shipped to Peter Brady's home address, which is provided as well.

If you have any additional questions you can email me at ktmichaelson@yahoo.com

Please circulate this as much as possible. God bless you all.

On Friday evening, 9/21, my nephew was tragically killed in a car accident. He was only 21 years old. He leaves behind a fiancée, Shannon, and a 3 week old baby girl, Ariana. My nephew did not have life insurance and Shannon is faced with having to go back to work 3 weeks after having her baby. Needless to say, the whole family is distraught over how we can help Shannon and baby Ariana.


I thank you for your offer to open up the request for help for Shannon to your subscribers. We are hoping to be able to provide her with enough supplies to relieve some of the financial burden so that she can enjoy her maternity leave with her baby. I have witnessed first hand the miracles that the HDHM has performed (from helping bring food to the pantry, to raising money for single moms, to making Christmas for a family).

Your network is truly amazing and I thank everyone for any little bit that they can do to help our family. Paul was a wonderful man with a zest for life and a heart of gold. He was a hard worker and was so excited to be a new dad. I have attached a picture of Shannon, Paul and baby Ariana taken just three weeks ago. Below is a list of items they are in need of.

Thank you again for anything you can do.

Michele

  • Diapers - any brand, needs increasing sizes from size 1 and up (has enough newborn)
  • CVS gift cards - for prescriptions for the baby, as needed
  • Playtex drop in bottle liners
  • Wipes - any brand, non scented
  • Baby wash
  • Similac powdered formula
  • Gas cards - to help her get around to doctors appointments while she is on maternity leave
  • Stop & Shop gift cards - to purchase baby items
  • Babies R Us or Kohl's gift cards
  • Clothes - she received a lot of small clothes from her baby shower, could use size six months and up - spring clothes (should be on clearance now)

They are also doing a scholarship fund for Ariana. Any cash donations would also be appreciated.

--
Pete Brady Boss Man

Handy Dandy Handyman
26 Shamrock Drive
Brookfield, CT 06804
203-740-1243 (Phone)
203-740-2524 (Fax)
www.hdhm.org
"A Non-Profit Company working as a Ministry"
Fed ID 32-0092917

September 24, 2007

Who is at the center of your life?

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl defeating the Chicago Bears 29-17 in front of millions of people, who watched the game and the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy to Coach Tony Dungy. They also heard him publicly declare his faith to a worldwide audience.

I am reminded from the Scriptures what Jesus said about such a public profession of faith in Him, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33, NKJV).

"Coach Dungy's life displays his steadfast belief in God and his submission to God's Word. His story is a guide for basic living and a confession of his belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

Excerpt from the book Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker.


Notice the Lombardi tropy is not at the center of this group circle of prayer. The trophy is not their idol, nor are they worshipping it or the game they play, but they are honoring God and giving thanks to him in everything they have done (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Whether it was intentional or not, this photo demonstrates the priority of Christ in Tony Dungy's life, as well as for those on the team who are Christians too. Jesus Christ is the center of Tony Dungy's life. Not football or the Vince Lombardi trophy, but Jesus Christ and Him alone.

None of us play a professional sport where our performance is on display in front of thousands of people each week, but our lives are on display before others and more importantly before God, where our lives are naked and open before Him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

Campus Crusade for Christ uses a Gospel tract titled The Four Spiritual Laws, which is where these two circles come from. These circles above are displayed and a person is asked, where is God in your life right now? Is He seated in His rightful place in your life or is He on the outside of your life and you sit on the throne?

Look back at the picture again of the team in prayer. Forget that Tony Dungy is the head coach of a professional football team. Look at him as a person and ask yourself, is Christ at the center of my life like his? Should it be? Should HE be?

I felt at one time there were things I had so desired to have in my life materially and even financially that I believed would bring more satisfaction and happiness to my life. But now my sentiments echo the apostle Paul, "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" (Philippians 3:7-9).

Many people acknowledge that God is outside of their lives and realize that He should be in the center of it, as we humble ourselves to Him by submitting to His will and His Word.

So where is God in your own personal life? If He is on the outside and no change is ever made to repent of your sins while becoming born-again, then Heaven will not be the place for you. Every sinner who remains unforgiven, unrepentant will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).


References
Photo courtesy of my grandmother via an email. Thanks Grandma!

Retrieved on September 24, 2007 from http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books/story?id=3366802 .

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

September 19, 2007

You can't make it on your own

When Jesus had counseled a wealthy young man, he asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17). Jesus said that he knew the commandments and what God expected from him and He answered him saying do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness (lie) and honor your father and mother (v 18).

Those were just five of the ten commandments. What about the other five? Was God his one and only God, or was it his wealth? "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:2-3).

Was he idolizing or worshipping his wealth or any of his material possessions more than God? You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything...you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5).

Had he used the Lord's name in vain? You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

Was his wealth so important to him that he neglected going to the synagogue (church) and worked instead, or he never went at all? Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

Did he ever covet, long for something that belonged to someone else with envy? You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's (Exodus 20:17).

Was he obedient to these commandments as well?

When this wealthy young man said that he had been obedient to those commandments since his youth, Jesus then challenged him to see how obedient he was willing to be to truly learn what it took to inherit eternal life.

"Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." (vvs 21-22, emphasis mine).

Jesus clearly illustrates to us that if other things are more important to us than God, then we do not deserve to go to Heaven. We must repent of our sins and become born again as He said (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:5, John 3:3-5).

The apostles preached this too, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord," (Acts 3:19).

I recently received this cartoon illustration that depicts a few people taking up their cross to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). The simplicity of the cartoon makes it obvious that a person needs Christ, to become born again, in order to inherit eternal life.












"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6, NKJV
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved

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