Golf Humor

Golf is a lot like life.

If you’re a golfer, you already know what I mean.  If you’ve never played golf, or played golf only a few times in your life, this statement will need a little explaining.  Stay with me, I promise you’ll understand it better towards the end.

As a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I trailed my dad and my uncles around the public links in Andrews, Texas.  These crazy men would get up before daybreak, reach the links when my eyes were barely open, and the sun wasn’t up yet.  They would tee off, play 9 holes, then go pay their fees at the clubhouse at “the turn.”  Nobody rode carts then, except maybe the old farts.  But 8 year-old-legs were not made for 27 to 36 holes of golf in a day.  I loved every minute of it though.

Now I am the old fart.  This cartoon captures innocently enough the round of golf with my father-in-law last week.

By the way, I’m the bow-legged guy on the right, but I don’t have that much hair!

Years ago I had Lasic surgery on my eyes, so I can see down the fairway quite a distance. While I helped Bob see where his ball went several times, he would always try to get in my head about the hazards of my next shot, or the difficulty of the hole.

Getting old isn’t very fun, unless you’re doing something you really love to do.

I gained some clarity about this over the weekend, as I began to evaluate what was important to me in this life.

In golf, the integrity of the game is maintained as each player calls penalties on himself, rather than pointing out other player’s infractions.  That’s what yesterday’s blog post was really all about, “owning it” you might say.

In golf, every day, whether on the same golf course, or on a golf course you’ve never played before… every round offers new opportunities to succeed or fail to make a good score.

In golf, as Ben Hogan is famous for saying, “The most important shot… is the next one.”

Here’s the thing, in LIFE

  • The integrity of your character is owning your own sin, not pointing out someone else’s.
  • Every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, and to bring God glory in doing this.
  • Today, right now, this minute … is the equivalent of Ben Hogan’s “the next one.”

Now, here’s the clarity I found.

I enjoy these things today:

  • playing golf
  • teaching the Bible
  • projects around the house
  • being in love
  • laughing and loving

And you don’t have to be young to do any of these things.

So, find the things you enjoy, the Grace that God extends to you every single day, and live!

Really live.

Hall of Honor

Honor.

Noun: high respect, greet esteem.

Synonyms:  distinction, glory, tribute, prestige, fame.

Sometimes we use this word in sadness, as when we honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

Other times we use it as a description of our reactions to the great achievements of someone we know or deem worthy of this praise.

IMG-2556Over this past weekend, my Father-in-Law was recognized in a very special and specific kind of way.  He is 87 years old now, but back in the day Bob Brown was quite an athlete.  In his high school heyday, Bob lettered in Football and Baseball from 1947-1950.  The Lubbock ISD held their annual Hall of Honor Banquet on Saturday, June 15, 2019 to induct 8 individuals and teams into the Hall of Honor.  Each inductee was described in a video which included photographs of their athletic contributions, and an overview of their life since high school. In Bob’s case it was a well deserved tribute to a humble man who kept insisting it was all his teammates which deserved the credit for his accomplishments.

Honor.  In this case it was well-earned and well-recognized.  My wife and I honored him on “Father’s Day” as well, by sharing this weekend with him, and encouraging him in different ways all along the way.  It is my honor to know this man.

God intended us to honor our dads this way.  In fact, it was written in stone, by the very finger of God Himself, as He instructed Moses to tell his people how to behave in their family relationships.

Exodus 20:12 says…

Honor you father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

In this instruction, we see God the Creator, not so much giving us suggestions about how to live, as it is a command accompanied by a carrot and a stick.

The carrot is easy… just honor your mom and dad, and you will live long, happy, protected lives because you live believing this is God’s will for you.

The stick is hard… when you fail to live by God’s commands, there will be hardship, unintended consequences you couldn’t foresee, and unexpected results which often result in tears of sadness.

I know this to be a fact.  I’ve lived it.  I’ve walked in it.  I’m walking through it now.

I can’t go back in time and change how poor a son I was to my own father at times past.  And I can’t make it up to him now because he has graduated to be with the Father who loves us best!  All I can do now, in that relationship, is try to learn from it, and try my best not to make those same mistakes again.

I can’t go back in time to change how poor a father I was at times in the past, to my three children.  I can’t make it up to them in any tangible way, until they decide to open the channels of communication I’ve tried for years to establish.  All I can do now, in each of those relationships, is wait, hope, and trust in the Sovereignty of God to bring us back together.

It’s sad at times, this “honor” thing.

So what’s the point?

When it’s all said and done, the lessons we are learning here have direct application to what happens in eternity.

Jesus said we should pray according to His “Model” of prayer.  Do you remember how it starts?

“Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name…”

Hallowed. Holy.  Sacred. Blessed. Revered.  Honored.

We do our best living, when we determine by our own choosing, to honor God our heavenly Father with our lives.

I trust today that on the heals of Father’s Day weekend, you find yourself in God’s will, having honored your earthly father as he deserves, and your heavenly Father who deserves it even more.

On Sunday, I thanked God for my earthly father, and trusted Him to tell my dad how much I love him still, and miss him now.

Did you do something similar?  Just as God commanded?

I hope so.

 

Did Honest Abe Really Say This?

“You can’t help the poor by destroying the rich. You can’t strengthen the weak weakening the strong. You can’t achieve prosperity by discouraging savings. You can’t lift the employee by destroying those who hire him. You can’t promote man’s fraternity by inciting the hate of classes. You can’t form character and value by eliminating the initiative and independence of people. You can’t help people permanently by doing for them what they can and must do for themselves. “

— Abraham Lincoln.

I saw this quote on FaceBook, so naturally I decided to check it out.  We want to believe it.  It sounds so good, and just like something Abraham Lincoln might have said.  President Ronald Reagan used the quote in his speech to the Republican National Convention in Houston.

However, none of that makes it true.  The man who actually penned these immortalized words, attributed to Lincoln, was an ex-clergyman from Erie, Pennsylvania, by the name of William J. H. Boetcker.  Boetcker left the church to take a more lucrative position as labor relations advisor for employers.  He wrote a small booklet titled “Inside Maxims, Gold Nuggets Taken From the Boetcker Lectures.”

One of these nuggets was:

We cannot strengthen the weak
By weakening the strong.
We cannot help the Poor
By kicking the Rich.

After a while, Boetcker expanded the list to “The Industrial Decalogue: Ten Don’ts”.  In this work are points 2,4,5, and 10 which Reagan attributes to Abraham Lincoln.

So… here’s the thing.

As a speaker, teacher, it is imperative that I continue to “fact check” what I teach and follow every attribution to its source if possible.  In this way I at least pursue the idea of excellence in speaking the truth, the factual truth, not the made-up truth so popular today.

For example, some say Jesus never actually claimed to be God, the Messiah, or the Savior of the world.  I would offer these simple words, often misquoted, often used to spin some agenda, but when taken at face value, are the absolute truth.

John 14:6 – Jesus says:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life,
and no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Believe it.
Don’t believe it.

Neither response changes the FACTS of its TRUTHFULNESS, or that He indeed spoke these words.

 

 

“-ation” Truths of Easter

We dress up in our newest and finest to once again celebrate the most important event of history.  We do this because our mom’s or dad’s taught us how important it is.  We do this because as adults we choose to honor the One who rose again.

We can talk about deep theological truths, looking into Sal”vation” – Propiti”ation” – Reconcili”ation” … but in the end, when the dust and smoke has cleared, when it really sets in, and sinks deep into our being…

Easter is about Rel”ation” [RELATION].

Jesus came so we could stand before God in a right relationship.

What relationship?

God relating to His created being; you… me… us.

Without Jesus there is no relationship to the Lord of the Hosts of Heaven.

Without Jesus there is no meaning or purpose to our lives.

Without Jesus I am undone, with no escape from my own choices, and the consequences of my actions.

In my relationship with Jesus, I am whole, I receive forgiveness for my stubborn choices, and receive grace to see me through the consequences of my ill-chosen actions.

How does one arrive at such a relationship?

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

When you see “salvation” here … think “right relationship.”

Easter is about how Jesus provide a path to God, by coming to God with an attitude of total submission, because He wants my best life for me.

What is your “-ation” (relationship) with God today?

Don’t have one?  It’s Easter!  He’s waiting for you now with open arms!

Come to Jesus!  He is Alive!

Maranatha!

 

Still here…

About this time last week (10:30am Wednesday morning), I was experiencing a type of pain that is hard to describe.  While working with a shovel, turning and tilling the flowerbed soil in front of our house, I was going at it pretty hard.  The bed was filled with roots from the pre-existing shrubbery and plants, and all that had to go if our beautification effort was to proceed as planned.  Unlike in the movies, the pain came on gradually, not suddenly.  What began as a somewhat minor irritation, within about 10 minutes became a debilitating squeeze around my chest and both arms, as I was acutely aware of my second heart attack.

In April 2005, while simply making the bed, I was struck with shortness of breath, and experienced something like an imaginary elephant sitting on my chest.  After driving myself to the emergency room, resulting in an indeterminate diagnosis since my EKG was normal, and going through enough blood work to fund a small blood bank, it was finally determined later that evening I did indeed have my first heart attack.  The cardiac surgeon put in a stent in my right lower artery, and after a few weeks I was pretty much back to normal.

Last week, the pain was more like being slowly squeezed by a giant anaconda, every breath another shocking nuance of the increasing attack on my heart.  This time I was smarter and asked my wife to take my blood pressure (you don’t want to know), and immediately take me to the ER… again.  The team was very professional.  From the young man who took the original EKG reading, to the ER Doctor who leaped into action, and the other 14-15 people who hooked me up, took past information, or stood there monitoring everything going on, each individual seemed to know exactly what to do with speed and precision.

Less than 20-30 minutes later I was in the Cath Lab prepped and receiving meds, while a different cardiac surgeon looked at my heart for the second time.  The original stent was blocked, so they put the ole ballon in the artery, opened it up, removed the blockage, and I was good to go.  Literally.  I mean it.  Within minutes of the end of the procedure itself, I felt no different than any other day over the last 14 years since the first stent was put in.  Unfortunately, everyone else thought it was a good idea to keep me for 48 hours (precisely) from the end of the procedure to monitor my vitals, blood, and strength.

Looking back on the whole thing, it’s more like a dream than an actual event.  Oh, the pain was real enough, but in hindsight, it really lasted less than two and a half hours, from start to finish.  I ate well, all my bodily functions were working fine.  By the time I left the hospital I was a little sleep deprived, but what are hospitals for except making you stand up out of bed at 4am to take a weight measurement from a heart patient?

I don’t know why it happened again, neither did the Doctor.  She indicated stents are not necessarily designed to last forever so I need to keep constant vigilance on my diet, exercise, and body awareness… pretty much like I have for 14 years now.  All things being equal, I’m no worse for the experience, but I’d rather not do it again.

So, here’s the thing.

When events like this occur, I often ponder, sometimes out loud (to make sure I’m not just daydreaming), “Lord, why did this happen?  Did you CAUSE this to get my attention?  Did you ALLOW this to teach me something?  What are you saying to me today through this event?”

The answer for me may sound simple to you, but here is what I believe:

  • Whether caused or allowed, what I know is that God was in CONTROL from start to finish during the whole thing.  I know this because He is my LORD, and one of the attributes of His Lordship is:  God is in Control all the time.
  • I’m not the most patient person in the world, and perhaps one of the worlds worst patients when I’m actually sick, much less hospitalized.  So, it doesn’t escape me that perhaps this is just another way for God to say, “Jim, here’s another lesson on how to slow down and let ME be in Control.”
  • In this matter of my heart, and heart condition, I know that the LORD has sole authority over my life.  I know he has counted the days of my life, and the fleeting nature of my existence. (Psalm 39:4)
  • Because I am still here, the LORD’s desire for me is to be faithful to spread His Word and His love through this blog.  As LORD, He has promised never to leave me, nor forsake me.

 

So, here I am.  I’m still here.  I’m still writing.  I’m still teaching.

And I will until He calls me home.

Right now, my heart is good to go … one way, or another.

 

Acts 4:1-31

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Well… here we go again.

We had technical difficulties with the recording process in our study on Acts 4:1-31.  As a result the recording failed.  However, in order to make the study available to all who are listening on line, or who missed the lesson, below is a link to download the notes I used to teach this lesson.  As always I have included an outline for your own notes, and the take-away handout we gave out at the end of the class.

My apologies for this glitch.

Acts 4_1-31 R

Acts 4_1-31 outline

Acts 4_1-31 takeaway handout

Acts 2:37-41

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Sunday afternoon February 24 recording had a few technical difficulties.  While 90% of the recording is fine, the microphone cord moved around a bit creating occasional clips which I’ve done my best to fix.  The worst of it is about 12-15 minutes in, then it settles down again until the end.  The recording ends abruptly about 5 minutes before the end of the lesson when it quit recording altogether.  We will work to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.  Thanks for your patience while we solve this issue.

 

Acts 2_37-41 Outline

Acts 2_37-41 Takeaway Handout

Off and Running

After five lessons now, we are off and running in the Bible study of the Book of Acts.  If you happen to be one of those who are following along on-line through this blog, I just want to thank you personally for listening.  Of course I want to encourage you to drop me an email if you have questions about any of the material presented.  Also, if you find these lessons engaging and valuable, please invite your social media friends to come and listen as well!

It seems to me that the richness of the stories presented by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles are so stunning at times that it almost takes my breath away.  I have read a lot in my brief 65 years on this earth, both fiction and non-fiction, spiritual and secular, enjoying the many different styles and methods of each author I follow.  Yet, I have never been so spell bound as reading over and over about the adventurous journey of these Apostles of Jesus when they launch the mission He gave them in Matthew 28:18-20.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In fact, these days mostly I feel exactly like one of those 120 people gathered in Jerusalem who after experiencing the Baptism of the Spirit of God, and the filling of the Spirit of God, became the witnesses Jesus said they would become, in Acts 1:7-8.  Since this blog is being followed in 117 countries around the world, I’m doing my small part to share the truth of how the church began, and what God designs for our mission today.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

This week someone said, “I feel like I’m right there, like I’m one of the 120.”  And honestly that’s how I feel every week as I prepare to teach.

So, for those who are reading this yet not following the Acts lessons, please allow me to invite you to listen.  There are handouts on each lesson for download, and follow up personal application.  Every week our focus in on the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ, how we see it in the passages we study, and how it applies today in our real world.

Come and see… the Lord Jesus still moving today, by continuing the work He started, when He established His Church!!  The links to the study are right here:

https://asiwassaying.me/2019/01/14/introduction-to-acts-of-the-apostles/

https://asiwassaying.me/2019/01/21/acts-13-11/

https://asiwassaying.me/2019/01/28/acts112-26/

https://asiwassaying.me/2019/02/11/acts-21-13/

https://asiwassaying.me/2019/02/18/acts-214-36/

Introduction to Acts of the Apostles

Welcome bible study participants!  Last night we had a wonderful time taking care of introductory thoughts about how to interpret scripture; as well as examining the author, date, and purpose of the book of Acts.  We looked briefly at the first two verses of Acts chapter 1.  All this is covered in the following recording of the lesson.  You can listen to this teaching by simply pressing the “play” button on the link below. (Depending on your connection speed it may take a moment or two to load).  Also if you would like to take notes, there is a handout for the outline of the lesson simply click the link and print one out on your own printer.  At the end of the lesson we gave out a takeaway handout and you can print this as well.

Thanks for listening.

Dr. Jim Wilkins

acts 1_1-2 introduction outline

acts 1_1-2 introduction outlineacts 1_1-2 takeaway handout

Rinnah

Have you ever wondered what Jesus sounded like when he sang?  I know… some of you are thinking, “Jesus sang? I didn’t know Jesus sang.”

Well, think about it again.  I’m not Jewish, and I don’t pretend to be a scholar on the finer points of worship in the synagogue.  However, the use of music in worship in the synagogue dates back to ancient times. Additionally, Scripture accounts in a number of places how music and song expressed thanks to God or enhanced worship in the Temple.  Here are just a few for you to look up on your own:

  • Exodus 15 – the Song of the Sea
  • Judges 5 – Deborah’s song of victory
  • 1 Samuel 16 – David had skill in singing and playing the lyre
  • According to tradition at least 150 of the psalms were composed and sung by David
  • Psalm 120-134 – the “Song of the Ascents” – were included regularly during the ancient Temple worship, each song corresponding to one of the 15 steps the priest would ascend to arrive at the altar.

So, using our logic and deduction, all of these songs would be familiar to Jesus who attended synagogue every Sabbath day, his entire life. He traveled to Jerusalem for every feast day celebration required by God’s Law.  And, being a normal Jewish male expected to lift his own voice in worship and praise to God, Jesus would sing with all the others in the assembly.

I wonder what his voice sounded like?

But here’s the thing…

Did you know that Scripture teaches that Jesus sings over you?  Say what?!

Again, we have to use our deductive reasoning and logic here.  Scripture teaches that as Christ-followers we have been “grafted into” His family, along with all those Jewish folk who follow Him as the True Messiah.  This means, that what is promised to them, is also promised to us, in terms of eternal life, and the blessings of God.  That said, look at what the prophet Zephaniah says.

Zephaniah 3:17  The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.

“singing” here is the Hebrew word rinnah (rin-naw’) רִנָּה
and it means:  a ringing cry or singing

Wow! What an amazing thought!  Jesus, the LORD your God… will rejoice over you with singing!

I want to hear that voice.  I want to know the truth of these words.  And even though I can’t see it today, or hear it today in my current realm of reality, I know the words are still true.  Jesus is singing over me!

Glory be to the Lord of the hosts of heaven!

As you go to worship today… think about the words of Zephaniah 3:17!

 

In Times Like These…

Ruth Caye Jones was a self-taught pianist/organist from Erie Pennsylvania.  Ruth was married to Bert Jones and co-founded an evangelistic radio ministry.  Broadcasting weekly this family oriented program called “A Visit with the Jones,” this couple spoke the truth into homes across the country.  You may not even know her name, or have ever heard the radio program, but you may remember the song she wrote in 1944 titled, “In Times Like These.”

I watched and listened last night, first to our President’s grave message about the crisis at our southern border, then the Democratic opposition response to his words.  The only thought to describe my feelings as I watched was “sad.”  I’m not fearful for what may happen in our country as the rhetoric increases, while the division in our leadership broadens, and every listens to pollsters who seem to skew results according to who’s funding the polls.  I’m trying hard not to be angry or depressed as our government fails to provide safety and security to our life and freedom by not fixing the problem along our borders.  Mostly, I’m just sad.

I woke up this morning thinking about the words to this song by Mrs. Jones, and realized if there were ever a need for these words it is now.  Read and listen carefully.

In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock
!

In times like these you need the Bible,
In times like these, O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock
!

In times like these I have a Savior,
In times like these I have an anchor;
I’m very sure, I’m very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock
!

Here is why I’m not fearful or depressed, and try not to be angry listening to the news or reading social media outbursts on partisan politics.  The words in this song are true.

In times like these, my Savior is not Donald Trump, and my anchor is not the United States Government.

In times like these, the Word of God is the Absolute Truth on which to base my life, and faith.

In times like these I must choose to believe in and hold fast to these three truths:

  1. God is Sovereign and in Control
  2. God’s Word has absolute Authority over all things, and applies to me personally
  3. God has promised to always be Present with us, and with me personally

This is my anchor.
This is my Rock.

His name is Jesus.

Continuing the work…

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The eleven men following Jesus came abruptly to a defining moment in their lives.  One day Jesus just stopped near Jerusalem and told these men not to leave the city again, but to wait for what God the Father had promised, which He had already told them about.  What promise?  When did Jesus tell them about it?  These men were still caught up in “old” thinking, so naturally they assumed He was about to establish an earthly kingdom.

This thought process led them to ask, “Is it time?  Are you about to restore Israel?”  In some ways I think this may have saddened Jesus a little.  Even after three years, after the crucifixion and the resurrection, they still didn’t “get it.”  So, one more time, Jesus explained it…

“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:7-8

Jesus left them standing there, wide-eyed, with their mouths open, while they watched until He disappeared from their sight – ascending back to His rightful place of Lordship and Ruler of the universe.

In just a few days from now, January 13th to be exact, I will be teaching a new bible study class titled, “Acts: The unfinished Works of Jesus.”  This will be an in-depth study, which will be foundation-ally supported by looking into the  history, culture, language, and identity issues of these first century Christ-followers who established the Church.

And when I say “church,” I’m not talking about the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, or Church of Christ… denominational church.  I’m not talking about the Roman Catholic Church.  I’m talking about the Bride of Christ which Jesus called “His Church.”  Where did He make this statement?

Jesus was asking the twelve, (including Judas Iscariot), who the people at large were saying He was.  Everybody had a different answer until Peter proclaimed,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” ~ Matthew 16:16

If you stop reading there you’ll miss the point entirely.  Jesus responded to this grand confession this way:

“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” ~17-18

The Church established by Jesus in Acts, is His church.  It’s not my church, it’s not your church, nobody owns it but Jesus.

The study of the book of Acts will be exciting as we understand how everything which happens is but a fulfillment of what Jesus promised these eleven men that day of Peter’s confession.  Hence the title of the study, the “Unfinished Works of Jesus.”

Should you like to follow along on this journey, I will be recording these lessons to post on this blog.  You’ll be able to download a Word document outline to each lesson, and take your own notes for discussion with your friends and family.  Who knows… some of you might take the outline with your own notes, and go teach these discoveries to someone  else.  And in this way, Jesus will still be working… to build His church!

Passing the Buck … one week ’till Christmas

Do you remember the “Flip Wilson Show?”

From 1970 to 1974 Wilson was the host for a weekly television spot where he introduced the viewers to a recurring character named Geraldine Jones.  By putting on a dress, along with some carefully crafted padding, then altering his voice to a higher pitch, Wilson also introduced the character’s favorite phrase, “The Devil made me do it!”

The skit was hysterically funny, winning great fan approval.  I mean really, it’s not my fault right?  I had to do it… the devil made me do it!

Not such an original thought, funny though it may be.  This phrase leaps off the pages of an ancient text in a way that draws us all to Christmas. Yes, to Christmas!

If we go all the way back to the Beginning (Genesis) we’ll see the story where God asked Adam why he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  Adam’s response?  That woman you gave me, she…

So God asks Eve, and she responds… Hey it wasn’t my fault, it was that snake who said we wouldn’t really die!

Why didn’t God just give up on the human creatures right then and there, and start again somewhere else in the universe?

They were naked and knew it, trying on their own to cover their nakedness and their disobedient unbelief in God’s word, blaming each other and other creatures for their own miserable choices.

In that moment they were lost, and far removed from the relationship with God they once knew.

But God…

Don’t you just love those words?

But God didn’t want to kill them; instead, he had a plan to use this first couple to bless the whole world.  So God killed one of His other creatures to make garments for the first couple. [Genesis 3:21]

This event is directly tied to Matthew 1:18-25.  God told Joseph about the plan to bring a child into the world through Mary.  Specifically God told Joseph to name this child “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  But why?

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Here’s the thing.

Adam and Eve knew they were lost, and suffered the consequences of their choices, after making all their excuses to God.

The birth of Jesus now provides for all mankind an opportunity to come back to God.

  • Regardless of how far we’ve strayed.
  • No matter the things we’ve done, or failed to do.
  • In spite of who we blame for our choices, including the devil himself.

We all now have an invitation to come back to God, through Jesus, the Savior of the world …  Immanuel, God with us.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Acts 4:12
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

The truth is the devil can’t make you do anything… including reject God’s love through Jesus.  It is your choice alone.

The truth is God won’t MAKE YOU BELIEVE in His Son Jesus… He invites but you must choose to say yes to Him.

Don’t pass the buck anymore… say “yes” to Jesus and His grace and forgiveness today.

Chestnuts anyone?

fireplace 2018
In April 2018 we began the arduous challenge of remodeling much of our new home.  Flooring, painting, some things taken out, new things put in, and now we’re just about complete.  It’s been a daunting task at times, giving us a new appreciation for people with more patience than me.  Now, it’s only 13 more days ’till Christmas.  This song fits me where I am this morning…
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
Songwriters: Mel Torme / Robert Wells
The Christmas Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Trust in God unchangingly…

2018 Tree

Don’t miss the last stanza of this old, old song…

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There’s only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!!”

Merry Christmas Everybody!

21 days until Christmas

When I was young, every year, every kid in the little community where I lived would receive a red net stocking filled with hard candy, fruit, nuts, and candy canes.  There were four kids in my family.  My mom would take the four stockings, empty them out on the table, then separate the items into groups, and the whole family would share the bounty.  The fruit often went first, I didn’t care much for that old ribbon hard candy, but I loved the butterscotch bits.  The nuts seemed to last forever in a bowl on the coffee table in the living room.  I didn’t want to work that hard shelling the thing for such a tiny nut. The giant peppermint candy cane though, now that was something else.  It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.

When I tell this story, some people today immediately feel sorry for me, since in their minds, they believe I grew up in a communist family.  That’s their interpretation of the sharing process my mother instilled in us kids.  But there is a big difference in Communism, and having all things in common, where everyone’s needs are met in excess.

And here’s the thing.

It wasn’t something my mother just dreamed up on her own.  She was just modeling for us what she knew to be true in the Bible about how we are supposed to live.  For your consideration, I offer these insightful verses from Acts 2:41-47 as translated in The Message, by Eugene Peterson.  This was the birth of the first “church” and displays the nature of transformed lives.

They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.  Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.  They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

This was the immediate response of the 3,000+ people who became true Christ-followers after Peter preached to the crowd gathered in the streets of Jerusalem at Pentecost.  They were hungry for truth, so the focused on the apostles’ teaching.  They found a new level of intimate relationship with each other in Christ. Every meal they shared together was a celebration of life.  But most importantly, they prayed about everything.

In 21 days we celebrate the birth of Messiah, the Christ, born Jesus of Nazareth. Every time I hear the story, or read the story for myself, I’m moved again by the power of a baby growing into manhood, making the only sacrifice that could accomplish this kind of change in people.  Our world today needs this kind of transformation.  Our world today still needs this kind of Savior.

Our world today, needs Jesus.

 

28 sleeps … until Christmas

It’s been two weeks since you heard from me, causing me to wonder if you missed me at all…

But here’s the thing.  It’s really not about me anyway, so it doesn’t matter whether you missed me or not… (lol)!

Like you, I’ve spent the last two weeks getting ready for Thanksgiving, celebrating Thanksgiving, and trying to survive the emotional upheaval of Thanksgiving. Whew! I’m rather glad Thanksgiving is behind us, so we can build up more emotional, physical, and psychological stress for another 28 days until Christmas.  Aren’t you?

It sounds like I’m just Mr. Bah Humbug himself, right?  Or am I just being Grinchy?  It’s hard to tell these days.  Three years ago, about now, my life shifted sideways on me.  Faced with early retirement, and a sense of serious personal loss, I was overwhelmed by what my future might hold.  It has taken me these last three years of flushing stuff out of my life, and seeing how God would replace all that yucky stuff with other things which help me grow, to discover the true meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:10.

The Bible Study Class lesson this past Sunday was all about this verse in the context of 2 Corinthians chapters 10-12.  Trust me, I know all too well that I don’t measure up anywhere near to the pastor/teacher that Paul was.  However, I think the verse was just for me in some ways, from the lesson this week.

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  

Over the past three years I’ve created a blog which reaches people across the globe.  I’ve written a book, which you can see on this blog.  And, I’ve been afforded the opportunity (recently) to return to teaching the Word of God.  When I am weak, then I am strong.

January 13, 2019 will be a new beginning when I return to familiar ground as a teacher of God’s Word.  Maybe this will interest you, maybe not.  But if not you, then maybe the study will interest someone you know, so pass the word on to your friends if you will.

I will begin an in-depth Bible Study class at the church my wife and I attend.  It will be on the Book of Acts in the New Testament.  We will look at history, culture, languages, content, and context, not quite verse by verse, but certainly thought by thought.

I will be recording these lessons in a podcast, and making them available to you here on the blog.  There will also be links where you can download a handout to take your own notes, as well as a personal application guide to use, if you so choose.

In this new mission, I hope to fulfill Christ’s demands on my life to teach.  First in Jerusalem (this just means – where I live), then in Judea and Samaria (the surrounding geographical region), then to the “remotest part of the earth” (through this blog).  This was the command to the apostles and disciples gathered when Jesus spoke the words in Acts 1:8.  I want to live them out in real time, somehow bringing glory to God in this season of my life.

I will need your prayers to remain faithful to this call.  The evil one will not be pleased if he can’t stop God’s Word being spread this way.  Not knowing what new trials I may face, I can only ask that you pray God would keep me weak, so I can be strong in HIM.

Share this announcement with whomever you think might want to listen to the podcasts.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas (in 28 days)!!!