The WORD Became Flesh

THE WORD BECAME FLESH

     “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.[1]

 

The Word, as a double-edged sword,[2] pierced eternity, “Let there be light…”[3]

 

Thus began the infinite perfection of the eternal, triune God’s design. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had planned and would now bring it to pass. Six days creating something out of nothing, one day of rest, and then the unthinkable. God’s humans chose to disobey His command. Sin and death entered,[4] and the whole of creation groaned.[5] A cloud of darkness enveloped the people of earth like a shroud.[6] Sin had doomed man to death. Would they eventually cease to exist? Was there a way for man to be saved?

 

God was not surprised by man’s sin. He is all-knowing. His plan had many facets, and in time, all would be revealed.

 

Years passed. God spoke to one man in each generation. His Holy Spirit moved upon this chosen, so they penned God’s Word with meticulous care, perfect and infallible.[7] Yet mankind continued in vain thoughts, and their foolish hearts darkened.[8] Wickedness reigned. Only one family of eight, out of thousands upon thousands, remained pure, wholly dedicated to the Almighty. And God’s Holy Spirit grieved.

 

All, but these eight, perished in the necessary worldwide flood, and from them, the Lord repopulated the earth. God’s Word endured, increasing with His promise to never destroy the planet again with a flood.[9] In opposition and vice, man’s sin nature persisted. At the tower of Babel, God confounded their languages. Family members separated seeking others of like speech. With this, God stirred the gene pool and two generations later, in Peleg’s generation, He divided the earth into continents.[10] Where people had desired to stay together to make a name for themselves,[11] they were now scattered over the face of the whole earth reproducing their sinful ways.

 

Only Shem, one of the original eight, and his descendants remained devoted to the Lord God of creation. Decades later, God had grown one line of Shem’s family into a million, and out of them, He chose one man to lead. In a series of miraculous events, God brought these million out of Egyptian slavery and into a land He had promised. More of His plan unfolded.

 

But as fickle and sinful humans go, these would forget God and His miracles. They would discard His Word and turn to false gods. Due to their sin, through ups and downs, they suffered drought, famine, sword, and dispersion, even though God used His mouthpieces, the prophets, to pen, speak, and sometimes shout His Holy Word.

 

Across centuries of withering grass and fading flowers, the Word of God stood eternal in the heavens and true, everlasting, and unchangeable on earth.[12] Still, God had not fully revealed His plan. And although His Living and Infallible Word stated these mysteries, human eyes were not opened to complete understanding.

 

Since God’s Word must be fulfilled and His plan must come to fruition, He brought His chosen people back to His Promised Land. With the Jewish Scriptures, our Old Testament, complete, God waited. After four hundred years, He broke His silence by sending the angel, Gabriel, to speak to an elderly priest. Six months later, Gabriel spoke the Word of God to a teenage, virgin girl, named Mary.[13] And more of His plan was revealed.

 

Mary would miraculously become pregnant. She would conceive in her womb…bring forth a Son, and…call His name Jesus.[14] “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” Gabriel continued, “and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”[15]

 

In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of [this] woman.[16]

 

Jesus, Immanuel, Holy One, Son of God, are names by which we know Him. But He has another, more revealing name, The Word of God.[17] This Word, who was and is God, became flesh for us. It’s His birth we celebrate at Christmas. Fully God, fully Man, He knew no sin. Only a sinless human could pay sin’s penalty to save humanity. Jesus, God, the Son, was manifested to us so He could die on a cross for our sin, conquer death, and destroy the works of the devil.[18] This was God’s plan all along.[19]

 

The Word became flesh for you!

 

If you haven’t already, will you choose to turn from your sin and accept His precious Gift this Christmas? It’s free.[20] It will cost you nothing, because, it cost Him everything.

 

Have a Merry and very Blessed Christmas.

[1] John 1:1

[2] Hebrews 4:12

[3] Genesis 1:3

[4] Romans 5:12

[5] Romans 8:22

[6] Isaiah 25:7

[7] II Peter 1:21

[8] Romans 1:21

[9] Genesis 9:11

[10] Genesis 10:25; I Chronicles 1:19

[11] Genesis 11:4

[12] Isaiah 40:8

[13] Luke 1:5-38

[14] Luke 1:31

[15] Luke 1:35

[16] Galatians 4:4

[17] Revelation 19:13

[18] I John 3:5-8

[19] I Peter 1:18-20

[20] Romans 6:23

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Are You Wholehearted?

Philip_Stanhope,_4th_Earl_of_Chesterfield
                                                             Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield By Allan Ramsay National Portrait Gallery:      NPG 533, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6356695

 

In March of 1746, the British statesman and 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Stanhope, said, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”[1]

All my life I’ve heard that quote or a variation of it. But what does this saying mean?

To me, it means doing things with your whole heart.

So, let me ask, do you do things with a whole heart? And if you do, what is it?

 

Some give their whole heart to doing Thanksgiving and Christmas right. And some, like me, barely squeak by. I’m sure there are things I do with my whole heart, yet at the moment, I can’t think of one.

 

So what does it mean to do something with a whole heart? As soon as I asked that question my fifth-grade training kicked in, “When in doubt, look it up!” I’m high-tech now. I don’t actually use a book, I use Google!  I typed in whole heart. Google gave me a replacement word, wholehearted, and only one definition:  “Showing or characterized by complete sincerity and commitment.”[2]

 

That makes sense, but my subpar mind needed a bit more. When I considered some of the synonyms I really started to understand: Committed, positive, devoted, unshakable, unswerving, without reservations, unconditional, complete, total, and absolute.

 

Wow! Strong words. I’m feeling pretty small right now. Nevertheless, after a few moments, I realized these synonyms remind me of my great and glorious God. No wonder I was feeling small. He is the totally committed, unshakable, unswerving, unconditional, complete, and absolute One. He has always been this way and always will be. Nothing; no outside influence can ever change Him.[3]

 

Outside influences, on the other hand, do change us. When faced with adversity can anyone be totally unshakable? I know I can’t, but I want to be. I desire to say with King David, “I will praise You, O Lord, with my WHOLE HEART; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.[4] …With my WHOLE HEART I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments![5] …Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my WHOLE HEART.”[6]

 

Yet, I’m not sure I do. At times, my sin nature hinders me and I pray I’m never like Judah, turning to God in pretense.[7] But in these moments of concern, I need to trust God more. “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly…though I walk in the midst of trouble, You [O Lord] will revive me…Your right hand will save me.[8]

 

Of course, our Almighty, Triune God is the only wholehearted being in existence. And because we are true, forgiven believers, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, He lives in us. Every day His indwelling Holy Spirit is molding us into more Christ-like beings, generating wholehearted devotion. Thus we can seek, praise, and love God AND others with a WHOLE HEART.

 

The problem is there’s a world out there seeking what we have in Jesus, but they’re looking in the wrong places. With whole hearts, they strive to find and do things that can only be found and done in Him. Let’s be ready this Thanksgiving holiday to plant the seed of God’s Word in their hearts and pray Christmas waters it. That way, if they allow it, God will make it grow.[9] He can replace their stony heart with a new heart of flesh,[10] and say to them as to Israel, “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their WHOLE HEART.”[11]

[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Philip_Stanhope,_4th_Earl_of_Chesterfield

[2] www.google.com

[3] Malachi 3:6

[4] Psalm 9:1

[5] Psalm 119:10

[6] Psalm 119:34

[7] Jeremiah 3:10

[8] Psalm 138:6-7

[9] I Corinthians 3:6

[10] Ezekiel 36:26

[11] Jeremiah 24:7

Prayer Strategy From Football?

Justin pink football jersey October 2018
Honoring National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Photo by Bentley Photography

Each football season, my husband, Scott, and I look forward to watching our grandson, Justin, play football. It’s thrilling live action, as though you’re right in the game. You hear clashing of helmets; almost feel the hits. And for those, like Scott, who played high school football, you’re transported back in time, remembering the game, the plays, and what it took to win.

Scott amazes me. He understands and sees everything in the game, each move Justin makes, when he’s on the field and when he’s off. Me, I can barely keep track of the football. Most of the time I have to look for the pile of bodies to know where it is.

Our Justin plays defense. He’s a linebacker, I think. At least that’s what the newspaper called him when he intercepted a pass. Anyway, a football team’s defense doesn’t usually score points, although Justin’s defensive squad has scored several times this season and actually won a game for us.

Even though I’m not a super football enthusiast, recently when I was reading the book, Spiritual Warfare, by Dr. Karl Payne, Leadership Development & Discipleship Pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, WA, and Chaplain of the NFL Seattle Seahawks, I got excited. I came across his strategy for effective battle in the unseen realm. When he used the words offense and defense relating them to prayer, I naturally thought of Justin.Justin's football game 2017

In football, as in life, a strong and powerful defense is needed. Defense is designed to hold back the opponent and stop them from scoring. Defense reacts to what the adversary is doing. However, a tough and aggressive offense is just as important. For the offense to win the game, they need stratagem. They follow plays designed to cut through the enemy’s line, move the ball downfield into enemy territory, and score.

Dr. Payne says, “I encourage believers to call upon God not only to protect them from evil (defensive prayer), but also to expose and tear down those trying to destroy His Children (offensive prayer).” The enemy, he says, is “…no match for the One committed to protecting us.”[1]

I totally agree. Psalm 71:2-3, I believe, is a good example of defensive prayer:  “Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.”[2]

Psalm 35 seems to be what Dr. Payne calls offensive prayer“Plead my cause, O LORD…fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler…stand up for my help…draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me…Let those be put to shame…brought to dishonor…turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt…And let his net that he has hidden catch himself; in that very destruction let him fall.”[3]

So, if I understand correctly, defensive prayer is asking God to restrain the enemy and stop him from scoring points in our life, much like a football team’s defense. But offensive prayer seems forceful and forward moving. It’s asking God to go before us, tear down the enemy stronghold, cut through their defense, and create an opening for us to shoot through, cross the goal line, and win the victory.

Yet, a football field is lengthy, as is our trek. There are tackles along the way and sometimes we need our defense to play while we strategize. In those disheartened, wounded, and weak times, we must remember, God Almighty IS our defense and our offense. Our strategy / responsibility is to run behind Him, believe, PRAY, and ask. Sometimes God says, “…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”[4] while enemies turn on themselves. And sometimes, He says FIGHT. We draw near to God, resist the enemy,[5] put on the armor and use the Sword of the Spirit.[6] God becomes our Blocker plowing a hole through the enemy’s line. We, then, run through, score, and WIN, because, He has already won.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ.”[7]

[1] Spiritual Warfare, Dr. Karl Payne, Pg. 142

[2] Psalm 71:2-3

[3] Psalm 35:1-8

[4] Exodus 14:13; II Chronicles 20:17

[5] James 4:7

[6] Ephesians 6:10-18

[7] I Corinthians 15:57

FALLING PREY TO FALSE GODS

For the past year, my Sunday School Class has been doing a verse by verse study of the book of Hosea. It’s a short book, only 14 chapters, but there is much for us to learn. Next Sunday, we will begin Chapter 13 and in my opinion, this is the most important chapter. Why you ask? First, because the Gospel is clearly presented. Second, it shows the power and majesty of our Triune God. Third, the poignant fact that help for this doomed northern kingdom of Israel is found in no one else but the Lord their God. And lastly, because of the strong parallel to our nation.

 

God used Hosea to “act out” His love for His chosen people, the whole house of Israel. Yet since the Cross of Jesus Christ and the other sheep our Lord continues to bring into the fold,[1] the spiritual lessons of Hosea also apply to us.

 

So, what can we learn? Hosea 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea…” This was Hosea’s calling as a prophet. The name Hosea, taken from the same Hebrew root as Joshua and Jesus, means salvation. No coincidence here.

 

During Hosea’s prophesy, Israel was in a period of economic growth. Yet, with prosperity, apathy most always follows, quickly leading to idolatry. In chapters 1 – 3, Hosea portrays God’s love for idolatrous Israel. God considered Israel His wife and their idolatry was akin to harlotry and adultery. Therefore, Hosea was to marry a prostitute. He chose Gomer, who bore him three children and then returned to her life as a prostitute.

 

The Lord said to Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel…”[2] So, Hosea purchased her from her owners and brought her back into his home almost as a captive. This illustrated God’s love, Israel’s future captivity, and eventual return.[3]

 

In chapters 4 through 12, God brings charges against Israel. They are tried, convicted of adultery, and sentenced to captivity by the Assyrian army. But in chapter 13, God again shows He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He prefers they turn from their evil ways.[4] Yet He knows they will not.

 

Caught up in idolatry, Israel forgot God. His Word was relegated to suggestions instead of Law. In turn, the world’s philosophy darkened their foolish hearts.[5] Sin increased daily because they did not seek first His kingdom and righteousness.[6]

 

I see the same in our nation. We’ve discounted the Christian principles on which we were founded and have sought the false gods of self, prosperity, and pleasure. We’ve discarded God’s Holy Word and turned a blind eye to His warnings to Israel.[7] Sadly, America is headed down the same path and we will suffer destruction unless the Lord extends mercy.

 

Yet, a nation does not fall prey to false gods without it first happening within the individual hardened heart. These rebellious ones foolishly think God’s Word is irrelevant for daily life and that the philosophies of this world have something to offer intellectually.[8] Then, seeking others of like mind, together they evangelize for the god of this world.[9]

 

Still, in the midst of sentencing Israel, our longsuffering[10] God gives a message of hope and salvation. “Yet I am the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no Savior besides Me. I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought…O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from MeI will be your King…I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…”[11]

 

Shouldn’t we surrender and allow this God to search our heart,[12] to reveal what priority we place on Him and His Word, versus the things of this world? When we do, He will forgive our sin and lead us in the Way everlasting.[13]

[1] John 10:16

[2] Hosea 3:1

[3] Hosea 3:2-5

[4] Ezekiel 33:11

[5] Romans 1:21

[6] Matthew 6:33

[7] I Corinthians 10:11

[8] I Corinthians 3:19

[9] Matthew 12:30; II Corinthians 4:3-4

[10] Romans 2:4

[11] Hosea 13: 4-5, 9-10, 14; Mark 10:45; Titus 2:13-14

[12] Psalm 139:23

[13] Psalm 139:24

God IS Greater

Memories

Sometimes memories are marvelous and comforting. Remembering wonderful moments of our life – being hired for the job we dreamed of – love – marriage – the birth of our children – watching these children grow, experience life and love. Yet, sometimes memories aren’t so great. Sometimes mistakes we’ve made or things done to us flood our minds causing remorse, anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness or blame.

 

Where do we go with these feelings? If we are true believers, we have repented, received forgiveness, and God’s Gift of salvation. So why do bad memories still plague us? Are they merely lies of the enemy filling our mind? Could they be something else, or maybe, a combination of the two? Good questions.

Continue reading “God IS Greater”

Our Eyes Are Upon You

6eb9af605d105645c8308ad118daaebc--texas-maps-santa-fe
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Here we go again. Another school shooting.

This time the students are crying out even more vehemently for gun control. These kids are our future lawmakers and it’s frightening. The majority do not understand the human sin nature.

This week I decided to begin again in Genesis to read through the Bible. I wanted to read and not study, but I only made it to Genesis 4:14 before I was compelled to turn to a cross-reference passage. Many may remember the first fourteen verses of Genesis 4 tell the tragic account of Cain and Abel. “…Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”[1] Immediately my mind went to the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting. What led 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis to open fire on students and teachers?

We can’t fully know the thoughts of a deranged killer and from the short account in Genesis, there’s no way for us to know what all led up to Abel’s murder. However, it’s very hard to imagine a “keeper of sheep” as being a bully. I imagine Abel as a gentle, compassionate man since sheep need so much care. Sheep cannot be left on their own. They wander off. They’re clumsy and have accidents. Sheep easily get caught in brush and fall prey to wild animals.[2] A keeper of sheep needs patience and a tender, benevolent spirit. No wonder Jesus compares us to sheep and He, the Good Shepherd.

My conclusion? Cain’s anger, resulting in Abel’s murder, seemed unprovoked.

Likewise, trying to blame a school shooting on the shooter being bullied or the U.S. needing stricter gun control laws, is moot. Yes, bullying emotionally wounds the victim and maybe military-grade assault rifles could have stricter laws, but it is the sin within the heart that leads to the violent action of committing murder.

Almost every human being has been bullied at least once in their lifetime. Most learn to rise above the malice. They don’t become murderers. But for some, the corruption of sin takes such deep root, they hate, lash out and kill.[3]

Maybe you think Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a seemingly normal young man, just believed Satan’s lies.

httpswww.chron.comnewshouston-texashoustonarticleThe-Santa-Fe-shooter-will-never-get-the-death-12927133.php
http://www.chron.com/news/

Possibly, but gain, Cain is our example. To say Satan stirred up Cain to be angry with God and take it out on Abel gives Satan too much credit and exonerates Cain, by assuming he was a righteous man. Scripture says otherwise. Cain, like all of us, had a deceitful and desperately wicked heart.[4] Cain willingly joined the evil one because his own works were evil.[5] Satan didn’t have to lift a finger. Oh, Cain did hear a supernatural voice before his heinous crime, but it wasn’t Satan. He heard the voice of Almighty God giving him the opportunity to repent and a warning that sin desired to overrule him if he did not.[6]

I’m sure, at some point, Dimitrios Pagourtzis’s conscience told him what he was planning was wrong. But, he ignored the warning just as Cain did.

Later, Cain cried out to the Lord because he couldn’t bear his punishment. This was not repentance. Cain was just concerned for his own wellbeing. He feared one of his brothers, avenging Abel’s death, would kill him when he was alone.[7]

This is where I turned to the CR:  Numbers 35:9-34. Here, the Lord through Moses, explains the need for six cities of refuge. Only those who cause accidental death will be allowed sanctuary, not persons who intentionally murder. In God’s Law, there is no provision for murdering out of passion or because of suffering mental cruelty or illness.

I don’t know what the answer is to stop these school shootings, but I know, coddling murderers is not the answer. Our Sovereign Lord says swift action is needed. And although God allows and even desires for the murderer/sinner to repent, with His forgiveness free to all, consequences are required.

“O our God…we have no power against this…nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”[8]

[1] Genesis 4:8

[2] https://tannachtonfarm.com/2015/07/30/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-raise-sheep/

[3] Numbers 35:16-21

[4] Jeremiah 17:9

[5] I John 3:12

[6] Genesis 4:6-7

[7] Genesis 4:14

[8] II Chronicles 20:12

A Sign Of The Times?

OPIOID BUTTON

The Greek physician, Hippocrates, said, “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.”[1]

For the past almost 19 years I’ve experienced this truth. I work in a physical medicine office and as such, our medical office has a Chiropractic emphasis. We treat the spine that houses and protects our central nervous system and we deal with pain naturally.

Three weeks ago our office attended a Conference to learn about some new and innovative ways to help our patients. However, we were also privileged to hear Dr. John Rosa, who, among other things, is the White House Surrogate for the Opioid Crisis. Dr. Rosa gave alarming statistics about the amount of opiates prescribed in the United States and why. Because of pain from injury, surgery, etc., opiates are prescribed. According to Dr. Rosa, in an average day, 650,000 prescriptions for opiates such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Morphine and Codeine are prescribed, 4,000 of those patients start non-medical use, 600 start heroin use, 3,300 visit the ER, 58 babies are born addicted, and 120 die of opioid overdose.

 

Continue reading “A Sign Of The Times?”

This Man

To you, who is Jesus?

 

To the typical, unbelieving man on the street, Jesus may be a good man, a teacher, an avatar of the divine, or even a myth invented by man to control the masses. I can’t remember where I heard this last comment, but it saddens me. I feel the anger and cynicism behind it and I sense the person’s hatred of anyone they believe is telling them what they can or cannot do.

 

The problem with the unbeliever’s conclusions about Jesus is their conscience; that innate awareness of right and wrong. They can’t explain it or get rid of it. They’re convicted by a law they refuse to acknowledge and it angers them. Yet, the only reason we know right from wrong is because God wrote it. The Almighty, Triune God set the Standard and no matter what we do there’s no getting around it.

 

Still, unbelievers really only want the things they deem right to be right and the things they deem wrong to be wrong. But what happens when their “wrong” becomes someone else’s “right”?

 

They have no answers and it’s much like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who rebuked Him for socializing with people they considered unworthy. “…the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘THIS MAN receives sinners and eats with them.’”[1] Once, by invitation, Jesus went to have dinner with one of those religious leaders. While He was there, a woman came into the house, wept, washed His feet with her tears, kissed and anointed them with fragrant oil. The Pharisee chided Jesus in his heart, “…saying, ‘THIS MAN, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.’”[2]

 

The Pharisee, denying his own sin condition, found fault in Jesus. Yet, Pilate said not once, but twice, “I have found no fault in THIS MAN…”[3] Nevertheless, the chief priests and the crowd shouted, “…Away with THIS MAN, and release to us Barabbas”[4]

 

They preferred Barabbas, a hardened criminal, to Jesus, the Sinless, Son of God. Still, they could not know their rejection of Him would be for the salvation of many, beginning with one thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus. Realizing Jesus was God, come in the flesh, this thief acknowledged his sin and rebuked his companion hanging on the other cross. “We suffer,” he cried, “…justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but THIS MAN has done nothing wrong.”[5] Jesus forgave him and changed the place where this repentant thief would spend eternity.

 

Then, darkness fell upon the land for about three hours while God, the Father, placed the sin of the world upon Jesus “…and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”[6] In those three hours, the pain Jesus suffered was worse than the physical pain causing death to His body.

 

jesus_on_cross www.priestsforlive.org
http://www.priestsforlife.org

As light returned, Jesus hung there battered and bleeding, yet still possessing physical strength. His body was not yet ready to die. So, proving His earlier statement:  “No one takes my life away from me. I give it up of my own free will. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back…”[7] Jesus cried in a loud voice, “’…Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.’ Having said this, He breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly THIS MAN was innocent.”[8]

 

Innocent indeed! Although the Jews demanded His crucifixion and the Romans nailed Him to the cross, it was my sin and yours that put Him there. “For sin pays its wage – death. But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”[9]

 

THIS MAN died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.[10]

 

So again, I ask, “To you, who is Jesus?”

 

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

[1] Luke 15:2

[2] Luke 7:39

[3] Luke 23:4, 14

[4] Luke 23:18

[5] Luke 23:41

[6][6] Luke 23:44-45

[7] John 10:18 GNT

[8] Luke 23:46-47 NASB

[9] Romans 6:23

[10] I Corinthians 15:3-4

No King? No King.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”[1]

 

God’s heart is breaking and His Spirit is grieved over the tragedy and chaos this nation has experienced just in 2018. Some say from January 1st to February 14th there has been eighteen school shootings. Snopes website, quoting The Washington Post says, “No, only five”[2]. But even one is too many. My heart also breaks, not merely for the Parkland, Florida school shooting victims and their families, but for every school shooting victim since the first, Columbine.

 

Last week this insanity came closer to home. A Jackson Middle School student shot himself in the school restroom and he has now succumbed to his wounds. At first the shooting was thought to be accidental, but later being labeled a suicide.

 

Sadly, it seems the panic arising from the Jackson Middle School shooting may have spurred a social media threat to at least one of our local schools causing several schools to go on lock-down. My twelve-year-old granddaughter told me the day after this shooting, she was afraid to go to school. The Jackson boy wasn’t even in high school yet – he was a seventh grader just like my granddaughter. These shooters are getting younger and younger.

 

We are shocked, frightened to send our children or grandchildren to school. I’ve even heard some mothers considering home-schooling for the first time. We scream, “When will this craziness stop?” But maybe our question should be, “What is the cause?”

 

Revenge for bullying may be the motivation, but despair, most likely, is the root cause. It has overwhelmed them and at such a young age.  No hope.  No one they feel they can turn to. And their parents are left, shattered, grieving, and blaming themselves.

 

But why despair? Doesn’t despair come from a sense of what you believe is right and wrong in your life and the realization you can’t change the wrong things? So they do something unthinkable to force a change. They play God and get rid of the hurt. They want the person or persons who “wronged” them to suffer, feeling these people have no right to live. From where does this mindset come?

 

I have a theory. Did you know it has been 71 years since our, oh so wise, Supreme Court took Thomas Jefferson’s “separation” metaphor out of context? In 1947 they applied it to the Emerson v. The Board of Education case stating, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” This was a lie. Keeping Jefferson’s private letter quote IN context actually proved the First Amendment PROTECTED religious rights FROM governmental control.[3]

 

Fifteen years after this fiasco, the United States commenced reaping the consequences. In 1962 the Supreme Court began systematically removing Christianity from the schools, ruling it unconstitutional for a student to say a voluntary prayer in school.[4] Free love and flower power was born – and now this.

 

Unbeknownst to the Supreme Court, their ruling was doing exactly what Israel did when they demanded the prophet, Samuel, make them a king to judge them like other nations. Of course this displeased Samuel, but the Lord said, “Do it. …They have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”[5]

 

Over one thousand years later, Jesus told a parable about a nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom. Before he left, he gave ten of his servants a mina or talent and commanded, “Do business until I come.” But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’[6]

 

This was Israel’s mindset when Jesus was on trial. “Let Him be crucified…His blood be on us and on our children,” they cried.”[7] And when Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”[8]

 

For too long our nation has sown the wind. Now we’re reaping the whirlwind.[9] We’ve rejected the rule of our heavenly King, as did Israel. And when there is no TRUE King in the land, alas, the people do what they deem right in their own eyes.

 

Oh Lord, be merciful to us sinners![10]

 

[1] Judges 21:25

[2] https://www.snopes.com/2018/02/16/how-many-school-shootings-in-2018/

[3] David Barton, Our Godly Heritage video

[4] Ibid.

[5] I Samuel 8:5-7

[6] Luke 19:11-14

[7] Matthew 27:22-25

[8] John 19:15

[9] Hosea 8:7

[10] Luke 18:13

Naughty OR Nice?

Grammy & Grandkids 12.24.15Have you been naughty or extra nice this year? Will you receive a lump of coal in your stocking or everything you wished for? “You better watch out…Santa Claus is coming to town.” Remember, “He’s making a list; and checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…He sees you when you’re sleeping…knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”[1]

Aww, Christmas fun!  Interestingly, a few days ago I stumbled upon a website where you can actually ask Santa if you are on the “NAUGHTY or NICE” list. Yes indeedy, folks!  Step right up, because at: http://www.claus.com/naughtyornice/nn_hmpg2.php you will find Santa’s Nice-o-Meter. By typing in your name and then clicking the “ASK SANTA” button, you can see where you stand on Santa’s Naughty or Nice scale.

 

Of course, I had to ask.  Mine said, I’m nice, yet I’ve been naughty at times. The last two weeks though, I’ve been neat, polite, respectful, and I share well, but I could be better. And with a bit more effort, I could be near the top of the “nice” list. Yay, for me!!

We laugh, but honestly, it scares me when I see the god-like qualities we extend to Santa. And the myriads of children who think this is what Christmas is all about.

I know the name “Santa” is supposed to come from the word “Saint”, but did you ever notice how much it resembles a scrambling of the name, Satan? Good grief, Charlie Brown, no wonder the Christian population is dwindling.

Thankfully, Santa is only brought out once a year. But sadly, the other god-men, i.e. Marvel Heroes, DC Comic characters, like Superman and Batman, are all year long.

I try to downplay the Santa thing as much as possible, just like my mother did (Thanks, Mom!). And, hopefully this is what the early Christians were trying to do when they decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus during the pagan holiday of Saturnalia. Still, there are these two parallels we just can’t eradicate and they seem to be running closer and closer together.  But, the saddest thing about children believing in Santa Claus is there is no redemptive quality in him at all.

As parents, we would never leave our “naughty” children out of Christmas, so we blur the lines and make Santa an extender of grace. It’s a nice thought, but grace is receiving a gift we don’t deserve; something Santa’s “Naughty or Nice” list doesn’t allow.

Yet, because God extended grace to us, we, in turn, can extend grace to our children. And without God’s grace, there would only be a NAUGHTY list; because NICE is a heart issue and as sinful humans, we will always have ulterior motives. Since the fall of Adam, we’ve been in the clutches of evil, desperately needing grace and redemption – to be purchased back from the god of this world.

But, this is impossible without Jesus.

Had the sinless Son of God not been born into humanity, He could not have died in our place[2] to pay our ransom and we would be without hope. But thankfully, “…God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”[3] This “…Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men…”[4] [For] “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…”[5] offering forgiveness of sin[6] and His Gift of eternal life to ALL who would receive it through repentance,[7] whether naughty or nice.

Nothing else is so freeing, so completely wonderful and satisfying. Only Jesus offers salvation and life eternal. The greatest Gift ever given; something we can’t earn and something we definitely do not deserve. Because of Jesus, we’re on the NICE list; entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life.[8] “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”[9]

Have a Blessed Christmas

and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Anita

[1] www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/elf/santaclausiscomingtotown.htm

[2] Mark 10:45

[3] John 3:16

[4] Titus 2:11

[5] Ii Corinthians 5:19

[6] Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:22; Acts 5:31

[7] Romans 6:23

[8] Revelation 3:5; Revelation 21:27

[9] Luke 2:14