Loneliness…Color it Gone!

On February 10, 2019, CBS’s show “Sunday Morning” presented a segment on loneliness. I certainly understand short periods of loneliness; I’ll bet everyone has experienced this at one time or another. However, “Sunday Morning” broadcasted a fearful stat, if it is actually true; experts claim 50% of Americans are lonely. Not just lonely once in a while, but they exist in a long state of loneliness.

The show’s interviews presented comments that loneliness was more intense when the individual was around other people. Surely you have seen a group of people, not talking to each other, but having their nose stuck in their phones. Have we lost how talk to each other? We can talk to our pets, but can’t talk to a follow human? Has so-called social media made us less social? Has the “me” generation reached the climax of selfishness, having reached that lonely mountaintop of nobody but me?

Sadly, the show never once mentioned the joy that can be found in spiritual relationships; the most valid being connected to Jesus Christ. While a two second comment about solitude was mentioned; the show skipped right over the benefits and the joy of solitude in experiencing God’s wonderful creation, or the uplifting solitude found in the “Jesus Walk”. Real empowerment is available to all to help YOU to love first, be the first to show love, then You will start receiving love from others. Loneliness…color it gone!

 

Storms Often Come When You are Obedient

So many today think that if they follow Jesus and be a Christian, they will not have any problems. I knew a co-worker who thought he would never be sick again in his life. So what happens when problems do befall on them? They, in their guilt, think God is mad at them. This is all wrong! Besides the desires of the Devil to impact, not those already in destruction, but those trying to live as Jesus taught, I blame television preachers proclaiming the so-called “gospel of health and wealth”. Another name for this false unbiblical teaching is “word of faith” (sounds so much better, easier to hook people); this preaching comes from the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and many others. Sadly, many local churches have also fallen prey to this heresy.

Let’s look at the book of Mark chapter 6 for a great example. After the feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children, Jesus in verse 45 tells the disciples to get in a boat and go ahead of Him to Bethsaida. In the middle of the sea, the disciples were struggling against a strong wind storm. They were in trouble and afraid BECAUSE they had obeyed Jesus!

So at their darkest hour (it is darkest before the dawn, see verse 48), Jesus comes to them and says “take courage, it is I, don’t be afraid” (verse 50). To be obedient does NOT mean you will be well with money in your pocket, and a fancy new car. To be obedient could kill you, as it did for 11 of the 12 disciples; obedience killed Jesus!

I pray we stand up and be obedient; stand for something greater than what the world offers. Christians, show that we are not of this world! Show the world we stand for something so much better than the world we currently live in! Be obedient to the words of Christ Jesus and get in your boat. Recognize the LORD, it is Jesus coming to you, our one and only Savior! Jesus will come to you at your time of need!

We Get What We Sow

This first weekend in August, in gun-free Chicago, we have 10 or 11 killed and some 70 shot.  How can that happen in a gun-free city? It is not racism. Maybe, the “bad guys” don’t follow the laws of the city. Well, obviously it is NOT about the gun…it is about the HEART.

There is an innate understanding in all of humanity of what is right and wrong, so that is not the problem. All the usual excuses are removed. So that only leaves one other thing…it MUST be about the heart. The more we remove God from the culture and shackle the way we can talk about the saving grace and mercy of our LORD Jesus the Christ, the more we will find evil stepping in to fill the void. We get what we sow.

What is Your Response?

My Christian friends, do not look down on any non-Christians for we were once non-Christians too. We should be telling others of the love of Jesus Christ and that salvation is available to all if they would simply repent (turn from their sins by admitting they are a sinner) and receive the free love, forgiveness and mercy from the Lord Jesus who shed His own blood on the cross to redeem (pay the price) for the sinners (all of us) of the world.

If you desire to keep on sinning, then you are rejecting the free gift already handed out to you. What should a person do when they receive a gift (any gift)? Be thankful, of course! You have already been handed a free gift, what is going to be your response?

It is About the Heart

Friends, my book “A Different Kind of Tree” is about moving from sinner to a child of God; half of each of the 15 chapters is about my own life. I wish to blog about Christianity and not politics; I believe political engagements are killing us by creating hateful debate and setting up a battle field.

What would Jesus say about the four young children killed in Florida this week and the two police officers shot trying to save the children and stop the madness? Would Jesus wish the President happy birthday today? You know Jesus would show compassion, tears, sensitivity and blessings. We need to do the same; can we stop the hateful rhetoric, stop the ugly cursing, and show some respect for people?

Our nation is dying, not by our actions, but by our hearts! Actions follow the heart; the hate, the killings, the cursing, the riots that we are experiencing are all driven by the heart, and not by some political bent. Proverbs 4:23 tells us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” My friends, be at peace and show love!

Think YOU have problems? Who are you riding with?

We all have “storms” in our lives, problems and pains. The “storms of life” come against us all. Jesus chose the disciples for a grand purpose; He would not allow them to drown in the Sea of Galilee…read Mark 4:35-41. Furthermore, Jesus had a purpose for the group to get into the boat. The purpose was NOT to drown in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, but to get to the other side. So, why do you suppose these seasoned fishermen, familiar with the storms on the Sea of Galilee, were so upset that they thought they were going to drown? They forgot who they were traveling with! The Lord Jesus would not allow them to drown; they had nothing to worry about. So let me ask you, who are you traveling with?

Jesus can and will calm the “storms in your life”, all you need to do is to get into the boat with Him! This Easter, I invite you to finally accept with Jesus did for you and get into the boat with Him! I promise it is the best and only trip you can take for all eternity! Amen.

See the Creation, See the Creator – Part 2

When we view God’s creation, we see part of God. Our Creator, the Lord God Almighty, will move His creation toward higher order through relationship. This is why He created us. He loves us! He wants to see us grow toward completeness, just as we delight in seeing our own children grow toward completeness, and become fine adults. How many parents have looked out from the audience at the school awards ceremony, to see a child receiving an award, and think “I had something to do with that…I sure am proud!”

A sense of completeness and relationship, we each seek this “reward of living”, much more important than money. So it is with God, and this is why He created you and I. He seeks out relationship with us; God desires to look at us and say “well done my good and faithful child, I am proud of you and I love you so very much”.

Some would say that God has no need of us. I think just the opposite. Why? As an architect, I know about the feelings between a creator and his creation. I know there is a “relationship” with the created object; after all, as discussed earlier, the created object is actually a part of the creator. God delights in creating; we are all created in His image. You don’t create and then destroy a masterpiece. Oh, you may experiment, realize it isn’t working, and then start over, drawing on your newly acquired knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. But you don’t destroy your final masterpiece; you work to save it.  God is reaching out to you now; salvation can be yours.

[For more discussion on Creating, please refer to the book, I Am, the Great Creator God by Haven D. Mankin. Information about the book and how to obtain a copy is available at: http://www.MuskratBooks.com]

See the Creation, See Creator – Part 1

It is a God given wish of all humans to create, yes, I mean each and every one of us. Why? Because it is a reflection of you; we all wish to leave a mark, part of you ends inside that creation.

There is an inner spirit in each of us, yes each of us, created by God and in His image and character. Besides the Holy Spirit, this other inner spirit is the creative “juice” that will move to do creative things. I like to call it “juice” because it (whatever “it” is) this creative essence in each of us, “flows”. You can feel it when it is moving and you know when it dries up. Haven’t you heard an artist say things like, “I don’t have it anymore” or “nothing was coming to me”? Every artist has a dry period; a period when the “juice” is not flowing. The juice hasn’t dried up forever, gone and never to be experienced again. No, the juice is still within you; it has only ceased to flow at that given time. It is best to just get up and do something else for a time. When the juice is flowing, you can do amazing things. Michelangelo’s statue of David can be carved out of a rough block of marble. Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, called “Fallingwater” in Bear Run, Pennsylvania can be designed. Leonardo Da Vinci’s 16th Century painting of the “Mona Lisa” and Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” can all be created out of nothing, ex nihilo baby!

Every time you read a novel, a poem, a sonnet, a play, any literary work, you have revealed something of whom the writer is and about their life. You can see that Michelangelo understands human anatomy when you view his drawings, such as the portion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling called the “Creation of Man”. Most architects display “their style” to the point that a person can view a set of buildings and place the architect’s name beside each one. In the created object, there is indeed part of the creator.

Connections of Love, Hate, Respect and Violence

Blessed are the Peace MakersSeveral years ago, this image was placed on the doors of the Houston County sheriff’s cars in Alabama. In recent years, we have seen many police officers being gunned down, murdered by hate-filled people fueled by the hateful rhetoric from hate groups such as “Black Lives Matter”, a group applauded by then President Obama. The folks in Alabama reacted negatively to the image due to its Bible reference of Matthew 5:9. Why? Did they not want peace? If they hated cops, then they must really love anarchy!

Maybe they did not know where hate comes from? Hate and evilness comes from Satan. Were they on the side of Satan? Love, Hate, Respect and Violence are all wrapped up in who we really are. This is not about black or white, rich or poor, male or female, nor any other set of comparisons the Progressives wish to divide us over. This about the heart and your inner spirit.

Goodness, love and peace come from God, and the Bible is God’s Holy Word…plain and simple. God was speaking then and is still speaking today…first, YOU must stop speaking and listen!

 

Turn toward Jesus Christ, Jesus will meet you wherever you are!

In the English language, we have just one word for “love”. In the Greek, there are 4. There comes the diminished understanding within a complete understanding of the Bible text in John 21:13-17.

Most all English Bibles use the word “love” in a dialog between Jesus and Peter, after the resurrection and just before the ascension, but this doesn’t provide us with the full meaning of what is going on here, but with a Greek Interlinear, we can see the true differences within the questions and answers between Jesus and Peter.

John 21:13-17 from the Hebrew Names Version of the Bible

13 Then Yeshua came and took the bread, gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Yeshua was revealed to his talmidim, after he had risen from the dead. 15 So when they had eaten their breakfast, Yeshua said to Shim`on Kefa, “Shim`on, son of Yonah, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Shim`on, son of Yonah, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Shim`on, son of Yonah, do you have affection for me?” Kefa was grieved because he asked him the third time, “Do you have affection for me?” He said to him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you.” Yeshua said to him, “Feed my sheep.”  [bold and underlines added]

John 21:13-17 from the Complete Jewish Version of the Bible

13 Yeshua came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Yeshua had appeared to the talmidim after being raised from the dead. 15 After breakfast, Yeshua said to Shim`on Kefa, “Shim`on Bar-Yochanan, do you love me more than these?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I’m your friend.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Shim`on BarYochanan, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I’m your friend.” He said to him, “Shepherd my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Shim`on BarYochanan, are you my friend?” Shim`on was hurt that he questioned him a third time: “Are you my friend?” So he replied, “Lord, you know everything! You know I’m your friend!” Yeshua said to him, “Feed my sheep!”   [bold and underlines added]

The point? Look at the first two responses of Peter to Jesus’ questions of “do you love me?” Peter replies, well…I have affection for you or well, I am your friend. Hardly coming up to the level where Jesus was in His questioning. So the third question comes…note the change. We see Jesus coming down, if you will, to meet Peter where he was in his understanding of the relationship he had with Jesus. To Jesus, it is about relationship; He will come to you where you are if you will have faith in who He is!

The book, A Different Kind of Tree, is about this growing in the faith and having a relationship with Christ Jesus. If you will first turn toward Jesus Christ, Jesus will meet you wherever you are! Whether you are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, wise or ignorant, homeless, a criminal,, or any other manner of person…Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells us so!

God Created all Peoples to be Free

You have heard the saying that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. I wonder why we in the USA are so afraid of history? We see the nation founders removed from many text books; and many universities not requiring American History to get a history degree. Did you know that Germany has kept a great many of the awful Nazi Concentration Camps, because they now know how evil the Nazis were and they don’t want to repeat that evilness again.

So why are we seeing so many groups trying to revise American History now? Why are so many actually re-writing history? What are they afraid of? What we are seeing in America now with the destruction of Confederate Monuments has nothing to do with racism because most don’t know the history of slavery in America. I dare say, they don’t have a clue why the Civil War was even fought, because it had very little to do with slavery. They don’t know the impact that Great Britain had upon American slavery. They don’t know that blacks sold blacks. They don’t know how the founding fathers hated slavery though many had slaves. They don’t know that you could not rid yourself of slaves no matter how much you hated slavery if they were inherited.

Leave history alone, leave the monuments alone, it is what it is! Let us all remember how awful the slave period of time was so we will never ever repeat the sinfulness of slavery of any kind. For if you try to cleanse a nation to suit a particular ideology, you are only making the nation a slave to that ideology. God created all peoples to be free!

Hurricane Storms? Yes, but Christ brings the Calm!

We all have “storms” in our lives, problems and pains. The “storms of life” come against us all. Jesus chose the disciples for a grand purpose; He would not allow them to drown in the Sea of Galilee…read Mark 4:35-41. Furthermore, Jesus had a purpose for the group to get into the boat. The purpose was NOT to drown in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, but to get to the other side. So, why do you suppose these seasoned fishermen, familiar with the storms on the Sea of Galilee, were so upset that they thought they were going to drown? They forgot who they were traveling with! The Lord Jesus would not allow them to drown; they had nothing to worry about. So let me ask you, who are you traveling with? Jesus can and will calm the “storms in your life”, all you need to do is to get into the boat with Him! Amen.

Inclusiveness and Diversity, not always a good thing

The buzz words for today are inclusiveness and diversity. I am all for it on one condition. If we have the same goal in mind, let’s all come together. There is indeed a problem…we are far from having the same goals.

In the Bible’s Old Testament, over and over again, the Hebrews fell into sin by adopting the local culture’s ways. When in Canaan, do as the Canaanites do…right? Wrong! The Hebrews started worshipping the Baal gods; archeologists have unearthed a single alter dedicated to both a fertility god and Yahweh. What were they thinking? If one is good, two are better? The Old Testament is full of examples where inclusiveness and diversity went against the will of God. Obviously, there was no common goal in these examples.

There are of course many groupings we could identify where there could be common goals, thus a great desire for inclusiveness and diversity. We see this in the world’s hate groups. We see this in those wanting dictator governments to control the citizens by pressure. We see this in those who have compassion and want peace.

We should not see this in our relationship to God.

Peter’s vision of the sheet full of birds and animals coming down from heaven was explained in Acts 10:28, as the Jews believed the Gentiles were profane and unclean; but now God intended to make His family, His chosen people [the Jews] into a larger group by bringing in the Gentiles. Here we see inclusiveness and diversity the correct way where there is a common goal…the common goal of belief in Christ Jesus. I want all peoples, black, red, white, men, women and children from all the religions of the world to come together in the LORD Jesus Christ…that is my prayer for inclusiveness and diversity…everyone come to the LORD Jesus! He died and rose again for you; can you receive Him as LORD?

 

 

For God So Loved The World!

There are many stories of those once believers in God, who at some point reject Him. Why? I have always wondered why. Of course I know there have always been apostates; Satan is probably the very first apostate as he is the leader of all the fallen angels, each an apostate on their own. But to understand Judas…I guess I will never understand how someone walking with Jesus 24/7 for 3 years, being there for most of the miracles and sermons, and then turn Him over to those wishing to kill Him. Oh, people have suggested Judas simply wanted to speed things up; that is, getting Jesus to free the Jews from Roman rule faster. Regardless, there is no justification for betraying Jesus. So let’s back on subject…why do people reject God?

A recent article I read about a Lutheran who became an atheist. When a young person, they had a friend who a Buddhist and the idea of the friend being lost for all eternity for not accepting Jesus could not be tolerated.

Admittedly, they noted a lack of careful examination of the evidence; so what is driving this rejection of Christ? I think that many apostates are simply “wishful thinkers”. They simply wish things to be different. They want the world, redemption, even God Himself, to be a different way, a way of their own desire and invention.

What selfishness! What Arrogance! What laziness to not examine the evidence for God’s mercy and grace! Those rejecting God and His instruction pattern actions of those of Adam & Eve. God gave us free will to decide for ourselves what we want to do and think, even if it is to reject God. But, I say that the creation has not right to be arrogant toward its Creator, for the Creator absolutely loves His creation

What is Worth Your Life?

Three weeks ago I wrote above God loving us by kicking us out of the Garden of Eden. From this banishment from the Garden, the whole Bible is about God trying to reach His people, people He loves, while allowing the loving freedom of freewill. Part of loving another is to allow them the freedom to accept or reject you. You are free to reject God, but you are arrogant if you think God hates you. God gave His only begotten Son to take your sins away which allows you entry to glory…after the giving of His co-eternal Son, why would God turn to hate you? It has always been mankind that has messed things up; we have all messed things up…only don’t blame your mess on God!

Finally, to repeat myself, to reach the lost, God sent His only begotten Son! Yes, we are unconditionally loved, so what is your response going to be? What will your response be to a love freely given? Using the tree metaphor again, the “Jesus Trunk” wants your branch to be connected and to receive life-giving water.

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10 ESV)

Why not be a part of something much larger than you? Be a part of a special family, the family of God; we have a guarantee to be joint heirs in the Kingdom of God! It only costs you everything you’ve got, including your life. Not a bad trade for eternal life in Glory with the LORD Jesus Christ, I say!

Yes, We are indeed loved by God

What have you thought when you have heard the statement, “she is a child of God”? What does that mean? What it means is what it says, plain and simple. It means that where the Holy Spirit gives witness that our spirit has received Christ Jesus as LORD and Savior, then we become children of God (Romans 8:16). What then? What does the child receive from his father? His inheritance of what the father has built up. As a child of God, we are heirs to the Kingdom of God (Galatians 4:1-7). As with the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” story, the father threw a great banquet for a son that did not deserve it, a son who made all the bad decisions and wasted everything. The reason was simple; the son was lost but came back home to the father, back to the family.

 My poor decisions occurred when I was not connected to the “Jesus Trunk”. I was getting poor nourishment by my own actions and decisions. It was not God’s making. I don’t blame God for God waited on me to come back to Him; this is grace. There is no way I can get to heaven except by the “Jesus gate”; it is not by my works, but is by the One I dedicate my life to. In being born again, the old has passed away and my bad decisions and sins are remembered no more. As a born again Christian, my new life should reveal what a real Christian is, and not one in name only…actions speak louder than words.

 Though we, the body of Christ in the Christian Church, did not deserve it for all of our bad decisions once made, when we lost souls have finally awaken and turned back to God, we will receive the heavenly banquet and a place in heaven’s mansion where the Father, excited to have us back again, welcomes us home to the Garden again, welcomes us back into the family of God.

 Following the “tree metaphor” in the book this blog follows, A Different Kind of Tree; connect to the “Jesus Trunk”, who supports like none other; take root into the Word of God to receive the best nourishment like none other; go out and produce good fruit for when your branch is connected to Jesus Christ and you are then indeed, “A Different Kind of Tree”!

 

Love is – Kicking Us Out of the Garden

Now, there are indeed some folks (and churches) going around saying that since Jesus already paid the price for my past, present, and future sins; I can now do whatever I want to. Wrong! How selfish is that! Is that the way you thank someone that rescued your eternal soul from hell? If you think so, then you are greedy, selfish and arrogant. You don’t have freedom from sin to keep on sinning! There is only one true “thank you” response; you repent from your sin, and then you praise, worship and dedicate your life to the service of Christ Jesus.

 This, my friends, is the development of “good symmetry”, a move toward perfection; finally to be obtained when you are made whole again in God’s Glory. At such time, God will repeat a statement once made long ago about His creation and repeated when you were created, “It is good”.

 Using the beautiful butterfly as metaphor, we start out low as caterpillars and we change, some all at once and some gradually. From our fallen state, we morph into a new creation not at all like the caterpillars we were before. God wants His “butterflies”, but He wants His “butterflies” to love Him unconditionally. This is not natural by itself for the world sees it all as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18); it all takes becoming a new creation in Christ, changed and made new by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17).

 You see, we don’t deserve God’s saving grace! People turn from God because they wrongly say, “God doesn’t care about me”. How arrogant is that? It is the same thing as saying, “God loves everybody in the world but me”. The truth is this: We [humanity] were kicked out of the Garden of Eden before we could eat from that second tree…the “Tree of Life”. Eating from the “Tree of Knowledge”, the one thing we were told not to do, was our arrogant attempt to be like God; to have the every knowledge of God. But had we eaten from the “Tree of Life”, we would eternally be damned by this sin. God’s first saving act was to kick us out of the Garden; yet, today, many see the action as hate from a vengeful God.

 

You Can Not Hate a God Like That

In my first book, “I Am, the Great Creator God”, I wrote a lot about the designs (butterflies, flowers, ducks, etc.) and the wonderment of God’s creation. If God cares so much for each of His creatures, down to an insect…the beautiful butterfly…to care about the littlest details and coloring of a wing; then how much more will God care about you? We are all created in the image of God; look closely at this text from Genesis:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”    

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV) [underlines added]

Please take note that not only did the Triune God create you, male and female, in His image, but He put you in charge of every living breathing thing on the planet! That is an awesome reasonability! Do you think God would put you in charge of His whole creation if He didn’t think you were worthy of such a task?

You were individually and wonderfully made, lovingly crafted by the supreme power of the Universe; the same Omnipotent God that designed and crafted to smallest details of a butterfly’s wing. A butterfly that is here one day and gone shortly thereafter; but you are in charge of all of creation…how much more important is that? So don’t you think for one moment that God doesn’t love you; you were created in His likeness and given a big job to do.

A big job to do? Especially as you become connected to the “Jesus Trunk” and become more than just His wonderful creation, as you become a joint-heir to the very Kingdom of God. God loves you! You have no excuse to reject His invitation other than your own decision to do so…you can’t use the excuse that you are a sinful person. We are all sinners, but Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and we are forgiven (John 3:16). This is God’s grace! You can not hate God for anything you chose to blame on Him; He didn’t do it. You can not reject God because you didn’t get something; you don’t have the whole story. God sent His only eternal Son, that created all that is in the beginning (John 1:1-3), to pay the price for what you did; you can not hate a God like that.

God, Emotions and Relationships

The early church theologians insisted that God is impassible, by which they meant that he does not suffer, and immutable, by which they meant that he does not experience human emotion. Yet the Bible portrays God as exhibiting a striking range of intense emotions: he sings for joy, expresses jealousy, is incited to anger, responds to worship with pleasure and to rebellion with wrath. Some biblical passages go so far as to state that God changes his mind. Do we need to make a choice between the Bible and orthodox theology on this point?

We are known by God before we were formed in the womb of our mothers; we also have a God that “walks with me and talks with me and calls me His own”. We also have a God who is Alpha and Omega, knowing the start and the end of all that is. God, all perfect and complete, not needing anything, wishes for relationship out of love, but my sin blocks that. So, God sent His Son to pay the price for my sin that was to be mine to pay, and yet, impossible for me to pay. The price now paid all that is needed is for me to come to God, repent and believe that Jesus is the Christ, allowing me the justification to come into God’s presence. Now, I can have a loving relationship and all of heaven will sing.

Many will falsely reject God due to a misunderstanding of the nature of His wrath, saying that a loving God would not exhibit wrath at all. Maybe the word “wrath” is too harsh a word for people these days… what about using the word “punishment”?  Don’t like that one either? How about the word “discipline”?

Discipline, often rejected by moderns, is actually an act of love! You simply will not waste your time correcting and directing with discipline if you don’t love or care for the person. God cares enough to create, to save, guide with discipline, and to prepare a place for His children…all this is Biblical and orthodox! To the question in my first paragraph, there is no division between the Bible and orthodox theology.

Should a Christian be Different from Others?

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after his encounter with God, he was physically changed. When we become a new creation in Christ, we are changed as well; the old has gone away. There should be a difference between a Christian and the rest of the world; unfortunately, many cultural statistics remain the same whether the surveyed group is Christian or not. One should wonder if there is really a change or not; for Jesus said many would call Him LORD and He would say, I don’t know you (Matt. 7:21-23). We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). We are to strive to be like Him (Romans 8:29). As Christians, when people see us they should be able to tell that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). In boldness and in love we should stand up for Jesus and be His disciples no matter what the world thinks of us. Be holy as Christ is holy; be loving as Christ is loving…search and find Jesus Christ, then strive to be like Him.

We searchers of light are not perfect, but we try to be. When we fall short, we are supported by the Spirit and forgiven by God’s grace. So what then is our action toward those that hate us? Shall we return the hate? Fight fire with fire? No! Jesus forgave those that tortured Him and killed Him on that rugged cross. No, we are to love our enemies; though in a way they are not “our” enemies, but we apparently are “their” enemies. Actually, the love we are to show is not our love at all but God’s love, we are only instruments [disciples] used to pass that love [Agape love-God’s love] around to all that will receive it. Strange that “God’s love” is such a threat to so many; they have no eyes to see.

Can we not be civil and simply disagree?

There was not a conservative that called for the execution of Mr. Obama when he became President; yet, we see the unhinged liberals holding up bloody heads of Mr. Trump and openly calling for his execution…can we not be civil and simply disagree? Apparently not if you are a professor on most any American college campus or a liberal congressman or major media person, all of whom routinely become unhinged and fall into a rant when faced with opposing views. Michael Gerson wrote a nice article entitled “The Reason for Civility”, published January 21, 2011. He writes:

“So what is the source of America’s current civility problem? Is there too much immodest conviction? Or is there too little regard for the value and dignity of others?

 There is no reason that both answers can’t be “yes.” But the second challenge is primary. We need a robust civility that allows for deep and honest disagreements instead of explaining those differences away. In the long run, this is only achievable if Americans believe that their fellow citizens deserve respect, even when they hold absurd political beliefs.”

Friends, this article is over 6 years old, and our civility problems are MUCH worse now! We are all “branches” on a trunk, be it the “Satan Trunk” or the “Jesus Trunk”. The Bible teaches that the wheat and the weeds should be left to grow along side each other and that in time separation of the good from the bad will occur (Matthew 13:24-30). We can show that we are growing with correct and proper nourishment if we can remain civil while holding to our good positions and beliefs. Certainly, people will decide for themselves that they are “wheat”; we don’t need to label the “weeds”…God will sort that out at judgment time…and it is not our role.

The culture would put forward that there are no absolutes; please don’t buy it. This is simply another source of diversion from real truth. It is hard to see in muddy water, so if you want to control others…muddy their water. Of course there are absolutes! To those “branches” growing on the “Jesus Trunk”, we can and should treat all with dignity for we are all created in the image of God. It is the Jesus dance!

The selfish intolerance of others is interesting; it is like if I do it, it is my freedom, but if you do it you are infringing on my freedoms. Wait a minute, I just inadvertently hit on it; it is all about the offended, only their freedoms matter and nobody else…the minority control over the majority.

I guess there is no room for other “branches” on this tree. We have those branches that shut down Christian prayers and symbols in schools, yet promote the study of Islam in public schools. We have those branches that shut down Christian examples of peace & forgiveness, yet wave the signs of hate & bigotry toward the capitalism that made this country great. We have those NPR branches that receive mega-millions of tax-payer dollars every year yet they directly attack the Christian faith. I see intolerance on parade…but since the offense by the minority is not about one of the 90 different genders these days…the Christian majority will continue to be stepped upon! We must continue to show peace as best we can…and pray! Shalom!

Jesus is LORD of the Dance

It is clear that there is much deception, false testimony and downright anarchy against honesty in all circles of our country these angry days.  I say, we all should be people of a loving integrity who celebrate the gifts of life! I’ve been blessed to have many of these types of people in my Sunday School Class at New Covenant Christian Church in Oklahoma City. John was one once blessing. John was a contractor who built roads and he had a dry sense of humor. He would poke fun of me because I was an architect. He was a neat and sometime irreverent guy who loved his family. He died too soon after a long illness. At his memorial service, Emily sang “Eagle’s Wings”; she broke up a few times and had trouble singing the song. The loss had cut her deep and the words of the song were not just words. The song had such meaning and the life she shared with her father, it was not “just a song” …a faith that breaks you up is a real faith indeed.

John loved to dance; so at his funeral they played the Sydney Carter song: “LORD of the Dance”. It was very moving! “Dance then where ever you be, I am the LORD of the Dance said he”.

Reject anger and hate, turn to honesty and gentleness…enjoy a life connected first to Jesus and then to family; you too will want to dance. Sadly, we find many these days wanting to stop The Dance! These angry misguided people have always been around, since the beginning. How blind they are! Pray they will turn around, find Christ and join The Dance.

 

There is Only One Flock!

Most city dwellers will not be familiar with sheep and their shepherding, nor what a sheepfold is, but we all can read about God’s love for His sheep [His children] in John chapter 10. Of course at the time Jesus was teaching this lesson in Jerusalem to the Jewish religious leaders, everyone was familiar with shepherding. Verses 14 & 15: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.” (NIV) The arrogant religious leaders wanted to be the way, for the people to follow them. Surely, they didn’t think much of Jesus’ presentation. So, they wanted to kill Him…small problem…they were not in control, for Jesus had a mission, He was in control; a mission to save His sheep by laying down His own life by His own accord, no one took it from Him.

So, who are the sheep of His pasture? Well, at the time Jesus was addressing these religious leaders; the sheep were the Jews. We need to keep reading however, verse 16: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (NIV) The other sheep are all those who hear the voice of Jesus Christ and follow Him. There will be only one flock under the care and love of the Good Shepherd.

Stand up for Jesus, We Soldiers of the Cross

Recently, I taught a class on Psalm 148. When was the last time you read this psalm?  It is all about praising God. It is about all of nature, the weather, and even the sea monsters praising God! More than that…it is about all the rulers on the earth praising God! Well, it is no secret that the majority do not.

Strangely, now in America, once a Christian nation, the idea of worship has evolved to be more about performance and entertainment, pleasing to the attendees, than true worship of our LORD and Savior. After all, we need people in the pews giving their money to the church.

True worship is not just on Sunday’s either; it should be impacting every sphere of our lives, whereby we remember that we join all of creation, every cosmic corner of the universe, in praising the one Creator. The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks:  What is the chief end of man? Answer – to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

Our praise of God is to touch every political structure as verse 11 states. Yet, most churches don’t seem to stand before governments for the Logos of God. After all, we must tread softly and lightly so to not offend anyone; leave politics out of the church, they say. After all, we need people in the pews giving their money to the church.

Where has that position got us today? …empty churches, like in Europe. What do we stand for? What should we stand for? What did Jesus stand for? …to follow the will of God. I think we should do the same…don’t you?

 

It will be alright…if…

In my last post, I mentioned that according to the Barna Group researchers, 76% of the Christians and a whopping 91% of the U.S. Adults think the best way to find yourself is to look within yourself. So sad to think so many are so mis-guided to think this way. Case in point:

Oklahoma has been experiencing a great deal of grass fires, endangering people, livestock and destroying property. A Harper County farmer and rancher on a family farm has lost 1,000 acres, a brand new combine, a large shop building and his grandfather’s irreplaceable historical tractor and the memories that went with it. The fire also threatened his brother’s home. Is this man broken due to this loss? Maybe, if he was looking within himself; but he is looking ahead!

What lies ahead for many locked into “things” and their own self-worth could easily make them feel devastated by the massive loss. How can anyone look within themselves and not be crushed by historical loss, the monetary loss of expensive machinery, and all the objects that generate the income one needs to rebuild? Devastating!

This man’s comment when interviewed? “We’re pretty blessed, we’re a lot better off than a lot of other people were. We’re still all here and all this is just stuff. God gives us the opportunity to do it all and I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to be here. It’s not real fun right now. But guess what? It will be alright.”

What does this man have that 91% of the U.S. adult are looking for? Will the 76% of the Christians also find that the world does not deliver what they are looking for? Will the culture finally see that the emptiness within mankind is only filled by the grace, mercy and forgiveness found by turning to the LORD Jesus Christ? …the ONLY way to find your true self!

It is NOT all about You nor About Me

How do you know that you are sick? Answer: Contrast. If you feel good one day and then feel poorly the next day, you have contrasting feelings and can easily decide the bad day was not as good as the good day, so therefore, you must be sick. Physical health is easy to determine if you are sick or well, but what about mental health? How do know if you have sick ideas, if you are sinning, and if you are lost going the wrong way? You need a benchmark, a datum from which to measure your current activities and thoughts. What happens if that benchmark is sliding? Then you will be unable to effectively measure your current situation. The demons of the world today are winning for now because they have effectively achieved that “slippery slope” where people now say there are no absolutes. It is a relativistic world where anything goes and the majority must cave-in to the demands of the minority; this is a world where sin rules. The road to hell is wide and crowded; the road to Jesus is narrow for He is the only way to redemption from sin (Matt. 7:13+14). So many born-again Christians today believe they should simply pull away from the world so to not be contaminated by the filth. This, of course, is not what Jesus asked us to do; we are to take the Good News of the love, the forgiveness, and the grace of the LORD Jesus to the sinful world (Matt. 24:14).

Once I was a sinner, but now I am saved! Saved, not by my actions or my beliefs or anything else I might have done; saved by grace. From this point we’re talking about my response to my acknowledgement that Jesus saved me. My response is one of thanksgiving…being thankful for receiving such an eternal gift, all while realizing I didn’t deserve it. If you are honest, how can you possibly react in a selfish way to this truth? No, I must do something for Jesus, not to get something but to say thank you. I am saved for relationship, and a relationship is a two-way street. You see, I must develop the realization of receiving a gift that can not be purchased and that I don’t deserve, which in turn empowers me into action. Action to love as Christ loved me. If I am truly saved from my sins, I must come to understand what that means. Once that fact sinks into my thick head, it should cause me to want to share with others the true way, that they too could beware of such salvation and turn toward Jesus. This is what discipleship is. Being a disciple of Christ is not about getting anything; it is about saying thank you!

 

His Light Becomes Our Light

As a tree searches for light to empower its machine, so too must we also be searchers of light. Searching for the light of truth; if you would open your eyes, heart and mind to receive God’s truth, you would see real light and receive real living water.

Light is intended for seeing and guidance; we all need it. A Christian is to search, absorb its warmth and truth, and then spread it to others. Our world wants to stop Christians from talking, but we can’t stop. We are to respond in love and gentleness with the mercy and grace we have received. The world is hurting and we Christians, who know of the love of Jesus, need to share that love because we care for others, even those who hate us. We Christians are commissioned to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for Christ is the light to the world. His Light becomes our Light, so we find Jesus saying:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

Obstructions and Obstacles – for Good or for Evil?

One of the obstacles being placed before this nation which is a basis for many other obstructions to our happiness in life, our freedom, and our honesty, is the myth of “the separation of church and state”. This is thrown around anytime some anti-Christian feels the least bit uncomfortable. I have always wondered why it is so lop-sided; I mean it always goes against the Christian faith thus making all the believers uncomfortable, why can’t the ramifications of someone’s discomfort go against that minority person instead of the majority? Because one person is uncomfortable, our nation reacts to make millions uncomfortable; and at what cost? Does this make sense to anyone? Anyway, the whole thing about the myth of the “separation of church and state” is crazy…our country’s structural documents don’t say anything about “separation” of church and state! It does say the government shall not “establish” a church, such as the Church of England which is the main reason for leaving England in the first place.

In light of all the current hatred from some groups over our recent fair election and the evil shootings by sick people, maybe we should look back on some history. While Thomas Jefferson had some problems with “the church”, he was a big time proponent for religion; that people should have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Jefferson would have echoed what President Ronald Reagan once said:

“I know here that you will agree with me that standing up for America also means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. I believe this country hungers for a spiritual revival. I believe it longs to see traditional values reflected in public policy again. To those who cite the first amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.

You can see why those wishing for the United States to fall would be pushing to rid the country of Christianity. After all, they wouldn’t want some “Christian Do-gooder” to get in the way of their alternate lifestyles, their foul music and their foul language. They surely would not want any obstacles to remind them of their sinful behavior; for this is a nation where you are free to live as you want and express hate if you want…well…don’t express Jesus that is.

The Importance of Israel

“A Different Kind of Tree” is about moving from a sinner to a child of God; this post is also about that movement. Where do you stand?

In 2008, Obama campaigned by showing support of Israel; now in his last month in office, this hypocrite is condemning Israel. Going along with the rest of the world that has a problem with Israel’s existence.

This week, the U.N. passed a resolution to remove land from Israel and Sec. of State Kerry supported the action. He stated the land belonged to the state of Palestine – for your information, Mr. Kerry, Palestine has never been a state. Furthermore, Mr. Kerry, the Temple Mount is NOT an Israeli settlement. Though Arabs were around with the Jews, the Jews had this ground thousands of years before Islam was created.

The warlords are from Palestine, not Israel. It is Palestine digging the tunnels, not Israel. If Palestine would put their weapons down, there would be peace, yet they hide behind their own civilian shields for hateful political reasons to make Israel look bad to the world when she tries to defend herself.

Zechariah 14:1 says; “A day of the LORD is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.” And then in verse 3, “Then the LORD will go out and fight those nations, as He fights on a day of battle.” And then verses 8 & 9: “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in Summer and in Winter. The LORD will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His name the only name.” [underline added, see John 4:10 and 7:38]

Sinfully, the Obama Administration gave billions of our tax dollars to Iran for nuclear power, then gave billions more to arm the neighboring countries to defend themselves against a nuclear Iran. What is the real drive in these reckless actions? These violent countries surround Israel, a small peaceful democratic nation that was once the only US friendly nation in this part of the world. America, a once Christian nation, now seems to be joining the war against Israel.

There would be no Christians without the Jews and Israel. Jesus was a Jew and He empowered the Apostles at Pentecost to reach out to the Gentiles and bring them into the Family of God.

Though severely criticized by liberals for his selections, President-elect Trump has nominated an orthodox Jew to be the US Ambassador to Israel…a great and wonderful selection. Hopefully, we Christians can repair the damage done by the Obama Administration and John Kerry. Please pray for Israel, our nation’s leaders and that our nation will repent.

Greed and power take over decency!

We used to speak kindly, have manners, were courteous to one another, and honor those who served our country in uniform. A man stood by his word, no paper contract needed, a promise was a promise; we were honorable compassionate people. Today? Look at the current level of hate and violence from those so-called peaceful “can’t we all just get along” progressives over our recent presidential election. Did conservatives act that way in the previous two presidential elections? No, they did not! What has happened to us?

I think it is the removal of Jesus and the attack on Christianity from our culture. The minority has succeeded to ruining our country at a cost born by the majority; we have lost our foundations…the America Tree has no roots anymore! With no roots, we have no nourishment getting to our branches; with no nourishment, our branches produce bad fruit or no fruit at all.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)

The ugly hateful actions of the Phelps family church out of Kansas has been in the news for some time. Chances are good that you have an opinion on their sick events. Clearly, this so-called church is not following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Our culture would say that they have a right to say what they wish…okay, maybe so; but to have a right to do something doesn’t mean you HAVE TO DO IT if the action lacks decency. Relativism (where our culture currently stands) says everybody has a right to say whatever they want, no matter how hurtful. Relativism says that everybody has a right to think whatever they want and call it “truth”. No! There is indeed such a thing as “absolute truth”…God’s truth! Of course, when you remove God from the equation, you conveniently take away all Real Truth, decency barriers fall away, and you are free to now push your liberal agendas any direction you wish to go. Greed and power take over decency!