One Year Summary

As of January 1, 2019 I will have posting on this blog for one year. During that time I have posted 153 different post and have had 1710 different contacts to this website from 29 different countries During that time there have been 69 contacts that have responded in writing from countries as far away as Japan and China.

Included on this site are the 153 blog entries divided by month and topics; a new section that is titled Activity and is under construction; Articles that I have published in the past; A Q&A where you can pose a question about the Bible or its doctrine (teaching) and other appropriate topics; and a section titled The Mystery of Faith that is on my book and how to order it. Coming later this year will be a section on some select messages that I have preached and have been recorded.

Events of the past year have been teaching weekly in the Senior Adult Sunday School; a speaker on the Annual Senior Adult Bible Conference, hosted by our church; the translation and printing of my book in Chinese; and a 10 day mission trip to China which included worshiping with our Christian family in China. This year (2019) I am projecting two mission trips, one trip back to China and a second trip to Japan, which will hopefully begin a new work in Japan.

The status of the translations of my book, The Mystery of Faith, is as follows: The Chinese translation has been completed and printed and is being used as a training manual for new pastors in China. The Russian translation is nearing completion of chapter 5. The Japanese translation is also in chapter 5. The Spanish translation is moving slower due to family needs but is in chapter 3. I am currently searching for a publisher to print each of these translations so that they are available to people everywhere. More on that as it develops.

I am so amazed at what the Lord has done with this simple step of obedience. This is a brief report of the past year and some projections for the coming year. Watch for the LinkedIn page that is coming soon. If you subscribe to it you will receive a notice each time I make a post and it will also be linked to this site as well.

Arrows in a Good Man’s Quiver

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah; And the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, So are the children of youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: They shall not be put to shame, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

The Holidays are nearly over and life will soon get back to normal. We have been blessed to have 4 of our 7 children and their families, home for Christmas. Our other three could not make it but we still had contact via phone. Family is so important to us and we have a great time whenever we can get together. Truely we are greatly blessed and our hearts are full. This scripture has come to mean a lot to us and is so true.

Did I say normal? What I mean is back to a routine. The thing is that all routines undergo constant change. The one thing that is certain is that change is constant. But change is not necessarily bad. The joy of seeing our children grow up and become responsible adults raising families of their own. Then there are the grandchildren and later, the great grandchildren.

What does it mean to grow up? That is, at what point are we grown up? Is it when our body reaches a certain point of development? Could it be when we reach a certain point of mental maturity? Or is it when we have become what God had in mind for us to be? I think it includes all of the above possibilities. The important thing is to remember that everyone is at a different stage in their development yet they are to be valued as though they had already reached maturity. For example, an embryo is a person in development, a small boy is to be considered as a man in development, a youth is an adult in development and a person is a child of God in development. The only thing that can become a person is an embryo, the only thing that can become a man is a small boy, the only thing that can become an adult is a teenager, and the only thing that can become a child of God is a person.

How far reaching is the understanding of family. No wonder that the happiness is his whose quiver is full of them.

First Word – JESUS

Early in my ministry I had a pastor who was called to preach when he couldn’t even speak a word.  He had a membrane grow across the opening in his voice box so the only sound that he could make was a grunting sound. But there was nothing wrong with his mind and he was clear that God had called him to preach.  He would try to preach but no one could understand him.  They were compassionate and considerate but they were not receiving the message.

Finally, a voice therapist discovered the growth over his voice box and thus began the process of opening up the voice box so that he could speak.  They would poke red hot needles through the membrane, cauterizing the opening so that it would not close up, and then letting it heal.  The next operation was to enlarge the opening more by the same process until the opening had been enlarged enough to allow him to speak.  Then came the final day when he would speak his first word, and he said JESUS.

I was listening to a radio preacher who was bringing a Christmas message and was speaking on an often overlooked person of the Christmas story, Joseph, Mary’s husband.  In his message he made the point that there is not one word that is recorded that Joseph ever spoke.  That surprised me so I began to search the Christmas story once again to see if that was correct.  Technically, he was correct in that he was not quoted as saying anything, however it is also recorded that he named Him, JESUS which was the direction of the angel of the Lord to so name him.  The only word that we are certain that he spoke is the name, JESUS.

 Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Mt 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Since Joseph was not the father of Jesus the naming rights then would fall to the mother, Mary, who also named Him JESUS, which was also under the direction of the angel Gabriel, who was sent from God.  We can therefore conclude that Jesus was named by His Father, God; by his stepfather, Joseph, and his mother, Mary.

Mt 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Lu 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Lu 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

This then is the heart of the Christmas message.  A savior has come to save us from out sin, and His name is JESUS.

 Ac 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Hammering It Out

Yesterday I was out splitting wood and broke the handle on my sledge hammer.  It wasn’t because I used it wrongly, but because I abused it for several years leaving it out exposed to the weather without any consideration to its preservation.  When I hit the wedge while splitting the wood it simply broke because the wood had deteriorated next to the steel head and it couldn’t take the shock of the force.  Today I spent several hours repairing it to the shape you see above.  It is now fully restored to usefulness.

So what is the lesson?  Simply this, the Lord has invested much into making us usable in his service and we should not take it for granted.  He invested everything to free us from our sin.  He called us when we were not completed nor perfected.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to guide us and to equip us for service, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He continues to forgive us our shortcomings and our sin.  He loves us when we are ugly and wrong.  He is our number one (#1) supporter and He is the author of every good and perfect gift we receive.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  He promises us victory as we follow Him by faith.

The list goes on but you get the idea.  Yet I hear the question asked sometimes, “Why doesn’t the Lord use me?”  The answer could be for the same reason that I couldn’t use my sledge hammer today.  Through neglect, I had allowed the weather to cause deterioration to the structure of the handle so that it was weakened and could not take the stress of the job that it was designed to do.  The shock was just too much and it broke under the shock.  It should have lasted many more years of good service but no provision for maintenance was made and deterioration set in.  It is the same way with our service.  It is one thing to be called into the Lord’s service but if there is no maintenance plan enacted to not only maintain but also to strengthen the tool (me) then deterioration will set in and then when the real test comes (and it most certainly will) then failure will be the result.

Let me suggest a few things that will be good to include in your maintenance plan.      1.  An ongoing study of the Scriptures.  It should be regular and often.  2.  Corporal fellowship and worship.  3.  Time alone with the Lord when the world is shut off so that you can focus on spiritual things and prayer.  4.  Ministry to others.  This  includes services, gifts, time, etc. that will meet their needs.  5.  Christian Disciplines (this in itself requires study and discipline).  In short, become the person that you would be proud to be.  You can in Christ.  This is your gift to Him.

Who Were The Wise Men

During this time of year we often hear the Christmas story that we have loved so long.  We remember the story of Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, the crowded Inn and the Wise Men.  In Matthew we are told that they came from the east but little else.  That provoked a number of questions to me and I searched the Scriptures to find out any information that I could.  It is not something that I had ever heard about and wondered, how did they know about Jesus’ birth?  Why was it so important to them to make such a journey and then to offer gifts?  Here is what I found:

Wise men are mentioned several times in the old testament.  They are first mentioned in Es 1:13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment:  and again in Jer 10:7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.  But the Greatest number of references to the wise men are in the Book of Daniel.  You will find them mentioned in 2:12,13,14,18, 24, 27, 48, 4:6, 18, 5:7,8, and finally in Matthew 2:1, 7.

In Chapter 2 we learn of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and called for the magicians, astrologers and the sorcerers to shew him his dream or they would all be destroyed.  This included Daniel and his three friends.  Daniel asked for time and said that he would bring the king his dream and its interpretation.  After much prayer and patients the Lord gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation.  The king was so impressed that he made Daniel head over all the “wise men”   From this information I speculate that Daniel gained many followers as he had saver their lives and had demonstrated such skill in interpreting the kings dream that they were not only indebted to Daniel but saw the opportunity to learn from him.  I am not naive to think that all of them felt that way but since they were now under his authority they had no choice but to follow him at least for the time being.    We know from history that there were some who took every opportunity to rid themselves of Daniel but the Lord delivered him from all his oppressors.

The group of “wise men” were made up of magicians, astrologers and sorcerers.  A group that we would consider dark spiritualist.  Daniel did not berate them for their error but rather took the opportunity to teach them God’s ways and I can see that some of them took it to heart and became true followers of the one true God.  It is not a stretch to believe that because Daniel’s powers were so great that his influence lasted for about 600 years.  Add to that the fact the the entire world was under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule so that he would have had the best “wise men” available and would have collected them together. Furthermore, the wise men came from the East, which is where the Assyrian empire was located.  Assuming that the star appeared at or near the birth of Christ, it would have taken some time to go through the records to find the prophecy of the coming Christ and then to understand that this was the announcement of that event.  Then there was the preparation and the trip that could have taken several months and they would have arrived about a year and a half later.  That is deducted from the fact that the wise men went to the house not the manger and why Herod killed the babies 2 years old and under.

I readily admit that there is some speculation in this series of events and that the “proof” does not exist for it but the only reason I share ti is because I wanted to know where they came from and I never got a satisfactory answer.  Thinking back over it, I have come to the conclusion that it does not matter if this is correct or not, for the event of the birth of Christ so overshadows everything else.  Some things must be left to the wisdom of God. What I needed to know was not how it happened but what happened.  Christ came into this world to free me from my sin and that is the reason for the season.

 

 

Responding to Difficulty

Last night was a rough night.  I got little sleep and was so sick that I couldn’t function.  I had severe pain in my abdomen, I was dizzy, I broke out in a sweat, then chills, then my throat began to water and I had the extreme urge to throw up and then it would all repeat itself every 15 minutes.  That lasted most of the night but then it eased off and I was able to get a few hours of rest.  I then woke up at 10:35 and remembered that i had an 11 AM appointment at the dentist.  I made it and was only a few minutes late.  I got the tooth with a cavity filled and was home by noon.  I still don’t feel well but I am able to function.  I still have several of the symptoms but they are less than they were last night.

Ac 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.  The Christians life is littered with difficult situations.  It is not without difficulties but with each difficult situation we can find victory over it by trusting our Lord to bring us through it.  God has not promised a life without trials but  promises to go with us through them.  I am not sharing this with you for pity or for your kind words.  They are nice but I want for you to get the deeper meaning behind it.  It is the hardships, difficulty and pain that God uses to make us like Him.  He is ever present help in time of trouble and will shape us for eternity through these difficult times.  I can praise the Lord that He can trust me to properly represent Him in this time.  We should always be mindful of what He is doing and not so much of what we are going through.

Is There Such A Thing As Darkness?

I was thinking the other day about God, and my thoughts traveled to a story that I heard about a teacher who was berating a class about believing in God.  His argument was that there was no physical evidence of God’s existence.  He argued that because you cannot see God; that you cannot hear God; that you cannot touch God; that you can neither smell or taste God; that God cannot exist and that you cannot prove His existence.  Then a student raised his hand and asked a question.  Sir, do you believe that there is such a thing as cold?  The professor replied, “certainly I do.  Everyone knows that cold exists.”  The student replied, “actually, Sir, there is no such thing as cold.  There is only the absence of heat.”  Then he asked a second question, “Sir, do you believe that there is such a thing a darkness?”  This time the professor was a little hesitant, but replied, “yes, there is such a thing as darkness.”  The student replied, “actually, sir, there is no such thing as darkness.  There is only the absence of light.”  He then asked the professor if he had a brain.  The professor replied that he absolutely did to which the student replied, “Sir, using your logic then, since we cannot see your brain, nor can we feel your brain, nor can we hear, smell or taste your brain, then you must not have a brain.  The conclusion of this argument must be that there are things that exist that we do not understand nor perceive.

My thoughts then proceeded to the concept of Hell and what those in hell will face.  We know from scripture that the only reason a person will go there is that they have rejected God and His will for man (which is only good).  Joh 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Time and time again they have rejected the goodness of God and all His ways.  They have lived under grace and it has made them disgusted.  They have fought everything that is right and good to have their own way.  We also know that Hell was not made for man but that it was prepared for the Devil and his angles.   Mt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  A person winds up in hell because he has rejected God and all that He is, in preference to a life without God.  God doesn’t send a person to hell because of their badness but because of their rejection of His goodness.  They choose to go there to get away from God and His authority on their lives.

Then I began to consider what life would be like without God and His grace.  Goodness would be absent.  Justice would be nonexistent.  Pleasantries and ease would be gone.  Rest would never come.  There would be no light but the continual absence of light.  There would be no hope as their hope was in themselves.  The absence of everything that fulfills our lives would be gone and all that would be left is the hollowness that fill a life without hope and goodness.  These results would pervade the darkness and then one heavy realization would settle in, that it did not have to be that way but when you reject all that is good then you choose all that is bad.  I pray that you will make wise choices now while there is light.

Love in 4 Directions

(The word that is blurred is LOVE)

The above graphic is a visual presentation of the dynamic of agape love.  In the English language we only have the one word, Love; but in the Greek language there are several words for love.  I will only list three of them as they cover the concept of love quite well.  The first word in the Greek is the word ‘eros’ which is the word that means sexual love.  It is not used in the New Testament.  The second word is the word, ‘phileo’, which is where we get the name Philadelphia which means brotherly love.  It is the highest kind of love that man can know apart from God.  It is the type of love a man has for his wife, or a parent for their child.  The third type of love is ‘agape‘ which is God’s kind of love and is seen in John 3:16 where God love so much that He gave His best – His only Son.  This type of love cannot be known apart from God imparting it to a man. and it finds its expression in four ways.

First, love God with all your heart, mind and soul.  This is referenced in Deut 4:5, Matt. 12:37, and Mark 22:30.  God is the only thing that gives real purpose to life for He is eternal in being whereas this world and all that is in it is passing away.  You will most certainly leave this world when you die and everything will be left behind.

Second, we should love one another, that is the brethren or fellow Christians.  John 13:35, 15:12  We begin to love like God when we love the Brethren.  That is to cherish the value of and the nature of one another.  We are also eternal because that is what God gives us when we place our faith in Him, eternal life.  We are not yet completed yet so it does not yet appear what we shall be but we know that we shall be like Him.  The world will know that we are born again because we love one another.  How can we say we love God whom we have not seen, when we love not our brother whom we have seen and he was made in the similitude of God?

Thirdly, we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31  It has been said that the only thing that you can make a man out of is a boy.  The same thing is true also, that the only thing that you can make a Christian out of is a human person.  We all came into this world with a sin nature and we all commit sin.  We want to be loved and understood so we should also love and understand that we travel the same road.  Some of us have already begun our journey of walking with the Lord and are in the process of transformation and other will begin that journey for themselves in the future.  Each person should be valued with the view of what God can transform them into and not for their current failures.

Finally, we should love our enemies.  Matt 5:44, Lu 6:27  This one is harder to understand but it is just as true.  Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  God is able to work all things together for GOOD, which includes those things that we count as wrong, unfair, painful, mean, etc. Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  The problems of life only refine us to make us better.  The events of life will either make you better or make you bitter but the choice is yours.  and again in Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  If God can use the likes of Pharaoh and wicked Cyrus for His purposes then we should thank God for trusting us to overcome evil with good.  The harshest people in our live often shape us into the greatest tools in God’s toolbox.  Who knows but what you may be the influence that brings them into the light of Christ?